Saturday, March 27, 2010

but will it be Independent?

The news that the Independent has (sort of) been sold throws some light onto the challenges that the UK press that was once Fleet Street is currently facing.
The Lebedev family has to my mind so far made something of a success of turning the London Evening Standard into a 'quality' free paper I reckon it’s better than it was when we were charged for it, particularly after it held the London Evening paper monopoly.Alexander Lebedev is certainly a man who has beenon a journey from his days as a Moscow high flier in the KGB

Now some commentators are saying that The Independent may move to a free/give away model how successful that could be for a quality national newspaper remains to be seen but it does make the changes that Murdoch is making to the Times and Sunday Times online seem even braver (or is that foolish), how much is online revenue worth and does the Times have much that is unique that will make its online readers part with £1 (or £2 for the week) – as many have said before free can be a very attractive price.
Is a quality paper sustainable by advertising alone and how would the Telegraph et al respond?
As a concept the funding of organs of Western democracy by former KGB agents does feel a little odd doesn't it?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

OTT - Another future of TV

I’ve attended a couple of very illuminating sessions over the last week, they both were focused on the broadband connectivity of the TV of the future (and it’s already here in
some cases).

That future is typified by Canvas but is unlikely to be restricted to this tamed version of internet TV (suitably titled OTT/Over the Top TV), the expectation that it will be sanitized and not driven by pirate and adult content may be some peoples wishful thinking.

The first presentation was given to the London section of the RTS on Wednesday by a couple of guys one, Bill Scott from Easel TV banner, and the other Rob Walk from Novarising (who also appears to be part of Easel TV) although not strictly speaking representing Project Canvas it was clear that they had strong associations with the BBC driven initiative.
Bill and Rob were clear that they believed that this TV would remain a 'lean back' experience with limited search facilities and a semi walled garden philosophy that relied on some form of markup language to enable TV guide like functionality.

On Thursday I went along to another presentation this time at The Cavendish Centre in London's W1 this had a slightly random mixture of panelists under the stewardship of a somewhat crazed Kate Bulkley.

The panelists were Kelvin's not so little boy Ashley MacKenzie representing rights holders (he seemed a restrained version of his father and considered that aggregating rights was going to be an are of significance).
Representing the Gorilla in the front room that is YouTube (Google TV?) was Anna Bateson she seemed a little detached, perhaps aware that it was for others to court her favours as being the deliver of internet TV audiences who can afford to play the slightly longer game.

Claire Tavernier of Freemantle was able to represent content and the potential loser of this new dawn, Sky TV had Griffin Parry as its cheerleader. The views of Michael Cornish CEO of Blinkbox kicked off the evening and as something of an industry veteran they were worth listening too.

My views on what I heard over the sessions are:

1) The (slightly) old guard are not fully aware of the paradigm shift that is about to be unleashed (the current youngster will consume media differently from how the present generation do for a variety of reasons)
2) Human behaviour with respect to the drivers with respect to content will be constant namely such things as, sport, adult material and free movies.
3) Search will not be an add on at the periphery - I expect 'smart phones' to be hooked up with killer applications that act as an itelligent remote/gateway come video search engine/purchase tool.
4) The BBC is doing the right thing in fighting to be at the heart of the evolution of the TV screen -it matters otherwise TV can be just about delivering audiences and the viewer is the loser.

5)One thing I think the panelists did get right is that the Samsungs, Sonys and Panasonics have a big part top play in the gate-keeping and enabling side of things.

If you have a different perspective I'd like to hear it and I'm sure it's something that will be a topic for some time.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Coronation Street and Poundland meet in Ealing

Ealing shopping centre has been battling to keep shops occupied and over the last 3 or 4 years some retailers have deserted the area (or gone out of business).

The fight has to some extent been successful and shops such as Primark and H&M have helped to revitalise the area attracting young fashion seekers on a tight budget.

Tomorrow Poundland arrives in Ealing, it is perhaps not the sort of shop one associates with the 'Queen of suburbs' but as recession hits London it fills a need (as will New Look which will also open soon).

