Wednesday, December 30, 2009

More Freesat HD channels?

Seems that amongst other things HD TVs are being pushed pretty hard - I've got the Freesat option myself and am a little irritated that Channel 4 is not on that platfrom as yet.

Have asked Channel 4 about their plans and was told by their Viewer Enquiries that

" Unfortunately, there is no satellite capacity for our HD channel on Freesat at present, when this situation changes we hope to make our HD channels available on Freesat."

Now I must say I had thought that Freesat and Sky pretty much shared the same capacity apart from adding some EPG and CA stuff it should not require extra capacity - having done a search I found that there is (perhaps) money changing hands which I guess helps attract and keep Sky HD viewers But it seems that the real cause is that C4 does not have capacity on the correct spot beam on Astra 2D (other beams allow too much spill into other territories) so hope they can
get this capacity soon.
I see that there might be more FTA (free to air) HD in the near future and hope that this will be the case (or will it be all on Freeview?)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cool books

Strangely I've read far fewer books this year than normal but I have just completed Levitt & Dubner's follow up to Freakonomics it is a great stimulus to thought/reflection and named rather unsurprisingly 'Super Freakonomics'.

The most amazing chapter is the last one which gives some details of research conducted by Keith Chen into the behaviour of capuchin monkeys - it is quite something.

Like Tim Harford whose book The Logic of Life I'm looking forward to reading Dubner and Levitt are ostensibly economists but in reality they are much more than this. Incidentally Tim Harford's programme 'More or less' that is broadcast on Radio 4 is now back for a fresh run and this week it included an illuminating insight into the folly of energy saving light bulbs.

The other author with an exciting treatise into modern life is the somewhat enigmatic Alain De Botton his latest book, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work will be sampled (by me) over the Christmas holidays - from a skim of the reviews it appears (paraphrasing somewhat here) that De Botton concludes that we work to distract ourselves from the fact that life is all too brief.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

3DTV and the Gregster

Couple on interesting events over the last week:

1) There's a bit of a buzz about 3D, it's seen a few false dawns and its early modern roots go back to the cinema trying to offer something that TV couldn't but it now seems that TV (and display manufacturers) are providing much of the impetus for the current wave.

I went to a workshop and presentation held by the IET most impressive was Charlotte Huggins who as well as being a fantastic ambassador for the topic she's a great speaker and can really communicate her enthusiasm. See her here.
At the end of the event I must say I see it more as a cinema experience than a TV one although perhaps I'll be proved wrong by Sky's launch of a dedicated 3D channel in 2010.

2) Greg Dyke was speaking at the London Centre RTS Christmas lecture, it seems he's now come to terms with the fact that he's not going to be a senior figure in broadcasting but he had a number of incisive perspectives on the present state of UK TV, the ones most likely to raise eyebrows being that Channel 5 has no independent future the other being that the BBC management salaries are too high.
Rather worryingly Dyke looks increasingly like Kelvin Mackenzie (The former Sun newspaper editor).

Sunday, December 06, 2009

ITV as a brand

How we experience television is changing very rapidly and those who do not not embrace the change risk being left behind.
I recently submitted the final piece of work for my long running effort to achieve an MBA, it was a study that focused on how ITV may have damaged the "ITV Brand" by its pursuit of cash through the ITV Play adventure, somewhat surprisingly I came to the conclusion that no serious damage had been done.
My survey and research provided evidence that ITV was a strong brand and I personally felt at the time of my research that ITV did not leverage the brand to maximum effect.
Of late ITV (ITV 1 at least) has I believe improved its proposition with the use of mass audience fodder such as 'X factor' and Hell's kitchen; such programmes as well as attracting audience help to strengthen the proposition that ITV offers - the branding has correspondingly improved with junctions exploiting the programme relationship. Much of the credit for the improvement must rest with Rupert Howell who has given the lead there.

Now as ITV post Grade looks for a future less reliant on advertising it needs to direct attention at the 'partner channels' (ITV 2, 3, 4 along with CITV) and to make a big splash with either Hulu or Youtube.

