Scarcely have my feet touched the ground on return from IDF in San Francisco — my diary from then will be with you next week, time travel fans — than I'm whisked off to Glasgow for a spot of radio presenter training. My trainer, an engaging, energetic chap with history at Radio 4, turns out to be thoroughly geeky at heart, and we spend some time talking about Microsoft.
It turns out that he, like almost everyone else I meet, hasn't heard of the BBC Microsoft tie-up. It's true that director general Mark Thompson has been busy appeasing the old guard among the content providers — after Radio 3's enormously successful experiment in making all Beethoven's symphonies available for download, Thompson took every chance to tell the music industry that no such nonsense would happen again. Due to popular demand, this service has been withdrawn forever.
Now he's in bed with Bill. And Bill is stroking Mark's public service area with delights such as: "Microsoft's strength is in driving digital innovation, and our vision is to open up rich, new consumer experiences that allow people to enjoy digital content anytime, anywhere and on any device. This vision fits squarely with the BBC's charter to lead the industry in delivering content that is compelling and accessible."
I must say I'm delighted to read that Microsoft has such catholic ambitions, and I look forward to seeing how they'll help deliver digital content to my Ubuntu media centre, my iPod and my Nokia mobile phone.
To be fair, a "non-exclusive memorandum of understanding" concerning things such asWeb 2.0 is about as content-free a corporate object as industry event canapes — the size and speed of disappearance of which has religiously followed Moore's Law for the past 10 years. I also believe that European law governing state provision of services and the BBC's own Charter will prove formidable obstacles in the way of any company — and the BBC is talking to a few — trying to sew up the Digibeeb as a fiefdom of their own.
Which is not to say they won't try. Anything that gets in the way of the public service part of public service broadcasting is to be bitterly resisted, and we shouldn't look for help among the great and the good. I'll be keeping a close eye on this: you should, too.