The Curmudgeon


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

News 2020

Bringing you closer to the future

The BBC is to assemble an extensive database of acceptable public opinion soundbites as part of its voluntary progress toward greater impartiality, the corporation has revealed.

The database, which will include material from all regions of Britain and every acceptable permutation of acceptable opinion, will be available for use in BBC news and current affairs programmes in less than two years, a spokesman said.

Although the statement did not specify economisation as a motivating factor, it is probable that the corporation wishes to cut down on its outside broadcast costs as well as safeguarding its reputation for impartiality.

The database will consist of nearly 300 million basic digital video soundbites, in many cases comprising the actual recorded words of real British citizens. As time goes on, however, the BBC hopes to generate such material entirely by the use of digital technology.

"Eventually, the technology will progress far enough that digitally composed video faces will be indistinguishable from video recordings of people speaking," said media expert Bradley Ichneumon today. "At that point, all the BBC will need to do is consult the latest opinion polls, calculate the appropriate verbalisation parameters and add those words to the basic digital clip of the talking head."

Such advanced technology would also enable the soundbites to be far more specific and less reliant on generalisations than a mere bank of recordings, Dr Ichneumon said.

However, that point is still some years away. For the time being, the BBC believes that its digital soundbite library, with each word of every soundbite comprehensively cross-referenced, will prove a satisfactory and cost-effective means of conveying British public opinion to its consumers, a spokesman said.


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