“Ten would like you to
be our roving reporter!” That’s the pitch from the Ten Network, which has
announced the launch of a new interactive service that enables viewers to SMS,
MMS or email live video footage, pictures and text messages direct to its
newsroom.

Citizen journalism is
all very exciting – to a point. Who can doubt that more interaction between
viewer and broadcaster is the way of the future? But let’s not get carried
away.

Ten News Director Jim Carroll acknowledges
that anyone who submits material to Ten using the new service will not be paid.
Or to use his quaint phraseology, the material will be submitted “on a glory
basis”. The reward is meant to be seeing your images used on the news.

Meanwhile, the fine
print on the deal specifies that anyone submitting content grants Channel Ten a
“perpetual, royalty-free,
non-exclusive, unrestricted world-wide licence to use, and license others to
use, your footage.”

Submitters must warrant
that “the events depicted in the footage are real and not fabricated. You
should not at any time place yourself or others in danger or take any
unnecessary risks or break any laws.”

For Channel Ten the
benefit is potentially to have viewers filling in when camera crews can’t get
to the news scene to catch events as they unfold. Channel Ten’s target youth
market is more than savvy with the technology necessary to send pictures. Carroll
says the network received a number of broadcastable images from the recent Queensland cyclone.

Carroll says there are
no targets for how much of Ten’s news bulletins might be filled with this sort
of material – and no implications for newsroom staff levels. But underneath the
“glory” there is a hard commercial imperative, the potential for exploitation,
and an ethical minefield.

Peter Fray

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