Archive for August, 2005

Hurray | BBC TV channels to be put on net

Link: BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | BBC TV channels to be put on net.
A huge amount of people took this piss when BBC Three first launched.. I remember a dead ringers sketch where the greg dyke/michael Caine character said “BBC Three?! I was only having a laugh”. Like all recent Channel launches, (C4, Five) it got off to a small start, but it’s been building up slowly for some time and seems to be settling into the right spot, probably to the detriment of BBC Two. For me the big pull was when it had the next ep of 24 on straight after the terrestrial TX a year or so ago. Fast forward 12 months and now it’s showing the Mighty Bush before it goes out on TV, and offering Nighty Night clips to your mobile… interesting times indeed. What’s bonkers is that in our CMS production tool we’ve a redundant alt text field called ‘web on TV’, where people could get a crappy version of the homepage on their TVs from back in the On Digital days, and now this is ‘Telly on the Web’

I’m slightly puzzled as to Jana’s comment.. The BBC received a “wake-up call” about the demand for new technology in March when the first episode of the new Doctor Who was leaked on to the internet, she said.. Erm, no. The TV dept received a wake up call, after slapping the New Media snooze button one too many times i reckon, and what with Radio are already up and in the shower and all. And MyBBCPlayer? Sounds a bit.. solitary, and hardly trips off the tongue Mark, what about just ‘the Player’ or keeping it called the iMP?

Anyway, I’ll end on a paraphrased a scene from Pulp Fiction…
Tony A: Bring out the iMP.
Ben L: But the iMP’s sleeping.
Tony A: Well, I guess you’re gonna have to go wake him up now, won’t you?

Blue Peter/Doctor Who competition

Link: CBBC – Blue Peter – On The Show – Win. Well done to William from Colchester for winning the Blue Peter ‘design a monster’ competition. His ‘Abzorbaloff’ will now be used in the next series. However, I’m starting a campaign here and now to get the writers to also include Sad Tony! Look at his little face… He’d make a great sub plot, The Doctor trying to get a lost alien home, come on RTD, do it for the kids!

High fives for the boys

Link: BBC Homepage this morning.

Well well, there I was last week bemoaning the lack of positive male exam result imagery, then two come along at once..! What’s more the Guardian have used it too… Ahh well, that’s it for another year.

The BBC, Flickr and the BJP mega mix post – shabba!

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Gavin and Cal
Gavin and Cal,
originally uploaded by

A very interesting day indeed.

First off, Cal Henderson very kindly came to give a talk to the BBC and very enlightening it was too. He made one really interesting point which I’ll come to later… (actually he made loads of interesting points on a great number of things). He also gave us a bit of back history to Flickr, I’ve done the odd presentation, and there’s nowt that gets a laugh as the BBC website circa 1997. Anyway, to go from Concept (Dec 03), launch (Feb04) and to have all that in the bin due to constant iteration six months later is incredible. In a year and a bit it’s managed to get 1 million users, and has 35/40 million images inside it the brute!

The second thing that’s been on my mind is this idea of ‘citizen reporting’. After the leader in the BJP that I commented about a few posts down, I decided to write a letter to Simon, the editor. Here it is in full.

Dear Sir

With reference to your comment section [BJP 10/08/2005] the increased use of citizen reporting during the London Bombings simply meant greater opportunities for ordinary people to capture what happened, at a moment when professional journalists were not necessarily able to get near the action.

As Pete Clifton, BBC News Interactive’s Editor, has explained on the news magazine site, this isn’t about ordinary people taking the jobs of the professionals. People just wanted to share their experiences and show they were there.

The BBC is a porous institution that is actively trying to find new ways to engage with its audience and let them contribute alongside regular coverage about news stories that involve and affect them.

It’s not replacing the news, it’s adding to the news.

Furthermore this isn’t the first time there’s been a to and fro between the public and the media. Remember the ‘Argie Handbag Incident’ that went on to win News Photography of the Year (

News needs the people as much as the people need the news.

A Webb
Picture Editor

So last night, Diane, the features editor called me for an interview. I’m keen to move the debate away from the London Bombings and who did or didn’t pay for what and towards ‘what happens now?’. It’s interesting because no one really knows. Here’s some other thoughts I’ve had on where we might be in 12 months…

1. The first hit is free: The public get wise very quickly and realise they can start asking for payment for exclusive submissions, especially images and video. Agencies like spring up then get bought out by Yahoogoole, trad news agencies shit it.

2. We’re Next: Maybe media institutions are next in line after the record industry and Hollywood for a shake up? We either ignore or fail to react quickly enough to the changing landscape and caught with our kecks down. Look at the structure of this piece on the Piano Man, particularly the comments. Is it any wonder the public are seeking new forms of reporting as they’ve fallen out with the media.

3. It actually works: The Live 8 scenario is a good example. One main event fully covered by professional (Getty) photographers, journalists and TV reporters, but then the web filling the ‘real experiences’ gap. There’s 9879 photos tagged Live8 on Flickr, that’s a lot of content.

The thing is that a lot of news is planned. It’s well researched by professionals who are trained and qualified in media ethics, law, keeping a log, balance, and objectivity. User generated content is none of these things, it’s spontaneous, opinionated, blurry, and subjective. More often that not user generated content only comes into play when it is the public as a whole that is affected by events. Imagine the Flickr tags for Diana’s funeral, or England beating Germany 5-1? It’s events like these that best suit UGC.

