Last week’s media news today!

I’m a week behind (blame recent sleep deprivation) but there were some really good articles in last Monday’s Media Guardian. David Liddiment, who used to be in charge of programming at ITV, has got public service religion and provides a useful insider’s view of the pros and cons of arts programming for mainstream channels. He doesn’t have to worry about picking winners any more so he can afford to say things like this:

“For as long as mainstream broadcasting survives, it should not be possible again for the BBC to abandon its cultural responsibilities on its main channel. Charter renewal lobbyists please note. As for ITV, Channel 4 and Five, I believe they will find it increasingly difficult to keep arts programmes worthy of the name as part of a commercially viable schedule. Sooner or later someone will have to look again at the trade-off between a rich and varied TV diet and the bounty that broadcasters pay the treasury for their privileged access to spectrum.”

In the same issue, terrifically brainy Tim Gardam looks back over his five years doing the same job at Channel 4. He is most proud of Big Brother:

“He recalls his happiest moment: the last night of the first Big Brother in August 2000. “I thought, ‘Whatever happens now, I have done something.’”

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The downside

Rosa is nine weeks old. She turns out to be entirely adorable ? but then I would say that. Juliet’s latest column for Tigerchild (written a couple of weeks ago) is a hymn to the downside.

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How buildings get smart

Owen Gibson is worrying about the slow arrival of the ‘smart home’ in The Guardian. Like him, I remember those Sunday Supplement photos of the prototypical wired home back in the Seventies (which always seemed to belong to Stirling Moss).

The problem is that our homes move to a different rhythm than the rest of our lives. They’re built to last 100 years or more and we don’t often change them (Changing Rooms notwithstanding). Maybe we should look at the way older domestic technologies were added – cooking hearths, window glass, electricity, mains gas, telephones – for clues as to how homes will stretch to wrap around these ‘smart’ additions?

The archaeologists and anthropologists (maybe the architects) might be more useful here than the techies and marketing people with their stupid adoption curves and demographics and surveys. Stewart Brand wrote about the way we change our dwellings over time in the excellent How Buildings Learn.

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Do me a favour and read this lot…

If I had time I’d probably be reading things like Edward Sheehan’s The Map and the Fence from the NYRB, Edward Said’s A Road Map to Where? from the LRB, Gerard Baker’s 2,200 words on US nation building in Iraq in the FT, Emily Bell on the ascendance of the BBC in The Guardian, The Economist’s Technology Quarterly and The Ecologist’s (somewhat hysterical) 5 reasons to keep Britain GM-free.

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Sainsbury’s arrives

Round here everyone’s been talking about the opening of a dinky branch of Sainsbury’s in the village. It’s one of the firm’s tiny convenience stores (no car park, no deli, no Starbucks…). Everyone’s happy except the other local retailers, all of whom hate it. The off licenses, supermarkets, butchers and petrol station are all certain it’ll kill them off. The insertion of mega-brand convenience stores like these into fragile local business ecologies will be a powerful diagnostic for their health. The weakest could be destabilised and might collapse &ndash: a disaster for diversity and choice. Are planners considering the chilling effect of the big brands when they approve their applications?

Meanwhile, The Economist wonders if the chain can survive as an independent entity under opera buff Peter Davis: “Can a mass-market retailer successfully sell both gourmet olive oil to City analysts in London and white bread north of Watford? For the moment, Tesco is doing it. But Sainsbury fails to deliver a superior offer on any count: not price, not range, not quality” (you’ll need a subscription to see this story).

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Azeem says crap

Appropriately fogey-ish response to blogging from Damian Whitworth in Britain’s least wired broadsheet The Times. He’s obviously intrigued but trying hard not to sound too keen in case the other fogeys at the paper send him to Coventry. Oh, and Azeem says ‘crap’.

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