Wednesday, 27 February 2008

European Union on the air

In April 2008 European Union will have its own network of radio stations working in a consortium. Good, but who is missing?
So far Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia and Sweden are out of the project. Finland and the UK don't seem very interested: their radio stations aren't proper members but only associate radio stations.
It would be interesting asking BBC and (italian) Rai why they didn't join the project.

The press release is available from the official site of Ms Margot WALLSTRÖM, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for institutional relations and communication strategy, you can see her blog here

Brussels, 26 February 2008

Europe on the air: a network of European radio stations is launched

From April 2008 on, day in and day out, 16 radio stations from 13 countries working in a consortium and 7 associate radio stations will co-produce and simultaneously broadcast programmes devoted to current affairs and society in the Europe of 27

Broadcast daily, the programmes of this EUROPEAN network will include daily news reports, interviews, debates, magazines looking at subjects in greater depth and coverage of live events. The first broadcasts will go out in April 2008.

Initially, broadcasts will be in 10 languages (Bulgarian, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish), but they will gradually expand to the 23 languages of the EU.

This network is open to all kinds of national, regional, local, public or private radio stations, and already ranges from "Radio Polskie" to "Punto Radio" (Spain), via "Deutsche Welle", "Radio Netherlands", "Radio France Internationale" and "Radio Slovenia International".

Other radio stations can join the network if they meet the rules laid down by the consortium.

The interactive nature of this daily programme lasting between 30 and 60 minutes will also be enhanced by the launch of a common internet portal in July 2008.

On 28 February 2008, Ms Margot WALLSTRÖM, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for institutional relations and communication strategy, welcomed the support which the European Commission intends to give to the European consortium of radio stations for five years from its launch.

On 14 December last the Commission signed a service contract for € 5.8 million per annum with the consortium coordinated by "Deutsche Welle" and RFI following the Invitation to Tender of 14/07/2007. The strictest respect for the consortium's editorial freedom is guaranteed by an editorial charter.

Messrs. Erik BETTERMANN, Antoine SCHWARZ and Jan HOOK, respectively Presidents of Deutsche Welle, RFI and Radio Netherlands International, stressed to the press in Brussels the unique, enriching experience which the contributions and broader perspective of the consortium partners will bring to the citizens of the 27 countries of the EU in lively, well documented programmes on questions relating to Europe.

Members of the consortium on 26 February 2008

Germany Deutsche Welle
France RFI
Netherlands Radio Netherlands Worldwide
Spain Punto Radio
Poland Polskie Radio Warsaw
Poland Polskie Radio Szczecin
Belgium RTBF
Bulgaria Bulgarian National Radio
Czech Republic Czech Radio
Greece Skai Radio
Hungary Hungarian Radio
Romania Radio Romania International
Slovenia Radio Slovenia International
Portugal Europa Lisboa

Associate radio stations (not members of the consortium who can relay whatever subject they wish)

UK CUR 1350 Cambridge University
Germany Hochschulradio Aachen
Germany TIDE Radio Hamburg Media School
Germany CampusRadioBonn - Bonn University
France Radio Campus Paris
France Eur@dionantes
Finland Radio Moreeni - Tampere University

Friday, 22 February 2008

Girl generated content

If you think that majority of teen geeks are guys, you're wrong.
Read what NYT says, click here for the full article:

Geek Chic: Not Just For Guys

Sorry, Boys, This is our domain

Published: February 21, 2008

The prototypical computer whiz of popular imagination - pasty, geeky, male -
has failed to live up to his reputation.

Research shows that among the youngest Internet users, the primary creators
of Web content (blogs, graphics, photographs, Web sites) are not misfits
resembling the Lone Gunmen of "The X Files." On the contrary, the
cyberpioneers of the moment are digitally effusive teenage girls.

"Most guys don't have patience for this kind of thing," said Nicole
Dominguez, 13, of Miramar, Fla., whose hobbies include designing free icons,
layouts and "glitters" (shimmering animations) for the Web and MySpace pages
of other teenagers. "It's really hard."