As well as a broadcaster it is and has been for some time a formidable content producer the question of how this fits into delivering advertising to audiences (or is that the other way round?) is a question that has no easy answer.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Horticultural Highlights

Hopefully this won't have driven loads of people thinking they'd find links or tips on legal equivalents to mind altering hallucinogenics.
It is rather to recommend the West London home of Capel Manor college which is situated in Gunnersbury Park at the Ealing and Hounslow borders.
Last week was pretty much a full stop on my connection as I attended the awards ceremony held at Trailfinders in West Ealing. Trailfinders is a great venue (we saw the fireworks display here this year) and food that was provided was very good too.

Sadly only3 of the class of 2008/9 BTEC certificate were there but also in attendance were lecturers and other students which made for a great evening. If you get a chance to do a course there do take it up, it's a fantastic place with marvelous people and gardening is a great thing to do.

Well done Ed on your Prize and Gerry thanks for making sure we recognized our year teachers efforts.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The birth of RADAR - career highlights

During the week I went to an IET London presentation on how RADAR started, there were a few reasons why I decided to attend, one being that my post degree employ,ment pretty much started off in RADAR (Marconi's in Chelmsford) also that my father had been employed in Radar and had been involved in its early days during WWII.

Now to be frank I didn't really learn too much from the lecture given by a guy in his 90's (Laurence Tandy)but he was impressive in his memory and his energy.

What the talk did remind me of was that many of us have a 'golden age' in our careers when we're in tune with what's happening and that this is a time we can re-live but probably not recreate, I feel fortunate in that, looking back I have more than one, and perhaps even more to come!
( I even had to look up what RADAR stood for - it's RAdio Detection And Ranging)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What we don't see on TV

Although there are a lot of TV channels available to UK viewers there are a number of programmes that we don't see or that get less coverage than they should.

TV's Prix Europa is a showcase for some of the best TV and this week I went to a London RTS presentation that gave excerpts from some of the prime material.

The content was varied including German women footballers playing their Iranian counterparts (Football under cover) , a Rabbit's eye view on the wall between East and West Germany.

What was most surprising was the programme that raised questions over coverage of African famines.
The famine scam has not had the coverage it war ants and the issue of BBC editorial control is central to the exposé although I'm sure other broadcasters are guilty of similar practice the BBC does not come out odf the story well.
You can find out more and view here

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Ministers concern over threat that Tories pose to BBC

I suppose I’m getting to the stage in my life where I might be considered cynical certainly when the subject of politicians comes up but I must say I thought Ben Bradshaw MP and Minister of State with respect to the DCMS gave a pretty good performance in front of the VOLaV last week.

Brasdshaw made clear that he thought the BBC was far safer with Labour in power than with what appears to be the likely outcome of next years Elections – answering questions he also made no bone about his backing of product placement on UK tv.

I fear the minister is right about the threat to the BBC that a Murdoch backed Tory government may pose but am less sanguine over the advance of product placement than the Exeter MP.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Was there a golden age of TV news?

Wednesday evening and I went to the former LWT building on London's South Bank to learn about how Sky News covered the Afghan elections - those explaining' in a somewhat Dead Donkey Stylee were Tim Marshall apparently the Sky News Foreign Affairs Editor and someone called Bevan Gibson who labours under the fantastic title of Head of Future Technology- Sky News.

Seems that their coverage relies on the Inmarsat BGANS and store and forward type arrangements.

Inmarsat BGAN is a neat little uplink about the size of a laptop PC that permits Satellite access from practically anywhere on the globe which just about copes with a 'moving head' live TV feed and can be used to trickle full bandwidth video over a link.

Personally I think 24 hour news has provided little benefit to the viewer and thought the questioning of the value of 'live' spots from Downing street and the like showed how little respect is given to the audience.

