Monday, 12 January 2009


BBC director-general, Mark Thomas (right), thinks it's a good idea to merge Channel 4 and Five so as to enhance UK Public Service Broadcasting. He's wrong. These two channels are so far apart in content that a merger would probably destroy both of their viewer bases, plunging them into even more trouble during the anticipated recession. Channel 4 has a history of providing cutting-edge documentaries, religious programmes and music - whereas Five is more concerned with popular American imports. These two do not go hand in hand! Five News is an entirely different product to Channel 4 News - Five prides itself on being different to the mainstream and covering stories that the BBC and ITV won't touch. Channel 4 News is a far more serious programme, headed by the legendary Jon Snow, and they both do their job very well. A television station should stick to what it does best. Since the collapse of Channel 4 Radio, opportunities for plurality on the wireless have dropped sharply - so please don't let that happen to terrestrial television too. Mark Thomson's got a vested interest: Channel 4 and Five are the BBC's competitors, so it's no surprise that he's made these comments. More here:
PICTURE: AFP/Getty Images (The Guardian)

"Such means of locamotion seem rather dull to us", said singing duo Michael Flanders and Donald Swann many years ago. But it's a fact of life that modern trains are much faster than their "97-horsepower omnibus". Unfortunately, it's also a fact of life that they are ridiculously expensive. An example for you - I work for two companies in London, Premier Christian Radio and Five News (BSkyB). Daily return train travel to Premier (Leigh-on-Sea to St James Park tube) is £17.00 [up 6.3% on 2008], and to BSkyB (Leigh-on-Sea to Syon Lane) is £20.10 [up 5.8%]. That is a lot of money, so could someone please explain whilst other consumer prices are staying frozen or falling, the train companies find pleasure through increasing fares by 6%? I feel ripped-off, especially when the service is often far from satisfying due to late trains and lack of seats during rush hour. But on a more positive note, I was going to watch Leyton Orient v Sheffield United 10 days ago in east London (I follow three United's - Newcastle, Sheffield and Southend; how's that for a mixture!) and the game was abandoned on my way there due to a frozen pitch. So I turned back home, safe in the knowledge I had wasted £8.30 on a train ticket. But the ticket attendant had other ideas and she gave me a full refund! This proves that not everyone involved with trains is a pen-pushing money-grabber. It restored my faith in human beings, as the Daily Mail might put it.

21 out of 36 Football League matches were postponed on Saturday due to frozen pitches. In 2009, clubs still can't get their heads round the fact that it is COLD in England and this might happen! The Premier League might be investigating Portsmouth and Fulham over whether they could have made more of an effort to get their games ahead, and I think the same investigation should be done for many Football League clubs. Postponements cause all sorts of trouble for travelling fans, so well done Southend for postponing 24 hours beforehand to stop Crewe fans coming down from the north-west. But when a game is called off so late - like my trip to Leyton Orient recently - it costs money and time for supporters, creating a lot of stress. So this is a message to football clubs across the country: take better precautions to avoid postponements as they cause a lot of hassle (install some pitch heaters etc; they're not that expensive). And if you're going to call it off, don't do so with an hour until kick-off!