Exam date

When's the 2016 exam? Wednesday 8th June, am.

Monday, 28 November 2011

X Factor in new product placement row with OfCom

The show seems to be determined to the equivalent of the Daily Mail, the paper the PCC has had most investigations into: every week some new controversy arises, the latest being accusations that Tulisa's arm tattoo, given prominence by her tiresome arm salute at the show's opening, is effectively an ad for her new perfume. OfCom is investigating. See http://www.metro.co.uk/tv/882434-x-factors-tulisa-contostavlos-investigated-by-ofcom-over-arm-gesture

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


Long but fascinating article, from which I'll add an excerpt then the fullt thing below
Esseentially, the BBC has somehow gotten OfCom to agree to allowing it to add DRM (digital rights management) to its broadcasts, in contravention of European (and even American) norms; the practice is widely banned. The article gets at the lack of openness and accountibility of the 'independent' OfCom - tho' would this differ if it was a government agency? (Perhaps questions would be asked in parliament or in the DCMS Select Committee?)
Full article link
In other words, "Auntie knows best, so shut up and run along and let us get on with breaking your TV."
Ofcom was equally unhelpful in explaining why any of this material passed muster in its "case by case" evaluation of confidentiality. Rather, it switched back to its statement that it had to take all claims of confidentiality at face value, and freedom of information seekers need not apply when one of the companies it is meant to be regulating tells it to keep mum, no matter how compelling the public interest and how unconvincing the claimed need for confidentiality.
And now we're gearing up for DRM Britain. Our BBC will give privileges to American TV companies that the US government won't give them, and our "independent" regulator won't even tell us why.
In the new DRM world, the rights you've enjoyed to your licence-fee-paid material are now contingent. If you want to save your copies to your computer, transfer them to your tablet or phone, loan them to your neighbours, excerpt them for education, criticism or parody, you're going to have to ask a committee for permission. If your kids want to do these things, they're going to have to seek this permission as well, and if you have the sort of children who aren't comfortable making submissions to regulatory committees, then your children won't be able to do what other children all over the world are accustomed to doing.

Full article:

How the BBC's HD DRM plot was kept secret … and why

Corporation's Ofcom submission reveals it is willing to give privileges to US TV companies they can't get at home
  • Frozen Planet
    The BBC lobbied for DRM to be included on all Freeview HD receivers, offering shows such as Frozen Planet. Photograph: Jason Roberts/BBC
    Back in 2009, the BBC approached Ofcom for permission to add "digital rights management" locks to its high-definition broadcasts. The locks would work by scrambling some of the information used to decode video, and in order to get the descrambling key, manufacturers would have to submit to the rules of the DTLA, an offshore consortium led by Intel.
    This was a strange request for the BBC to make. There aren't any licence fee payers who put a cheque in the post this year and thought, "Gosh, I wish there was a way I could do less than the law allows with the video my licence fee pays for." The BBC has always eschewed DRM in its Freeview offerings, and other public broadcasters in Europe, the US and Canada eschew DRM. German law prohibits DRM on its public broadcasts, and American law prohibits DRM on all broadcasts, both commercial and non-commercial.
    What's more, the DRM scheme proposed by the BBC had three major flaws: first, technical experts believed it would be trivial to defeat; second, the part of the broadcast that the BBC wanted to scramble was shared by closed captions and assistive audio tracks used by disabled people; and finally, the full rules set out by DTLA for its DRM were governed by confidentiality agreements, which meant that UK manufacturers would be ordered to comply with a set of secret rules that the public wasn't allowed to know.

Monday, 14 November 2011

PCC: New chairman Lord Hunt interviewed

This article highlights the Establishment nature of the PCC: Hunt is the 3rd Tory peer to become PCC chairman (after Lord Wakeham + Lady Buscombe) + only took up the post after Wakeham sold the idea to him. Denying tabloids are the main issue facing the press is a curious starting point, though he does seem keen to extend PCC powers. Its still in the balance whether or not the Levinson inquiry will lead to the closure of the PCC of course...