Sky News will be HD by the time of the next UK election - think this will favour Cameron and Clegg over the dour Scotsman.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This is significant - almost Google for TV

Now I've been away from some time but this particular story caught my eye.
Lots of hot air has been generated by UGC and more lately 3D - this sort of targetting could be the saviour of commercial TV (or not).
Interesting that Sky are the ones running with it.

Adverts that are relevant have been touted for some time and it seems that the UK will be geting them from 2011
Here's the story

Sunday, July 05, 2009

English Pop Troubadour - 30 years on

Identified by many pop commentators as writer of one of the best singles of all time (Waterloo Sunset) it was a privilege to see Ray Davies perform against the beautiful backdrop of Kenwood.

It's something over 30 years since I'd seen the Kinks perform and the years melted away as Ray re-visited many of his great hits on a soggy Saturday evening (as opposed to a Lazy Sunny Afternoon) particularly poignant is the song Celluloid heroes.

My other connection with Ray is that I nearly went to the Hornsey Art College (now part of the Middlesex University) to Study Video Documentary. So many of the 60's & 70's pop heroes studied art - perhaps this is part of the tension they experience in being pop stars forced to perform old works as opposed to creating new ones?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Digital Britian on 50p a month?

So the Digital Britain report is out and as to be expected it's trying to be all things to all men - and fails to be anything to anyone. Lord Carter will now move to a lucrative new job.
It brings public intervention to places where there should not be public intervention and yet messes with the PSB model we have .
It is a bad example of dealing with market failure.
How can anyone think that a 50p a month tax is bold or innovative or really going to change anything.
(I'm not the only person to think that the report is rubbish either).

The good news is that little in it will be actioned as the present government is only going to be in power for a few months and it does mean that we're at least thinking about the issues.

On Wednesday I saw an interesting two headed presentation on the subject - the first was a quick revision on what Digital was; the meat of the RTS London event though was a presentation by Stephen Brigden of Cisco: (here's his blog)
To note some of the big questions and stand out lines:

*BBC's iPlayer has disproved the idea that only short form video will survive in the internet.
* It's unlikely that BTs Vision walled garden offering will destroy ' over the top video' (which iplayer is an example of as are is Youtube and 4OD).
*The killer app that the ISPs were looking for is Video the problem is that it's killing the networks and the idea of a flat fee access is looking unsustainable. iPlayer is the cause of over 7% of the UK network traffic. can this live within the concept of 'net neutrality'?
*Stated service levels have little connection with reality as contention rates are seen to be bogus.
*Video over the web is not just a leisure activity - high volumes of traffic from big news stories, sport and the live budget coverage has proved this.

So as you can imagine Cisco see the solution being a better network with more of their devices and of course the NGA networks.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The failures of OFCOM? (and others)

Now I've had an interest in the subject of participation TV for some time and I noticed at the weekend that a story was running in the Mail on Sunday regarding the 'whistleblower' Bob Winsor, Bob has been seemingly tireless in his attempts to get to the bottom of unfair practices around ITV Play and others.

Bob was kind enough to send me e-mails covering his latest go at the' cover up' here is the contents: (be interesting to see who gets the new top jobs at ITV)

Subject: finally re public trust

Dear all implicated in parliamentary/Government malpractice,

I would just like to add how far Ofcom and the Government will go to cover-up this (besides sending police on a hoax suicide call, falsifying consumer complaint records and obstructing the fraud squad).

Channel 4 News and ITV evening news wanted to interview me at the height of the scandal but whenever I tried to return their calls Kate Mayne at ITN Legal ordered ITN telephonists watch for calls and to ask me the nature of my story. When I did call I was then told that no news teams wanted to know my story and that they were not interested. Channel 4 News were furious at this attempt by ITN Legal to censor the news.

