Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Pension Fun

November 28th, 2011

As we move towards industrial action, on the 30th November I have a feeling that there will be a sudden increase in rather distorted media coverage.One of the key things that irritates me is some of the language that is used around the principle reason for the dispute. The dispute is fundamentally about pensions and the desire of the Government to see people in the public sector work longer, pay more and receive less.

Interestingly the reasons cited for this need to change is the fact that changing demographics mean that pensions are/will shortly be unaffordable. This is odd as the received wisdom on pension reform comes from John Hutton’s pension report. His report is fairly clear that the burden of pensions is falling rather than increasing.

There is a certain logic to this. We are at the point where the post war generation are picking up their pensions, this will be followed by generations where birth rates were on the decline. This is coupled with a massive reduction in public sector employment. Taking the NHS as an example there has been a 50,000 reduction in staff over two years meaning nearly 5% of the work force has gone off the books. Add to that local authorities and the police you see a substantial reduction in the burden.

What is hidden in the Government story of pensions is the principle that it is unfair that public sector employees get pension terms that are not comparable with private sector employees. Note that it is apparently fair to change the terms and conditions of a previously agreed contract but not fair to have favourable terms to group of people you have no control over.

This is where the language begins to annoy me. You often hear terms such as “gold plated pension” and “generous pension schemes”. These terms imply that a pension is somehow a gift that is granted through the largess of the state.

This isn’t true. A pension is nothing more than an element of your pay. Some pay you receive up front as taxable income, whilst some pay comes in the form of employers pension contributions that is deferred until retirement.

We need to get away from the thinking that pensions are some sort of magic gift from the tax payer.

The fairness argument is essentially saying that public sector workers need to have their wages reduced. It doesn’t matter if you mean just the taxable element or the pension contribution, both are essentially wages.

The extrapolation of this is that nurses, teachers, social workers and care assistants are paid too much. If you are arguing for public sector contribution to pensions to be reduced this is what you are advocating. That is an entirely reasonable position to take if you believe it, but do not couch it in terms of pension reform.

This is basically the politics of envy.

We should also remember that reducing pensions has a consequence.

Pension funds are a massive source of investment for the private sector. Leaving aside the point that many funds were unduly affected by the lack of banking regulation, we need what they have left to invest in growth. Reducing the capacity for funds to do this seems naive at best.

We also have the issues we are storing up for the future. Giving pensioners enough money to live on reduces the chance that they will become a burden to health and social care in their old age. This is why improving private sector pensions is a much more pressing concern than reducing public sector pensions.

If we support people in the private sector to have investment in their future, then when it comes to means tested social care benefits more people will be supporting themselves. This is basic maths.

Posted in Media, Politics | Comments (3)

Pick Up The Pieces

August 12th, 2011

I decided to write about rioting.

This has been an odd thing to get round to writing. I’ve been thinking about it for days but everytime I’ve gone to start typing I’ve read something that eloquently sums up my views far better than I can myself.

A case in point being Russell Brand’s excellent thing in the Guardian.

First off I don’t think I have any particular insight into why our society apparently began to unravel this week. I don’t have any solutions and can’t pretend to really have any understanding of the people involved. My life is fairly comfortable and is as removed in social terms, if not geography, as it is possible to be.

I think the thing that really prompted me to and get my thoughts together on this was the reaction of Michael Gove on the radio, on Wednesday morning. I can’t remember the exact words as I was having a shower at the time but in short he said we shouldn’t seek to understand recent events as they were purely a manifestation of good vs evil. I added the word manifestation as this is what he really meant, he said something else that didn’t work as well.

I thought about that for quite a while.

It’s obviously idiocy of the highest order but there was something that resonated with me. As with much of the coalition Government narrative, it is a complex event boiled down to a simple explanation. The reductionism of this is so effective that the words essentially have no meaning. This is dismissing events as though it was little more than a Batman comic.

It operates on the same simplistic level that appears to have convinced the mainstream media that macro economic policy works in the same way as a credit card.

