Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Schadenfreudegasm The Second: You've Blown It All Sky High By Telling Me A Lie

In the greatest single piece on news since Mister Hovis thought 'hmmm ... sliced bread. That's an idea,' Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has announced that it is dropping its planned bid to take full ownership of BSkyB. Good. Pleased about that. The announcement came as the House of Commons was preparing to vote for a motion calling on the odious Murdoch to do just that. All three major party leaders had said they supported the Labour motion, which would not have been legally binding on News Corp but would signify parliament's general disgust at all things Murdochy. The decision follows ten days of allegations about phone hacking and other naughty shenanigans, malarkey and badness by News Corp subsidiary News International and, specifically - but not exclusively - it's now defunct Sunday tabloid newspaper the News of the Scum. 'We believed that the proposed acquisition of BSkyB by News Corporation would benefit both companies, but it has become clear that it is too difficult to progress in this climate,' said News Corp chairman Chase Carey in a statement. 'News Corporation remains a committed long-term shareholder in BSkyB. We are proud of the success it has achieved and out contribution to it.' The BBC's business editor, the Daily Scum Mail's new target for innuendo Robert Peston said: 'It's a huge humiliation. This was [News Corp's] biggest investment plan of the moment. It was one of the biggest investments they've ever wanted to make. It is an extraordinary reversal of corporate fortune. And questions will now be asked whether this is the full extent of the damage to the empire.' Downing Street said that it 'welcomed' the decision, and suggested that the company should now focus on clearing up their shortcomings, according to the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg. Nick Clegg said withdrawing the bid was the 'decent and sensible' thing do to. Probably the only time you'll hear the words 'decent' and 'sensible' uses in relation to anything touched by Rupert Murdoch any time soon. Ed Milimolimandi said: 'This is a victory for people up and down this country who have been appalled by the revelations of the phone hacking scandal and the failure of News International to take responsibility. People thought it was beyond belief that Mr Murdoch could continue with his takeover after these revelations. It is these people who won this victory. They told Mr Murdoch: "This far and no further." Nobody should exercise power in this country without responsibility.' Labour's Tom Watson told Sky News that News Corporation was dragged into this decision 'kicking and screaming. The nation is getting angrier and angrier about this, because the real issue is that there is no corporate humility from News International.' But the company still has to face up to the mistakes it has made, he says. 'Rebekah Brooks has to answer about the payments question to the police. James Murdoch has to answer about the authorised payments to buy the silence of hacking victims. Rupert Murdoch is invited to the select committee next Tuesday. I hope he will use the opportunity to apologise to all the people that the criminals in his organisation targeted.' Watson said that the scandal will 'run on and on' until someone at the top of News International takes responsibility and apologises for 'creating a culture in a newsroom that would allow a journalist to target the phone of an abducted thirteen-year-old girl.' As he said all this, the odious and deceitful Kay Burley's bottom lip trembled and she looked like she was going to burst into tears. On Twitter Lord Prescott said 'So BSkyB bid over. PCC to be abolished. Senior News International staff arrested. Inquiry into police and press on its way. Yep. I'm happy.' I'd never have noticed. Vince Cable - the minister stripped of the power to rule on the BSkyB takeover after telling undercover reporters that he had 'declared war' on Murdoch - may be feeling a touch vindicated. A 'source' close to Cable told the BBC: 'This is absolutely the right thing to do and the new inquiry gives us an opportunity to take a good look at how the whole media operates.' Liberal Democrats culture spokesman Don Foster applauded the decision, describing it as 'amazing.' But he said it does not 'draw a line' under the phone hacking scandal. And he raised the question of whether News Corp is a 'fit and proper' organisation to own the nearly forty per cent of the UK's largest broadcaster which it currently has. Ivan Lewis was the first senior Labour figure to react to the news. The shadow culture secretary said that this is 'a victory for the public, a victory for Parliament and a victory for the tremendous leadership of Ed Miliband.' But, he added, this must not deflect from the urgent need to get to the bottom of what went on at the News of the World. The BBC's Political Editor slaphead Nick Robinson said that the aborted bid is 'a massive turnaround' for Murdoch and a big change from what the government was expecting only a week ago. He said that he believes many MPs will see this as a victory for Parliament. The move leaves News Corp's key strategy for UK corporate growth in tatters. The proposed eight billion smackers deal has been in-train for more than a year, with the first offer tabled in June 2010. It is the one of the biggest setbacks the eighty-year-old disgraceful media mogul has ever suffered and follows ten days of constant revelations about the true scale of phone hacking at the News of the World, the paper which Murdoch shut down in shame last week. The decision to abandon the deal is also a major blow to his son, James Murdoch, who is third in command at the company and has responsibility for News Corp's UK businesses, including its Sky stake and News International. It is likely to lead to criticism from investors over the way in which the company has handled the phone-hacking affair. James Murdoch initially took charge of the scandal himself but his father has twice flown in to the UK to oversee matters, most recently at the weekend. News Corp's deputy chairman and chief operating officer, Chase Carey, said that it had become clear that the Sky takeover 'is too difficult to progress in this climate.' Carey, who is also News Corp's president, said: 'We believed that the proposed acquisition of BSkyB by News Corporation would benefit both companies but it has become clear that it is too difficult to progress in this climate.' News Corp - hilariously - will now have to pay BSkyB a 'break fee' of around thirty eight and a half million quid after walking away from the deal.

