Thursday, 13 October 2016

YouTube and the BBC

For the last three years, I have operated a YouTube channel showcasing journalism which has hardly been shown elsewhere online from the BBC, ITV, Channel 5, Sky News and RT.

These weren't full bulletins, but largely 2-3 minute VT's largely from the London area, I also posted presentation clips for those interested in how television is put together.

Until Tuesday, I had no issues with YouTube, they said I was a good poster, so I continued to post clips.  I also tagged the journalists featured on social media so they know what I was doing and that it was all positive promotion for their work.   I received no funding for the work I did.   Some of the journalists privately thanked me for my activities or retweeted their VT's that I posted online.

However, with increased pressure on the BBC, they have started to pro-actively complain to YouTube about content posted on the platform.   Presentation YT channels have seen content removed and then my channel had over 30 copyright  issues, all from BBC News.

They gave me two strikes.  Fair enough, I'd continue with commercial copy only, yet on Wednesday, with no notification, YouTube deleted all of the over 1,000 VT's added to the platform since 2013, which included content from other channels.

The BBC is now desperate to maintain their copyright hold that they're removing history from YouTube.  I can understand if someone uploads a sitcom or drama onto YouTube, but a short VT or business news bulletin which are hard to access unless you watch live or on live rewind on iPlayer or a clip of continuity on BBC One from 1978 is ridiculous. 

The Corporation should post News Channel and BBC World News business bulletins for everyone to see.   These are brilliantly produced bulletins which don't alienate non-City workers, which clearly explain why a business or the market is doing such a thing. It's real public service broadcasting.  If they were promoted properly using the BBC's existing platforms or posted on YouTube themselves, it'd stop people like me sharing the content.

Ironically YouTube isn't deleting content from YT channels that only show BBC News content for sexual reasons.  I found a video of a BBC Business presenter which was zoomed to only show their breasts over a blouse.  This is a real abuse of content and copyright which neither the BBC or YouTube are pro-active in tackling.

So if you post copy purely for those viewers to perv over, it's perfectly fine, but a 9 minute bulletin of BBC Business or old continuity from the BBC is removed.

I had over 2000 subscribers to my channel, who will no longer see a daily digest of local news reports or business news, because the BBC doesn't have a filter to decide which copyright claims they should go for, while footage which is manipulated continues to be streamed for all to see.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Union Jack Radio

I woke up on Friday morning to discover yet another radio station was about to launch later in the day.   These are largely bland affairs as the launch of Thames Radio in London was earlier in the summer with more generic AC fare.

However, Union Jack from the makers of Absolute Radio and Absolute 80s did make me think this would be yet another anally programmed station about 'real' music.

The station provides a wide mix of British music from the last six decades, there's no Madonna or Justin Bieber here being foreigners.

Like Absolute it's rock skewed, but also plays music from the likes of Shakin' Stevens and Cathy Dennis, not known for their 'real' music credentials which would have seen them not playlisted on Absolute or their spin-off stations.

I dipped in at lunchtime to the surprise there's an actual radio presenter on-air.  This station is a brand spin-off of JACK fm, a local radio station in Oxfordshire which outside breakfast has Paul Darrow from Blakes 7 with sarcastic one liners between songs.  However "Trev" was talking between the records and updating listeners about who should be the next song played.

Union Jack has an app where listeners can vote for songs to be played on the radio station and is truly interactive, I tested it out at 2.30am and changed the next played song which they played out, so it isn't a con in any sense of the word, although I suspect it works better overnight when only a few people are listening than during the day.

Later on Friday "Trev" than became "Rich" who was also enthusiastic about the interactive format, which leads me to think that if you're going to present on Union Jack, you have to be a man with a four letter name, so "Gary" may be the next presenter.

However "Gary" didn't materialise and Paul Darrow's sweepers became the norm along with voiceovers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure that this station celebrates the UK, rather than be another Londoncentric media outlet.

Overall, it's a decent background listen, despite the random new music showcased which doesn't detract from the fact you're never too far away from a Beatles or Genesis track.