This has been coupled with the constant refrain from the Government, that to seek answers is to justify criminality. This is the attitude of someone trying to hide something. The rules of cause and effect don’t have a moral component. I believe that boiling water turns it into steam, this doesn’t mean I’m justifying it .

What I think I can safely say is that many thousands of people did not spontaneously, and suddenly, all reach the same conclusion, that wanton criminality was the way forward. This inclination had to be latent and needed to be triggered.

The causes of all of this are likely to be complex, though not ignoring that personal choice is probably the overarching factor. I don’t think we can ignore the role of politics within this, and I don’t mean this is something caused by the Conservatives alone. All parties have a similar responsibility for the change in moral norms that has clearly happened over generations.

We are living in an age where it is most likely that young people will not achieve levels of prosperity that their parents have. This isn’t an issue of poverty be it absolute or relative, it is an issue of hope and aspiration. I don’t mean that civil disturbance is influenced by settling for a smaller telly than your Mum and Dad. I mean that we are living through a time where the entire tempo of our lives is a regression on what has gone before. It is only moral boundaries that stop us seizing at quick and easy routes to comfortable living. Be that a moral objection to auditioning for X Factor or an implicit understanding that we shouldn’t rob banks.

This makes it all the more important that we ensure that everyone has got something invested in our society, something that they don’t want to lose. Without that we have no real form of censure.

The world wide recession has clearly impacted every strata of our society but this has been coupled with an ideological experiment to remove the state from our lives. This isn’t as simplistic as the reduction of budgets, it is also the message that is given to us by the Government that we must take responsibility for our lives back from the state.

This message is couched in the economically bankrupt imperative of deficit reduction but the reality is an ideological reduction of the state.

I imagine that this message was intended to develop the flawed concept of the Big Society as we all embraced our personal responsibility. The reality is that we see that many young people have recognised that it is their responsibility to generate their own wealth and simply decided to take it.

If you consider this article in the Telegraph you can see why such a reaction has come about. Any young person shaping their values in our society can see from the example of our political, media and financial classes that illegality is a technical barrier. If this notion isn’t redressed through family then I’m not exactly sure where people get their lead from.

Of course that doesn’t justify the decisions that young people have taken.

It does leave us with a problem, how do we stop this happening again? We can maintain a massive police presence for a few more days but then we run out of money. At some point we will need to reduce this and I’m not convinced that we have managed to change the minds of many of the people that decided that Sunday was a good time to set everything on fire.

Yeah, I don’t have an answer to that.

We need long term solutions and a fair bit of that will only come through setting examples. That will mean getting rid of politicians that we know are corrupt. Regulating the media and regulating the financial sector. Anything less will only fuel an erroneous perception of injustice.

It is fine for the Government to experiment with removing the state from our lives, in the hope that the private sector will fill the void. As with any experiment we need to be prepared for what happens if we get results we don’t expect. In this case criminality has filled the gap left by a shrinking state and lethargic private sector.

We have seen some efforts to fill this gap by society itself. We’ve seen vigilante mobs on the streets and we’ve seen spontaneous civic cleaning. Whilst I understand that, in some forms both of these are needed to make us feel good about ourselves they divert attention away from what really helps us out in the short term. The last few days have seen Council workers out first thing in the morning doing the real cleaning before any fo us get up. Throughout the night we have seen the Justice Service, that has been decimated by the Government trying to send an immediate message out to communities.

We need to recognise that we can experiment all we like but when it goes wrong we need at least a semblance of a safety net, in the form of the state, to pick up the pieces.

Posted in Media, Politics | Comments (4)

The Hemming-Way

May 26th, 2011

The Right Honorable John Hemming is nothing if not selfless. The less charitable might have seen his decision to expose Ryan Giggs to the harsh glare of publicity as a desperate attempt at self promotion. The story in the Birmingham Post indicates that  his motives were entirely altruistic.  His actions might have prevented more than 75,000 people being sent to prison. I do wonder what would happen to our prison system if it were entirely made up of people that had outed Ryan Giggs on Twitter. I don’t think overall prison literacy levels would go up, but there would be many more pictures of cats.

