Archive for September, 2009

Jason’s holiday

Oh dear, 2GB’s Jason Morrison is supposed to be having a holiday this week after filling in for Alan Jones for the last age-and-a-half…but no, he’s in Fiji where his holiday was interrupted by a tsunami alert, which put him back in to reporter mode for 2GB.

Thankfully the tsunami didn’t hit Fiji, but Jason reported on the devastation in the region none-the-less.

2GB better give Jason a nice long break over summer.

Samuel

September 30th, 2009 at 09:03pm

Income caps and minorities to vote out boards?

I really don’t comprehend the anger that so many people have for company directors and the like who are on multi-million dollar salaries. I mean, I understand the notion of not seeing how their office job could possibly be worth that much seeing as they get to sit in a nice air-conditioned office all day…but I don’t think people who have a problem with these salaries truly understand the nature of the work many of these people do, or how many people are affected by their position. These highly paid positions are enormously powerful and come with a great deal of responsibility…and as the saying goes, have you ever seen a poor man employing people?

The reason I mention this is that 2CC’s Mark Parton has written a blog post which knocked me off my feet, seemingly in support of changes to the Corporations Act which are being proposed by the Rudd government. To quote the relevant bits from Mark’s blog:

As I understand it, regular Joe investors will be given the power to sack entire company boards. I gather that ever director would be forced to stand down if as few as 20 percent of shareholders voted twice against executive salary packages…which may be a bit of overkill.

The big companies will be forced into greater transparancy and CEO’s will not be in a position to decide their own pay packets.

I understand that the report has dismissed calls to put a cap on how much CEO’s are paid.

We’ll see what gets put on the table later today. I think the mood is such that we need change in this area because a select few have just robbed us blind for far too long. It can’t continue.

Allan Moss formerly of Macquarie Bank is the most striking example. He was paid nearly $25 million in 2008. How can anyone be worth $25 million for a years work. That’s obscene !

I don’t usually get worked up enough to respond to Mark, but that kind of anti-business sentiment ruins economies, and it got me going (it probably didn’t help that I was already in an agitated mood). I have submitted by response to his blog, and am copying it here because I probably would have blogged about the subject anyway, and it saves me from writing another blog post about the same thing.

My response is below, in full.

I totally disagree. It’s called the free market, and directors are being paid whatever they’re able to be paid, just like the rest of us. In the case of Allan Moss, he was getting paid that much to deliver a strong return for investors, and in 2008 Macquarie had a 2.2 billion dollar profit before tax (1.8 after tax) which is a few hundred million dollars more than the previous year [1]. I’d say he earned his income.

As for the 20% can vote out a board…so much for a democracy. Hypothetically, why should I as a 60% or 70% owner of a company, be able to be overruled by a 20% minority…that’s like giving the Greens a pro-rata vote so that they’re equal to the Labor party in the legislative assembly even though they hold the least number of seats.

I agree in principle that directors shouldn’t be able to set their own remuneration without oversight from the shareholders (majority approval would be a working model), but I also believe that shareholders should also be able to vote to give the directors power of veto if that’s what the shareholders want.

The free market/capitalist system works when it’s allowed to work. Imposing socialist ideals on top of it such as income caps does nothing to incentivise people to work harder and help the business grow, which in turn leads to more employment, and more wealth for all, not just the people at the top of the pyramid.

[1]: Macquarie Annual Report (2009) page 230 http://www.macquarie.com.au/au/about_macquarie/acrobat/annual_report2009_MGL.pdf

Samuel

September 30th, 2009 at 06:57pm

YouTube spotlight on…Aussie music pirates?

It could be a subtle way of saying “we’re not going to listen to Universal Music Group’s complaints any more”, but I doubt it. The “spotlight” section on YouTube today is supposed to feature Australian music artists…

YouTube's Australian Pirates

The last time I saw a “spotlight” was on Talk Like A Pirate Day. It looks like somebody changed the spotlight title and forgot to change the contents.

