Exam date

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

Monday, 17 June 2013

'Shock' as J-Lo posterior causes BGT 'outrage'

BGT and its ilk rely on heavy tabloid/mid-market coverage to maintain buzz, with social media coverage also important. On either side, it came as no surprise that the ritual shock at [insert female pop star name]'s
J-Lo forgot her skirt shocker [pic source]
revealing costume and sexual dance routine
was duly sparked by the 2013 BGT final. J-Lo, like a certain Middleton sister, may have talents in other areas, but a large chunk of her fame is accounted for by her derriere, which the media have been unironically salivating over for many years now. BGT judge Amanda Holden remarked she'd like to "bite" this lucrative posterior.
J-Lo, as she usually does (just like Rihanna and Xtina, subject of previous shock and outrage narratives from X Factor/BGT appearances), appeared scantily clad, maximising the famed appeal of her rear. Her dance routine, as it (and the vast majority of pop dance routines) usually does, featured sexually imitative gyrations. Standards really have slipped in today's media, they weren't like that in the good ol' days ... which is true so long as you completely ignore the inconvenient fact that such outrages go back to the early beginnings of pop on TV: hip shakes got Elvis into trouble back in the 50s, and Jim Morrison's groin thrusts got The Doors banned from The Ed Sullivan Show in the 60s.
Back to today though.
Here's an excerpt from The Evening Standard, a London daily now owned by Lebvedev (Russian Indie):
It wouldn't have happened in the good ol' days...
owner of the
Wearing thigh-high black boots and a tiny black leotard that struggled to cover her famous posterior, her performance finished with her thrusting her crotch at the judges.
Viewers took to Twitter to express their disgust at her raunchy routine, which took place as schools across the country were on half term holiday.
Jim Morrison's groin thrust got The Doors into trouble too
Note the standard press tactic of weaving together two unrelated facts to make the story appear more sensational: J-Lo' appearance/dance took place whilst children were on hols!!!!! OMG and so forth. First of all, the bulk of moral panics either involve children misbehaving (often a technophobic kneejerk from those being left bewildered by technological advancements) or being corrupted. The real story here might have been about the exploitation of child performers, vulnerable to media exposure and every episode of which goes out on weekends, when kids are always off school, was being watched by kids ... on holiday ... just as they would if they weren't on holiday. Wow!
ridicule, by the Simon Cowell juggernaut for profit. But, no, BGT,
This isn't to say that there isn't a case to answer, and OfCom has previously warned broadcasters to respect the watershed following similar cases, but we can see here how the press manipulate their discourse to try and whip up outrage, and ideally manufacture a moral panic.

If you're not convinced that such whipped up press hysteria isn't anything new, try this NME list of 44 controversial moments in pop history.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Greek state TV closure: do we need PSB?

Greece was rather stunned to have their equivalent of the BBC, ERT, abruptly switched off this week. The EBU (European Broadcasting Union) has stepped in, seeing this as an unacceptable state of affairs, and is broadcasting the network's programming over satellite. The Greek government, rather curiously, is issuing threats to anyone involved with this, despite having to pay nothing towards the operation.
Can you imagine a UK landscape either without a BBC or with a privatised, ad-funded BBC? By 2013 (and indeed, a decade+ ago), that has become the norm across the western world. Take Italy, where Silvio Berlusconi utterly dominates the media (print and broadcast) to a degree even Murdoch can (for now!) only dream of, and the under-funded state broadcaster, RAI, has been seen as very vulnerable to interference from Berlusconi - who has been Italian PM on and off for most of the past decade and more, despite constant scandals (often involving teenage prostitutes). Scandals which much of the Italian media won't report. His government coalition has always included a Fascist party, the Northern League (imagine Murdoch as PM, with the BNP - who consistently reject any attempt to put the label fascist onto them it should be fairly pointed out - in government as coalition partners).
Perhaps this helps to see why state PSBs are still important?

See guardian.co.uk/media/2013/jun/13/ert-greek-tv-switched-on. More Media Guardian articles on this here.

Regional press: breakaway regulator?