In the City, shares in BSkyB have been fluctuating wildly as traders try to digest the latest dramatic development in the phone hacking scandal. BSkyB fell as low as six hundred and sixty six pence, a decline of around four per cent, as the news broke. But later, the shares recovered almost all their losses to six hundred and ninety pence. More then twenty seven million shares have already changed hands today - compared with roughly three million shares on an average day. City analysts have been struggling to place a fair value on BSkyB. The talk this morning was that the company's prospects for 2012 may not be quite as rosy as previously thought. It has promised to freeze prices for at least twelve months from September, in response to the tough economic conditions affecting its customers. City research firm Bernstein explained earlier today that: 'The pricing freeze announcement for 2012 has obviously raised the prospects of slower than expected revenue growth, and perhaps higher churn [customer turnover] than investors anticipated.' At six hundred and ninety pence, some £2.8bn has been wiped off BSkyB's market capitalisation since the start of last week.

The judge leading the phone hacking inquiry will have powers to call media proprietors, editors and politicians to give evidence under oath, the prime minister told the House of Commons earlier today. Lord Justice Leveson will oversee the public inquiry into Hackgate and media regulation in general. David Cameron said that those who sanctioned wrongdoing should have no further role in running a media company in the UK. In a statement to the Commons, Cameron said the inquiry would begin as 'quickly as possible' and would be in two parts - an investigation of wrongdoing in the press and the police and a review of regulation in the press. He said that Lord Justice Leveson, assisted by a panel of senior independent figures, would make recommendations for a better way of regulating the press which 'supports their freedom, plurality and independence from government but which also demands the highest ethical and professional standards.' He will also make recommendations about the future conduct of relations between politicians and the press. Cameron told MPs that he will require all ministers and civil servants to record meetings with senior editors and media executives to help make the UK government 'one of the most open in the world.' Ed Milimolimandi welcomed the proposal, arguing that it must be imposed retrospectively, so that he and Cameron publish all details of meetings with media executives dating back to the last general election. Cameron was previously criticised for meeting Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corporation, in Downing Street soon after the election, because Murdoch did not walk through the front door. Newspapers which did not support the government ran stories of 'secret meetings.' Earlier at prime minister's questions, Cameron said that a 'firestorm' was engulfing parts of the media and police, and those who had committed offences must be prosecuted. Milimolimandi said that it was an insult to the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, whose phone was allegedly hacked, that Rebekah Brooks was still News International's chief executive. Cameron responded: 'She was right to resign, that resignation should have been accepted. There needs to be root and branch change at this entire organisation. What has happened at this company is disgraceful - it's got to be addressed at every level.' On Tuesday, Cameron met Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Milimolimandi at Downing Street to discuss the hacking scandal. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson is believed to have updated the three men on the current state of the police inquiry into hacking claims when he visited Number 10. Also on Tuesday, former senior police officers told MPs the original inquiry into phone hacking did not get the attention it deserved because other duties would have been neglected, and News International had failed to co-operate with them. Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said it was now time for News International to explain themselves - as the police had done, and hand over any evidence of corruption among police officers. 'Let's not play around with legal games here - if they have names, dates, times, places, payments to officers, we would like to see them so that we can lock these officers up and throw away the key,' he said. Lord Justice Leveson has issued a statement saying that work will begin 'immediately.'

