Thursday, July 21, 2011

Where now for News International?

TMP accurately predicted the day after the Dowler story broke that Murdoch would have no choice but to shut the NotW. With such proven prescience under our belt, what next for the sly old fox?

If you were Rupert, and you wanted to create a distraction in the UK press, what might you do? How about give the mostly useless Times and Sunday Times to its workers - with a heady incentive that's hard to resist of the first year's expenses in the bank? It's bugger-all use to him as it stands, and his generosity has won him few brownie marks - apart from a small band of people who really don't matter any longer.

That would be a nice way of further tucking up the smug and fast failing Observer and the preposterous Independant, and give the chattering bubble classes something to waffle about on the tedious BBC2 NewsNight.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Milliband: he doesn't like it up him...

After being set up for a drubbing, Cameron handled PMQs very convincingly, and then kicked off the debate on the media pretty well; and in one leap, Milliband was on the back foot, desperately rummaging around in the long grass. And like all his small-minded colleagues, painfully and tediously "tribal". 

So it seems that just as his colleagues feared when they voted for his brother (remember, it was the Unions What Won It for Red Ed), Ed confirms that he is an unremittingly small minded operator, and to the tories' relieved delight, plainly not up to the job.

Not that this troubled BBC News' tireless effort to provide Labour with a platform for carping, and thus provides the growing band of BBC reformers with a handy opportunity to corner them, and start to take action. (Laura Kuenssberg in particular needs to be de-smarmed and bundled off to Manchester).

We have recorded all the files of the committee and commons discussions with both Sky and BBC News "commentary" pieces. It's a relief to be able to watch them at 2x playback speed, with frequency compensated audio…  hoorah for VLC!  From a study of these it is apparent that the BBC still seem to be determined to try and exhume socialism before the generally clumsy Milliband properly inters it; but they have their work set out....

The selective reporting - and admitted bias - is one thing, but the bigger issue has now become the BBC's obsession with "bubble" issues in spite of the chronic world economic situation. The interests of the nation are not well served by this obsession; and the necessary reform can be part of, ironically, the very process now being set in train to examine political-media relations; the BBC clearly has the most opinion-formative position in the market. Like many other over-large behemoths, it obviously needs to be "broken" up into smaller chunks, whose chief execs cannot complain their empire is so vast they thay must be excused when the troops veer off the rails.

So then, how about splitting news/online  and "other " (more traditional) programme making operations at the BBC? Other broadcasters, notably ITV have worked that way, although ITV's feeble news operation has mostly been compromised by the bottomless BBC resource. We should also use this one time opportunity to reinforce the BBC "rump's" regional  remit with "a divide and rule" strategy and give the new Manchester palace the "North of Birmingham Hub" remit, and then London can deal with South of Brum.

Maybe the sacked NotW staff (over which Labour has of course wrung its hands) could be hired to run the de-coupled BBC News units?

Ho ho!

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Malady Lingers On

Phonegate has now moved into new territory and now knocks on the door of much bigger questions around the hopelessness of anyone trying to suppress any information ever again in the age of google and total disclosure.

This all began in the heady days of Alisatair Campbell, Ian Blair, invasions and dodgy dossiers when "means to end" became the accepted mantra of manipulative politicians and media.

So the conversions of Milliband et al typically reek of opportunism, sanctimony and breathtaking cant.

Our money is still on Murdoch & Co. throwing a few more curves into the frenzy, and can't wait for the DCMS interviews. Ultimately, a series of moves based on mutually assured destruction are entirely possible.

At the present rate of Met resignations, a PCSO will be have to be Commissioner in about 54 days.

Mind how you go...

Friday, July 15, 2011

And now for the Bigger Issues..?

Smile for the cameras, you Auld Fraud.

Brown's raging sanctimony is typical of the man as he seeks to blame everyone and everything but his own flawed character.

Don't forget that the utterly discredited Scottish Banks used to be feted and schmoozed by Broon and his Caledonian Cabal of the last Labour government.

