What next for TV

“I feel this is a unique time, a troubling time, but special,” says 19’s Simon Fuller of the chaos the digital revolution is creating. He’s an eloquent public speaker, so rarely seen that I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hunted by Stephen Fry and the Last Chance to See team.

The setting is comfortable at least - the government’s invitation-only C&binet conference on British digital creativity, held at the £375-a-night golf hotel, The Grove.

And stellar media guests collectively back the Fuller line that we are at a moment of digital flash forward. “The model is broken,” they chorus.

But how to fix it? Ministers David Lammy and Ben Bradshaw show a government well up to speed with digital copyright challenges, right down to whether to send letters to the mums of copyright abusers. But it’s Lord Mandelsson who is expected, deus ex machina, to deliver the regulatory solution.

On technology, Phil Smith of Cisco says the revolution has barely started. Almost every television signal in the whole of the US could fit down one fibre. In Korea, they are getting 100MB downloads on a mobile.

Yet for TV, business seems to be as much about the past as the future. The Disney boss says: “We’re a highly established business model in transition – you could argue since 1925.” Ashley Highfield from MSN says TV has always been in the ‘cloud’, and is actually moving in the opposite direction to the rest of content – for the first time coming down to the box.

He also says technology ends up being relatively trivial in getting products to market like the iPlayer. The real challenge is rights, with 95% of all the BBC content ever created not available. “There needs to be a fundamental overhaul of the rights regime such as that wealth of content could be liberated,” says Highfield.

Fuller adds: “The next big idea could come from a kid in India - and roll on. That’s the way it should be, and I’m excited.”

I’m excited too… about FlashForward. Well done Five. Best acquisition of the year– with the most topical programme title.