Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Burn TV stations to the ground

Not quite, but he's right about what you could do with the vastly inflated salaries they pay newscasters in the US. Michael Rosenblum at the RTNDA conference in April last year. He teaches VJ and CamJo courses.

US Radio Wanes

This analysis is one of the best I've seen on the challenges facing radio in the US - much of it applies on this side of the pond too.

News remains an important part of what was once simply called radio. In many ways, indeed, the tradition of listening to the news — aural transmission is the original way people got news — is among the most enduring.

But the radio business is undergoing no less of a revolution than any other part of media. The audience is fragmenting across new listening platforms. The revenue models are unclear, and which technology will emerge is uncertain.

What we once knew as radio is now something more complex and in many ways more interesting. In addition to the AM and FM dials, now there is satellite, HD, Internet, MP3s, podcasting, and increasingly, cell phones.

In 2007, the audience for traditional radio continued to slip some. But AM/FM listening still reached 93% of the population over 12 years old, down less than two percentage points overall since 2000.

At the same time, the audiences for new audio continue to grow. The numbers are still small. And it may be that a technology that has not yet become a major factor — cell phones — could in the end be a dominant one. Much more change, in other words, is to come.

Tons more (with charts) here

Ireland's Medium Wave Goodbye

Enjoyed listened to a Monday lunchtime programme on RTE, a programme which was the last show to be broadcast on mediumwave in Ireland....RTE has closed down the network. Since the FM network has been there since the mid-sixties, I think that's long enough for a switch-over. Now its switch-off.

RTE's broadcasts began life on the MW service as 2RN, later known as
Radio Athlone and Raidió Éireann, and in more recent times as RTÉ
Radio 1. RTÉ introduced the superior sound of the FM service in 1966
to counteract interference and poor reception on the mediumwave band. Now, RTE has pulled the plug on mediumwave (though longwave 252 kHz is still there, partly because of the spillover into Northern Ireland and the UK Mainland.

For Medium Wave Goodbye, presenter and producer Brendan Balfe assembled a superb programme highlighting some of his favourite moments on Irish radio. Brendan promises an entertaining and fascinating 90 minutes of memories of a service which has brought the world into homes all over Ireland since 1926, capturing moments of
history and life through decades of news, sport, features and entertainment. The programme includes archive audio of request programmes, pop and trad music, features, documentaries and commentaries - as well as references to shortlived Shortwave Service from Athlone.

More here at the special RTE page. The audio show is available on line until March 31st 2008.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Global Switch Off- For an Hour - March 29th

Sunday 8pm (local time), the Earth Hour experiment will go global, backed by WWF. Copenhagen is the only city in Europe to take the plunge. Why not London, Paris or Amsterdam?

Newspaper Sites Beat the Broadcasters - But Why?

Having just done a study for a client, I must admit most newspaper websites are significantly better than broadcast sites, usually because of the quality of the story-telling. There are some exceptions. I think the NOS, BBC and DR are examples of public broadcasters who do provide depth to their on-line presence, doing more than just repurposing a TV story. But the vast majority of radio and TV sites are just trying to persuade you to switch off the monitor and go and look at their station's output. Golden Raspberry Prizes for the most disappointing websites? Radio France Internationale - a 130 million Euro operation with a truly terrible website. Al Jazeera English gets my vote for the most disappointing TV website. There is great, unique material on their TV service - you try and find it on the web!

This excellent post (as usual) from Cory Bergman of Lost Remote confirms my findings - she just says it better.

Better reporting and writing. Simple as that,” writes Harry Jessell in TVNewsday, who points out the obvious that nearly all local TV sites lack the depth and breadth of newspaper sites. But what about video? “That’s fine. But unless the news clips contain some really compelling video, I just as soon read about it on the newspaper website. A still photo of a fire or accident is sometimes just as good as video—sometimes better,” he writes.

He’s right. A vast majority of a local TV site’s visitors are still reading text and looking at slide shows, not watching video — 80% or more, in my own experience. Strategically, video is still critically important, but TV sites will never compete with newspapers (on average) unless the quality and quantity of text coverage and photos improve.

There are two root problems, as we’ve written about many times before. The first is the fact that broadcast scripts are not appropriate to read online. They must be rewritten, usually by a web producer because the reporter A) “doesn’t have time” or B) can’t write. From a financial perspective, the time rewriting this script is a wasted cost. Reporters should write their own web stories — multiple updates throughout the day if needed — following AP style. (The only exception is breaking news against deadline, but they should be communicating new developments.)

The second is the misguided notion that a TV station’s web staff is there just to repurpose TV stories with a few extras here and there. As a result, TV sites are oppressively heavy on crime/fires/accidents and feature thin TV versions of newspaper and AP stories. Weekly franchise segments are just clutter — they’re not produced frequently enough to sustain their respective content sections online. And many TV-designed sweeps stories look silly when rewritten for the web. Oh, but there’s video!