Nicole posts her graphics, as well as her own HTML and CSS computer coding
pointers (she is self-taught), on the pink and violet, a
domain her mother bought for her in October.

"If you did a poll I think you'd find that boys rarely have sites," she
said. "It's mostly girls."

Indeed, a study published in December by the Pew Internet & American Life
Project found that among Web users ages 12 to 17, significantly more girls
than boys blog (35 percent of girls compared with 20 percent of boys) and
create or work on their own Web pages (32 percent of girls compared with 22
percent of boys).

Girls also eclipse boys when it comes to building or working on Web sites
for other people and creating profiles on social networking sites (70
percent of girls 15 to 17 have one, versus 57 percent of boys 15 to 17).
Video posting was the sole area in which boys outdid girls: boys are almost
twice as likely as girls to post video files.

Friday, 15 February 2008

DAB in UK: economically or not economically viable?

GCap Media is a British commercial radio company formed from the merger of the Capital Radio Group and GWR Group. The merger was completed in May 2005. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
On December 20th 2007 Fru Hazlitt started working as CEO of the group.
After 53 days she presented her plans for the company's future; in the meanwhile:
- 6 January 2008: Global radio confirms interest in buying GCap
- 7 January 2008: GCap rejects the-313 million-pound bid offer from Global
- 12 February 2008: Global reserves right to raise GCap offer

The big issue is Fru Hazlitt saying "reflecting our view that DAB is not an economically viable platform for the Company"

A lot of newspapers wrote about this:

8 February 2008 Ben Fenton Digital radio at critical stage
10 February 2008 Ben Fenton Global radio questions GCap plans
11 February 2008 Ben Fenton Hazlitt turns the dial from DAB radio
11 February 2008 Ben Fenton Radio waves hit remaining supporters
11 February 2008 John Plunkett Hazlitt : DAB "not economically viable"
12 February 2008 Owen Gibson and Katie Allen
The end for digital radio - or the start of a listening revolution?
12 February 2008 Juliette Garside Doubt over digital as GCap pulls the plug
14 February 2008 Juliette Garside Radio bosses seek new digital map
10 February 2008 James Ashton GCAP's Fru Hazlitt switches off digital radio
12 February 2008 Amanda Andrews Blow for digital radio as GCap drops stations
12 February 2008 Ciar Byrne GCap retreats from digital radio to focus on FM and broadband

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Globalization of films' content

Interesting article from New York Times: screen writers work for US audience and, specially, for foreign audiences.

Moviegoers in Seoul will love this film

by Brooks Barnes
Published: January 27, 2008

LOS ANGELES — An avid moviegoer, Lindsay Bern takes in a flick at her local multiplex about twice a week. But Ms. Bern, the co-owner of a Los Angeles recording studio, has recently become irritated by what she sees as a disturbing trend on the big screen: the obliteration of New York City.

In particular, she has been annoyed by “I Am Legend”, the Warner Brothers hit that stars Will Smith in a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, and “Cloverfield”, the Paramount film about a monster that implodes the Empire State Building, tears down the Brooklyn Bridge and generally reduces the city to a smoking pile of rubble and despair.

“Can’t they destroy another city for once?” Ms. Bern said in an interview at a local movie theater. “It’s despicable that the studios are using the destruction of New York to sell movies to me.”

Hollywood uses the stunt to sell movies all right — but not primarily to Ms. Bern or anyone else in the United States, for that matter. If Americans go to see the Statue of Liberty’s head ripped off, as they have in droves for “Cloverfield,” all the better. But the fans the studios are really trying to attract with such imagery are in Eastern Europe, South Korea and Latin America.

New York City, studio executives say, is the only United States metropolis with a skyline that is instantly recognizable the world over. (San Francisco is a possible exception, but razing a city that is already teetering on the seismic brink is not as much fun.) Aren’t Americans growing a little tired of seeing the Big Apple being splattered? “Maybe,” a senior Paramount executive said, “but that is what will sell it overseas.”

To gain control over runaway costs, the movie industry is increasingly striving for a one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to the types of films it churns out and the megawatt marketing campaigns that accompany them. But while the studios once tailored their product to the tastes of American audiences and tweaked it for the international crowd, the reverse is becoming the norm.

