Archive for the 'BBC' Category

4oD (Catchup) on a mac – epilogue.

Launched waaaaaay back in Novemeber 2006, 4oD (well the catchup service at least) is now finally available for Macs. All mac users now see the ‘sorry’ ad pre-roll above and let’s hope the apology is excepted ;-). Some stats from Pipes show that 6.7% of viewers were Mac users in the past weeks, and my posts on 4oD (here and here) are some of the most read on this blog.

The online video world has changed much since 4oD came to life on that dark autumnal night. The quick replacement of the desktop client option with the streamed-in-a-browser version of both the iPlayer and 4oD Catch-up has been interesting, i doubt anyone saw that being popular.  From my own point of view I’ve never watched a downloaded programme using the iPlayer mac client, I downloaded a handful, but kept forgetting to watch them and they all expired.

So what about the future? Well, it seems we’ve not got a new and interesting distribution model, now all we need is to change the programme format. In this on-demand streaming age, why stick to 6x30mins?

Finding supporting content doesn’t get taffa than this!

Having just watched the Masterchef  final where Mssrs Wallace and Torode crowned (though with that trophy branded might be more appropriate) family man and Beaminster resident Mat Follas the winner, I headed over to the beeb site for more post TV buzz/come down.  The BBC homepage had nothing, ditto the /two page, the /food page is as quiet as the grave and /masterchef redirects to one of those SSI API cobbled together programme pages. Sadly I knew this would probably be the case. It’s a shame because this is the grand final of the series, a series which w/e 15th February was the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 7th most watched programme on BBC Two according to BARB, and last night got 4.7 million viewers, Not too shabby then.

Meanwhile over at the Guardian WoM page it was all kicking off with live blogging by Anna P and over three pages of comments, jokes and observations. There’s even Masterchef bingo cards. After the show The Mail had a story up, as did the METRO. The wikipedia page was updated at 9:16pm and even updated it’s page about local boy Andy Oliver loosing for Gods sake! Yet the beeb had nothing to see. 

There’s two things to consider here. The Guardian has, of late, done a nice line in articles, blogging, and commenting on mainstream TV shows. It’s been quietly hoovering up small pockets of interested folk and no doubt keeping some of them along the way.  It’s been doing this for Channel 4 TV shows too. Emily Bell must be thrilled. Secondly, despite the BBC (and others) banging on about connecting with viewers interests and wanting to ‘own the watercooler chat’ moment, they’re not, because The Big G (and bloggers) are doing it very very well indeed.

It’s the same thing with University Challenge Final on Monday.  All the hullaballoo about Gail Trimble et al, the BBC could have had those eyeballs, comments and page impressions (and love her/loathe her debate).  ‘Course in my day the argument was ‘we don’t have the tools’, well that’s not true anymore, the Beeb’s actually got it’s blogging kit in place. I know budgets are finite but still. These things are pre-recorded just as a drama is, it must be possible to create some content around them? A ‘tonight’s TV page’ perhaps? I think someone’s missing a trick, and more importantly audience, and it’s not the Guardian. 

This Kangaroo is no more

CAPTION:  “I’m not dead… just buffering, honest – cough!

Lots in the media’s paper about this this morning. What a bloody mess, lots of public comments about how two massive high street banks can merge – fine – and that Ofcom thinks C4 and BBC Worldwide should merge – fine – but this isn’t allowed. Emily sums it up well I feel.

Here’s what I think. This report kicked off July last year, a lot has changed since then I reckon. We’ll see how this pans out but from here it looks like a blow to Brit media and to my friends who’ve worked on the project.

So all hopes are pinned on Project Marquee, or Project Canvas, the later “…requires BBC Trust approval but it’s hoped that the initiative will get under way by 2010″ (source) by which time the world will have turned again and they’ll be different hoops to jump through. You know when C4 built 4oD they got it out the door in about six months.  They say content drives technology, (the Coronation and TV take up) I reckon we won’t see a thing until… the Olympics?

The Ross/Brand affair leads to Civil War!

I’m back! And what worse way to start up eyedropper again than commenting on the meme du jour? Normal service will resume shortly: Until then, have this mind dribble.

Oct 16, 2008 – The comedians leave several lewd messages on the actor’s answerphone after he was not available for an interview. 