Web staffs should be producing their own original content — not long features or investigative pieces (for now), but topical, wire-style stories (and slide shows, snappy blog posts and data-driven content) that fill the gaps left by TV coverage. What gaps, you say? On a daily basis, TV ignores stories that 1) have boring video 2) are too far away 3) don’t fit the story mix of a newscast 4) can’t be covered because of a lack of resources… etc. But an enterprising web producer can pick up the phone and turn a one-page story in an hour or two.

To get there, stations must shift more human resources to the web. “If stations intend to stay in that game and challenge the newspapers for local dominance, they had better start beefing up their stable of local editors, reporters and columnists—and showcasing them,” writes Jessell. “Perhaps it’s time to raid the newspaper for talent rather than another station.”

Good advice. Because TV sites can’t depend on breaking news, video and weather coverage to stay competitive in the months and years to come. Newspapers are getting faster at breaking news, and they’re starting to shoot video. Weather is gradually slipping away to portals and other pure plays. And online advertisers are hungry for categories like health, travel and sports. If local TV sites want to excel in the years to come, they have to take it to the next level. And expanded coverage is one place to start.

Team Tibet

This website is already banned in China (I think because of remarks I made about Chinese jamming of foreign broadcasts), so this entry isn't going to change much. But I must admit I laughed out loud when I heard that yesterday three Reporters Without Borders' representatives had unfurled a banner showing the Olympic rings transformed into handcuffs at the official Olympic torch-lighting ceremony in Olympia Greece. There were all kinds of protests when Bush visited London a while back. But in Greece, the RSF guys were arrested and then freed on bail pending their trial, which has been scheduled for 29 May at 9:00 a.m. in Pyrgos (50 miles from Olympia).

But here's the incredible part of the story. They are charged with having "shown contempt for national symbols." By virtue of Article 361 of the Greek Penal Code, they could be sentenced to a year in prison as well as having to pay a fine.

RSF has responded. "This is an absurd and senseless charge. By making that gesture, we were in no way attacking the Olympic spirit, or Greece. We were simply protesting against the policy being carried out in China during this period of intensifying repression. We also wanted to use the threat of boycotting the Games' opening ceremony, an initiative we support, and encourage the International Olympic Committee to urge the Chinese government to respect human rights, as called for under the Olympic Charter," the organization asserted.

The Reporters Without Borders' three representatives are due to arrive back in Paris in a few hours time. I'm curious to hear what they will say at the press conference. It just goes to show you how three people can grab headlines in most countries of the world. Except China, of course. Has anyone noticed how CCTV9, the international service of Chinese TV, has been dumbed down in the run up the Olympics? A few years ago it was at least talking about problems in China and things been done to tackle them. Now it slipped back into being a slow, sugar-coated hand-clap for Beijing - which makes it intensely boring TV.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Playing with Picasa Webpages

Vietnam: 95% of Its PCs Infected With Viruses

This startling article from Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

Is Vietnam the next haven for cybercrime? The country is apparently facing a major Internet security crisis, with some 95% of its PCs infected with viruses and 40% of its stock brokerages vulnerable to attack, according to government sources there.

Officials from Vietnam’s Public Security Ministry told attendees at a security conference held there this week that security and data protection are at risk due to limited investment and spending on IT and security, as well a lack of awareness among users of Internet security threats, according to the People’s Daily Online.

“The risk of data and network security breaches is at an alarming rate. According to reports of BKIS (a leading local network security center in Vietnam) and VNCERT (Vietnam Computer Emergency Response Team) under the country’s Ministry of Information and Communications, in 2007, some 25 percent of major Vietnamese Websites are vulnerable to hackers’ attacks, and 95 percent of personal computers were infected with viruses,” said Dang Van Hieu, deputy minister of public security at the conference.

The ministry reportedly found security vulnerabilities in 140 Websites of key agencies and companies in Vietnam, including Websites with the domain “” containing malware from foreign attackers, according to Nguyen Viet The, an official with the Ministry’s department of technology.

Last year, 342 Vietnamese Websites were hit by attackers, 224 of them from outside the country. And over 33.6 million computers were infected with viruses.

BKIS, meanwhile, says financial brokerage sites remain vulnerable as well. “In March 2007, we warned of errors in 12 out of 22 stock brokerage Websites which could be used by hackers to take control of or manipulate data and transactions. In late 2007, we still found errors in 40 percent of a total of 60 securities Websites,” said Nguyen Tu Quang, BKIS director.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Is it me or them?- tracing who's at fault

Earlier this week I wasted a couple of hours, trying to trace a fault that wasn't here in the office. The ISDN connection wasn't working properly - apparatus indicated they couldn't find the line. ADSL was working OK, and I will shortly get rid of all ISDN equipment anyway, but still. Turns out that KPN, my provider for a few days more, was messing around in the switching centre and they turned me off. Brilliant. KPN Helpdesk denied it...but curiously 20 minutes after sending an e-mail the line came back. Its the fact that they didn't apologize that has made me give up on KPN - customer service reminds me of Irma Bunt, with staff trained to explain what they are NOT going to do for you. Ah well, not much longer before I switch providers.

