All entries for Friday 30 March 2007

March 30, 2007

South Park Kills the Queen

The Queen is Dead. Long Live Comedy. British newspapers have reacted in outrage to an episode of South Park, where in an homage to 24, the British Queen is behind a plot to take over the United States government. The plot fails, and she blows her head off with a gun.

The Sun called it the show’s “sickest point yet”. The Daily Mail said it was “its most spectacularly offensive episode yet”.

Chris Doidge said it was “the funniest thing he’d heard in a long, long time”. A spokesman for Chris Doidge added he was still laughing now, even though he should be writing his law coursework.


What if we were in Iranian waters?

I probably won’t make myself popular for saying this… But what if the British sailors were in Iranian waters?

I’ve been troubled by some of the Foreign Office language, which is vague enough to leave room for admitting they were wrong. For instance, we’ve heard about the exact spot where the sailors were captured. But we’ve not been shown the line that they took before that. What if they accidentally went into Iranian waters, then returned to Iraqi waters, and were then captured. Essentially, both the British and the Iranians would be in the wrong. The Britons for having been in Iranian waters, and the Iranians for having gone into Iraqi waters to detain them.

If what we’ve heard is true, the Iranians were in the wrong because they should have shepherded the sailors out of their waters – there is no need for them to have been detained under maritime law.

Compare a British news report with one on an international news website. There is often a subtle difference in language. The British media take MoD statements as fact, while there’s more emphasis on ”...the MoD claim that the sailors were in Iraqi waters…” in international reporting.

My concern is that we’re only hearing half of the story. This is largely because the Iranian regime is disfunctional, secretive and has a lot to hide. But I wonder whether the vacuum of information from the other side means that we’re getting information which isn’t as high-quality as we’re led to believe.

Would our media ever decide something the Iranians said was correct and that something the MoD said was incorrect? It seems very unlikely.

We, understandably, want our sailors back. The MoD, understandably, would never want to admit that they made a mistake in relation to Iran. Foreign relations are too sensitive to give them any ground on such an international stage.

And the Iranians have, for sure, acted wrongly by detaining the fifteen, putting two of them on television, making them read admissions of guilt and denying consular access.

But what if we did cock up? Would we ever find out the truth?


Bloggers want Mugabe out

Writing about web page http://paulburgin.blogspot.com/2007/03/bloggers-against-mugabe.html

An interesting initiative over at a blog I’d not heard of before – an open, signed entry persuading Robert Mugabe to resign. I’m sure some British blogs won’t be able to force him out, but it’ll be worth seeing how popular it becomes. Only a few signatories so far (it’s only just gone online) but already a non-partisan bunch.


Listen up viewer – we don't care about you

Two bits of news out this morning, both of which suggest the TV viewer is low down the list of priorities when it comes to deciding what to put on the box.

Firstly, the FA look set to award the rights to the FA Cup and England home games to ITV and Setanta. This despite the fact that the BBC’s coverage has been credited with making the Cup exciting again after several years of rubbish. Would ITV have to show the lower-league cup ties that the Beeb have loyally provided over the past few years? And if they’re paying so much more (£400m+) will they have any money left to make the coverage half-decent? The deal leaves the BBC with no live football outside of the Euro 2008 and the next World Cup, which with their range of talent must be pretty annoying. Gabby Logan – who moved from ITV recently – must be kicking herself.

Secondly, the BBC are mulling plans to show EastEnders five nights a week. I don’t think they understand why people have stopped watching the show over the years (it used to get around 16m people regularly, now it gets about half that). People stopped watching because it’s too big a commitment. Ask viewers what they really want and they’d probably ask for fewer episodes of higher quality. Even the show’s producers are against it, but the Beeb want to squeeze some more milk from the ratings cow. Laughably they’re undertaking a “feasibility test to assess the impact on the production schedule”, but don’t appear to be researching what the viewer actually wants.

Media 2, Viewer 0.


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