Absolute's branding lead to the creators putting out a product which alienated listeners who didn't like Queen or Snow Patrol every five minutes.  Union Jack on the other hand is a much broader affair which celebrates a broader selection of British music without being up their own backside.

Oxis Media have found the right format for a national station.

The only downside is that the station is on DAB+ on the second national multiplex at 24kbps.   It's not a big deal for me listening on a pocket DAB radio, but listening on a hi-fi may be too distracting.   However they have a 320kbps AAC+ stream online which is excellent for audiophiles.

Outside of radio anoraks, I hope they have many more Trev's, Gary's and Jane's listening to this station.

Listen to Union Jack at www.unionjack.co.uk or on DAB Digital Radio on the SDN multiplex nationally. (DAB+ receiver required)

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

UK Referendum 2016

So tomorrow, those of us who have bothered to register will vote in the most important referendum this country has held since 1975.

I have not watched one single referendum debate since the campaign started and have only read The i Paper as it's a neutral publication.

However, I think it's safe to say both sides haven't put their side across properly at all. Remember Cameron's World War III quote and the constant xenophobia from messers Farage, Boris, Gove et al.

The murder of Jo Cox last week shows how disgusting this campaign has been when her attacker may have been brainwashed by a far right group, when Ms Cox and others who don't hold Brexit views are seen as traitors.

This doesn't mean that all Brexiteers are bigoted, racist morons, far from it. There is a genuine concern about immigration and jobs, which nobody has a real solution to solve. They're not going to get it from Boris or Nigel Farage, both who are career politicians out to say the 'right' thing to enhance their careers.

So you're left with the perception that Remainers are white, middle class liberals, business people and the establishment, while Leave is full of working class people who don't fully understand the reasons why we should stay in the EU.

It's a bloody mess and that was before Jo Cox's murder.

However, I know it's going to be a close run thing tomorrow with undeciders who hold the key to our future.

If you haven't decided which way to vote, consider that the EU benefits us a lot more than we realise. Beaches are cleaner thanks to EU regulations, we have paid holiday for 28 days, soon mobile phone calls will no longer have roaming charges in EU countries and parts of this country receive EU subsidies, such as dairy farmers, keeping our British milk sustainable, when greedy supermarkets pay them peanuts.

Vote leave and it opens up a Pandora's Box of issues, not just for us in the UK, but for Europe as a whole. The union was set up to sustain peace after World War II and have come a long way since then. Don't throw it away for a nostalgic view of the past that really wasn't there.

Vote Remain.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Virgin on the cheap

Credit: Virgin/Wireless Group PLC
Virgin Radio is back!   After relaunching as Absolute Radio in 2008, new owners Wireless Group have relaunched the iconic brand.

However the connection with the old Virgin Radio ends there, this is a completely new radio station which while keeping the playlist guitar skewed, this is targeted at a younger male than the old station.

Justin Timberlake, Blackstreet, Dr. Dre and Notorious B.I.G. feature alongside the AOR fare of Travis and new bands, making it a hybrid of Radio X with a dash of Absolute.

The presenter line-up appears to be a mix of youth and experience.  Edith Bowman made the jump from the Beeb to present breakfast while Jamie East, the former editor of gossip site HolyMoly presents mid-mornings, Kate Lawler is on afternoons, formerly of rock station Kerrang, comedian Matt Richardson is on drive, while former Xfm Manchester breakfast presenter Tim Cocker is on evenings.

The first show was on a Virgin Radio branded train from Manchester to London.  As you'd expect, there were cut outs during links, but they did get the bands on live as they booked time to stop at railway stations for them to perform in the carriage.

Like sister station talkRADIO which launched last week, Virgin has suffered from technical problems with the DAB transmission, such as poor audio and problems with the studio equipment.    It appears that these two stations had very quick studio builds which has led to the equipment not being fully tested.

The first use of the so called 'Red Room' at Virgin's new HQ in Hatfields, London also had technical issues with the performance from rock band 'Reef' which didn't help when presenter Matt Richardson's mic kept distorting and cutting out.

