Archive | Radio RSS feed for this section

Minicos: Radio Pedentry

15 Jun

To be honest, I probably could have just tweeted, but we’re here now, so let’s crack on!

Short and sweet, this is an open message to Absolute Radio 90s, and their “No Repeat Guarantee”.

Dear Absolute 90s,
Given you have a policy of playing tunes from the 1990s, and not repeating them, can you please explain to me why you play Morrissey’s 1989 hit “Last of the International Playboys” ad fucking nauseum?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good tune, and I apprieciate your guarantee only extends to seven hours of the day, but give it a rest won’t you?
You could always substitute it for one of his other eighties hits, you know. What about Everyday Is Like Sunday? I’ve never heard you play that, and we love that song here on the Explainin’ the Cosmos.
Anyway, I’ve said my bit. Sort it out!


Tellyhead… Back So Soon?

17 Jan

Tellyhead: We need the BBC.

I’ve just read this rather good blog post on the BBC. Most interesting perhaps is the first paragraph, that the BBC is too big, and needs cutting down to size.

This blog disagrees. The BBC is the standard to which commercial television and radio should aspire to reach, and whilst it can be argued that the BBC have an unfair advantage in being funded by a compulsory levy for anyone who owns “a device capable of receiving live television broadcasts”, by no means is this a BAD thing. If anything, it encourages innovation. And you know what, if it wasn’t for the economic downturn, it would have worked (but more on that later).

This isn’t to say that the BBC is perfect. There are plenty of TV and Radio shows that make one wonder “What. The. Fuck?”, and there are some articles on the BBC website where the interest value is, at best, questionable. The question I would like to ask is, how bad would the media in the UK be if it wasn’t around?

First of all, I point to the BBC’s new-media presence. According to Alexa, the interwebs hit counter of choice, the BBC is the UK’s most read news web site, and 5th most read after Google (twice), Facebook and YouTube. Whilst I accept it’s going to be difficult for it’s commercial news rivals to ever catch them, I note that The Guardian and The Telegraph aren’t too far behind, easily in the Top 20. It’s also of note that these two sites are the two most similar to Auntie Beeb in terms of layout and content, not to mention the fact that they are updated throughout the day, rather than just reprinting an electronic version of that mornings print edition. Whether or not the BBC copied from their commercial rivals or not is a moot point here – without the BBC’s online presence, I would posit that the newspapers websites would be a shadow of their current selves.

The same thing can be said with radio as well, to a degree. Once upon a time, the BBC had its arse kicked by its rivals in the commercial, and before that, pirate radio sectors. The modern day success of Radio 1, for instance, could be credited to the existence of Radio Caroline, Capital FM et al, which forced the station to drop its rather bland output and aging DJs in favour of radio that was (gasp) relavent to is target audience. These days, it’s the other way round. Take Absolute Radio (formerly Virgin) as an example – the commercial, AOR rival to Radio 2. The BBC hire presenters such as Dermot O’Leary and Russell Brand to appeal to younger listeners, and start playing a bit more new music than they used to. Absolute hire Iain Lee, Frank Skinner and Dave Gorman, and play noticably more new music than they did under the Virgin name. Coincidence?

Similarly, an ambitious project was launched by Channel 4 in 2007, the publicly-owned-yet-privately-funded television station, to take on the BBC Radio dynasty with it’s “Channel 4 Radio” project. By winning the auction for a new set of UK wide Digital Radio stations, C4 were to take on Radios 1, 4 and 6music with their own rivals, whilst giving space for Talk Radio and Sky News to take on 5 Live, along with some other stations. Sadly, due to the economic downturn and it’s effect on advertising revenue, these plans were never realised. What is indisputable, however, is that without the BBCs current monopoly on these stations, this radical plan never would have happened. Hopefully, when the conditions are right, Channel 4 or someone else will give it another go.

Leaving the biggest part of what the BBC do till last; Television. Much like radio, I would argue that the BBC, far from being innovators, have been playing catchup over the last few years. Whilst the Beeb were first out of the blocks in the Digital TV era by launching supplementary channels before its terrestrial rivals, Sky have indisputably lead the way. First network to launch a rolling news channel? Sky. First network to introduce red-button interactivity? Sky. That red-button BBC programme with Gabby Logan giving you up to the minute scores? Sorry, Jeff Stelling and mates have been doing that now for over 10 years. On Sky. First network to run a dedicated Arts channel? Sorry BBC 4, Sky again.
However, let’s leave the firsts and last out of this for a second. What the BBC have achieved, and it is no mean feat, is to have bought all of these innovations to the masses. Don’t get me wrong, if I was James Murdoch I would be rightly peeved at this state-sponsored technology grab, however it does leave Sky in the position whereby they do continually need to push forward and offer new things – which in the end will be good for the punter, i.e. us.

One thing the BBC have bought us, and which has undoubtedly changed the face of television, is the BBC iPlayer. I won’t say too much about it as I’m sure you the reader will be fairly well versed in how it works, but this innovation not only means that I can catch up with Eastenders whenever I want, because it’s forced it’s rivals into the same market, it means I can watch The Bill whenever I like, or Father Ted, for instance. And just to think, if the BBC wasn’t around, would we have this luxury? Maybe, maybe not.

The more observant amoungst you will have noticed that a large part of the above is conjecture, but there is an important point to take home. Yes, the BBC is a behemoth, yes, the BBC is jack of all trades, master of some, but most importantly, the BBC is an organisation whos very existance is beneficial to the media industry at large. The BBC and it’s commercial rivals are like Tom and Jerry – they may hate each other, but they complement each other and it would be hard to imagine a world where you had one without the other. Suggestions are that the next Government may look to slash the license fee. Clearly we are in an economic situation where money needs to be saved – I would suggest savings can, and must, come from elsewhere. Cutting the BBCs budget would be short-sighted and wrong. What is clear, however, is that public service broadcasters like ITV, C4 and Five are in need of more funding to compete. Their challenge is to find it from advertising under existing rules. A tricky task I’ll admit, but not an impossible one.