And just look at the disaster of Broon's cocktail party where he schmoozed the idiot Victor Blank into gambling Lloyds TSB to save Broon's fellow Scots from their grotesque imprudence. Broon would have been briefed by the security services on every aspect of anyone he was getting embroiled with. Either he took personal responsibility for the calculated decisions based on political and personal expedience - or the security services are dangerously less competent than Inspector Clouseau.

Let's hope someone there is ready to blow the whistle on what the politicians actually knew.

The Murdoch Mess is merely emblematic of the problems of letting any organisation grow too big, arrogant and powerful.
Overbearing and manipulative global organisations and companies like Microsoft, Google, Tesco and the rising legions of Chinese and Indian companies all need to be kept at arm's length from government and regulators. And the BBC is clearly far, far too big and influential for the good of our public life.

The arrogance of scale applies not just to commercial companies, but also government. Smaller and better distributed government needs to be a part of a cathartic process going forward - and the technology of the Internet can be intelligently deployed to create "mesh" organisations where capable talent can be given more autonomy on a local basis.

Monday, July 11, 2011

They're all as bad as each other...?

As the front row gets its knitting out to await the arrival of the tumbrel bearing the board of NewsCorp, we should at least acknowledge that Murdoch hasn't been subsidised from public funds and has created a lot of UK employment.

The gorily sanctimonious Guardian-BBC has enjoyed the past 14 years being publicly funded through the direct patronage of the Labour Party in government, and its traditional bloating of its client state recruitment. (The Guardian's hypocritical tax avoidance is nicely exposed by Guido Fawkes).

Apparently not bloated enough for some state employees, since it seems we also had a "Pay as you Go" Police Service to keep bunged.

Arguably the damage done by that unholy alliance has cost this country a £trillion as 1997's comparatively "fixed finances" were progressively squandered by Broon with everything from the preemptive pensions raid, to selling gold reserves off cheaply, to the asset bubble he created to fund credit to buy a phony feelgood factor - and then his parting gift of £8bn on pointless aircraft carriers to appease Scottish voters. And let's also recall Labour's super-cynical honours "appointments" - have given the other guilty parties a handy "they were all at it" excuse when nailed on the potential cash and favours for honours opprobrium.

The BBC has clearly used public money to curtail real markets in everything from home computers to digital media. Neither the BBC nor the Graun can make a living in the real world once that public funding has been withdrawn. So TMP suspects there are questions to ask and answer about the relationships between Guardian hacks and Labour spin doctors.

So if we are to use this "event" as the catalyst for a much needed clean up of all aspects of political press relationships, then no one and nothing should be "overlooked".

In terms of the vested interests of those baying loudest, the GMG faces early commercial oblivion. Its one hope may be to bring down the government and force and election which it assumes will return an eternally grateful Milliband.

BUT are we (the people) actually better off dealing with reptiles whose motivation is as crude and transparent as money, or shadowy schemers with social engineering agendas, led by Blair's legacy of sleazy political spin doctors, doing endless dodgy deals behind closed doors..?

Transparency ought to win every time; we'd rather know they were just after our money, than suspect they were scheming to curtail our liberty.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Real News of the World

If you were Rupert Murdoch and you wanted to shift your operation away from ever more costly print and onto digital delivery, what are your challenges?

The biggest challenge so far is that the competition might well imagine it can persist and sell print - especially if one of the biggies like Murdoch decided to abandon the medium.

However, you also have a rather handy digital platform called "Sky" that is, effectively, a nicely growing monopoly of commercial TV where you control the manufacture of EVERY interface box, and increasingly significant in broadband delivery, where the only competition comes from the witless  ITV, and the smug BBC - still too far up itself busily wasting money, and no threat to advert-driven media as long as the BBC and ITV companies curiously continue to hide FreeSat away in a cupboard.

You've seen that the iPad and smart phone revolution has proved the possibility of a paperless future rather more suddenly than many expected. So then, one way or another, you want to wean your audience off print and into your digital domain.