On the positive side, the advertisers and branding consultants like the return of the brand and the launch today, which gives Wireless Group some breathing space, but a normal day on Virgin will be the key to this station's future success.  Can they build a new station on new younger listeners while older listeners to the brand in the past stick with the hybrid urban/AOR mix or return to the sanctuary of rival Bauer's Absolute Radio's brands of which the original Virgin is based on?

Monday, 28 September 2015

BBC Radio London to return, is it worth it?

The various brands of BBC local radio in London.
Radio Today is reporting that BBC London 94.9 is rebranding back to BBC Radio London, the brand used by the BBC for it's local radio station for the capital between 1970 and 1988 on October 6th 2015.

Ever since Radio London launched, it has struggled against BBC nationals and commercial radio, this despite being London's only local radio station for three years until LBC launched in 1973.   

There were also reception issues for FM listeners as the transmitter used was in Wrotham in Kent.  This gave excellent reception for most in the capital, except South London.   FM moved to Crystal Palace and then stereo in 1981.

Radio London attemped a revamp in the mid 80s with the soul format, where Tony Blackburn had a successful tenure until yet again, the station lost listeners.

It could be argued that the best era for the station was when Matthew Bannister and Trevor Dann relaunched Radio London as GLR - Greater London Radio with a rock/male skewed format which replaced Radio London in 1988.   It was critically aclaimed and the format lives on as BBC Radio 6 Music.  It also ensured that BBC local radio for the capital survived and didn't become a relay of a national radio station broadcasting in AM.

The trouble really started for the station in the late 90s when it was proposed to close GLR and rebrand as a tri-media service, BBC London Live which proposed a more mainstream service, dropping specialist shows and increasing the speech quota with recognised presenters.

Later in the decade, the station rebranded as BBC LDN and then BBC London 94.9.

So is BBC Radio London, the latest attempt by the BBC to make the station relevant?  Managing Editor David Robey claims it's because the station is on so many platforms, that the station branding is no longer accurate.

BBC London 94.9's Rajar share is lower than LBC London News, a part-time rolling news station staffed by Global Radio journalists, while other speech radio listeners tune into BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the defacto 'local' breakfast show or LBC, the tabloid topical phone-in station or 5 Live.

This has led BBC London 94.9 to go uber niche, with contributors to their phone-in shows being regulars and other shows being a diluted version of programmes available elsewhere.

I wish BBC Radio London all the best with their relaunch, yet I doubt it'll make a dent on Radio 4 or LBC's Rajar unless David Robey changes elements of the format.   An identical version of BBC Radio London from the 70s and early 80s won't work.  It didn't then either.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Radio seXist?

"If you've read about Radio X being a radio station being for men only, that is rubbish," he said. "Nobody agrees with this except for the one person who put it in the press release."  proclaimed Chris Moyles, the former 'Saviour of Radio 1' as he launched Global's new brand, Radio X.

Radio X before it launched caused controversy after press releases were sent out announcing the radio station was a radio station for men.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I felt that Global shouldn't have put that quote out to the media as this is clearly a marketing exercise for advertisers and sponsors, which include O2 for Chris Moyles and other shows by Gillette ProGlide men's razors.

So onto today's output.   I didn't listen to Chris Moyles, except for a 30 minute extract on AircheckDownloads.com where Moyles made his quote and talked a lot.   He has freedom to produce his own show (as Global believe he'll bring in plenty of disgruntled Radio 1 listeners under Brand Moyles) that after what seemed an eternity of waffling, he then played Girls Aloud.   

Mid-morning had Vernon Kay who quite frankly was awful, too much waffling, an inane phone-in comp and a pointless two way with the afternoon presenter where he mentioned that his first gig was on Xfm where he was let go after a week.   How he got back into radio beggars belief, but messers Park and Tabor from Global know better as they've successfully relaunched Capital, LBC and Smooth Radio.

Dan O'Connell then took over and basically took the old Xfm format using the art of solid jockery for three hours with new and classic near mainstream guitar music.

Then 'Middle Aged Bloke FM' returned with Johnny Vaughan at drive.  A person who may have been relevant to a younger audience in the noughties when he opened BBC Three, yet in 2015, the topics for Radio X's Camdenista's were "Who should be on a bank note?" and "who is your favourite weightlifter?"   Topics which would be perfectly fine for his previous show on talkSPORT, but not on a radio station where for the last 18 years where music has been prominent.