Similarly, when I was interviewed by Jon Snow Kate Mayne then manipulate a police statement and gave it to Jon Snow to read out as BGTV's right to reply. The reply said that police had found all my allegations to be completely without foundation etc. Polce and CPS both confirm they said no such thing. Ofcom then refused to uphold my complaint about factual inaccuraces on a news programme. Victims then contacted Ofcom and BGTV (this is why the complaints are 49+) but were told by both Ofcom and BGTV that police had found all allegations to be without foundation and so no refunds would be given to victims. To drive this message home Ofcom's Tim Suter then went on Panorama and encouraged consumers to keep on playing (being scammed) by the quizzes.

To cap it all Michael Grade prevented me from giving evidence to deloitte's but when i did eventually manage give evidence to Deloitte's (with two ITV lawyers present) all my evidence was censored from the report and Michael Grade lied to C4 News and Newsnight by stating

'nothing even verging on criminality has ever happened at ITV. This is not me saying this it is the lawyers'.

The only way all of the above could have happened and Michael Grade could be so confident is his lies is through the Establishment, the Government and Ofcom and the select committees protecting him at a huge a cost to the electorate. As for the news censorship and manipulation of a police statement such behaviour is more akin to a dictatorship.

I am very well aware that apparent justice is everything as far public trust is concerned but if MPs are serious about cleaning up parliament, then I suggest something is done about this continuing cover-up. If it comes out later then the public will know that the current clean-up was no more than a PR/damage limitation exercise.

Bob Winsor

Monday, May 25, 2009

A man of Trust ( the BBC's anyway)

About 2 years ago Sir Michael Lyons took over as the Chairman of the BBC trust the new body formed to keep a watch over the BBC on behalf of the licence payer, last week at an RTS early evening function he shared his thoughts on the BBC and the trust.

Looking a bit like Barry from Eggheads Sir Michael started his lecture with6 points which he considered as the prime commitments that the trust should be concerned with:

1) Standards - The trust should maintain the highest editorial standards and keep a political balance.

2) The BBC should serve all audiences and try to avoid a metropolitan bias. It should be concerned with all the faiths of its audiences and those of none.

3) The BBC should be a leader in terms of content providing what the market failed to deliver, its content should be distinctive- Sir Michael cited The Long March to Finchley as an example. It should continue to provide a technical lead with such innovations as the iplayer.

4) The BBC should do all it can to support UK PSB, it has no desire for a monopoly and wants to help with joint ventures - Sir Michael spoke of the possible CH4/ BBC Worldwide partnership, the work with ITV regional News and its project canvas co-operation with BT.

5) The BBC should give value for money with a rigorous stewardship of public funds and continuing improvements in its efficiency.

6) The BBC trust must ensure that the BBC remains independent and untainted by commercial influence.

Although somewhat less than charismatic Sir Micheal gave the impression of being the right man to chair the Trust.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

TV 's future can benefit from looking back ..

There’s a danger for many that at the mention of the words archive and library they will suffer a near instantaneous draining of all blood from the head and a sudden feeling of sleepiness but Archive is big news in the TV world.

Roly Keating gave a great performance as the speaker at the inaugural Jane Mercer memorial lecture under the auspices of Focal International and with the support of the London section of the Royal Television Society. The lecture held at the former LWT centre earlier this week was well attended and those present had there attention held by the enthusiasm of the speaker

Although diplomatically distancing himself from a previous euphoria where it was considered realistic to release much of the BBC’s treasures as ‘creative commons’ he spoke eloquently about the long term aspirations to enable deep access to significant footage and documents held by the BBC.

Undoubtedly there are issues around the vast cornucopia of material over half a million hours of TV and a similar amount of radio plus rushes, stills and documents. The related logistics and rights clearances for such a gargantuan task is enough to raise a cold sweat in even the most able of archivists and explains why Roly was talking of a timescale of something like a decade.

Unusually for a BBC executive Roly seemed to be happy to speak with a refreshing lack of corporatist flannel and kept to a minimum the repetition of the current BBC's ‘partnership’ mantra but rest assured this is a topic that is as significant as it is immense in the future of broadcasting and multimedia authoring and it seems the BBC has the right man leading on it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Is there really nothing on TV Tonight?

