Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Excellent work by Sacha Baron Cohen promoting his new film – Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Foolishly Kazakhstan has started a marketing campaign to persuade people that their fair nation isn’t as backward as depicted by Sacha in his new film and they’ve also attacked him for making it. It also hasn’t helped that the Kazakhstani President is visiting the White House and has made the topic of Borat part of their discussions. His response? A live press conference outside the Kazakhstanyi embassy denouncing the government as Uzbeki infiltrators.

The film, out in the UK November 3rd, is brilliant. Ambrose took me to see a screening a couple of weeks ago and it was properly laugh out loud funny. It’s also cringeworthy, and jaw-droppingly shocking. The cleverest thing about the movie though is the mirror it holds up to American society and that certainly isn’t pleasant viewing.

Not Getting YouTube

So, the post below talks about how NBC ‘gets’ YouTube and that other media companies should work a little harder. Well congratulations to the BBC for creating probably the worst executed attempt to ‘get down with the kids’ when they ask what they think about YouTube. As one of the commenters says “It’s for the kids Alan. Now go back to your corner office and do some work.”

Small Radio Stations

Interesting news that UKRD have handed back an FM licence. Interesting because it’s the first time it’s ever happened. UKRD are abandoning the people of Stroud, not i’m sure out of malice, but because of the sound business reason that it’s never made any money in eight years. They recently proposed to the regulator, Ofcom, to co-locate the station with a nearby operation and simulcast some programming. Ofcom didn’t allow the simulcating…
“It reached its decision having regard to its programming obligations under Sections 106 (1A) and (1B) of the Broadcasting Act 1990 (as amended), and its obligations with regard to localness output under Section 314 of the Communications Act.”

In other words they felt it would reduce localism (for its, ahem, 11,000 listeners) to unacceptably low standards. Though surely it would have been slightly more local than the station shutting down?Star Stroud

However as my diagram shows, they’re not exactly that far away are they? If they’d been allowed to produce one station for both areas, i’m sure they would have included news and information for both markets. And it would of meant they’d actually make some money, which, hey, might have even raised the quality of their programming!

Now it’s not entirely Ofcom’s fault, they’ll talk about having to follow the Act of Parliament, which of course they do. However there is enough wiggle room to allow it to happen. I’m sure actually they’re more worried about it setting a precedent and then lots of stations asking for the same thing. Interestingly when Ofcom did a consultation on this the only people that responded was a small independently operated radio station on the outskirts of London – no local competitors and no listeners!
Local commercial radio works well when station’s serve their audiences, however they can only do this if they’ve got a secure financial backing. If hyper-localness is important a station will find out pretty quickly if they’ve (wrongly) moved their programming in the other direction. For local stations like these, local advertising is incredibly important and not catering for local audiences will effect the cashflow pretty quickly. That’s the best way to guarantee high quality local radio, not through micro-management decisions that actually result in an audience being deprived of a whole station.

Finding Chris Evans Again

I always loved Chris Evans. I remember watching the first week of the Big Breakfast and it completely changing my world. I thought it was brilliant, different, new. TV that was for me. Maybe I felt a ginger-like connection with the host? I don’t know. He remained a favourite for ages, through the outstanding Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush, Radio 1, TFI and Virgin Radio. I even went to see him open Sega World in Bournemouth and challenged him to a game of Air Hockey. He didn’t have time. And then it just sort of ended.

I don’t think it was completely Air Hockey related, he was busy and being rushed through, I still have the signed photo though, and it sits, framed, on the wall in the hall. I guess a kind of memorial to those Big Breakfast days. After Virgin, our presenter/viewer relationship seemed to end and I went off to have dalliances with other presenters.

Oddly i’ve met him a couple of times since. He appeared on the Sony Radio Awards Webcast that me and Helen looked after, and I had to go and get him. It was harder to do than I thought as about a million radio fans all wanted a word and a picture with him. I guess all people like me who loved what he did. As I walked up with him I wanted to tell him about all the stuff that i’d enjoyed and how he’d been a part of me growing up. Instead I just mumbled something about “how’s the show going?” and he said “fine” and that was about it. How rubbish?

Anyway, today I had a listen to his Radio 2 show for a couple of hours and it sounded great. Relaxed, chatty, friendly, a good listen. It sounds well researched with some interesting topics and some good chemistry between him and his team – all of which have roles, no more screaming posse. There was a really nice review of the new movie – The Queen – by someone who’d worked for her at the palace. Different, entertaining and just what listneing to Chris always used to be about.

There’s also a blog (or the schlog if you read the blog and listen to the show) which makes him sound down to earth and a real person, something most presenters can’t really manageIn fact I think it’s probably the best example of an accompanying blog out there and a model for other stations/presenters.

So I guess that means i’ve found him again. We’ll have to go slowly at first, but I think it’s going to be okay.

BBC Trust Public Value Test – Vicky Pollard Media

Today I went to an Ofcom presentation where they talked about their impending Market Impact Assesment. The BBC were there too (both Executive and Trust sides) where they presented a few details about the BBC iPlayer – main thing I noted down was that they’ve stolen Odeo‘s colour for their logo.

However, there was a nice comment from Chris Woolard (the BBC Trust’s Head of Compliance and Value for Money) when talking about whether the BBC Trust would approve the new iPlayer. He said the results wouldn’t just be black and white with a Yes or a No, that they could be a bit Vicky – “yeah, but” or “no, but”. Meaning they could decide that there’s predominantly yes with some conditions, or a big no, but with a silver lining.

I’m not sure if I approve of the description or feel depressed about it…