Indeed, the international movie business — of strategic importance to studios for two decades — has become so lucrative that many movies are now built primarily to appeal to people outside the United States. Given the broad range of cultures to which movies must play, their content will become only simpler as the trend grows. It surely isn’t lost on entertainment companies that complex, politically themed pictures like “In the Valley of Elah”, a tough sell at home, were also disastrous abroad.

“Clearly, international is playing a bigger role than ever in the green-light process for pictures,” said Jeff Blake, chairman for worldwide marketing and distribution at the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group. “You’re having big conversations about what you can do to increase your chances overseas.”

What sells best overseas is a simple message, preferably one that is nonverbal and can be communicated with a single dominant image. “The Day After Tomorrow” was an easy global sell for 20th Century Fox. (Manhattan freezes over.) But “Spanglish,” with its complicated story about an Anglo chef falling for a Hispanic household helper, and with a tough title to translate, was a nightmare for Sony international marketers.

Ticket sales at theaters in the United States have declined over the last decade despite the efforts of studios and theater owners. In 2007, sales totaled $9.7 billion, up 4 percent from the previous year, according to Media by Numbers, a box-office tracking company. But the attendance figures puncture that happy story: the number of people going to the movies was flat, after a narrow increase in 2006 and three previous years of sharp declines.

The international market, meanwhile, is sizzling. Foreign receipts for the six biggest studios rose 9 percent in 2007 from a year earlier, to $9.4 billion. While there are no reliable independent data for attendance, the number of people outside the United States going to the movies is soaring, too, partly because more modern theaters are popping up, according to Patrick Wachsberger, the co-chairman of Summit Entertainment, a boutique studio with a large foreign film sales business.

Spider-Man 3” illustrates the shift. Released last May, the movie was a low point for the series at the domestic box office when ticket sales are adjusted for inflation, according to Box Office Mojo, another tracking service. But foreign sales for the picture were the best ever for the series, totaling $554 million.

Spider-Man has a lot of company. Most studio movies now gross substantially more abroad than they do at home.

The growth overseas — American movies made $158 million in China last year, for example, up 38 percent from 2006 — helps explain what kinds of films show up on marquees in St. Louis and Seattle.

Multicultural organizations routinely criticize Hollywood, saying it fails to cast many minorities in leading roles. They point to movies like “Madea’s Family Reunion”, which featured a mainly African-American cast, that have performed well at the box office. That picture, which cost about $6 million to make, sold $63.3 million in tickets at North American theaters.

The big studios know that these films make money, but they shy away from them in large part because multicultural casts are a hard sell overseas. “Madea's Family Reunion” sold only $50,939 in tickets abroad. “Urban movies just don’t travel,” Mr. Wachsberger said.

International movie ticket sales, in broad terms, used to be one of two things: gravy or insurance. If a film looked as if it would be a hit, studios would take a chance on how it would perform overseas, knowing that the receipts would only make them richer. If a picture was deemed a difficult sell, studios would sell off parts of the overseas distribution rights to local companies in advance, cutting the risk.

The situation started to change in the 1990s, as companies became more global and foreign investors developed more of an appetite for the movie business. As Hollywood started relying more heavily on action extravaganzas, and as movie attendance in the United States started to drop, the business had to court a wider audience.

WITH many markets still growing, the practice of tailoring scripts for a global audience is only going to increase, said David Maisel, the chairman of Marvel Studios.

He should know. “The Incredible Hulk” from Marvel (set for a June 13 premiere) has been meticulously constructed to appeal to moviegoers across the planet. In one sequence, Dr. Bruce Banner, the scientist who transforms into a green monster when his emotions run high, travels to Brazil to search for a cure. Instead of building Brazil on a back lot, Mr. Maisel sent the production to Rio de Janeiro — a move that could help sell the movie in South America.

If that doesn’t work, he always has a backup: The script also calls for a fight of comic book proportions in which the Hulk must call upon the hero within to save a city from “total destruction.”

Care to guess which city?