Oct 23, 2008 – Ms Pool emails BBC Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas to ask for an apology on behalf of her client, Andrew Sachs. Mail on Sunday contacts Sachs’ agent

Oct 26, 2008 – The paper’s headline, ‘BBC obscene phone calls to actor, 78’ is the first mention in the press of the prank phone calls. Brand highlights Mail’s ‘Hitler’ links

Oct 28, 2008 – BBC director of audio and music Tim Davie tours TV newsrooms to assure viewers he would ‘look thoroughly at what happened and take appropriate action’

Oct 30, 2008 – Ross is suspended without pay for 12 weeks – BBC2 to apologise to licence fee payers, complaints reach 37,500

Oct 31, 2008 – Channel Five air an interview with Andrew Sachs’ granddaughter Georgina Baillie in a documentary called Russell & Ross: What the F*** Was All That About?

……… a few weeks later later

The whole event, coupled with the financial meltdown and lack of a good Christmas leads to more unrest. The population falls into two main camps. 

The RossBrands (mainly young knife-carrying urbanites) engage in pitched battles in the streets with the Sachians (mainly older cricket-bat-swinging suburban and rural people)

PM appeals for calm but with the issue splitting even the police force in two he’s powerless to act

Friends, neighbours, even members of the same family all turn on each other. Beatings and lynchings become common. 

No one is going to work, the economy crumbles, inflation is at 500%.

The army, all ready over stretched in Iraq and Afganistan is unable to keep the peace. 

After a 4 day siege the entire staff of BBC Radio York are dragged out and executed by a mob, their remains are hung on the Castle walls

Royal family go into hiding for their own protection

President Obama uses the term civil war, but is unwilling to commit troops at this stage

Like Attlee in ’39, Thompson becomes an ineffective leader constantly appealing for peace and dialogue. Ross stages a coup and installs himself as ‘Content Protector General’ of the BBC. Brand returns as the bizaarly titled “Minister of Joy’ and mounts a campaign of terror.

The BBC releases a massive media bomb from it’s Kingswood Warren labs, saturated the air waves and the internet with propaganda

The Mail, which backs the Sachians resorts to dropping papers out of planes and signs the treaty of Isleworth with Sky to provide “supporting broadcast services” according to the Mail.

The BBC retaliates and declares war on Sky. Channel 4 and Five tries to maintain nutraliaty but most Sachians believe them in league with the BBC

Georgina Baillie declares herself a virgin queen and modern-day Joan of Arc. She commands a huge army of outraged middle-aged men who practice hero worship

BBC Shetland, BBC Jersey and BBC Gurnsey declare themselves breakaway Republics,  Minister Brand brands them traitors but can do little about it

The South Eastern Sachians forces led by General LittleJohn take Dover and blow up the Channel tunnel. General Littlejohn describes is as an “immigrant access facility”

The BBC’s crack Drama division succeed in detonating a ‘dirty bomb’ in the Royal Borough of Tonbridge Wells, having had ‘practice‘ in 2003.

Field Marshall Clifford leads 7,000 troops and captures BBC Manchester, Content Protector General Ross swears to retake it and mounts a massive counter attack from BBC Liverpool and BBC Leeds and Sheffield, the loss of life is the highest yet on both sides leading the campaign to be dubbed the ‘Slaughter of Salford’.

Ross appears on all TV, internet and radio stations at the same time saying the war can be won. But huge areas of the country are in the hands of the Sachians forces.

The war reaches stalemate as the wet summer of 2012 draws in, Britain lies in ruins. The Olympics are cancelled

BBC Props department in conjunction with Kingwood Warren own up to having a fully working TARDIS “we wanted it to look authentic on screen” says Lieutentent Brandon Butterworth 

Former controller Lesley Douglas uses the TARDIS to travel back in time on a one way mission and chooses not broadcast the show – history heals itself

The work / blog balance

Workign stuff out...

Nice Pen. The Pig’s Lipstick and Faces in Places work stuff out

OK slightly weird one this… I’ve just checked all my fellow ‘Channel 4 employees who blog’ websites, and none of them have yet written about the session we had this morning about how channel 4 staff handle their blogs. Maybe I’ve too much free time tonight?

Anyway, first a bit of history. Channel 4 has come a little late to the staff-who-blog policy thing. When I was at the BBC two years ago Nick Reynolds ran, in my estimation, a perfect example of how to come up with a staff blogging policy. He started a wiki, threw up some thoughts with a nod to HR and stuff, and asked us, the bloggers, to edit and tweak the guidelines. After a short debate consensus was reached and the whole lot put on a public facing page for the world to see. Nick was it that easy?