John is no stranger to publicity, the story about the kitten goes without saying, his disastrous interventions in the family court are well documented and his partial success in visiting space might make you think of him as a comedy politician. Now we can see that his jokey persona actually hides  a deep concern for the welfare of Giles Coren.

I’m a bit agnostic about the recent media feeding frenzy around injunctions. Obviously not so agnostic that I just ignored it all, no, I’ve made it all the way upstairs to write this. I think that if Ryan Giggs asked for an injunction and a court decided that, according to the law, he is entitled to one then fair enough. If we have a legal function, that is sanctioned by Parliament, then we shouldn’t just ignore it. The issue around the Trafigura case seemed a little different as a company dumping toxic waste is of a whole different scale to Giggs playing away from home (I do mean having an affair there rather than the conventional application). I realise that the principle is pretty well exactly the same but there is an underlying level of hypocrisy in most things I write.

I am puzzled by one contradiction in the Post story; John Hemming told the Post that he made his Parliamentary revelation in order to protect the innocent. He added that he doesn’t think other people should make such public pronouncements but should leave it to MPs. This either implies that he can do this due to Parliamentary privilege or that he has another more secret MP power. The rush of mainstream news sources to report Giggs’ name, after Hemming said it in Parliament, indicates that most people  seem to believe that it was still subject to an injunction.

John goes on to say that he wasn’t actually covered by Parliamentary privilege as the terms of the injunction had been so damaged by widespread usage that he couldn’t have been prosecuted. I’m not sure you can have it both ways, you’ve either made a constitutionally shakey swipe at the establishment or a very successful bit of grandstanding.

As said before, John’s grasp of legal matters isn’t great, if I can quote  Mr Justice Wall :-

‘My judgment is that his self-imposed role as a critic of the family justice system is gravely damaged…. Speaking for myself I will not be persuaded to take seriously any criticism made by him in the future unless it is corroborated by reliable, independent evidence.’

The important thing about this is that the courts are performing the will of Parliament through the law that has been handed down to them. If people are concerned about injunctions being used unfairly, or even to repress free speech, then we need MPs to pass laws to stop this happening. An MP simply flouting the law is basically a waste of time that could be used more productively to change the law.

There have been deep constitutional implications of John’s actions. You can still get an injunction to protect your privacy, if you can persuade a court it meets the basic legal rules as exist in our constitution. The difference now is that it is only enforceable if John Hemming MP agrees with it. Charitably John has reduced the economic burden of this change in the law as he doesn’t need to know any detail of the case, no,  he will base his decision to expose you in public based on………  nobody knows what the criteria are.

Exciting isn’t it?

 

 

Posted in Media, Politics | Comments (0)

There’s a Theme

November 18th, 2010

I’ve noticed quite a few people claiming that this years TV offerings from the US have been quite poor. Particularly the Guardian have run with this as a theme. I can’t really comment on most of the series in that article but will agree that Shit My Dad Says is possibly one of the worst thing ever put on TV.

What I’ve noticed with this season is that theme tunes seem to be a lot better than usual. Obviously the entire basis for Hawaii Five-0 is the theme and the rest of the story is forced to fit with it. Though the remake does seem to make it sound a bit like the theme to Mission Impossible.

Getting a good theme should be a really important decision. You never know how long your series is going to be commissioned for. Do you think the makers of Smallville really thought we would be listening to Save Me by Remy Zero ten years later? Who the hell are Remy Zero?

So, a few themes that have stood out for me this year are listed for your passing interest.

Rubicon has been one of my TV highlights this year, besides the series itself the them was absolutely spot on. You can see it here, unfortunately embedding is disabled, but have a look and come back afterwards. I have no idea who did the theme to this though I haven’t searched much beyond Wikipedia.

