By macleans.ca - Saturday, November 17, 2012 - 0 Comments
Phone hacking, now pedophilia. The Imperfectionists author Tom Rachman dissects the U.K. media mess.
As the BBC hyperventilates over grave mistakes in its news coverage, an earlier media scandal prepares to sting anew. The government-ordered Leveson inquiry, prompted by charges of criminal mischief at British tabloids, is expected to issue recommendations this month—perhaps calling for legal curbs on press freedom, a prospect of distress to journos and delight to their targets.
The British press—often dubbed “raucous,” apparently as a compliment—has a tradition of wit and wilfulness, from Samuel Johnson to George Orwell to Christopher Hitchens. Publications investigate boldly, comment amusingly. But there’s oodles of rubbish too, some obtained by dubious means that have included impersonating a sheik and, it is alleged, illegally accessing the voicemail of crime victims and celebrities.
The actor Hugh Grant, enraged by intrusive tabloid reporting, has become a prominent advocate of press regulation. “We’re not the wicked Goliath of the establishment taking on the plucky David of the press,” he wrote recently in The Spectator. “It’s the other way round. They are the establishment. They have effectively run the country for the past 40 years. They are Goliath. We need help.” Continue…
By Peter Nowak - Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 10:36 AM - 0 Comments
By now, you probably know that Apple is holding one of its regular press events in San Francisco on Wednesday, where it will certainly roll out the next iPad. As per usual, the tech press have been slobbering all over themselves for weeks in anticipation of what the new tablet will do: Will it have a better screen? Will it have Siri voice control? Will it be called the iPad HD?
The real question surrounding the event is whether Apple is ready to pull the trigger on a new television set–the press has dubbed it the “iTV”–that the departed Steve Jobs spoke of in his biography.
I took a look at what such a television might do, why Apple might want to get into such a bloody business and how much it might cost last week, but it was really all just a stab in the dark. Nobody seems to have any idea as to whether or not to expect the iTV to be unveiled at this event, which is too bad because Apple getting into the category will be huge news.
One possible hint might be gleaned by taking a look at when people buy TV sets. While consumers make these relatively large purchases year round, sales generally spike in the run-up to Christmas, which makes sense–that’s when people are in the mood to spend money.
By Chris Sorensen - Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 10:15 AM - 4 Comments
As tech companies race to try to reinvent television, the industry is ready and fighting back
A stock analyst once called Reed Hastings’s company, Netflix Inc., “a worthless piece of crap with really nice people.” That was six years ago. Hastings and his agreeable team have since helped kneecap video-rental giant Blockbuster by convincing Americans that it was easier to rent DVDs through Netflix’s website, and then have them delivered (and returned, postage paid) through the mail. Now Netflix is in the process of upending the entire television business by using the Internet to stream movies and TV shows directly to people’s computers and big-screen televisions via Web-connected Blu-ray players, Xboxes and other devices. So much for Mr. Nice Guy.
Netflix has so far signed up more than 24 million customers in the United States, rivalling the subscriber base of cable giant Comcast. Hastings expects to add another one million Canadian subscribers by this summer, with each one paying $7.99 a month for unlimited access to Netflix’s ballooning catalogue of digital titles. And the stock price? It’s far from worthless, having surged more than 800 per cent over the past five years—a better performance than even Apple Inc.’s.
Not surprisingly, cable and satellite TV executives are getting nervous—Comcast’s CEO recently derided Netflix as “reruns TV,” referring to its lack of live content. And Hastings isn’t doing much to soothe fears when he describes Netflix’s potential customer base as one that goes well beyond existing cable or satellite subscribers. “One way to think about the upper limit is the number of people who have a mobile phone,” Hastings told Maclean’s. “That’s because they’re people with enough money, and are of the right age to own a device with a screen.”
By Jaime Weinman - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 5:17 PM - 0 Comments
In fairness to the CBC, they’re hardly the only broadcaster that’s skimping on arts-’n-culture programming. In the United Kingdom, ITV, the network whose format most resembles the CBC’s (a public-service broadcaster with commercials) is canceling England’s longest-running arts program — sorry “programme” — The South Bank Show, a series that does a soft-sell documentary profile of some arts or pop-culture figure every week, with first-rate directors and production values. Usually one profile a week, but sometimes more; you can see the complete episode list at Epguides.com.
The creator and host of the show, Melvyn Bragg, decided to retire, though the linked article suggests that this was his way of avoiding outright cancellation, since there had been talks about “the future of the show” amidst lower advertising revenues and huge network budget cuts. The network has announced that it “will also be looking at opportunities for further arts programming,” meaning that they’ll eventually find something cheap to put in its place. So whatever might be said about Canada’s lack of arts programming, you can’t say it’s not in step with global trends.
From the South Bank Show episodes on YouTube, here’s a randomly-chosen example, an episode from 2006 about the late British pop star Dusty Springfield (not really a typical episode, though, since most episodes focus on living subjects).