TV guides are going to be an increasingly important part of the media scene.

When you go on holiday you actually might want to record TV programmes for when you return but that is really just the tip of the iceberg…

TV listings are now so complex that we need something that is driven by our personal tastes and what we can access (by geographic limitations and what we’ve paid for) – this then needs to drive our recording/storage device- so it could go and burrow away on the Internet access BT Vision (or Itunes for example) and any other subscription services that are available. For me I’d want it to drive my Satellite receiver/positioner (for the satellites I can view and the services that are FTA) and digital terrestrial.

Do you want to keep a watch on certain topics on YouTube and the iplayer too?

Do the services have subtitles – is it a service that updates if programme times need to be adjusted due to late running live events?

Once programmes have been captured you then want to know what you have available for your 'a la carte' viewing.

So are we anywhere near this solution? Probably not but I think there are some projects that are addressing this

For example (let me know if you have more details)
Radio Times
European TV Listings

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The BBC are looking for partners....

Now forgive me for being cynical but at a time when the BBC are under both the microscope and attack by its opponents is it a coincidence that it starts multiple dialogues all which have about them an element of 'open''co-operation' and 'sharing'?

Kerstin Mogull, the BBC's Future Media & Technology Chief Operating Officer (Swedish) was a late substitute for the Director of BBC Future Media and Technology Erik Huggers (Dutch) at the IET's Appleton lecture (sadly nothing to do with those All Saints sisters) and seemed in her presentation to be very keen to follow the Beeb's line on how it wants to both keep competition and plurality but is driven by a desire to share technological advances.

As well as potentially bailing out ITV in the regional news space it's happy to share iPlayer, Canvas and its production expertise- some say that really it'll share pretty much anything as long as it's not the licence fee - but with the UK's Parliamentarians ignoring the Culture secretary's steer this might still be on the cards and the idea of 'top slicing' would almost certainly sbe omething that an incoming Tory government would take a closer look at.

(why is it that Public services feel the need to continue to ape the commercial sector in their job titles?)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Gardeners' delights

We've been having a fine English spring and I have been lucky enough to be able to visit some horticultural treasures over the last week - Just click on the named links to see my photo's

1) Beth Chatto's Gardens in North Essex - you'll find great examples of woodland planting and what Beth achieved with a former car parking area is impressive. Beth Chatto although in her 80's is still going strong - find out about her here.

2) Kew Gardens - Entry now is a bit expensive (perhaps worth becoming friends as we have) now and there seem to be some questionable (to me) additions but the Tree Walk is fun and provides an experience that kids'll love.

3) Ham House a fine example of what the National Trust excel in - splendidly historic and an oasis of peace in London's back yard (apart from the noise of the planes)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hulu Hulu (what's going on 'ere then?)

It's easy for us UK types to think that Telly begins and ends with us and that it's only the UK Networks that have the challenge of attracting younger viewers who feel more at home with a PC than a TV.

In fact the USA networks have come together to provide PC catch up TV with a single site and it's called Hulu.

Now at the moment it's only available to those people on the other side of the big pond but a rumour is going around that it will launch in Europe - also if you're desperate to experience the buzz of being the first to see some of those hot US TV shows you might like to try Hotspot to spoof your address.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Hold the Plasma .. I want 3D

Around the corner from your standard Blu-Ray and large screen Plasmas another mugger wants to hijack your wallet and it's called 3D TV.

Sky are already committing resources to the next big thing in subscription TV and it may well be well be a must have in about 5 years time.

Remember those silly glasses (one red one green) and 1950's people staring at a screen -well with new generation polarised screens it wont be exactly like that but the need for polarising glasses to decrypt the extra information will mean that TV viewing will be an event once again.

How much actual TV will go this way (as opposed to showing expensive Hollywood films) remains to be seen.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Electronic time

So the clocks have changed here in the UK ( we lose the hour we gained in the autumn).