For anybody still a bit confused about how this whole sorry house of card has progressed, the BBC have produced a very useful - and concise - timeline of the scandal. Meanwhile, Conrad Quilty-Harper, the Torygraph's data investigations reporter, has put together an archive of all the stories in the News of the World which mention private phone calls, voicemails, and e-mails from the last ten years. 'Some of the subjects of articles include Milly Dowler, Prince William and Ulrika Johnson,' he says.

Adding a slightly darker dimension to the whole thing, during PMQs Hammer of the Murdochs Tom Watson asked Cameron to make urgent inquiries as to whether the families of 9/11 victims were targeted by News International which is certainly something that has been alleged in recent days. And if this is proved to be true, would he raise it with the US government? Cameron replied that he will look into this. He met Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan police commissioner, last night, he added. He noted that at the home affairs committee yesterday the police gave a 'mixed' performance. (That seemed to be yet another dig at the hapless Andy Hayman who spent most of today telling anyone that would listen that he's not, quite, the buffoon he appeared to be when talking to Keith Vaz's committee.) But Cameron said that he has confidence in Sue Akers, who is now leading the inquiry. Laura Kuenssberg pointed out soon afterwards on Twitter that, if any evidence does emerge that 9/11 victims were hacked, that is 'a real nightmare scenario' for News Corp - the US Senate would come down on them like 'a ton of bricks.' Jonathan Wynne-Jones, the media correspondent for the Sunday Torygraph, added: 'Tom Watson raises the allegation that 9/11 victims had their phones hacked. If this is proved, it could sink News Corp.' Later, Watson - along with Chris Bryant one of Labour's undoubted shining stars in this entire affair - also asked the prime minister whether the inquiry would be given access to the intelligence services and appeared to suggest there may be dark doings from the murkier corners of spookcountry. Another highlight of PMQs was when good old mad-as-toast Dennis Skinner labelled Murdoch 'a cancer on the body politic.'

Here's some light relief after all that. It's the New York Times's story about Hackgate. Is this the worst Vic and Bob-inspired headline ever?

The BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten, and the director general, Mark Thompson, were both being very tight-lipped at Tuesday's BBC annual report press briefing about Rupert Murdoch's decision to prompt his BSkyB bid to be referred to the Competition Commission by withdrawing a plan to spin-off Sky News. After the BBC's annual report had been discussed in full, Thompson would only say: 'I don't have anything to say but I thought, personally, at the time that it should be forwarded to the competition authorities and it has been.' Patten merely added: 'It's a matter of public policy, not for me. I admire the Sky News channel and Sky Arts but I've no publishable opinion on the ownership of Sky.' Tragically, nobody bothered to ask him if he had an unpublishable opinion.

The Hour's author Abi Morgan has dismissed the comparisons between the show and the American drama Mad Men. The Hour, which begins on BBC2 next week, follows a group of people establishing a new current affairs show in the 1950s. Morgan has now told the Daily Torygraph that it is a completely different series from Mad Men. 'Yes, I've heard of the Mad Men comparisons, but I like to think The Hour has its own distinctive voice,' she said. 'Although it is set in 1956, I have tried to give it a contemporary edge, and its themes of love, passion, romance, fury, professional jealousy and personal failure are universal, I think.' Morgan added: 'I was particularly keen to give it quick-fire dialogue. For inspiration, I watched His Girl Friday and The Apartment again, films where the dialogue is so elegant and heightened and yet quick-fire. I also wanted to write a group of characters who could return week by week.' Morgan, who revealed that she is already working on a second series, added that she found it difficult to include casual sexism in the drama. 'That was the hardest thing for me to write because I couldn't quite believe how bad it was,' she said. 'I know that half the world today is still very patriarchal, but as a relatively independent woman who has been able to combine a career with raising a family, I couldn't relate to it. I did my research but kept thinking, "Is this too much? Were they really like that?" I asked my mum and she said it was normal to be felt up by your boss in the lift and nothing would be done about it.'