Boardwalk Empire has been my second favourite series this year, and my second favourite theme.

I like the theme because it’s got a bit of Neil Young and a bit of the Velvet Underground about it. It’s only since I started writing this that I found out it’s by The Brianjones Town Massacre. That’s cheered me up as after watching DiG! I always hoped Anton Newcombe got some recognition.

The last on this little list is Terriers. It isn’t the greatest series ever but it has grown on me and I like the theme.

Unfortunately the theme seems to be a bit of a Babylon Zoo moment. Do you know what I mean by that? We all liked the bit of Spaceman we heard in the advert and then realised the rest of the song was crap. I have a feeling this might be the case with the theme to Terriers.

Anyway, it’s called Gunfight Epiphany by Robert Duncan who apparently did some of the music on Buffy. Fair play to him. It has a bit of Beck about it but I doubt I’ll listen to much more than the first thirty seconds.

I suppose whilst talking about themes it would be strange to not mention Sons of Anarchy. It is a series that I’ve had a mixed relationship with. I didn’t get the first series but stuck with it. I really like the second series and just haven’t understood the third series. Why they thought it was a good idea to set it in Northern Ireland is a mystery to me.

Now I’ve never really liked the theme but I especially hate the way they have attempted to make it a bit Gaelic.

Why would you do this?

Posted in Media | Comments (0)

Benefit Fraud

August 10th, 2010

I’m not really that bothered about benefit fraud.

I can see that it is something that probably shouldn’t be encouraged but I don’t see it as something that we really need to get that hung up about. Most people that phoned a radio station this morning probably don’t agree with me.

I used to work for the Benefits Agency. The fraud team seemed fixated that they were some sort of special agents, they had radios.

They would spend months on surveillance, building a case to stop someone nicking  £30. It didn’t seem very cost effective.

This morning, or possibly last night, David Cameron announced a new “policy” to unleash bounty hunters on benefits “cheats”. This sounded quite exciting. The prospect of unleashing Dogg the Bounty Hunter on someone “doing a foreigner” (not a literal use of the term, but I rarely get to use it), seemed a bit over the top.

The reality is that it is just an excuse to bung more cash at credit reference agencies and give them access to more data to flog to companies. This is nice because credit reference agencies always have a hard time in a recession.

The way this has been represented seems to be the most interesting thing about it. The figure of £5.2 billion in fraud a year has been plastered over everything. This surprised me as I thought that fraud levels in previous years were much lower. I know we’ve had a recession but this would have been a massive increase in such a short time.

As you look at the story you notice that this figure is in fact fraud AND error. So it includes money paid to people by mistake. Though there doesn’t seem to be much interest in the press in the error part of it.

Finding Dave’s figures proved to be quite tricky. I couldn’t find anything that matched £5.2 billion but I did find the Department of Works and Pensions 2008/09 figures. They tell quite a different story. They say fraud and error account for £3.1 billion. So we have a discrepancy of over £2bn.

They also state that fraud accounts for one third of this total.

Over a billion quid in fraud is something that we should be interested in but it isn’t really the £5.2bn that started all this.

Listening to Five Live this morning you might have thought that most of the country were signing on whilst working. The DWPs own report estimates that Job Seekers Allowance fraud accounts for £240 million.

The report also highlights the £0.5bn that is underpaid to people each year. This again hasn’t been mentioned by the press.

Whilst looking for the figures I came across a press release from the Citizens Advice Bureau highlighting the £16 billion that is unclaimed each year. This is the real issue that should be of concern to us. This is a vast amount of money that should be paid to the most vulnerable in society but isn’t. These are winter fuel payments that play a vital role in keeping people alive.

Overall our current benefit bill is much lower than it should be.

That’s something to think about next time we make excuses to not chase the £40 billion that is avoided in tax each year.

Posted in Media, Politics | Comments (2)

Just like Microsoft

February 14th, 2010

This week has completely bewildered me.