Time is a strange old thing and generally relative .. when I worked in TV broadcasting I became aware of how long 10 seconds (for example) can be and when I was a child I became aware of how long a boring Sunday evening could be. We are all now obsessed with time minutes and seconds are a relatively recent aberration and we all think we're on tight schedules but waste time watching nonsense on TV.

I had always thought that e-mail was pretty reliable and fast, if something failed to arrive it was either miss-addressed or the spam filters were over zealous but this week I've witnessed a strange occurrence where an e-mail took two and a half days to arrive and it's replacement came far quicker than that!

Looking into strange delays in e-mails there was surprisingly little information on my searches regarding delays in e-mail but I did find that

" E-mail delivery is affected by Internet traffic. This means that if the Internet as a whole is busy, it may take longer for your messages to be delivered. Many companies and servers process e-mail messages before they are delivered. To further investigate, provide a full message header of the delayed e-mail. Here’s how:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Copyright and the media.. - this idiots guide..

I went to hear a very clever guy speak yesterday, his name Hubert Best his subject some of the legal issues around media content copyright in the satellite/Internet on demand universe.

And to quote Johnny Nash from that surprisingly deep I can see clearly now song .. 'the more I find out the less I know' (which is so often the case).

Copyright goes back a long time (hundreds of years) and was originally related to written materials only, but it is important to view Intellectual materials as you would any other product that requires labour to construct, it is important to recognise that the property has value which can be sold given away or bequeathed.

Copyright law used to be territorial i.e. English Law was sovereign in England -not so simple now and we have 'long arm statutes' and the 'Berne Convention' (most countries are signatories)

A few points related to the media age that I noted are:

Satellite transmissions violate country borders without any effort - in terms of the law the place of emission is where Royalties should be paid.

You might think the Internet is for e-mail and sending funny pictures in fact even in 2006 around 75% of Internet traffic was a result of file sharing.

There is a gap between the Anglo Saxon(UK & US) world view and European (this might not be news to you) - Europe considers the author as supreme in all things creative -- hence the fact that the French believe colorising should only be allowed if the director says so and the US reckons if its okay with Turner Classic movies 'no problemo'.

US law also favours First amendment (free speech rights) pretty much to the detriment of all other rules - which means it can take bits of films without the copyright owners permission and stitch them together into whatever they like (this in law was highlighted by Yahoo sale of Nazi memorabilia which French law objected to and US courts overruled.)

US also permits what some might consider as violations where the use is 'transformative' (case was Barbie in work of art - Mattel unable to protect the doll)

There used to be two types of rights that went with a piece of 'creative content' the copying bit (mechanical) and the performing bit - what is the Internet - well it's both in that it can carry a performance (near live) but along the way all sorts of copies exist (in all those Cisco boxes and things).

Now the distribution rights for things like books and DVDs actually exhaust - this means I can buy a copy of Harry Pottter and the temple of doom' read it and then sell it on e-bay as a used book.

But I can't do a copy of the previously mentioned book and sell it on e-bay (unless I want to get into legal hot water).

This leads to a sort of kludge for the web where you have a form of copyright that is known as a 'making available right' this covers
1) copying and
2) a kind of distribution that doesn't exhaust (I can't pass it on).

Now these are just the tip of the iceberg - if you're going to get involved in copyright get advice it's a minefield

Digital Britain report will have some thing to say about rights (but probably unlikely to simplify things).

(hope this hasn't given you a headache)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Politicians - making Estate Agents look good...

Political Rant

Great, following hot on the heels of our home secretary Jacqui Smith taking the taxpayer for all she can we have Tony McNulty extracting gratuitous amounts of the 'Michael' by claiming around £60,000 because (as far as I can tell) his parents happen to have a house in his constituency - (BTW seems that he and his wife earn between them about one third of a £million per year) .

Outrageous just doesn't begin to describe the behaviour that politicians think as reasonable, thankfully this type of 'grabbing all you can' is now exposed and we might get some MPs who when given a severe reminder of who pay their wages will see sense.