But that reminds me to share this site . Sometimes you can't get into a site (like Blogger) and the question is - is this a problem at my end or theirs. This site checks for you.

More on Arthur C Clarke

It seems Arthur C Clarke will be buried on Saturday. Watching the news feeds, I see that marketing guru Seth Godin, has added some comments about the great science-fiction writer in his blog.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

In 1983, I was lucky enough to lead the team that turned one of his novels into a computer game, the first time science fiction authors had worked in that medium. His computer game ended up grossing more than most of his books ever did.

He really was a genius.

The most important thing you can take away: Naming things is important. He made magic things real by describing them and talking about them in ways that felt real. Once something feels real, making it real is a lot easier.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Memories of the Arthur C. Clarke Interview

The photo is from Wikipedia in 2005. It is funny, but that's exactly how I remember Arthur C Clarke when I visited him in April 1985 and interviewed him for Media Network, a show I produced and presented for Radio Netherlands Worldwide. Arthur C Clarke always seemed to be timeless.

I was on my way to cover the Expo 85 in Japan and the cheapest way to get there was by Air Lanka. But, as it turned out, the time I spent in Sri Lanka was just as interesting as Tokyo, following up on broadcast history at both SLBC and Radio Netherlands media correspondent Victor Goonetilleke.

I remember phoning Clarke's diving business to ask for an interview. Clarke answered the phone himself. At first he didn't want to do the interview - I guess he had journalists on the phone at a regular basis. But I explained I was more interested in his scientific work than trying to find out what his next book was going to be about. But, in the end, he agreed.

I found a British scientist in the middle of tropical Colombo literally in technical paradise. Companies were asking him to be part of conferences on the future - and the future of communications. He showed me his 3 metre satellite dish and we spent over an hour scanning the skies for weak signals. Nothing was scrambled and you could see TV networks setting up feeds from different parts of Europe and Asia, often hours before they went on the air. I found the original interview this morning and posted it here. It runs about 7 minutes and was part of a longer documentary I made on broadcasting in that part of the world.

I shall always remember being given a pen upon leaving which was inscribed "stolen from Arthur C Clarke". I eventually lost the pen, but remembered the punch-line. Arthur's passing at age 90 is a celebration of a wonderful life. He had a remarkable ability to enthuse people about the universe and life in general. And his predictions, for the most part, were spot on.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Messing Around with Maps

What is Google up to with maps?

this from today's Google blog

We realize that you know your neighborhood best. So to provide the most accurate maps possible, Google Maps is open to user edits. People have moved markers of their homes and businesses all around the U.S. and Australia, making Maps work even better.

And so we thought: Why stop there? Moving placemarks is just scratching the surface. After all, when a new place opens in your neighborhood or an old favorite changes its location, wouldn't be nice to have that change reflected on Maps immediately?

Now in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, you can log into your Google account to edit a place on the map. You can even mark that a business has closed to save someone an extra trip. Of course, we've taken steps to help protect accuracy -- for example, you'll still be able to see the original listing information along with the history of changes made.

Not sure that the commercial world will take lightly to this....mark your competition as out of business, or may be the Tibetan monks can create a new country without having all that hassle with Beijing. Can see this feature being misused very quickly.

ama hulu!

Wish these guys were more honest. NBC's Hulu video site should be saying "we have absoltuely no plans to provide streaming services outside the USA at this time".

Monday, March 17, 2008

ForumOxford Mobile Meeting -April 18th 2008

Oxford University Department for Continuing Education has defintely one of the better conferences around on mobile developments. That's because it is run by passionate people who are there for the networking opportunities and a bit of fun...not one of these commercial traps that throw you into darkened rooms.

The University of Oxford's new Next Generation Mobile Applications Panel ForumOxford has been live since September 2005 and now has over 1500 members from over 80 countries. The membership is growing now at 2.3 new members per day. They have over 1500 topics and have become more active, now adding 11 new topics per week. The discussions in the topic threads have increased: on average 6.1 comments per thread (or 5.1 replies). In total there are over 6000 comments if you want to read it all, and they have added 1441 new comments over the past four months. To me, ForumOxford is like Twitter, but then only about the mobile industry,

Diaspora TV, Ireland

The Irish Communications Minister Eamon Ryan has announced that Diaspora TV will be on air in the UK by next St Patrick’s Day. Diaspora TV will be an RTÉ channel available on the new Freesat service in the UK. Freesat is a new free-to-air satellite service that will be available throughout the UK and across the Astra satellite footprint, covering Ireland and some other parts of Europe. It is led by the BBC and ITV. Further information is available at

This channel will be a hybrid of RTÉ One and RTÉ 2 with some additional programming from TG4. The One, Six-One and 9 o’clock news bulletins will be carried live. It will carry a range of home-grown Irish programming that will be of real interest to Irish communities abroad.