Joanna Page has reportedly signed up to star in a new sitcom. The Gavin & Stacey actress will appear alongside Miranda's Tom Ellis in the show, the Torygraph says. The comedy, which is called The Gates, focuses on the rivalries between parents on the school run. Page is expected to play one of the mothers. 'She is incredible,' Ellis said. 'Just such a sweet, kind-hearted woman. It's sort of based on a family and I play the dad.' Since leaving Gavin & Stacey, Page has had roles in shows including Bedlam and White Van Man. Meanwhile, Ellis recently finished filming for BBC3's upcoming supernatural drama The Fades.

Lauren German has joined the cast of CBS drama Hawaii Five-0. The Hostel: Part II star will play a former Homeland security officer who joins the Five-0 team, according to TV Line. The character will be assigned to the task force by the new Governor in Honolulu (Richard T Jones). She will also serve as a potential love interest for Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin). German previously starred in short-lived ABC series Happy Town and has also appeared in such films as 2002's A Walk to Remember and 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. Former Lost regular Terry O'Quinn and Black Hawk Down actor Tom Sizemore will also play recurring roles in the new season of Hawaii Five-0, while Masi Oka (Max Bergman) has been promoted to a series regular.

Owain Yeoman has admitted that he expects more storylines involving Red John on The Mentalist. In the show's recent season finale, Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) finally met his nemesis - played by the great Bradley Whitford - and (apparently) killed him in a shopping mall. However, Yeoman has suggested that the killing will not signal the end of Red John. 'We all suspect this is not the last we'll see of Red John,' he told TV Guide. '[In a season two episode,] on the wall of a bathroom in Mexico was written, "He is man," which is believed to be shorthand for, "He is many." Red John may be a whole network of people, so Bradley may not have been the guy. Red John is a series-long cliffhanger for us, so who knows?' The Mentalist's creator Bruno Heller has also previously hinted that the storyline could continue, saying: 'If you killed your worst enemy, would that be the end of the story? No, it would be the beginning of a whole different story.'

Carol Vorderman and Sally Lindsay will reportedly join ITV's daytime panel show Loose Women. The duo will replace Kate Thornton and Zoe Tyler, who have apparently been sacked as producers attempt to deal with a massive fall in ratings by revamping the programme, the Mirra reports. Former Countdown star Vorderman is said to be taking over Thornton's role as co-anchor, while ex-Coronation Street actress Lindsay will fill Tyler's position as a panellist. 'Carol and Sally are a done deal,' a 'source' allegedly told the paper. 'They were always popular choices, and bosses think they will be a perfect fit for the panel. They both bring a unique ­personality and sense of humour, which will ­hopefully sit well with the remaining regulars, but neither of them are afraid to speak their mind.' The newspaper claim that the 'insider' added: 'Loose Women has always been about lively debate, and these two are certainly not afraid of that.' Does anybody real actually talk like that? Coleen Nolan will also leave the show at the end of the current series, while presenter Andrea McClean will return alongside panellists including Carol McGiffin, Denise Welch, Lisa Maxwell and Lynda Bellingham.

The new BBC drama The Night Watch premiered with almost 3.2m on Tuesday evening. The Night Watch, Paula Milne's adaptation of a Sarah Waters novel following the lives of four young Londoners in the Second World War, averaged 3.03m for BBC2 between 9pm and 10.30pm, while one hundred and sixty six thousand further viewers watched it on the BBC HD channel.

Former Cheers actor Ted Danson has joined the cast of CSI. Danson will take on the role of a new graveyard shift supervisor, replacing Laurence Fishburne's character Ray Langston. Fishburne left the series in May to 'pursue other projects.' CSI producer Don McGill said: 'From the moment we all started talking about the role, it was clear [Danson] couldn't be more perfect. Intelligence, wit, warmth, depth of character and emotion, he brings it all. And now he'll have to bring latex gloves, too.' Showrunner Carol Mendelsohn added: 'You can create a new character on the page, but until the perfect actor comes along and breathes life into it, it's just words. We're very excited Ted Danson came along.' Danson will also retain his role as series regular George Christopher on HBO's Bored to Death with filming of both series being shaped to accommodate this.

Coronation Street producer Phil Collinson has claimed accusations - made by homophobes in the Daily Scum Mail, mainly - that the show focuses on gay characters too much would not have been made if he was not gay himself. The former Doctor Who producer took over the ITV soap in July 2010. Recent tabloid claims have suggested that 'some viewers' are unhappy with the number of gay characters who are featured in the Manchester serial. 'I think this is something that I do have to tackle quite head-on,' Collinson said on BBC Breakfast. 'I am gay myself. I'm the first gay producer of the show for many, many years. This accusation would not be able to be levelled at the show if I weren't in charge. I really fundamentally believe that.' He continued: 'Those are absolutely the stories that came out across the weekend; linking the fact that there are gay storylines in Coronation Street with the fact that I am gay myself.'