It’s no secret that I’m quite a big fan of Google. As far as the whole “we’ll give you free stuff if you let us go through your draws” deal goes, I’m fully signed up. I think it’s fair enough to say that Google know considerably more about me than I know about me.  I’m comfortable about that as I walked into this with my eyes open.

At the beginning of the week I hadn’t heard anything of Google’s  plans to take on social networking with Buzz. It surprised me that such a fully formed idea would pop up with so little notice. I’m used to the almost permanent “beta” label on Google products and usually more than a little publicity before hand. I watched the press conference it seemed a really interesting idea.

I’m a big fan of Twitter but sometimes it’s limitations really frustrate me. As a tool for quickly building a an interesting network it’s very good. As a medium for expression it’s largely rubbish. Though that’s fine, it is what it is and does what it says it is going to do. Buzz appeared to be addressing quite a few of these issues and more importantly, potentially, integrated with all my other sources of data. Great.

In the great scheme of things the development of a new form of social networking is pretty low down as a priority. Interesting, but unlikely to change the world. Or so I thought.

On the day Buzz was launched it became obvious that quite a few people were less than happy about being provided with something both new and free.

Clearly Google took a decision to launch this as a fully formed and set up product. I can understand this as being handed something that is already working is going to increase participation rates better than something that requires some degree of effort.

This article from the Guardian highlights how angry people really were about the implementation. This individual clearly has been caused a substantial degree of distress by something that she didn’t ask for (well mostly) and apparently doesn’t want. The issue really is whether or not this is something that has been done to people or whether there is a degree of culpability.

I think this is an excellent example that highlights the need for people to take personal responsibility for what they do on the Internet. It appears from the article that this persons biggest source of irritation is how Buzz had made shared items in Reader available to the wider public. This simply isn’t the case. Reader had shared item settings before Buzz was launched. Buzz simply tapped into these settings to provide them through another route.  Equally, as you go through the  Buzz  set up process it explicitly states that Buzz is connected to Reader and provides a button to disconnect.

How many people had checked their privacy settings in Reader before Buzz was launched? Seemingly very few it would seem.

There is also the issue of how Buzz develops your contact list  and whether these are the most appropriate people. I think, like most  people, the contacts I email the most are not the ones I would include in a social network. When I activated Buzz it gave me a list of people and buttons next to their names saying follow/unfollow. I deselected the ones I didn’t want to follow.

It’s a simple process, it took seconds. No information was passed to people I didn’t want it to be.

My issue with all of this is that very few of the MASSIVE PRIVACY flaws with Buzz  are valid.  There are settings that you have full control over. The issue seems to be that people did not pay sufficient attention to what they were signing up to.

This demonstrates that people have a very different, and cavalier attitude to social interaction when online.  In a real life situation you are likely to be considerably more circumspect about how you pass information to people and what you agree to. It is not the job of Google or any other company to to take on our own personal responsibility. We need to read all the words that appear in front of us and make more informed choices.

I suppose the last aspect of this that confuses me is the role of Microsoft. Essentially they have no role but are still taking a bit of the blame. The above events are being used to justify the claim that Google are “just like Microsoft”. Strangely this is intended as an insult. Just like Microsoft apparently symbolises some inexorable movement towards evil. Let’s remember that  this is Microsoft that have made us an operating system and quite a good word processor. They have quite aggressive  business practices but as far as I can work out they’ve not  killed anyone. They’re certainly no Union Carbide.

So what does this “just like Microsoft” claim mean? They’re large, well yes. They make money (lots of it), I imagine that’s why they started all this. They know about computers. Erm that’s about it.

Nobody has ever forced anyone to give either Microsoft or Google any money. If you disagree with them then don’t interact with them. They won’t mind. They have lots of money already.

There’s a point in here somewhere. Maybe even two.

My first week of using Buzz has been quite positive. The way it functions and integrates many things is much better than all the alternatives. I think it has a great potential to dominate as  a social networking tool and I’m quite  happy to take part.