Minister Ryan said: “The 2001 Census in Britain records a figure of 850,000 Irish born people living in Britain. There are many more of direct Irish descent. I know that many of these people have been looking for an RTÉ channel in the UK for some time. I am pleased that foot of last year’s Broadcasting Act, this new channel will be up and running by next St. Patrick’s Day.

“I will be working closely with Minister Dermot Ahern to ensure that vulnerable groups in the UK will be supported in receiving the service. This new channel will provide the Irish abroad with a valuable link to home.”

(Source: Irish Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources via Media Network)

I wonder if this development will mean the radio channels from RTE will come off medium and longwave after all. Must be very expensive (listeners per kW) to keep those services going for Irish expats.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Worst Enemy of Professional Speakers

Really enjoyed a couple of days of inspiring speakers at the first convention organised by the Dutch Professional Speakers Association. I am one of the founding members. Although still young, I think the organisation has done a lot to start the campaign against the biggest threat to this side of the profession - the bottle of wine! As Guido Thys explained on Saturday morning, the tradition in the Netherlands is still to spend 100,000 Euros on organising a top-level conference, but nothing on a fee for the keynote speakers. So they end up with a mumbling CEO, who is then given a bottle of wine as a reward. Reminds me of people who spend 10,000 on a great hi-fi set, but buy rubbish speakers because the money ran out. You wouldn't reward a plumber or a doctor with a bottle of wine for their services, so why do meeting planners still think they can do this with speakers?

I have followed my colleagues example. I speak or chair around 5 sessions a year for free, usually for organisations which have a cause I support. The rest is always paid. To do otherwise is actually undercutting a saturated market...and devaluing the profession.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

IFPI 2008 Suggestion is sheer madness

Just skimmed through the International Federation of Phonographic Industries annual report following a tip off from Gerd Leonhard of Music 2.0 fame. I am flabbergasted by the suggestion made by John Kennedy, Chairman and CEO in the forward. He is seriously suggesting that the problem of music piracy needs to sorted out at the internet service provider level. They need to play content policemen.

The whole music sector, governments and even some ISPs themselves are beginning to accept that the carriers of digital content must play a responsible role in curbing the systemic piracy that is threatening the future of all digital
commerce. After years of discussing and debating, I am convinced it is no longer a
question of whether the ISPs act – the question is when and how.

More than anyone else in 2007, our industry has to thank French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Chairman of FNAC Denis Olivennes for the change of mood. The Sarkozy Agreement, announced in November, is the most signiicant milestone yet in the task of curbing piracy on the internet. It sets up a groundbreaking three-way
partnership between the creative sector, ISPs and government. It takes the protection of intellectual property online into new territory, requiring ISPs to disconnect copyright infringers on a large-scale, using an automated system and to test filtering technologies. Not every detail of the French plan will be
exportable to other countries but the overriding principle behind the plan – the fundamental role that ISPs play in stopping piracy – sets an exciting example internationally. President Sarkozy summed it up: the internet must not be allowed to become a Wild West; it must be a medium where we protect our culture.

I would hope that if this crazy French model were ever exported to the Netherlands that providers like XS4all would take these buffoons to the International Court of Justice in the Hague. So they will now be required to monitor traffic for illegal music "packets"? Time for the public to vote on this with their wallets. Where do the podsafe musicians and ordinary citizens stand on this issue? If this applies to music, will be asking government to monitor e-mail traffic and IM to check that we're talking about things that are in the national interest? The Internet is the wild west....get over it and work out the new business models staring these people of the past firmly in the face. "Phonographic Industries" indeed!

"Mobile" Maritime on the Great Lakes of Africa

The 200,000 fisherman that work on Lake Victoria will soon have the opportunity to use mobile phones to call for help if they get into trouble on the world's second largest inland lake. Pan-Africa mobile operator Celtel, a subsidiary of Zain, and Ericsson, in an initiative coordinated by the GSMA's Development Fund, have committed to extend the mobile networks across the Lake Victoria region, fuelling economic and social development of the lakeside communities and potentially reducing the number of fishing-related deaths each year.

Zain and Ericsson are upgrading Celtel's existing infrastructure and building an additional 21 radio sites to provide mobile coverage up to 20 kilometers into the lake. This will take about six months and ensure mobile coverage to over 90 percent of the fishing zones, where up to 5,000 people die each year from accidents and piracy.

The project will use Ericsson's Extended Range software package to more than double the effective range of radio base stations and Ericsson's Mobile Position
System, a location-based service that enables emergency authorities to
triangulate the mobile signal of fishermen in distress. Ericsson's green site solutions, including solar and hybrid power* solutions, will also be utilized to provide electric power to the base stations in the more remote island areas.

Personally, I would like to see the idea extended even further to better co-operation between mobile operators and radio stations serving those communities. With many mobiles having FM radios in them, as well as all having SMS capability, you could imagine the same system being used for weather warnings (or piracy reports) by radio stations in the area. Fishermen could then subscribe to weather warnings and/or news reports via SMS or listen at certain times for the "shipping forecast".