Ian Rumsey has quit his role as the editor of ITV's flop breakfast show Daybreak. Rumsey will remain in his post while ITV search for a replacement. He claimed in an e-mail to staff that his decision to leave the programme had been 'tough.' The former head of ITV News started as GMTV editor in May 2010 and oversaw the transition to the new Daybreak format. Daybreak has suffered from poor ratings from its first weeks on air and has fallen far behind BBC Breakfast in the morning TV battle. Hosts Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley's positions on the show have also become a constant source of speculation. Alison Sharman, ITV director of factual and daytime, said: 'Ian has been an inspirational leader of the team. He's a first-class journalist but, above all, an extremely talented programme maker who has brought enthusiasm and talent to the role.'

The odious Jamie Oliver and Sainsbury's have reportedly ended their advertising partnership after eleven years together. The chef and supermarket group have been involved in more than one hundred - awful - TV adverts and other projects. Oliver is said to have earned one million pounds a year from the deal.

Sherwood Schwartz, creator of popular US television shows Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch, has died, aged ninety four. The two shows, while never popular with by critics, are seen as an iconic and enduring part of American popular culture. Gilligan's Island, which ran from 1964 to 1967, was about seven travellers marooned on a Pacific island. The Brady Bunch (1969 to 1974) was about a clean-cut, attractive family formed by the marriage of a widow and widower and their six children. Analysts say the shows were hit in part because they presented a wholesome image of America during a time of social upheaval in real life. Both programmes have endured on countless television repeats, influencing generations of children in America and beyond who never saw them on the original run. Schwartz conceived of the idea for The Brady Bunch in 1965 after reading that one-third of American households at the time included a child from a previous marriage. 'I realized there was a sociological change going on in this country, and it prompted me to sit down to write a script about it,' Schwartz told the Los Angeles Times in 2000. He later said that the show resonated with Americans because 'it dealt with real emotional problems: the difficulty of being the middle girl; a boy being too short when he wants to be taller; going to the prom with zits on your face.' Schwartz also said he planned Gilligan's Island, about a sea captain and his assistant, a science professor, a farm girl, a buxom movie star and a posh couple, as a social statement. 'It's one world, and we all have to learn to live with each other,' he said in 1996. Schwartz was born in 1916 in New Jersey and grew up in Brooklyn. After earning a degree in biological science, he began writing jokes for the comedian Bob Hope, and eventually turned to television. 'I was faced with a major decision - writing comedy or starving to death while I cured those diseases. I made a quick career change,' he said in 2008, when he was awarded a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

Newcastle United's midfielder Joey Barton has been left out of the team's pre-season tour to America after the US Embassy refused to grant him a visa. In 2008 he was jailed after admitting assault in Liverpool city centre. In the same year he was given a suspended sentence for an assault on a team-mate at Manchester City. Barton, twenty eight, said that he regretted not being able to go, but did not expect to be treated more favourably than anyone in a similar situation. Newcastle are due to depart for the US on Sunday, with matches scheduled against Sporting Kansas, Orlando City and Columbus Crew. Barton will instead travel to Holland with the club's reserve team, which will play Hollandia, FC Utrecht and Almere City. The midfielder said: 'Unfortunately, I was denied my visa due to my past. I regret not being able to travel with the club on this trip, but at the same time, I don't expect to be treated any differently or more favourably than anyone else in a similar situation. All I can do is continue to improve as a person, which is what I intend to do.' He added: 'Again, apologies to all the NUFC supporters, as well as the fast-growing legions of football supporters, in the United States who I was looking forward to meeting. I will see you in the future.' He later commented on his Twitter page: 'Visa story is correct, they told me am not allowed in until I have five years without any trouble. Three years down, two years to go.' Another post read: 'Totally hypocrisy considering what they get up to, but rules are rules.' A third post read: 'I can't be bothered dwelling on negatives, this is my last post about the visa situation.'

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's something of no significance whatsoever from Jigsaw.

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