Samuel

September 30th, 2009 at 02:15pm

When you sue for breach of contract, it helps if your contract was breached

A fact which former CBS News anchor Dan Rather has found out the hard way.

Rather sued CBS and its top executives in 2007, claiming he had been removed from his “CBS Evening News” anchor post over a report that examined President George W. Bush’s military service.

The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court — New York’s trial-level court — said the complaint “must be dismissed in its entirety.”

The five-judge panel ruled unanimously that a lower court “erred in declining to dismiss Rather’s breach of contract claim against CBS.”

The court said there was no breach of contract, because CBS still paid Rather his $6 million annual salary after the disputed 2004 broadcast under the “pay or play” provision of his contract.

On the other hand, perhaps it helps if, when filing lawsuits, you’re not being insanely greedy. He was being paid $6 million per year to do nothing and he still wants more? Go and get a job if you want more…oh wait, he did…he’s now the anchor for cable network HDNet.

If I were him, I’d just be happy that somebody still wants to employ me at age 77.

Samuel

September 30th, 2009 at 11:50am

Telstra repair Sydney CBD cables

Telstra have documented their efforts to repair the cables which were cut in the Sydney CBD by an Energy Australia contractor a few weeks ago, in a rather interesting video.

Even if I’ve achieved nothing else by watching this, at least I have seen another bit of the inside of a telephone exchange. One day I should ring Telstra and see how much I would have to pay for a guided tour of my local exchange.

Samuel

1 comment September 30th, 2009 at 11:37am

So what? Who doesn’t make up the occasional listener?

Britain’s broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, really are over-zealous. Over here in Australia, ACMA only make a noise if somebody goes through the long complaint process, and even then barely do anything…in the UK though, if you so much as sneeze, Ofcom will notice.

A community radio station has been censured by media regulator Ofcom for a “severe and unacceptable breach of listeners’ trust” after reading out fake listener texts on a pre-recorded music show.

Radio Hartlepool admitted making up listeners’ texts on some editions of its morning show, on its Classic 9 at 9 feature, which were pre-recorded but broadcast as live.

The show contained appeals for listeners to send in texts, but they had no chance of having them read out because the show was not live, said Ofcom.

The station said four out of six broadcasts of the show it had on record they had been pre-recorded.

Ofcom said it was “particularly concerned that, on all four occasions when the Classic 9 at 9 was known to be pre-recorded, fictitious references were made on air to listeners who had supposedly contacted the programme. This was a severe and unacceptable breach of listeners’ trust.”

And what’s to say that the texts weren’t read on a future pre-recorded show?

Seriously, who cares? It’s part of the theatre of radio, and sometimes an imaginary listener is a perfect instrument to drum up a bit of interest, especially when it puts a point not already put by somebody else that is worthy of consideration.

Pretending to run a live talk programme and soliciting for calls would be reprehensible, as there would be an expectation that the calls would be live and the listeners ringing in would have a chance of getting on the air. Text messages, emails and faxes on the other hand are static non-interactive content which, unless otherwise noted, aren’t necessarily going to get to air in the current broadcast, even if it’s live.

Admittedly Ofcom have a relatively immature competitive radio market to deal with when compared to other nations, but this sort of overreaction isn’t helping to nurture the radio market, instead it is helping to discourage it. If people don’t like their text messages being held over or not read, they will stop sending them…the station might notice that and see a problem…but as far as I can tell, people were still sending messages.

I don’t see a problem here, Ofcom’s reaction excluded.

Samuel

2 comments September 30th, 2009 at 10:49am

Subliminal advertising for Desperate Housewives during FlashForward

It took me three viewings to notice this, but there was what appears to be a subliminal ad for Desperate Housewives during the premiere of FlashForward, which screened on Seven this evening.

I was actually trying to check something on the television screens shown in a store window while Mark Benford was on his way to the hospital, but I let the video run and that’s when I noticed it. In the background while Mark is talking to his wife on the phone, a stationary bus comes in to view briefly, and on the side of it there is a banner which advertises Desperate Housewives, and contains the ABC America logo. I was watching the ABC footage at the time so I wasn’t overly surprised by this, as ABC were carrying watermarks promoting Desperate Housewives for much of the show, even at the time the banner briefly appeared.