BBC International Sponsorship - Confused?

The UK Times reports today that Rolex will be the “exclusive launch partner” of, a revamped version of the corporation’s international web portal that was developed in order to generate revenue from non-licence feepayers outside the UK who use BBC web services. It seems I am one of 28 million people outside the UK who use the site.

The BBC says the sponsorship deals may generate millions of pounds and will “deliver a new flow of income from international visitors into the BBC for investment”.

BA and Airbus have already signed up. Personally, I have no objection to the ads around programmes, I am getting the programme for free. But I am concerned if BBC starts offering sponsorship packages for product placement or branding within an event, like sports. That sounds more like non-spot advertising to me, in which case the sponsorship should be clear during the credits at the end of the sequence. With World Service radio being grant-in-aid financed, but BBC World TV and being advertising supported, this makes for a confusing situation. More money for lawyers though...

Times says that Bectu, the broadcasting union, has protested to BBC management over the web advertising move. A spokeswoman said: “The BBC’s reputation at home and internationally is based on its freedom from advertising and commercial pressures. We believe this will damage the BBC’s reputation as a public service broadcaster.”

Times is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who operates rival international news networks to the BBC.

Painful Loss for Toshiba Loser

Nikkei business daily reports that Japan's Toshiba Corp is expected to book a 100 billion yen ($986 million) loss in its high-definition DVD business sector and post a full-year operating profit of around 250 billion yen, falling short of its own outlook. I am surprised they didn't pull it sooner. Never personally been a fan of Toshiba - lugged around one of the early multimedia laptops for presentations about 10 years ago and it was constantly giving the blue screen of death at the wrong moment. Service in Netherlands was hopeless.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

SearchMe - a more visual approach to search

Have signed up to the beta. World is definitely getting more visual. This video is a bit cheezy (Jack and Jill explain) - reminds me of the scripted adlibs on Radio Moscow in the 1980's - but the concept is good.

A-O-out of business?

I see that AOL-Time Warner has fired Curt Viebranz as president of AOL's sales arm. He has been in that part of the company for just over six months, long enough to decide that selling this Titanic of a media company to advertisers has become Mission Impossible. Watch others leave this ship soon. This was never a marriage of the like minded.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

BBC Arabic Relaunch Signals New Era for BBC World Service

As some of you know, I am making a video documentary to capture the shifts in international broadcasting as it switches from analogue to digital. Today marks the relaunch of BBC Arabic TV and I've compiled a short video report from the footage showing the thinking behind the BBC's shift in resources, putting more emphasis on video and new media services. Currently about 13 million people listen to BBC Arabic every week (their figures, measured independently), while there are an estimated 1 million unique users to, which also relaunches with more embedded video today.

The BBC's Global News Division has learned from the previous attempt to start TV to this region. A commercial model for independent journalism is probably impossible for Middle East and North Africa for the time being. Infact, BBC Arabic now has an advantage over its international English language family of services. BBC World is a "commercial" operation, along with the international facing pages of, World Service radio remains funded through a public grant-in-aid from the UK foreign office. That explains why there is little or no cross promotion of radio on TV and vice-versa. The World service English language web pages, despite a recent redesign, also seem to me to be increasingly divorced from what other parts of the BBC's international pages are up to. That's a shame since it remains an outfit which does more than most to provide creative, impartial news, current affairs and features. BBC World service English appears to promote two "camps" ....the promos at the top and bottom of the hour direct you to - the grant-in-aid funded site. But I hear announcements around the news bulletins refer to, which is being financed by ad banners.

Perhaps today marks the most visible shift of emphasis in BBC's international operations. BBC's Arabic service was the first foreign language radio department to start in 1938 (in response to the start of Arabic broadcasts from Bari in Mussolini's Italy). Seventy years later, the BBC World Service is re-examining what it does on all media platforms. The challenge is that almost every country is at a different stage of its media development - partly dependent on local legislation. On April 1st 2008, for instance, BBC World Service to Latin America ( will reduce its Spanish language radio output by around 75%, shifting more resources into online and adding TV/video reportages to what it does.

The only exception to this shift seems to be the "Have Your Say" programme, which as well as a radio incarnation from Monday-Friday, has also had a combined radio, TV and on-line version on Sundays at 1404. Not for much longer...that tri-media series stops at the end of March 2008. Perhaps BBC Arabic will have more success - they look as though they are trying to use BBC webcam technology to encourage those with web access to express their opinions.

I noted that at the BBC press conference to launch BBC Arabic, some of the journalists from Arabic media confused the term "impartial" believing the BBC was not going to do any investigative reporting for fear of taking sides. Now that the TV is publicly funded, I would expect the opposite - that it will open up controversial subjects for discussion.

