Fine Gael councillor asks for Athletics Coverage

It seems Naoise Ó Múirí, Fine Gael councillor, reads my blog (ahem) as he demanded that RTÉ’s failure to ‘provide television coverage of the World Championships in Berlin was a major mistake.’

Ó Múirí went further and suggested that RTÉ reduce his licence fee by €20 because of the substandard TV schedule. Hmm… I wonder if he was referring to the new RTÉ autumn schedule.

RTÉ’s Autumn Schedule

RTÉ’s autumn schedule has been launched last week and there are a few interesting programmes on the list, Killers Profiles, John Connolly: Of Blood and Lost Things and The Eclipse.

There are several other new programmes to be shown during the autumn schedule which could make up for some interesting viewing. I was interested to see the replacement for the Fianna Fáil-centric Questions and Answers, which seems to be re-hashed under The Frontline hosted by Pat Kenny. This seems to be the same programme under a different name. Pity. I hope it doesn’t become another Fianna Fáil Party Political Broadcast.

RTÉ has also brought back some favourites which seems conservative, as Pure Mule makes another Rolling Stones type return in a ‘once off’ episode. It is disappointing that The Eclipse is the only new Irish drama shown by the state broadcaster, as Irish TV does need new blood.

John Clarke steps down

I see that DJ John Clarke is stepping down as boss of 2FM leaving Dave Fanning to take over the mantle.

It would be interesting to see if Dave Fanning will ring in any changes to the schedule as John Clarke states that ‘the station is being overhauled next year and they’re no longer aiming to attract kids’. I would have thought that on some level that 2FM attracted children to their schedule, and that changing their remit would damage their listenership as the station has been losing some of its audience according to the last JNLR surveys.

2FM’s apparent re-focus comes as regional stations are aggressively marketing for younger audiences such as i-radio, Beat FM and Spin South West. We’ll have to wait to see what the Dave Fanning tenure will bring.

Irish Coverage of Athletics

Congratulations to Olive Loughnane who got a silver medal in the 20KM walk in the Berlin World Championships.

Thankfully, I was able to see some of the coverage on BBC2 and Eurosport, but there was no coverage on RTÉ or TV3. Since the likes of John Treacy, Eamon Coughlan and Marcus O’Sullivan were flying the flag for Ireland in the Olympics and World Athletics Championships, RTÉ had the grace to show the events. But since, there has been a dearth in Irish participation in Athletics meets partially due to the lack of interest from RTÉ and to a lesser extent TV3.

It is a shame that the World Championships weren’t included in the Irish schedules this year or for the past few years. If the Irish are to retain some interest in athletics, it is imperative that they be shown on Irish terrestrial television. Otherwise, Ireland will not have athletes in the future. Irish sport needs to be promoted in order to receive the participation and the plaudits it deserves.

Thankfully, BBC interviewed Olive after her impressive result.

The Value of Culture Ireland

In The Irish Times today, two articles appeared voicing their concern of An Bord Snip’s proposal to abolish Culture Ireland. Rónán McGreevy wrote about Colm Tóibín’s appearance on Myles Dungan’s radio show on RTÉ Radio 1, as he espoused Wtilde’s maxim of cynics.

The other article, ‘Putting a price on Culture’ emphasized Culture Ireland’s importance to Ireland as a nation as culture is America’s greatest export, as it is ours. Without it, Ireland would be devoid of museums, concerts by local and internationally renowned artists, theatres, festivals, would result in the loss of 6,000.

McCarthy seemed to opt for the soft targets, or as Tóibín suggested, ‘knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.’

RTÉ .v. Afri Advert

RTÉ denies censorship of the Afri advert due to a ‘Rossport reference.’ Afri have accused RTÉ of censorship as an attempt to publicise the event. 98FM aired the ad. Midwest Radio declined to air the ad as it had to consult the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) on a reference to the Rossport Five.

A spokesperson for RTÉ stated that it had asked Afri to clear the ad with the BCI under the 1988 Radio and Television Act, as RTÉ had referred previous ads under this ruling.

I have to say I haven’t heard the ad, but, some are sensitive these days.