Desperate Housewives banner in the background on FlashForward

I then became curious to see if this was an ABC-only thing, or if it carried through to the syndicated version of the show. As I didn’t have a recording of what aired on Seven tonight, I resorted to the Seven website which just happened to be carrying the full episode, and sure enough, there it was, ABC logo intact.

Desperate Housewives banner in the background on FlashForward

I count the banner appearing in 19 frames, however it is only fully visible for five frames, or one fifth of a second.

This raises the question of whether Seven were aware that the ad was in the show…I believe that they probably were, as the offending scene appears at the 17:41 mark of the ABC version and the 16:57 mark of the Seven version, which indicates that Seven may have edited the show. It’s also possible that they simply received a cut-down syndicated version of the show, although why there would be a need to cut bits out of the show for syndication, in the case of this show, is beyond me.

Regardless, Seven are responsible, as a broadcast licence holder, for what they put to air, although whether the regulator ACMA would deem this to technically be a subliminal ad is hard to say. Based on previous rulings…probably not.

It’s ruled that a two-frame flash like this… is ‘near the threshold of normal awareness’, and therefore outlawed.

But a three-frame flash – like this… is ‘at or above’ that threshold.

And in ACMA’s world, something that is at or above the threshold isn’t near the threshold.

So that this Yaris flash, which appeared later in the ARIA broadcast and lasts six frames, doesn’t breach the Commercial TV Code of Practice, and is perfectly OK.

So a five frame ad is most likely to be “at or above the threshold of normal awareness” and therefore not in breach…despite the fact that it took me three goes to notice it. Maybe that means that I am below the threshold of normal awareness?

Illegal or not, I still think it’s grubby, and that ACMA’s previous rulings are ludicrous at best, mainly due to the fact that, for ACMA to take any notice of such things, somebody has to first complain to the TV station and then to ACMA, and if they do that, it means they noticed the ad and are therefore aware of it, which kills off notions of the ad being “below awareness”, despite the fact that most people won’t have noticed it.

Where the threshold should be, I don’t know. But what I do know is that it should be much higher than two frames.

Samuel

2 comments September 28th, 2009 at 11:58pm

Angela Merkel and the centre-right win in Germany

Here’s some news that I find pleasing. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been re-elected in Germany’s federal election, and has had the good fortune of having the centre-right parties claiming a virtually unbeatable number of votes, allowing her to now form coalitions with the parties on her side of politics, rather than forming a squabble with the left-wing parties as she was forced to do in her first term.

This is not only a vote of confidence in Angela and her party (who claimed 34% of the vote), but in her side of politics (the main three parties of which claimed 49% of the vote), and a vote against the main left-wing party who recorded their lowest number of votes since World War Two (23.5%).

It’s nice to see these glimmers of hope occasionally, and see that bits of the world are waking up to the fact that governments and countries based on conservative and capitalist principles benefit everyone, not just in economic terms, but in terms of personal liberty and freedom as well.

Congratulations Angela.

Samuel

September 28th, 2009 at 05:29pm

FlashForward tonight 8:30 on Seven

I try not to plug TV shows that are already being promoted to death, but I need to make an exception today.

If you haven’t already seen FlashForward, then I highly recommend watching the premiere on Seven tonight at 8:30. I’ll be watching it simply so that I can re-watch it in high definition, having already seen it in standard definition with a few technical glitches.

I have more that I want to say…but as the show hasn’t screened in Australia yet, I don’t want to write anything that would be considered a spoiler.

For now, suffice to say, if FlashForward doesn’t win the ratings for at least the next few weeks, then there is something wrong with the ratings methodology.

Samuel

September 28th, 2009 at 01:00pm

Alan Jones is back

And Jason Morrison is on leave this week.