How do you make life difficult (better still, impossible) for those who persist in print, and who you are certain will be running out of money as the UK economy continues to shrivel up??
Try this for a cunning plan...

You find yourself caught up in a mess, where one of your papers has been hounded by the Über-sanctimonious Guardian. You detect the public and political mood is for the blood of reptilian journalism, so you decide to make a really bold play, and allow the NotW to be at the centre of a wave of public revulsion that allows you to sweep in an dramatically shut it down, as an example of bold leadership and repentance.

You have already tasked "your people" with the job of chasing down every misdemeanour and dodgy tactic used by every other paper (because you already know there are so many other skeletons rattling away in those cupboards; and you have already listed some anyway "So let us remember that it was the Guardian that knowingly, deliberately and illegally forged a cabinet minister's signature to get an exclusive story."

You also continue digging into the backgrounds of those careless politicians who have shown themselves to be less than deferential and friendly in the course of this hounding.

The result is that the traditional press is reduced to a shambles, with the police now fully committed and obliged to arrest half of fleet street and subpoena VAST swathes of electronic records for every case going back 7 years? Can you imagine the enormity of the investigation that they are going to be obliged to pursue - or rightly stand accused of selective justice?

Your Sky TV and broadband network delivers the news and advertising (effectively for free in comparison to print) to the growing legions of screens and cheap tablet devices - using a virtual workforce that could mostly be based in a well-behaved and leak-proof enclave in the Bahamas, for all the readers know (or care).

Job done. Pour yourself a large Scotch....

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Decline and Fall

How is anyone surprised that Broon's financial clusterf*ck could do anything but undermine pensions and reduce them a level of worthlessness that reflects a country with no money whatever, and a nigh on trillion pound deficit?

It seems to be an inevitability that all empires/societies get to a point where the vested interests of the civil service class close ranks to obscure and resist any effort to change, innovate and move things forward. Under Labour teaching has been politicised along with the rest of the "client civil state" - ie that vast part of the workforce that does not create wealth, but has been allowed - encouraged even - to feel endlessly entitled to dissipate it - and is part of a much bigger problem than just their unaffordable pensions.

What is now germane for any of us are the actual results of our efforts - the means to the end counts for very little with brutal competitors like the Chinese; there is no more opportunity to hide from the competitive world in any aspect of life - especially now we are just mere tax fodder the EU. For a while longer...

The UK educational system is not currently able to turn out a "proper workforce"; just a handful of high fliers who become bankers, but mostly a bunch of rudderless kids who had no idea what they wanted to do/be when they picked their GCSEs, but got steered by the received wisdom that any degree is better than getting out into the real world. And the more compliant are hustled directly into teaching, activism and politics without any experience of a "real job", just to help perpetuate the system.

Of course all parties will tend to politicise education, but Labour politicised it to a whole new level with the help of its (now almost dead) "house journal" to manage the communications and "marketplace".  OK, there are some nuggets in a pan of mostly sludge; but the world rankings make depressing reading. Government today has a horrible job of sorting out such a monumental mess with no money, and now even an unexpected population surge to deal with. Albeit the kids of immigrant families seem to be generally harder working than the indigenous entitlement culture products.

And throughout "public service" the proportion of the budget of time and cash spent on the consequences of Labour's substitution of common sense by PC and process is vast, although coincidentally there was news today about a return to some common sense on H&S in schools.

We love the way that some wholly inexperienced kids find work in publicly funded and contrived roles that were formed in a golden age when they were once the hobbies of self-funded Victorian adventurers, experimenters and mature students with time on their hands (for various mostly legal reasons, like pillaging Johnny foreigner) - because what else can you do with a 23 year old PhD geography student, other than have them present "theme park Britain" on TV shows like Coast?

Most countries in this state of decline resorted to a decent war or revolution to restart the recuperative process. We will certainly not escape the unaffordable spiral of "public servant entitlement" and decaying infrastructure without blood on the walls, somewhere.