Thursday, 7 February 2008

New guidelines for UK radio stations

Ofcom today published their view about two areas: 1) localness guidance for analogue (FM and AM) commercial radio and 2) stereo and mono broadcasting on DAB

Here you can read the 44 pages of the pdf file

Here you can read John Plunkett's view about this statement

Plunkett wrote about the quality of DAB:
"The commercial radio trade body, the Radio Centre, said "perceived audio quality" should not be "micro-managed" by Ofcom, adding that it was best left to individual radio operators and digital multiplex owners."

Localness guidelines

Ofcom has concluded that it is right to maintain a minimum amount of obligations for local content on radio, shown by research to be important to listeners. Today’s statement revises guidance on the local content obligations for commercial analogue radio licensees, in line with the proposals set out in Ofcom’s Consultation document published in November 2007.

The new guidance states that:

-FM local radio stations should broadcast at least ten hours of locally-made programmes each weekday during daytime (including breakfast) and at least four hours at weekends; and

-AM stations should provide at least four hours of locally-made programming every day of the week. Stations based in the nations (Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland) will be required to provide a further six weekday hours of programming from their home nation.

No station will be required to produce more locally-made programming than at present and, for many licensees, the new guidelines represent substantial deregulation.

Given the challenging economic climate facing the radio industry currently, Ofcom recognises the need for flexibility and the case for reducing overheads. So Ofcom will now consider requests from stations with a population coverage under 250,000 adults for co-location and/or programme sharing with a neighbouring station. Where stations are allowed to share programming they will still be required to provide at least four hours of bespoke local programming per day.

Stereo and mono broadcasting on DAB

Ofcom has concluded stereo and mono broadcasting on DAB should be regulated to preserve sound quality for listeners. Licensees wishing to switch from stereo to mono must now request approval from Ofcom. This policy will be reviewed after 12 months

Friday, 1 February 2008

Miscommunication between US and Iran

The year 2008 started in a very nice way, with a naval dispute between US
and Iran.

If you click here, you can download a video realeased from Pentagon, it's a
28.6 MB wmv file and you can see a 4:20 minutes file of the american

One crew member of the US warship says:
"This is coalition warship. I am engaged in transit passage in accordance
with international law."
he doesn't get an understable answer and he says again:
"This is coalition warship. I am engaged in transit passage in accordance
with international law. I maintain no harm. Over!"

The most interesting part is the last 36 seconds when you can hear (the
video is just a black screen) a weird voice (it's like a voice from an horror film)
saying: "I am coming to you" and after the US crew member says"You're
approaching a coalition warship operating in international waters, your
identity is not known, your intentionts are unclear [...]" the unidentified
voice says "You will explode after a few minutes."

If you click here, you can see a Pentagon page with 2 versions of the naval dispute, the short version (i already talked about it) and the long version (45 minutes! but there's not sign of any creepy voice)

If you click here, you can see a short video (in Reuters site) that shows the iranian version.

The video showed an Iranian naval officer in a small speedboat speaking via
radio to a ship which could not be clearly identified (we know that there's
high probability it was the american warship).

Iranian officer: "Coalition warship 73 this (is an) Iranian navy patrol

"This is coalition warship 73. I read you loud and clear," the person
replied with an American accent.

The Iranian officer then appeared to ask for the ships to identify
themselves, though his words at times were indistinguishable:

"Coalition warship 73 this (is) Iranian navy patrol boat, request side
number ... operating in the area (at) this time."

In this video, there's no trace of the creepy voice threating to explod the
americans. Who said that? The iranian say: the audio of the voice was fabricated. Was it? Who can tell?

There are rumours, the Guardian (but it's not the only one) wrote about it,
that the threatening voice heard on the US clip may, in fact, be that of a
prankster given the nickname "Filipino Monkey".
According to wikipedia, "Filipino Monkey" is just a pseudonym used by radio
pranksters in maritime radio transmissions since at least the 1980s,
especially in the Persian Gulf.

If a radio prankster might cause an american warship almost firing against an
iranian boat, i would say that the naval system of communication is not
working properly, is it?
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