Alan has returned after two months of sick leave, and a report in The Australian today quotes Alan as saying that he is negotiating a four-day work week for next year, to help him lighten his load, which is partially seen as the reason for his extended illness.

It’s great to see that Alan is back and taking some steps to protect his health, but I have two questions. Firstly, given the amount of time Alan has had to take off this year, will he work through the summer non-ratings period? Secondly, and more importantly, what will competing stations do next year to program against the Jones-free day?

Alan not working on a weekday gives other stations a golden opportunity to see what does and doesn’t work in a Jones-free environment over an extended period, and over at 2UE, that’s something they will surely relish. The very interesting possibility is that if a station can come up with a format that works, people might just stay for the other four days of the week, and it gives stations a practical trial period before the free-for-all which will occur when Jones comes off contract, which is currently slated for the end of 2013.

That said, 2GB would be well-aware of this, and would be planning to have their own strong non-Jones programming on his off day. One wonders if 2GB may adopt a 4/3 approach to breakfast radio, putting together a news-focussed breakfast show for the three days of the week (including the weekend) that Jones isn’t on-air. Currently, news-focussed breakfast programming is noticeably absent from weekends, and in many ways it is simply not viable to put the required resources in to such a show if it only airs two days per week…but if it airs for three days per week, it might not only be viable, but hold the Friday audience over the weekend. It would also allow 2GB to use the weekend host as a fill-in for Jones, rather than poaching a presenter from their regular weekday shift.

It’s just a thought…but if I were in charge at 2GB, it’s what I would be doing if and when Jones drops back to four days per week.

Regardless of what happens, it’s great to have Alan back on the air, and I’m looking forward to what stations come up with in the coming few years.

Samuel

September 28th, 2009 at 10:50am

Um, where?

By decree of the New South Wales Police Media unit, Queanbeyan has been relocated.

A police officer will appear in court after allegedly drink driving in the State’s south west yesterday (Friday 25 September).

About 10.45pm an off-duty Detective Senior Constable was driving south along the Jerrabomberra Parkway, Jerrabomberra, when he was stopped by police for the purposes of a random breath test.

The 27-year-old man allegedly returned a positive reading before being arrested and taken to Queanbeyan Police Station for a breath analysis.

Either that, or they’ve just moved selected suburbs to the state’s south-west and are driving an awfully long way to visit the Queanbeyan police station, presumably for sentimental reasons.

Samuel

September 28th, 2009 at 09:51am

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Some useless information to start your week. Due to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it is illegal for radio stations in the US to play a song within an hour of it being requested by a listener online. Presumably, this is only for radio stations which have a webstream, and for songs which were not already scheduled to play within an hour of said request…but who knows? And who really wants to try it?

More importantly, how the heck do you enforce that law? There better not be a government minion public servant locked in a small dark room ensuring compliance.

Samuel

September 28th, 2009 at 08:06am

Canberra drivers can’t drive in the wet

I can not believe how many car accidents I saw over the weekend, especially considering the fact that I only spent about four hours on the road in that time.

I passed three crashes which were being attended by the police, two of them were single vehicle accidents, the other looked like it should have been a single vehicle accident and the other driver found themself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Add to that the four or five abandoned wrecks I drove past and the person who nearly flew out of their lane in to my rear right quarter, and I’m left wondering what caused the carnage.

It really wasn’t that wet over the weekend. We had muddy rain on Friday night which limited my visibility because I couldn’t be bothered washing the car…but the vast majority of crashes occurred last night, by which time more, mostly light rain had washed away the mud. It probably comes down to a combination of people underestimating how wet the roads are after the rain stops, and Saturday nights probably having a higher number of drink-drivers.

In many ways I think Canberra’s roads are more dangerous after the rain than during it…the weekend that just passed seems to lend credence to that theory.

Samuel

September 28th, 2009 at 05:43am

Nine’s latest relaunch

Nine have relaunched themselves again tonight with new graphics, the peculiar tagline “welcome home”, a subtle re-use of the old “still the one” music, and sadly an overuse of the already overused Black Eyed Peas song “I Gotta Feeling”.