No-one can yet comment on the quality of the new service. The audience will judge the station by how well it handles difficult issues in a fair and balanced way, especially when news stories involve British government interests - or Prince Harry fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. That doesn't necessarily mean BBC Arabic TV will be "popular" as a result. But it is important that audiences in the Arabic speaking world now have access to it. They should consider publicizing its availablity on the Hotbird satellite to viewers in Europe, but especially look to ways to extend the coverage to reach Arabic-speaking audiences in the US Mid-West and parts of Canada. They could easily beat the US Al Hurrah TV at their own game.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sorry about the autoplay....

For some reason, three of the great talks from LIFT, hosted on Googlevideo, decided to start automatically and at the same time on this blog. Sorry if you have had trouble - and thanks to a dozen or so people who e-mailed me about the problem. Now fixed. Still recommend you scroll down to the middle of February and investigate these videos if you haven't already done so.

The TED invitation....

Could it be the reason that Sarah Lucy of Business week doesn't get invited to TED is that she's not a very warm interviewer? At the techie conference South By Southwest, held in Austin, Texas she struggled during an interview with Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook who is not known to be very interesting in real life. In the end the audience got so bored with both him and her they shouted them off the stage. At last! The audience is finally standing up and complaining when they are forced to sit through nonsense. They have, after all, paid to come there to sit in the dark and watch paint dry. Several sites lile Gawker have the video of the revolt. Viddler has it in full.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

LinkedIn Laughs

Went back through the invitations I sent out at the beginning of the year through the LinkedIn network. This is very crude software because it cannot distinguish between contacts you have known for years and those you met at a conference somewhere. LinkedIn shows you those people who have read your request, but they decided they don't know you. That's happened to me. The vast majority of those people who don't know me turn out to be PR and marketing people who had me on a press list or arranged an interview. The problem for them is that I remember - and now I know they don't have a memory for faces. Wonder how long LinkedIn will last as a stand-alone operation, what with Plaxo and the like grabbing all the data out of these systems? I think this part of the 'social networking" is going wrong - and it won't be the big names like Facebook or LinkedIn that put it right. They are too busy with themselves.

UGC Dying - Newsweek

Absolute rubbish in Newsweek this week....both user generated content and moderated forums are growing.

This from an online magazine that doesn't seem to know what its readers find interesting - at least not when I checked.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

BBC Arabic Flashback

I see someone has posted the old BBC Arabic TV identification from way back in 1994. In those days the idea was to create mythical flags - giving the impression of being international, but not representing a specific country.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Soul Warning

Soul Warning
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
Warning on the handrail outside All Souls Church, Portland Place, London. Seemed funny trying to picture what must have happened to warrant this flaming great sign.

Gatwick Confiscated Items

Gatwick Confiscated Items
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
They must be the sweetest smelling airport security in the world. They are certainly proud of their stats. Wonder if they recycle?

Red, Red and Sinking - Societe Generale

If you were a bank that had just lost 7 billion Euro, you'd pull your advertisements for a while wouldn't you? Not SG. Red, black and rising....I don't think so. Seen at Gatwick airport, North Terminal, gate 105.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Meanest parents on the planet

More than two months after Christmas, the video below is still doing the rounds as an example of really mean parents, who packed some tee-shirts into an empty X-Box carton and gave it for Christmas. Now Engadget is apparently trying to verify the true identity of the boy to arrange for a real one. Nearly 900,000 when I checked.

What will Ziff Davis do next?

Story today from AP that Ziff Davis Media Inc., publisher of technology and video game magazines, has filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday, citing a decrease in revenue from print advertising and subscriptions as contributing to its decline. The company said it expected to reorganize quickly and exit court protection by summer.

Ziff Davis, which is based in New York, said in a court filing that it had total debt of $500 million to $1 billion and total assets of $100 million to $500 million.
The company is the publisher of PC Magazine and Electronic Gaming Monthly and Web versions of those magazines.

Ziff Davis reached an agreement with senior creditors, to whom it owes $225 million. Under the deal, the senior creditors will be owed $57.5 million and at least 88.8 percent of the common stock in the company once it emerges.

The company was unable to reach an agreement with more junior creditors, and is looking to use the court process to resolve that dispute. Another 11.2 percent of the reorganized company’s stock is available for distribution to those debt holders.

The company claims to reach 26 million consumers through 16 Web sites, 3 magazines and direct marketing. It is a remnant of a publishing empire established in the 1920s by William B. Ziff Sr. and Bernard G. Davis, who introduced titles like Popular Aviation and Popular Electronics.

Downgrading ITV and BBC iPlayer Ad

Whoa....things are worse at ITV than I thought. Guardian today has details.

ITV's online revenues were £33m last year - £117m off its target for 2010 - and has been thrown into shadow by the BBC's iPlayer. ITV has high hopes for its on-demand tie-up with the BBC and Channel 4 but that will not launch until later this year. Facebook and Bebo, meanwhile, continue to cream Friends Reunited (which Grade's predecessor Charles Allen bought because he believed it would be a fount of winning TV show ideas, but so far has produced precisely none).