Which leads me on to some points Cal made… namely Flickr is lacking editorial. Now, they’ve been bought by Yahoo, and they’re being seen as the first Messy Media megacorp, with a news division too. So, what would happen if Flickr technology was partnered with Yahoo! news’ objective editorial? That would be a very powerful thing right? Maybe that’s option 4 in twelve months time?

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Coogan baby claim is ‘nonsense’

Link: BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Coogan baby claim is ‘nonsense’.

Reading the Metro this morning with one eye I was convinced it was wind up or some sort of PR spin worthy of Prentiss & Macabe. But no, it seemed to be a ‘genuine’ story. Could you imagine a more random couple?! I then sat there trying to work out a US equivalent. Hmm, oldish comedian famous for playing up tight guys and off the rails female singer.. The best I got was Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) fathering Charlotte Church’s child.

Anyway talking of Absolute Power, I’m loving this series even more than the last… There’s some great cameos from the likes of Richard & Judy to News 24 presenters, funny story twists and some great lines. Sally Bretton is phwoar as Cat, and it’s great to see the ‘wonky nosed wonder’ back on the box too. Couple of things though..
1. They keep shooting scenes outside my office! The one where the right wing guy (Gus of DTDD) was opening a shop in the rain was Mangarie, a sandwich shop in on ‘the Network’ outside the Broadcast Centre; and in last week’s episode the shot of people setting burgers on fire was outside there too!
2. Fry’s love of all things Apple (he says he says he bought the third one in the country, with Douglas Adams buying the first two, others disagree) means there’s one in almost every shot, including the newspaper front page of the Chancellor of the Exchequer holding up the old style ‘handbag’ iBooks instead of his red briefcase. Apple must be loving it, product placement on the BBC… never.

Talking of Apple, chateau eyedropper went wireless at the weekend. I delicately slid in the airport card to my Powerbook, flipped it over and turned it on.. not found. I then left is as we were all ready running late and went out for some Crystal Palace drinks.. “Bugger it, I’ll take it back to the Apple store tomorrow” and let them do it I thought. We got back home around 1am and fuelled by Dutch courage I took another look at it. This time I gave it a proper shove to get it in and that was all it needed, hey presto! So if you’re fitting an airport card (though all i/P books come with them now) just give it a good firm push.


Just finished watching Taxidermy: Stuff the World on BBC Two. An excellent documentary film, reminded me a lot of Spellbound etc.. At 90 mins it was also quiet long for TV, representing a big channel commitment. I can’t remember seeing a film length doc of this quality on BBC Two for ages… The long doc is normally the preserve of BBC Four, perhaps this sort of thing is Roly’s influence coming through? I was impressed by the international nature of taxidermy, and how its use differed in different countries. Also , they found in their subjects some amazing people, with real character. Anyway fascinating stuff, look here’s the original call for participants.

Illustrating achievement…

Link: BBC NEWS | Education | ‘Modest’ rise in A-level passes.
It’s hot, and the news wires are full of young female teens.. must be A Level results day. Daily Mail, The Guardian, Sky and Our homepage.

Yup, you just can’t get a gnarly old photographer to find pictures of celebrating boys when there’s all these teen fillies about. Except the Telegraph can! Wooo! Thanks to Abble Trayler-Smith whoever she is. high five for boys with straight Cs!

Still, last year was a vintage year when three attractive Cornish triplets all got into Cambridge.. And seenm to be doing well.

Jamie Kane is the name…

Link: Boing Boing: BBC punks Wikipedia in game marketing ploy? (UPDATED).

This whole affair has been quite funny to watch today, with some mad anti-beeb rants and then the /.ing of wikipedia! Well done Rob C for stepping up the the crease and actually offering an explanation. I for one believe him, having seen the Jamie Kane presentation a few month back all I can say is.. it looks ace. And it’s a real gamble going after a female teen audience rather than the super saturated male young adult market, which is exactly the sort of thing the BBC should be doing. Probably also reduce the risk of a Jamie Kane hot coffee patch too!

The thing is… if we wanted to promote something, especially to that particular demographic, don’t you think it’d be far more effective on the BBC homepage or on CBBC than wikipedia and slashdot? You can count the teenage girls who read slashdot on one hand.

Yup, this must surely rank as the worst planned and executed viral marketing campaign that never was… which is sort of what I’d actually expect from the BBC marketing dept given their past record, a record they seem keen to maintain.

Have you seen the new BBC7 trails… earfood? EARFOOD? What the fuck is that! What was the creative brief? Dolmio meets Tiger Force? Ears, that grow on trees when played digital radio in the Mediterranean, honestly… Why oh why oh why must the BBC marketing messages always always resort to shitty metaphors? If you look at What is BBC7? it says “It’s a mix of the best of BBC comedy, drama, and books as well as a brand new daily live kids’ show..” There you go, practically sells itself! Ask anyone in the street ‘what’s BBC7?’ and I’ll bet they haven’t got a clue, if you’re very lucky you might get someone who says a radio station.. what you won’t get is ‘food for your ears’. Come on guys, sort it out.

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
August 2005