I’m pleased that the whole “Smile” music and graphics package is gone, as it really seemed like a summer thing to me…it just seemed awkward through autumn and winter. I like the relaunch despite what I said about the Black Eyed Peas song (which sounds rather badly edited in the longer promos, although getting the “60 Minutes” ticking noise in there is clever, and the video fits well) and Nine needed to do something with Seven launching FlashForward tomorrow night. Nine have a few big premieres of their own and the old promos didn’t do them justice…the new ones do. That said, they really should have done this back when they changed the news sets.

On the whole I’m happy with it, and it all feels much more like Channel Nine, but I do have one major gripe, and it’s the same gripe that I have heard a lot of other people mention tonight…the horrible pure white lower-third that they are using, which is made even more strange by the fact that they have equivalent graphics which fit the new look. To illustrate my point, here’s a promo from NBN, Nine’s Newcastle affiliate.

The first “Tonight 9:30” graphic looks fine, so I’m at a loss to explain the big white one at the end which just doesn’t seem to fit. The big white one stays on-screen for less time than the old “time/date” graphics did too…I don’t understand why they couldn’t just use the one that fits.

The main station ID is more-or-less the same across the country, however I think the Melbourne one is better than the Sydney one, mainly because Melbourne newsreader Peter Hitchener has a much better on-camera presence than Sydney newsreader Peter Overton.

Here’s the Sydney one

And the Melbourne one

Get Flash to see this player.

Actually, that just makes me reaffirm my idea that a network, and I don’t care who, but a commercial network needs to launch a national 6pm bulletin to replace the state bulletins. The national 4:30 bulletins on Seven and Nine are just so much better than the state bulletins…and whilst I would love to see a national 6pm bulletin presented by Peter Hitchener, I’d just like to see a strong national bulletin compete with the state bulletins. I think the national bulletin would win.

Wrapping up, YouTube user CanberraTelevision has put together a compilation of WIN’s version of the new Nine look. I particularly like the sponsor billboard at the 40 second mark.

Now if only Nine would put this much effort in to their programming, perhaps they could regain first place in the ratings.

Samuel

1 comment September 27th, 2009 at 11:12pm

Samuel’s Musician Of The Week: Willie Nelson

The musician(s) of the week award took a hiatus while I was in Deniliquin which extended itself by a couple weeks, but it’s back this week with a great musician and a great song.

This week’s award goes to Willie Nelson, and the feature song is “Nothing I Can Do About It Now”. Apologies about the video…this week you get to enjoy somebody’s road trip photos…on the bright side, the photos are of their road trip to see Willie Nelson.

I’ve got a long list of real good reasons
For all the things I’ve done
I’ve got a picture in the back of my mind
Of what I’ve lost and what I’ve won
I’ve survived every situation
Knowing when to freeze and when to run
And regret is just a memory written on my brow
And there’s nothing I can do about it now.

I’ve got a wild and a restless spirit
I held my price through every deal
I’ve seen the fire of a woman’s scorn
Turn her heart of gold to steal
I’ve got the song of the voice inside me
Set to the rhythm of the wheel
And I’ve been dreaming like a child
Since the cradle broke the bow
And there’s nothing I can do about it now.

Running through the changes
Going through the stages
Coming round the corners in my life
Leaving doubt to fate
Staying out too late
Waiting for the moon to say goodnight
And I could cry for the time I’ve wasted
But that’s a waste of time and tears,
And I know just what I’d change
If went back in time somehow
But there’s nothing I can do about it now

Running through the changes
Going through the stages
Coming round the corners in my life
Leaving doubt to fate
Staying out too late
Waiting for the moon to say goodnight
And I could cry for the time I’ve wasted
But that’s a waste of time and tears
And I know just what I’d change
If went back in time somehow
But there’s nothing I can do about it now.
I’m forgiving everything that forgiveness will allow
And there’s nothing I can do about it now

Samuel

September 27th, 2009 at 08:19pm

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