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Federation of Media Development Companies – a good or a bad thing?

1st July 2010

Federation of Media Development Companies – a good or a bad thing?

Federation of Media Development Companies – a good or a bad thing?

As a business in the digital sector, issues of regulation or legislation have been on the agenda for many years and we too share concerns about un-reputable suppliers.

The Federation of Media Development Companies (FMDC) is a new accreditation federation aiming to stamp out cowboy web developers in the north east. According to the FMDC, “most businesses look at web developers as being cowboys and rip off merchants” and claim the good news is that “they are here to put that right with the help of quality caring development companies”.

Two Teesside business partners, who head up their own website development companies, launched the national Federation of Media Development Companies (FMDC) in an event held at Middlesbrough Football Club last night in response to alleged growing criticism that too many web developers were taking advantage of businesses.

The two men behind the The Federation of Media Development Companies (FMDC), Stuart Davies and Saheed Rashid, said that the Federation is aiming to prevent businesses from being lured into unfair contracts that leave them vulnerable to overpricing, poor service and withdrawal of services without notice. Mr Rashid founded the Middlesbrough based Com IT in 2005, and he is also a director with Mr Davies of Stockton firm LocalRus.

According to NEbusiness, local firms that have suffered at the hands of industry rogues have welcomed the Federation of Media Development Companies (FMDC), but many in the web industry have questioned the move.

Rashid spoke last night of how he wanted to position the non-profit organisation as the preferred quality standard for providers. On the organisation’s website it claims that ‘being a part of the Federation will allow you to increase credibility and reputation and will provide peace of mind for your current and potential clients. Displaying the FMDC Logo will increase sales, as like the Corgi badge of old this will be a trusted sign within the industry that will ensure your business is highly considered when companies choose their provider in an ever increasing competitive market’.

After inspection, the concept seems to have several flaws.

Although it’s free to register with the Federation of Media Development Companies (FMDC), developers will be required to add at least FIVE domain names at a cost of £60 EACH per month. At last night’s event, the Federation of Media Development Companies (FMDC) argued that these conditions would discourage rogue operators from joining the network and give website owners confidence, but it could in fact, have the opposite effect. The domain requirement could lead to many web developers in the region being labeled as ‘cowboys’ as they will struggle to meet the five domain name quota.

The Federation of Media Development Companies (FMDC) has also come up with the concept of web developers adding login details of created websites onto its database in an attempt to protect the clients. This idea would provide significant risk in terms of intellectual property rights, data protection and security from hackers.

At last night’s event, it was suggested to the Federation of Media Development Companies (FMDC) organisers that if they are to preach about online brand management and accrediting an industry that is full of ‘cowboys’, then they should get their own house in order first. North east digital agencies such as ourselves, that are already establishing themselves as leading digital specialists in web and digital media, could argue that the standard they work to is already over and above the quality expectation set by founders of the Federation of Media Development Companies (FMDC) and the organisation itself.

Also many agencies, including leading developers and freelancers, are finding it hard to understand how the founders think they can just invent an accreditation organisation and expect it to be taken seriously without engaging or consulting with others in the same industry. At the launch event we were told that the organsation has been 2 years in the planning however when we asked our social media network and the digital community around our business there had been no engagement or awareness of the organisation. It is also particularly startling that there has been no engagement with existing agencies and digital support organisations in the region, especially Codeworks who are driving digital innovation in the North East and heavily promotes innovation through research and development for North East digital companies. Questions we’re asked regarding this last night.

Questions were also asked about their tendering system, the accrediation system, their charter and the guarantee that Federation of Media Development Companies (FMDC) would give to its members. Unfortunately, for us, the answers were not convincing.

When asked about who is their watchdog to ensure that the FMDC remains independent, quality driven and gives them the accreditation to take this position in the digital sector it was suggested that a board has been established of ‘accountants, solicitors and other people from the business community’ put together from the founders business networks.

The Federation of Media Development Companies (FMDC) are reportedly holding another event similar to last night’s in Newcastle over the coming months, it will be interesting to see how many members will have signed up to the federation by then. More interesting, we’re sure, will be the level of attendance from digital companies in the north of the region questioning the organisations agenda.

The most important question must be, should a private group of companies or individuals be able to establish themselves as regulatory organisation for a sector such as ours when there are existing organisations that could be much better positioned to become the independent watchdog.

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