Article link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/nov/13/lord-hunt-pcc-interview

PCC chairman Lord Hunt: the greater challenge is with bloggers

He quotes Wilkes and Thatcher, admits he doesn't know much about how papers work, and reveals how he will run the PCC
  • Lord Hunt
    Lord Hunt: 'I have arrived [at the PCC] with a blank piece of paper.' Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian
    So Lord Hunt, why did you apply for the poisoned chalice that is the chairmanship of the Press Complaints Commission?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Guardian editor proposes new press regulator

The Guardian editor proposes a PCC-replacement he calls the Press Standards Mediation Commission (PSMC)

Guardian editor proposes new press regulator

Alan Rusbridger calls for new independent body 'with teeth' that offers a 'one-stop shop' mediation service for libel and privacy
Friday 11 November 2011 
    alan rusbridger guardian
    The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has proposed a new independent regulartor to replace to current Press Complaints Commission. Photograph: Teri Pengilley
    The Guardian's editor-in-chief has proposed a new independent press regulator with teeth, offering a "one-stop shop" mediation service for libel and privacy.
    Alan Rusbridger, delivering the annual Orwell lecture, said he believed a new regulator, armed with powers to investigate, could offer a "quick, responsive, and cheap" way of resolving disputes.
    It would be "our own one-stop shop disputes resolution service so that people never had to go to law to resolve their differences with newspapers".
    Rusbridger suggests the new body could be entitled the Press, Standards and Mediation Commission (PSMC) and would replace the existing Press Complaints Commission, which is facing the axe after the Leveson inquiry publishes its findings.
    He supported calls by the Daily Mail editor-in-chief Paul Dacre for a press ombudsman who could investigate serious lapses of standards on a "polluter pays" basis.
    Rusbridger proposed that the PSMC would have a small number of staff to deal with libel cases in particular, with a panel of qualified mediators.
    He suggested mediators could: decide on fairness and accuracy; whether the disputed article was opinion or an allegation of fact; whether it was in the public interest; whether the complainant had a reasonable chance to respond and whether their response was included.
    Rusbridger also called on the industry and any other interested parties to come up with an agreed definition of "the public interest – and stick to it".
    "If we fight legal actions and mount campaigns over articles that even we don't pretend are in the public interest as we define it, aren't we inviting people to be cynical about our motives and out commitment to self-regulation?" he asked.
    Rusbridger said it was an "incredibly anxious time for journalism, with even the most powerful and professional newspapers clinging on to financial viability", and the Leveson inquiry would make for some "uncomfortable" moments.
    But he said that while the upcoming Leveson inquiry may well uncover some "uncomfortable truths" about the way a number of journalists have acted in the past, that was "surely good, not bad".
    Shining a light on bad practice would lead to good outcomes, he said, as transparency normally did.
    "Leveson provides an opportunity for the industry to have a conversation with itself while also benefiting from the perspective and advice of others," Rusbridger added.
    He said it provided "a-once-in-a-generation chance to celebrate great reporting" and to think again about what journalism at its best can do and what it should be.

Bye bye Berlusconi

The UK has come perilously close to the political/media monopoly enjoyed until this week by Silvio Berlusconi; here's an article which provides an overview of his political career, and a particular section I'll copy in first:
For as long as Bossi withheld his support, Berlusconi was to remain out of office. He lost the 1996 general election and might well have been reduced to political insignificance subsequently had the centre-left taken the opportunity to blunt his most formidable political weapon. But, in the late 1990s, Berlusconi tricked the leader of the ex-communists, Massimo D'Alema, into believing he would back a grand project for constitutional reform in exchange for a promise not to dismantle his near-monopoly of commercial television. D'Alema never got his reform, but Berlusconi kept effective control of his TV channels.

His apologists mock the idea that Italians would take their instructions from his three channels, and point out that Berlusconi's ownership of the Mediaset network did not stop him from twice being defeated at the polls. But it is also true that his sway over television (reinforced when he was in office to include all but two of the seven main national channels) helped create an environment in which he could thrive (and later survive).

If Italians were unable to grasp the seriousness of the financial misdemeanours of which he was accused, if they were willing to give the benefit of the doubt to his claim that he was a victim of politically motivated prosecutors, if they were untroubled by his anachronistic sexism, and if latterly they failed to grasp the extent to which Berlusconi was held in contempt outside Italy, it was to a large extent because of what was said – and not said – on their small screens.

Silvio Berlusconi: a story of unfulfilled promises

The most influential Italian politician since Mussolini has done much to damage his country's standing and prospects

    Silvio Berlusconi
    Silvio Berlusconi has weakened the rule of law in Italy, but failed to keep his promise to make his compatriots rich. Photograph: Giuseppe Lami/EPA
    The resignation of Silvio Berlusconi has very likely put an end to the most colourful, eventful, improbable and destructive career in Italy's recent political history.
    No Italian since Mussolini has made such a lasting impression on his country. And none has done as much to damage its prospects and standing in the rest of the world.
    The story of Berlusconi's involvement with the public life of his country was one of repeatedly unfulfilled promises. He entered politics vowing to transform and unify the Italian right. And, as recently as 2009 when he founded his Freedom People movement, it looked as if he might realise his dream. Yet he is going at a time when Italy's conservatives have never been as divided or demoralised.