The state of British podcasting

Podcasting in the UK has reached its tipping point, says Dean Whitbread in a podcast interview with Hugh Fraser for ID3 magazine.

In the 10-minute podcast, Hugh interviews Dean and Neil Dixon of Britcaster.com, a driving force behind the growth of podcasting in the UK and one of the organizers of the PodcastCon UK conference in London last September (I presented at that event).

The three podcasters discussed a wide range of points concerning podcasting in the UK, touching on the characteristics of podcasters (the words ‘anoraks’ and ‘beards’ featured in Hugh’s description) and a contrast between podcasting in the UK with that in the US.

Both Dean and Neil were unanimous in their view that podcasting in the UK is currently dominated by mainstream media such as the BBC (50 podcasts, says Hugh) and The Daily Telegraph. This doesn’t detract from the richness and creativity of independent podcasters, though, as evidenced by the list of podcasts at Britcaster.com.

In the view of both men, the podcasting landscape in the UK is about to undergo major change as more people get involved with this medium, especially people outside the tech and early-adopter communities. Organizations like the BBC are playing a big role in this in raising awareness of podcasting, Hugh said.

A potential cloud on the horizon relates to plans to regulate podcasting in the UK via the MCPS-PRS Alliance. (I haven’t studied this yet so can’t comment much, other than to say that the notion of regulating podcasting from a music industry viewpoint  – rigidly focused on licensing – will stifle independent podcasting growth and therefore is not good. So if I’m looking for a cause to support, an anti-regulation one could be it.)

As a business podcaster myself, one of the things I still find curious about podcasting in the UK is the distinct lack of businesses embracing this medium. With a couple of exceptions, there are no Whirlpools, no IBMs, no Mercedes-Benz, no General Motors, no anyone such as listed in the business podcasts section at The New PR Wiki.

The UK podcasting scene is dominated by entertainment and fringe comedy, with very little business focus.

So, generally, is it that UK businesses do not see any value from this medium as a business communication tool? Is Hugh’s anoraks-and-beards image putting businesses off? I might include such questions in my presentation on podcasting at the “Delivering the New PR” conference in London this Friday the 12th.

If you know of great examples of British business podcasts, I’ve love to know about them. They might even make their way into the podcasting book my podcasting partner Shel Holtz and I are writing for McGraw Hill.

Anyway, Hugh’s 10-minute interview is well worth a listen to get a sense of what the picture currently looks like in the UK.


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