Posted in Media | Comments (1)

Cloud Gaming

March 26th, 2009

I reckon the development of streaming gaming has the potential to revolutionise the way we think about games as entertainment. There are no other forms of media that are so utterly dependant on the hardware that delivers them.

It’s also strange that gaming is the only form of media that provokes arguments about which form of hardware is the best. Not critical discussions but proper arguments between grown men (I do believe there is a gender bias in this). This is a silly situation.

Looking at Onlive’s Web Site I think the imminent arrival of Cloud Gaming is probably not that imminent. I couldn’t stream the introductory video.  Either my connection is rubbish or their servers can’t cope at the moment which means a big fail for it working as a concept.

I have no idea what the technical barriers are to getting this working, but if all of the processing can be carried out remotely then we are surely in a position where the only costs to users are the input device, display and subscription. I would say that I’m sceptical about the claim that lag is unnoticeable but that is probably something that can be resolved.

The timing of this has got to be a crucial factor in whether or not it will succeed. Is there a sufficient number of people that accept the subscription model for games? The money paid for access to XBox Live and the truly daunting number of Warcraft players would seem to indicate “yes”. Though the cost will clearly be a deciding factor.

Tags: , ,
Posted in Games, Media | Comments (1)

Mutiny

February 27th, 2009

Clearly the reported mutiny of Bangladeshi border guards is not really something to laugh about but the story seems to include some humourous points.

The Guardian reports how the insurrection occurred :-

“The rebels wore red bandanas and sprayed bullets into the unit’s officer corps at an annual “durbar”, a meeting where the rank and file can bring their grievances to the officer corps.”

It would seem this model of allowing heavily armed people to air their grievances  has a rather big flaw.

It apparently occurred because border guards are annoyed that they don’t get to go on peacekeeping operations for the UN. I would think that if you’re trying to make a case for being allowed to maintain peace agreements then you first need to demonstrate that you won’t execute your commanding officers.

A very strange story.

Posted in Media | Comments (0)

Yet More Shit About Twitter

February 10th, 2009

 

twitter_deadbirdDoes the world need another post about Twitter? Of course it doesn’t.
 
Is that a good enough reason to not write one? Well it probably is but I’ll do it anyway.
 
The whole world appears to have become obsessed with a medium of communication restricting every contribution to 140 characters just because Philip Schofield thinks it’s a good thing. That’s just weird. There is no other field of human endeavour where people would sit up and listen to Philip Schofield. If he suggested the Sudanese Government were perpetrating genocide in Darfur most right thinking people would seek a second opinion.
 
I imagine that when Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Even Williams first began to consider how to propel Twitter from the niche to the mainstream then Philip Schofield wasn’t at the top of their list.  I doubt they had him anywhere on the list. I doubt they have a bloody clue who he is.

 

Twitter executive: “Who can we get to demonstrate that Twitter is an exciting and vibrant platform for engaging with celebrities?”

 

Twitter employee:  “Philip Schofield?”

 

Twitter executive:”Who?”

 

Twitter employee: “He used to be a continuity announcer on Children’s TV in the 80’s and was friends with a gopher”

 

Twitter executive: “Please leave.” 

 

The strange thing about it is that it’s actually worked. Through his admission on This Morning he goes on Twitter and…… talks about things, he’s triggered something in the minds of other celebrities. Looking at Schofield’s profile you are suddenly struck by one glaring fact. Over 50,000 other people give a toss about what he’s got to say. That’s slightly incredible. 

 

Now I’m no celebrity but I’m sure if I were it would raise a question in my mind. If that many people care about Schofield then how many would I get? This seems to have prompted an unseemly surge of celebrities gasping to tell us what they’ve had for tea.

 

Jack Schofield (no relation, actually I have no idea if he is or not) has done a handy list of celebrities on Twitter. Stalking truly has never been so easy. 