Shockingly many of the happy band see the exposure as a reason to campaign for an extra £40,000 per year-apart from the many MPs that have second incomes or partners who manage to gravitate to well paid state sponsored jobs they also manage to have eye wateringly long holidays - if they don't like the job and the terms they shouldn't apply for it, and perhaps we'd get people who genuinely care about the nation they're meant to serve.

Oh yes and don't get me started on the MPs who manage to get away with employing their own family members.

(end of Rant)

Monday, March 23, 2009

conflicting stories on ITV's strategy ..

What a story on ITV in today's Daily Express - now it is important when viewing press reports on TV to realise that there are often issues that the proprietor rather than the paper's editorial team wishes to push but this is a new angle.

The idea that ITV should move to a subscription business model does have some logic and is worth further investigation, key concerns would be:
* How does it reach its audience (would it be platform neutral) ?
* Does it keep a minimal Free to Air offering to retain the PSB privileges it currently enjoys ?

* What do its advertisers think?
* Would this be socially divisive/ what would the Government's view be? Consider over 75s already get their TV license paid.
* How would it play out with Sky and their share of the ITV business?

Advantages are that the revenue stream becomes less turbulent and that advertisers are more likely to get the upmarket viewers they so often desire.

Elsewhere on the 'net' there are stories of the importance of Project Canvas to ITV's future as a free to air broadcaster - not sure if the two stories are connected and the 'scare' of a non- universal ITV is being floated with the hope that it will help to bounce acceptance of Canvas? (which Virgin and Sky are both opposing)!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Work and Exploration

One of my favourite non-fiction writers is Alain de Botton, as well as being at the approachable end of the philosophy genré he has an unerring ability to hit the zeitgeist when it comes to selecting topics.

Although I've not yet tackled the architecturally angle book 'The Architecture of Happiness' I can hardly wait until April 2nd when the latest work The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work is published.
Gather from the rather egg-headed one's website that he's also involved in a rather exciting enterprise called the school of life to me this sounds like a truly admirable idea and surely worth a visit.
On the subject of books I've had my first experience of Waterstones on-line which has been very good, though I'm a little worried that they might be undercutting their retail presence by offering such good discounts and free shipping - having seen the book at my local shop I find it much cheaper online!

The book in question is How to be an explorer of the world by Keri Smith which I think might be aimed at a much younger audience than
myself but which looks fabulous fun (although not all the reviewers at Amazon seem to see it the same way) - hopefully I'll update the blog as I carry out the tasks within.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Marketing Man takes helm at ITN

The new man heading up ITN is former Disney European TV boss John Hardie and it is most unlikely that he's been recruited to preserve the Status Quo at the financially challenged commercial TV news provider.

The current ITN shareholders (including ITV the DMGT and UBM) do not see ITN as key to their future success and one of the big challenges for the new boy will be to bring in investors committed to the expansion and diversification of the Grays Inn Road based outfit.

Former journalistic type Mark Wood had joined ITN from Reuters and his reign of running the operation through challenging times has been sure footed. Wood is said to be leaving the MD post to pursue other opportunities although he'll remain as Chairman until the transition to the new guy is complete and a replacement chairman has been chosen.

Hardie like many of TV's rising stars has a marketing rather than broadcasting background his skills were shown at ITV where he rejigged much of the diverse ITV's 'regional branding to a less confusing single entity.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Setanta in final seconds of extra time?

News International Media Supremo Rupert Murdoch is on record as believing in the importance of Sport for Pay TV but the idea that you just bid and bid to capture sports rights is not the way to run a lesser bouquet of sports channels.

Setanta the other sports pay tv operator on the UK dominant multi-channel platform is looking in danger of finding itself on the 'subs' bench (and we don't mean subscribers).

In time Sky might regret what they've done to their upstart competitor which now looks like it might have to throw in the towel- it seems hard to believe that OFCOM or the competition commission will be able to continue to ignore the elephant that's in so many viewers front rooms for too much longer.