Speculation growing that the regional press, very unhappy with the shape of the Leveson proposals (especially the cost elements which they see as potentially causing widespread bankruptcies among the local press), are looking at setting up their own regulator - see Greenslade:

Why the regional publishers cannot accept arbitration

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Troubles with Northern Ireland

No, the post title wasn't an example of poor writing ...  its a reference to the so-called 'Troubles' (a nice ideological, successfully hegemonic sleight of hand to diminish the status of the combat that took place in NI) and the issues that have been raised over the years whenever the terrestrial broadcasters tried to cover this in a fair-handed fashion.

Great article on this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2013/may/14/the-fall-northern-ireland-troubles.

Sample paragraph:
Until the Scottish question, though, it was in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, that the tension between UK remit and viewers in a constituent nation was at its greatest. The word behind the BBC's first initial was explosive to many nationalist viewers and yet the loyalist audience was often appalled by what it perceived as republican sympathies in some programmes. These irresolvable pressures led to such crises as the events in the summer of 1985, when a documentary in the Real Lives series, which featured Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein, was postponed for four months by the BBC governors under pressure from the Conservative government. Three years later, the Thatcher government failed in its attempt to prevent transmission of the Thames TV documentary Death on the Rock, which investigated the killing by the SAS of three IRA members in Gibraltar, but, probably not coincidentally, Thames later lost its ITV franchise through a new Thatcherite bidding process.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Does DMI fiasco point to new BBC regulation?

With a hostile Tory govenment in place and the febrile atmosphere created by Leveson and the Saville scandal (unfair as it might be that the same media gleefully attacking the Beeb were guilty of lauding Saville themselves), the latest BBC crisis may just see the current shared BBC/OfCom regulatory system overhauled. Steve Hewlett argues that the DMI (Digital Media Initiative), which was axed as a failure after a £98.4m spend, and the misleading of Parliament on this, is squarely the fault of the BBC Trust.
(From another article:)
MPs on the Commons public accounts committee (PAC) said the BBC and its former director general, Mark Thompson, gave evidence to parliament in 2011 that "just wasn't true".
Here's an excerpt from Hewlett's piece:
The loss by the BBC of close to £100m of licence payers' cash on account of its ill-fated "Digital Media Initiative" (DMI) has so far been somewhat under-reported – as BBC scandals go, that is. But the loss of what roughly amounts to Radio 4's annual budget or 100 hours of top-end TV drama or 700,000 licence fees has implications that could extend well beyond the current embarrassment of the Trust and the Executive occasioned by the abandonment of the flagship project.
Of course the BBC is not the only big organisation to have lost a fortune – not to mention a decent topping of public credibility -because of a big failed IT project. But when you look back at the course of events surrounding DMI, lots of very serious – and, in the runup to a new Royal Charter, politically significant – questions arise.
The BBC has been in a long-running battle with the National Audit Office (NAO) fearing, rightly, a potential threat to the BBC's independence bordering on direct political interference via the back door. It's all very well for the NAO to scrutinise the BBC's books to ensure efficiency and good stewardship. But when financial and editorial matters become entwined – which in the BBC's case they do most of the time – the NAO's view of good public value, and more troubling still those of the body to which the NAO reports, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Commons, brings that threat of political interference to life.
The problem with the collapse of DMI is that it looks for all the world like plain bad management compounded by a failure of oversight by the BBC Trust, and as such opens a flank to attack by some on the PAC who want nothing more than to muscle in on the BBC's decision-making processes.
Read the full article here.

Friday, 7 June 2013

So much for 'wild wild web': US gov spies on big sites

If you use YouTube, Apple, Google, Facebook (and more) - can there many who doesn't use one of these? - be aware that the US secret services directly copy every bit of data they generate/receive.
So much for the 'wild, wild web', out of control, anarchic and above regulation.

The Guardian splashed on this and other stories in a major series of features on 7.6.13. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data, part of this series.

Monday, 3 June 2013

BBC controversies: Real Lives 1985

There's a useful Wiki on BBC controversies.
You can see a 4min BBC News report from the time here.
The BBC bowed to gov pressure and banned it; BBC staff then walked out on a one-day strike; the BBC announced it would be screened some time later, with several cuts made.
Poor contrast with the IBA, who stood up to very similar pressure over the DoTR doc and broadcast it uncut.
Archive material has been released under the FoI Act, after a Guardian application, in this blog.