 

With a little bit of delving you can put a figure on how good a celebrity is. Brent Spinner (Data from Star Trek) has 17,312 followers. When you make a comparison with MC Hammer, who has 45,140 followers, it is immediately obvious that MC Hammer is 160% better. If you think about it, we all sort of knew that, but it’s nice to put a figure on it.

 

Twitter has become the currency of celebrity. It is only a matter of time before we someone from Eastenders top themselves because the public have rejected them through Twitter. I think that can only be a good thing.  

 

It has also provided an insight into celebrity lifestyles. The immediate benefit of Twitter is that someone has the opportunity to communicate with hundreds/thousands  of their “fans” without the barriers of PR or media censorship. The immediate problem with Twitter is, what if you’re boring? A rather bad example of this is Dave Gorman, when he’s on the telly, is a very funny man. On Twitter he comes across as a very very serious man. Now that’s not a bad thing, if you’re funny for a living then having to perform like a seal is probably grating to say the least. 

 

Whereas Richard Bacon who is largely famous for Konnie Huq and cocaine (though probably not at the same time), has turned out to be very funny. I’m a little worried that he has removed freewill from his life and replaced it with Twitter but that is his choice.  Worryingly Richard only has 11,547 followers. This makes him statistically more rubbish than Brent Spiner, my theory could be a bit flawed.

 

The most interesting thing about celebrity usage of Twitter is their inverse relationship with it.  Most people sign up, search out some friends and then wait for someone to notice them. The inverse perspective is to sign up and then get bombarded by requests for information from people you’ve never met before. This makes the point that when we get the likes of Philip Schofield telling us how great Twitter is, they’re really telling us about something that will bear little or no resemblance to our experience.  When it becomes represented in the mainstream as a celebrity stalking tool it loses some of its function  and worth.

Tags: ,
Posted in Media, Misc | Comments (2)

Play Away

February 7th, 2009

I’ve been bothered by the recent decision by the Competition Commission to stop the so called Project Kangaroo. My irritation with the decision is odd as I don’t generally use the existing video on demand services provided by BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Though I do like marsupial based technological developments.

BBC iPlayer seems to work fine and Channel 4 OD  requires too much software  running in the background. I spend a fair mount of my time trying to avoid ITV so the prospect of watching it on the Internet fills me with a bit of dread.

I think the thing that has annoyed me about the decision is the element of condescension within it. They believe the public (us) will benefit from having to visit three different sites to watch UK TV. The market will, apparently, provide us with a better service through making the whole process more difficult.

An analogy would be to say that manufacturers are restricting competition through allowing us to watch more than one channel on our TVs. The decision appears to fly in the face of all moves towards convergence.

I think there is an interesting parallel with the decision to restrict the BBC from developing local news services. The decision was apparently taken in order to prevent local news providers being subject to unfair competition from a state funded organisation. This ignores the fact that the majority of local news providers are a little bit crap. Maybe the injection of competition would force them to raise their game.

We frequently forget that the BBC is ours. We pay for it. We should use it to provide services that improve the quality of our lives. It should not be considered a publicly funded private organisation. We can use it to make developments that raise the bar for other organisations.

The iPlayer itself has set a standard that other organisations are trying to meet. This standard has been set both nationally and internationally and I think we should be proud of that.

In the judgement the Competition Commission seem to have ignored one vital factor to the video on demand market (well they did in the press release, I didn’t read the whole report). The current market is made up of more than the established media providers. Both Sky and Virgin prompted this investigation and to be honest you’d expect them to moan about it.

The competition for providing media services is really coming from the likes of Bittorrent. It is a simple process to find TV you’ve missed for free and download it. Usually with the adverts removed.

It is this problem that mainstream media providers need to address rather than their own protectionism. Kangaroo would have provided a platform with a revenue stream whilst giving us something that we want.

It’s a short sighted decision and one I’m convinced will be overturned.

Posted in Media, Politics | Comments (0)

« Older Entries