Ten News this week excitedly announced a new
effort to get punters doing the dirty work for its news machine by sending an SMS,
MMS or emailing live video footage and pictures directly to its newsroom. They’ve set up the mobile number 0405101010 and
email address [email protected]
to receive the inexpensive – free in fact – content.

But two things are conspiring to bring down
Ten’s hopes of being a flag-bearer in this space – Peter Meakin and Yahoo7. Seven, in fact, has already set up an email
address for viewer feedback – [email protected]

“It certainly worked during the underground bombings in London,” Meakin told
Crikey. “It is also something we intend to pursue with Yahoo7.”

The big difference here of course is that
Seven has a new powerhouse internet extension to its programming in Yahoo7, set
up specifically to provide a more dynamic connection with audiences. Take a look at Ten’s web offering in
comparison (ten.com.au) and you wonder why it’s got anything there at all.

“Witnesses often reach the scene of major news
stories before our camera crews and with so many people carrying mobile phones with
photographic and/or video capacity it’s a smart strategic move to offer them the
opportunity to contribute to Ten News,” Jim Carroll, TEN’s head of news, said
in a statement on Tuesday.

“We gave the multimedia gateway its first trial
run with the North Queensland cyclone and received half a dozen images which were of
broadcast quality.”

Meanwhile, Yahoo7 was going about ramping up
its own services and without even calling for contributions from viewers,
managed three times the amount of cyclone content, which it actually published
plus video that was sent in which was used through Seven’s news bulletins.

While we’re on the subject of the networks’
online program extensions, the ABC should be applauded for their broadband
editions of Four Corners stories.

The latest comes after the program’s report
‘The Ice Age’, into the threat presented by crystal meth drug use in Australia. You
can see it here (http://abc.net.au/4corners/special_eds/20060320/)