(PS I had a sinister smile when I blackled ‘Midwest Radio’ the first result was http://www.midwestradio.ie/MWR/index.php?page=death-notices).

RTÉ slashes funding for Deaf Services by 60%

I see that RTÉ have announced more cuts by slashing €100,000 from deaf services, according to The Irish Independent

Although cuts have to be made in order for RTÉ to balance the books, the company plans to producing 10 shows, to rise to 20 when repeats are shown.  Tough one this, as reading the article, it is unclear which programmes will be cut.  Doing this in an An Bord Snip fashion just doesn’t seem right.

More Google Rants

A few weeks ago, I read more into Google’s Book Deal.  I still haven’t calmed down.  The company’s insistence of uploading all books of print online is tantamount to piracy.  Although a settlement has been granted in America, I would suggest that this settlement does not have the backing of the majority of struggling authors.  Google is invading an industry to which they know absolutely nothing about.  They are fast becoming the most despised company in the world should this digitizing of books prevail. 

Books are beautiful tangible assets that slip nicely in your hand and allow you to read for hours.  It is possible to read online, I know, but reading online for numerous hours for one is bad for your eyes.  I’m of the school that reading from books is easier than that from computers.  The majority of paperbacks are easy to carry, transportable and cheap unlike their mechanic counterpart, being the computer.  Yes, computers are getting smaller, but the tangibility of a book and its fresh smell give it something extra.  Plus when you bring a book with you on your holidays, you’re not forced to dismantle the book bag and load up the book. 

My problem with Google is not because of the above situation but with something a lot deeper than that as the company (spit) ventures to upload all books online.  You notice that when you download Flash to your PC, the terms and conditions asks if you want to include an optional Google Toolbar.  Fair enough, you think, unselect it and it won’t bother me again.  It is the individual’s prerogative.  So, where were Google when each author was negotiating a deal with an agent and publisher?  Should they not be doing knocking on each rightsholder’s door asking for permission?

Another situation arises.  An opportunity to download a piece of music arises that normally retails around €10, but you can get it for free on an illegal site.  What would the user choose? 

The Google Book Settlement will only serve more harm than good.  The 1990’s saw Napster being prosecuted for illegally pirating music, thus infringing copyright.  One difference between Google and Napster is that Napster isn’t bankrolled by millions of money like Google.  Anything that is digitized to the web is easily copied and shared amongst millions. 

Users will be free to copy, despite possible guarantees by Google that the writer’s works are secure from copyright infringement.  Should this deal go ahead, Google stands to win; small writers will lose on valuable income, as will the author’s agents, publishers and bookshops due to the potential piracy.  Yes, I know the author gets some recompense, but when one book manages to be copied, the damage has been done, the rightsholder’s book will be copied by unauthorized individual’s hoping to make a quick buck.  This is not about money, this scar is much deeper.  It is Napster and music all over again.  Therefore, it is crucial that books are not to be made as online brochures.

It is imperative that the literary world does not kowtow to Google’s demands as the Authors Guild of America and many publishers already have.  Google will ruin the literature world as Napster did to music.  If there is an alternative to this mess, and that books are to be digitized, the Google clause must be an opt-in, not an opt-out to force Google to negotiate with each rightsholder individually.

The McCarthy Report .v. The Irish Film Board

Bloody hell, getting around The McCarthy Report is a nightmare, and so is the McCarthy Report. It recommends that the Irish Film Board be merged into Enterprise Ireland to save €3 million with the loss of 17 staff and wants its €17 million in annual capital funding for Irish films to be withdrawn.

Bloody hell, getting around The McCarthy Report is a nightmare, and so is the McCarthy Report. It recommends that the Irish Film Board be merged into Enterprise Ireland to save €3 million with the loss of 17 staff and wants its €17 million in annual capital funding for Irish films to be withdrawn.

Current productions with permitted grants will be honoured, although the future of the Board and ultimately film production in Ireland is questionable. Although grants are usually no more than €20,000, producers need grants to attract funding from private investors. If grants are axed, it is less likely that Irish films would receive further investments from private sources.

The Irish Film Board is critical to not only Irish film but also to tourism as 50% of tourists claim they came to Ireland because of films made here.