I was intrigued to see that on Saturday Becky of Coronation Street will be making a meet and greet appearance, signing atographs and pressing the flesh, it seems that Coronation Street has links with the shop and it seems a good fit, I wonder if the on air programme will build on this as product placement emerges on to our screens.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Papal fallibility

Next time I start letting rip into the political establishment or start going on about what awful examples of the human race estate agents are remind me about the Roman Catholic church.

I know it's best to steer clear of religion but here goes.

Having checked out what the Pope is and does I found that there is a concept of Papal infallibility and that the Pope is a successor to St Peter.

I have never warmed to the current Pope (or the one before either, and the Pope's brother seems an unpleasant sort too ) but the knowledge that he was part of a cover up of a child molesting German priest is truly shocking. The cover up has been receiving much coverage, to me it only goes to show the depth of corruption within the RC church establishment.
The church recognising the potential damage that such revelations would have decided to cover up these terrible crimes against children, crimes that have led people to years of misery and in some cases suicide.

So some people might say that this was an isolated case - for those people might I suggest they look at what happened in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady who was party to ensuring that children kept their mouths closed to the abuses they had suffered to protect the law breaking 'fathers'.

He will only resign if the Pope asks him to - unbelievable, do they know nothing of guilt (I thought that was the RC stock in trade)?

I am surprised that the Catholic church can survive in educated western democracies and that those with morals and honour remain within it.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The death of the book

Let's face it it's only time before the majority of us get an e-reader, an ipad variant or kindle or whatever the trendy brand leader happens to be.
Does it make me a Luddite to feels that this inevitability is a bad thing?
Has the mp3 player made us value music of whatever type we prefer more?

Does the fact that TV can now be delivered to a host of platforms mean that there are better programmes or that we appreciate them more?

I think not although technology is a wonderous thing it does not help us recognise the value of things in fact it probably does the reverse.

When I first started taking photo's with a box brownie camera there were 8 pictures on a roll of film, they were black and white and I took care what I photographed, when I started making my own prints I understood how the process worked and trail that led back to early pioneers like Fox Tablot. Now I have cameras in phones and cameras that can take thousands of colour pictures that I'll never print.

Education as an experience is dying and becoming a process mediated by computers and technocrats.

Why should I despair I have a book lined study and my education was haphazard and human, my record collection remains a mixture of records some bought to impress some because they are cheap and some that I felt, deep in my heart I must own. i recall the record shops where I bought them and the pleasure they gave me - do downloads feel the same?

So an electronic book (and newspaper) with sound effects and moving pictures, why should it cause me such sorrow?

{I hope it's not just that I'm an old fart.]

Sunday, March 07, 2010

ITV back in profit but what next?

After what was a tough and challenging year at ITV the company has reported profits.
New brooms Norman and Crozier now need to build on this success and retain focus, as the UK and the rest of Europe emerge from a deep recession advertising revenue is sure to bounce back but this will not mean that the company can ignore the structural changes within broadcasting.

ITV is a small fish in an increasingly large and turbulent pond and needs alliances and strategic partnerships to avoid being swallowed up by one of the larger players.

As an alternative Crozier and Norman can fatten the company up in preparation for a takeover by RTL or one of the other large European media outfits.

Under Grade big improvements were made and the company has become leaner and more efficient no longer saddled with 'Friends Reunited' it still has the challenge of moving away from its heavily regulated past and must deal with issues such as ITN who continue to make poor business decisions (such as getting into bed with Sports broadcaster Setanta).

ITV continues to make steady progress with its Internet strategy but has some distance to go to catch up with C4 and must consider the new kids like Arqiva's See-Saw.
It should not be forgotten that ITV continues to produce really high quality mass TV including Coronation Street (in its 50th Year) and audience magnets such as The X factor and I'm a Celebrity.. Where though does it go from here? Moving to a pay/subscription proposition is not going to be easy or quick. Although Norman and Crozier know advertising they haven't worked in Broadcasting and they need to continue to deliver audiences - it'll be interesting to see where ITV is in a years time and what the profits are in 2-3 years.