Phil Clifton then took over at 7pm where he welcomed us "to a brand new radio station"    No it's not Phil, it's the carcus of the old Xfm, with where Global really want to take the direction of the station in, a hybrid of talkSPORT and Absolute.

So did Radio X and Global stop the fears of female listeners who feel the station isn't for them?   No, after this little ditty was played during breakfast 
"We love women, with your make-up & high heels, you're so cute"

Stereotyping and Everyday Sexism still exists in the British broadcasting industry.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Farewell Xfm

After 18 years as a full time station, Global are closing indie station Xfm.

For those of us who have listened to the station over the years, it comes as no surprise as one of the management of Global Radio is Director of Broadcasting Richard Park.

Back in 1998, less than a year after launch as a full time station, Xfm had been sold to the Capital Radio Group and Mr Park was put in charge of relaunching the station.    The format changed from the original aims of Sammy Jacob and Chris Parry (who managed The Cure) to a Virgin Radio style Adult Orientated Rock format overnight with a playlist of Alanis Morrisette, The Beautiful South, Dave Matthews Band and other mainstream rock offerings alongside a tokenistic freeform show with Sir Bob Geldof.

The Radio Authority fined Xfm's new owner £4,000 for not adhering to their alternative format alongside the lack of a gig guide and Capital were forced to introduce more alternative programming, such as the re-introduction of John Kennedy's late night 'Peelesque' show which was rebranded Xposure, The Rock Show with Ian Camfield and Steve Taylor's A to X of Alternative Music.

Park was replaced by Andrew Phillips who introduced slightly more near-mainstream rock music and celebrity presenters with a laddish skew, he introduced Tom Binns, Robin Banks, Tim Lovejoy, Zoe Ball, Dermot O'Leary and the returning Vernon Kay.

After that period, Xfm started to take the format a bit more seriously.  Muso presenters such as Shaun Keavney, Lauren Laverne (both now at BBC 6 Music) and Iain Baker were introduced with more near-mainstream alternative music.  Other presenters included Natasha Desborough and later Marsha Shandur.

Xfm's downfall in my opinion was when Capital stretched themselves by launching spin-offs in Manchester, Scotland and Wales.

GCap Media replaced Capital and along with it, Xfm South Wales was sold months after launching while Manchester was under threat of being sold along with Scotland.   They also introduced an automated format called XU between 10am-4pm while Manchester started sharing programming with London outside breakfast and drive.   Xfm felt unloved once again.  This was when I as a listener turned it off.

This continued under Global, Xfm Scotland became Galaxy and now Capital FM, while Manchester and London limped on with a bland mix of indie pop until September 21st....

Once again Xfm has turned back the clock to a hybrid of Park's 1998 station and Phillips celebrity skewed format with the new name Radio X.



Chris Moyles, an undisputed radio presenter with a clear background of award winning radio over the years has returned to present breakfast after a three year absence after leaving Radio 1.   However he is a polarising personality, you either love his work or think he's a misogynistic pig.   He'll certainly bring in a lot of ex thirty something Radio 1 listeners, but may lose a ton of indie/alt and female listeners.

Global have really executed the pre-launch poorly by saying the radio station is 'male skewed', while it's true and suits advertisers, it does nothing to reassure female listeners that this station is gender-netural and for all.   Sadly broadcasting is still a largely sexist industry which makes it harder for radio people to understand that both sexes expect equality from entertainment formats.  However advertisers are first behind listeners which is a sad part of commercial radio.

Heart, Xfm's sister station which is largely female skewed doesn't say it's a women's only station, nor does UTV's talkSPORT which is uber blokey and white van man.

Other celeb presenters include Family Fortunes host Vernon Kay who had a stint on Xfm in 2000 and wasn't well received then and former Capital FM DJ Johnny Vaughan who presents drivetime.

So later this month, Xfm goes into radio history and a white middle aged executive's format from 1998 finally replaces a creative vision that alternative music people had vision to create in the 1990s.

Radio X will do well, but once again alternative music radio in the UK goes niche.