Meanwhile ITV shares have dropped 40% over the past six months and there's little chance of improvement while uncertainty remains over Sky's 17.9% stake.

I see big iPlayer ads on the screens in Picadilly at the moment (posted on my Flickr account).

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Schiphol Dumb Parking

Schiphol Dumb Parking
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
People behind Schiphol parking offer a "smart" parking service, so they say. but this machine in P2 thinks my car has been in their car park since October 26th last year. Yes, right!

Bicycle Restoration

Bicycle Restoration
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
Sounds like they break up the bikes when they pick them up and you have to ring them up to find out if the damage can be restored. I do love these kind of signs.

Texas Embassy

Texas Embassy
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
All kinds of embassies around Trafalgar Square, mainly connected with the (former) Commonwealth. But this one is a restaurant.

BBC Radio's Window on the World

Not a very inspiring window in BBC Broadcasting House. More like a pile of technical trash than a message that radio has an inspiring future as part of a wider audio universe.

Red, Red and Sinking - Societe Generale

If you were a bank that had just lost 7 billion Euro, you'd pull your advertisements for a while wouldn't you? Not SG. Red, black and rising....I don't think so. Seen at Gatwick airport, North Terminal, gate 105.

BBC Broadcasting House Portland Place

First radio, then management, now switching back to becoming more multimedia - home of BBC Arabic TV and the rest of World service radio eventually.

Bored with Facebook?

Not as bored with Facebook as much as these guys, but I wish there was a big red warning button allowing you to stop people sending you useless, untested applications. Got rid of many in order to regain some control over my account again.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Mix-08 - Open is a four-lettered word

Everytime I have been to a Microsoft event, mentioning "open" has been like swearing in church. Now, Marc Canter, blogs about his invitation to the Microsoft Mix-08 event in Las Vegas, which despite the 1295 price tag, has apparently sold out. Marc has five great suggestions, which no doubt will be difficult to share on his panel session which has 45 minutes and 7 speakers alotted to it. So, before he runs out of time, here are the suggestions

. A lot has been made lately of Microsoft joining the OpenID foundation board and in supporting So my first suggestion is easy: “we need extensive testing and compatibility labs setup to make sure that OpenID inter-operates between various implementations!” Nobody can do testing labs as good as Microsoft. They practically invented bugs. So I’m hoping that they’ll do the right thing and fund these sorts of labs, which of course will then force Google to fund some labs as well. Nothing like dueling testing labs to make sure an open spec is solid and that end-users can guarantee a seamless experience!

2. How ’bout connecting Windows mobile to Google’s Android, the iPhone and ALL the existing handsets in the world today? Instead of thinking of these other handset OSes as the competitors, the way we do things in the open world, is embrace and sing Kum-Bah-Yah! Wouldn’t it be totally coolio to have a windows mobile device inter-operate with data devices and smartphones from around the world - and not be told “sorry we are not compatible with that device?” Wouldn’t it be coolio for MS to exert some of its famous industry manipulative skills to get the carriers to open up more and inter-operate more? Remember - open is the new black.

3. and then there’s the XBox. If there ever was a lesson in how to lose $5B and buy market share - its the XBox. How can MS turn its popular game console into a game changing device? I love the notion of the XBox set top box. And I love XBox live, which clearly needs to be completely open and allow anyone to run their own contests, tournaments, IM systems, etc. on it. The XBox is a gateway to the living room (see below) as well as a kickass real-time rendering device (see Second Life and all the opportunity of creating 100 Second Lives…..) Then there’s the reality of media downloads. How are ANY of these musicians and movie makers ever gonna stay in business as the new distribution channels which are just eating their lunch. Well the one thing an XBox can do - really well - is be a media player. You figure out what happens when the world’s largest computer company gets open and has this device out there that costs $250 and is connected to the Internet …… and it’s really smart too and knows about my digital lifestyle, what I like and is tied into targeted ad platforms. And monetizes attention.

4. With all the talk of being open, I wonder what MS thinks its enterprise customers will do when they’re told “go open old man.” Its time for a change, here’s the documentation for Windows and how to reverse engineer Office. I wonder what happens to their $25B a year in profits nest egg? This whole open thing smells like…… teen spirit. How does this all translate to the enterprise? I bet it doesn’t. I bet they’ll just forget to talk about it. “Oooops - did we forget to talk about the open office of the future. Oooops.” Sorry that wasn’t a suggestion, just me falling back into being cynical. I still don’t believe all this!