So expect BT and Virgin to up their sideline whingeing and some sensible changes to be unveiled.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Here are 3 Good things to do?

Tesco is often attacked for its dominance of UK retail activity but they do seem to be working on a number of green initiatives - the idea of awarding ' clubcard points' for recycling hard to dispose of plastics seems particularly worthwhile. Over 100 articles recycled today!

I've got some spare time so have volunteered to assist in one of my local Oxfam shops.

When you think about how much spectacles cost it's worth passing on unwanted pairs why not give away your unwanted spectacles? I delivered 2 pairs to my local Dollond and Aitchison.

501 Must See Movies

A Christmas or so ago I got a couple of books of the must do/see genré, I've also accumulated a vast library of free DVDs courtesy of the great British Press.
So recently when there's not been anything appealing in the schedules we've viewed what seem to be regarded as 'Good Films' to be honest I've been a little disappointed - the two films were

A Touch of Evil from the all round Smart Arse Orson Welles - bit melodramatic and a very strangely made up Charlton Heston (meant to be Mexican) in an over long black and white story.

The second film was Glengarry Glen Ross, and this was powerful, (lots of effin' and blindin') and well acted but a bit of a downer reminding the viewer to stay away from financial slaesmen of all varieties.

I'm not sure if it's partly because I really like to films at the Cinema rather than on a TV (perhaps I need a big screen, BlueRay and Dolby 5.1).

I'll probably try and work through some more of the reccomendations of great movies I've not seen and if you have a particular favourite please let me know.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The perils of trojans and the like

Beware of Trojans etc. I went to an IET lecture this week that focused on "Information Security and the Law" it was given by that rare beast a" techie" lawyer- even rarer Dai Davis is a legal type capable of making the subject engaging.

Seems that we have a law that is able to send someone to prison for 10 years or so for fooling around with another persons phone but (perhaps) fortunately we don't have suitably equipped forces to deal with what could be severely draconian laws.

One of the persons who is to blame is Emma Nicholson who framed and introduced legislation when she was an MP (a little knowledge being a dangerous thing) the rest of the trouble (of course) is from Europe.

The US and Europe are where most of the attacks stem from- not as I thought Russia and the "emerging states" watch out for South America in the future..

Dai also explained that its worth getting onto banks regarding "phishing" attacks (those scams where bank masqueraders want you to update your details online) as they are able to pressure ISPs to take action. (Dai thought that RBS of course were one of the banks who did not take their responsibilities seriously). A good background item on the nature of the problem here.

Don't respond to spam e-mail from sources you don't know saying you wish to be removed - this merely confirms your existence.

Strangely the day after attending the lecture I got the Trojan "Hamweq A"I seems to have managed to remove the little devil but the experience shows that IT security is a subject that deserves consideration.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Channel 4 - interesting times (may you live in)

That famous Chinese curse "interesting times" might be relevant to the past and present toilers at Horseferry Road.

Seems that Sky have gone on record with some questions on the governance of C4 - saying pretty much that the company has been profligate and careless with what are to all intents and purposes public funds.

Now in what could be a spooky parallel with the scandal of the politicians Jacqui Smith and Caroline Spelman do we have in Mark Thompson (the former C4 boss who now heads BBC) and Michael Grade (the former C4 boss who now heads ITV) a similar awkward situation where they can't slag each other off?

The two politicians give the impression that their problems with expenses mean that neither Labour nor Conservative can snipe at the other creating a Tory Labour standoff that owes much to a Mutually Assured Destruction scenario and the largesse they have both been extracting from the poor old Tax Payer doesn't get the airing/debate it should have in the mother of all parliaments.

Let's hope that a full disclosure of any extravagance that went on at C4 Towers is exposed, perhaps Kevin Lygo will let the cat out the bag much as he has over the acknowledgment that he's being paid too much and effectively bounced other senior Channel 4 luminaries into taking salary cuts (all be it smaller ones.