So this morning I attended a session about staff blogging for channel 4. There was a previous session which addressed the idea of an official channel 4 blogger attended by Press and Publicity, Marketing, Legal and Compliance and other interested parties. Of Channel 4’s traditional approach to media communications I will say this, and it’s an observation not a critism. Our set up, our DNA, is programmed to deal with the likes of the Liverpool Echo, not Cory Doctrow. There was talk about the channel 4 ‘line’, but the day a company of 900+ souls speak as one voice on a subject is the day we become bees. If my time at channel 4 has taught me anything, it’s that the staff actually care and have a huge range of opinions on our output, it’s just that in the past you had to go to the Barley Mow or the Greencoat Boy to (over)hear those views and that those views were drowned out by ‘the line’. This isn’t the case anymore and there are parts of the organisation that have no frame of reference for this; It could be described as the introduction of rats to a previously perfectly balanced eco-system of flightless tropical birds. Just how does the channel respond to people who blog about our content, and staff who blog about… well as it turns out, all sorts of things.

Some topics that came up from the session, and maybe my fellow workers can fill in the blanks.

Public vs Anonymity: anonymous blogging is ok, it’s often how many of us start. But hiding behind anonymity for the sake of being controversial is not very good. Many of us, myself included, hid behind a nickname or moniker. Which makes us all sound like American truckers “Cowbite this is eyedropper you got your ears on good buddy 10-4?” Let’s face it, we’re not whistleblowers, using annonymity just to be bitchy is.. well it’s a faux pas.

Say it loud: I think there’s loads of brilliant people at channel 4, with knowledge and skills and tips and experience. Everyone should feel they can talk about what they do, not matter what their dept or job title.

Staff safety: Channel 4 has a duty of care to its employees. Jon Gisby talked in he opening gambit that the ‘do right by the company and the company will do right by you’ culture is a good thing. Some of our staff are at the front line of user interaction or work in some very sensitive or controversial areas. They must be careful how they conduct themselves in the digital world because of the implications.

Other things: Channel 4, indeed broadcasting itself, has gone through a crisis in the past year. Our users – not viewers – are having the debate on our output and services. To remain silent is dumb, literally. We should engage with the debate, not in an attempt to win over anybody or fight fires, but to put our point across. People might not agree with what we say, but at least we’ve said it.

Here are some of the points we came up with.

  • Rule 1. Help us write the other rules.
  • It’s the internet, try not to make a tit of yourself.
  • Don’t smoke cigs in your school uniform.
  • Don’t ask managers, ask peers.

It was a really enjoyable session.

BBC Three

Now some of my best friends work on BBC Three, and let me say that I thought Last Man Standing was one of it’s best successes last year.   However this made me laugh today from Cohen’s launch speech.

“At BBC Three we should be known for pioneering risk, and be obsessed with all things new – new talent, new programmes, and a new relationship between television and the internet.”

On the current BBC Three homepage right now? Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. A show that first went out in 2003 when BBC Three was called BBC Choice and has just started its 7th series. A show who’s own writers explained that the absense of Ralf Little ‘Johnny’ character was due to the fact that he was at a Shark Jumping Event in America!

Can it!

The Crystal Palace college of very high education*

If I’m in of a Monday evening, I am rather partial to playing along with University challenge. So much so that I’ve been keeping score.
The rules are:
You have to say the answer out loud before any on screen contestant.
If you shout out a wrong answer to a starter question you have to loose five points, just like they do.

University Score University Score CP College (me)
Christchurch – Oxford 245 Homerton – Cambridge 65 55
Birmingham 200 Magdalen – Oxford 210 60
Birmingham 145 St Andrews 200 110
Worcester – Oxford no record Pembroke – Cambridge No record 115
Edinburgh 130 Bangor 105 85
Uni central Lanc 90 Sheffield 265 135
Durham 120 St Edmonds Hall – Oxford 255 155
Exeter 215 Jesus College 140 110
Manchester 260 Newcastle 105 85
Nottingham 180 Christchurch 305 135

As you can see I’ve come second twice, and not done too shabby on other occasions, and there’s one of me and four of them. What’s more my Alma Mater was St Martins college of Art where I did sculpture! Pah, kids today. I wonder if you could make a red button or online version of Uni challenge? At the moment there isn’t even a holding page for it on the BBC.

*As in it’s the highest point in London.. not high as in a 60skind of a way – man. Though this blurb say thatWesterham heights is the highest point, but look at the map, that’s not really in London is it, that’s Kent!

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
February 2020
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