5. My favorite suggestion (which I’ve actually been making to Jeff Sandquist for several years now - ever since Scoble and Len Pryor invited me to the PDC on Lomnghorn in 2003) is that Microsoft needs to get open data flowing into the Windows Home Media system. That (by all accounts) is the leading Living Room platform and a place where families, singles and seniors can all unite together while gathering around the hearthfire of American life - the TV set. Sure videogames are hot in the living room, but most of those are relegated to the kids bedroom or family room downstairs. The Living room is the holy place, where new episodes of Lost and March Madness are consumed like so many buckets of koolaid propaganda. How ’bout doing some mashups around events or reviews? How ’bout establishing some shared, public XML servers filled with Event or Review data on it - so that a whole generation of family oriented Home Media apps can be built that tie into mobile, enable doctors appointments, shopping lists and TV guides? How come we don’t have apps that understand what my favorite TV shows are and notify me when my fav shows have been recorded successfully or download my fav playlists of jams onto my car MP3 player (oh that’s right - MS still does DRM.) Then there’s the whole bevvy of APIs and inter-connected issues which will arise when we try and gateway open standards and shared platforms, like Twitter or OpenSocial? How’s this all gonna work?

Would be great if my X-box console did more than play games...

Yes We Can

I see this vid has had over 5 million views, far cheaper than any TV campaign in the US. Wonder if we will ever find out if it made a difference to the way people vote?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Survey finds two-thirds dissatisfied with the quality of journalism

I tend to ignore some of the research company's press releases, but this one from Zogby International is interesting - of course very focused on habits in the US. Since many local publishers are putting less and less resources into original journalism, its not surprising the numbers are dropping. I think the quality of radio and especially TV journalism in the US is also out of sync with the rest of the biz. Compare NPR (political) interviews with the kind of journalism you find in many European countries and you hear a different breed....they usually lack the bite that I'm used to in Europe.

Internet is the top source of news for nearly half of Americans;

Two thirds of Americans - 67% - believe traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news, a new We Media/Zogby Interactive poll shows.

The survey also found that while most Americans (70%) think journalism is important to the quality of life in their communities, two thirds (64%) are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism in their communities.

Meanwhile, the online survey documented the shift away from traditional sources of news, such as newspapers and TV, to the Internet - most dramatically among so-called digital natives - people under 30 years old.

Nearly half of respondents (48%) said their primary source of news and information is the Internet, an increase from 40% who said the same a year ago. Younger adults were most likely to name the Internet as their top source - 55% of those age 18 to 29 say they get most of their news and information online, compared to 35% of those age 65 and older. These oldest adults are the only age group to favor a primary news source other than the Internet, with 38% of these seniors who said they get most of their news from television. Overall, 29% said television is their main source of news, while fewer said they turn to radio (11%) and newspapers (10%) for most of their news and information. Just 7% of those age 18 to 29 said they get most of their news from newspapers, while more than twice as many (17%) of those age 65 and older list newspapers as their top source of news and information.

Web sites are regarded as a more important source of news and information than traditional media outlets - 86% of Americans said Web sites were an important source of news, with more than half (56%) who view these sites as very important. Most also view television (77%), radio (74%), and newspapers (70%) as important sources of news, although fewer than say the same about blogs (38%).

The Zogby Interactive survey of 1,979 adults nationwide was conducted Feb. 20-21, 2008, and carries a margin of error of +/- 2.2 percentage points. The survey results will be featured at this week's fourth-annual We Media Forum and Festival in Miami, hosted by the University of Miami School of Communication and organized and produced by iFOCOS, a Reston, Va.-based media think tank ( This is the second year of the survey.

"For the second year in a row we have documented a crisis in American journalism that is far more serious than the industry's business challenges - or maybe a consequence of them," said Andrew Nachison, co-founder of iFOCOS. "Americans recognize the value of journalism for their communities, and they are unsatisfied with what they see. While the U.S. news industry sheds expenses and frets about its future, Americans are dismayed by its present. Meanwhile, we see clearly the generational shift of digital natives from traditional to online news - so the challenge for traditional news companies is complex. They need to invest in new products and services - and they have. But they've also got to invest in quality, influence and impact. They need to invest in journalism that makes a difference in people's lives. That's a moral and leadership challenge - and a business opportunity for whoever can meet it."

The survey finds the Internet not only outweighs television, radio, and newspapers as the most frequently used and important source for news and information, but Web sites were also cited as more trustworthy than more traditional media sources - nearly a third (32%) said Internet sites are their most trusted source for news and information, followed by newspapers (22%), television (21%) and radio (15%).

Other findings from the survey include:

Although the vast majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism (64%), overall satisfaction with journalism has increased to 35% in this survey from 27% who said the same in 2007.
Both traditional and new media are viewed as important for the future of journalism - 87% believe professional journalism has a vital role to play in journalism's future, although citizen journalism (77%) and blogging (59%) are also seen as significant by most Americans.
Very few Americans (1%) consider blogs their most trusted source of news, or their primary source of news (1%).
Three in four (75%) believe the Internet has had a positive impact on the overall quality of journalism.
69% believe media companies are becoming too large and powerful to allow for competition, while 17% believe they are the right size to adequately compete.
Republicans (79%) and political independents (75%) are most likely to feel disenchanted with conventional journalism, but the online survey found 50% of Democrats also expressed similar concerns. Those who identify themselves as "very conservative" were among the most dissatisfied, with 89% who view traditional journalism as out of touch.