Thursday, November 10, 2011

You Just Havent Earned It Yet, Baby

Sky's ten million-plus satellite TV subscribers could soon be able to access BBC shows such as Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who and Top Gear on-demand for the first time, after the BBC Trust published new guidelines on the corporation's syndication policy. In January, the Trust said that the BBC's on-demand content should only be made available via services such as the BBC's iPlayer rather than on a programme-by-programme basis, seemingly ruling out the possibility of an on-demand deal with Sky. However, the governing body has now revised its position on the syndication of BBC programmes on cable, digital and satellite TV, as well as on mobile phones and games consoles. The Trust has launched a public consultation on the revised policy, which is designed to ensure licence fee payers 'have easy and timely access to the full range of BBC on-demand content.' Instead of stipulating that content should only be offered via BBC iPlayer, the Trust has said that programming can be made available 'in appropriate places and contexts.' The Trust said that it 'remains of the view' that licence fee payers are best served by accessing BBC content 'within a BBC "environment" such as the iPlayer.' However, the organisation accepts that certain circumstances 'justify special arrangements that depart from this model' and its new framework is designed as a more 'flexible approach.' Virgin Media's TV platform hosts all of the catch-up services offered by the public service broadcasters - the BBC, ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five - but Sky has taken a different tack. The satellite broadcaster relies on its Sky+ digital video recorder service to enable viewers to record programming, rather than offering dedicated catch-up resources such as iPlayer. This means Sky subscribers have to make a concerted effort to record BBC shows, because they are not later made available for catch-up in the Sky Anytime on-demand service. Under the Trust's proposed guidelines, BBC content could be made available in services such as Sky Anytime, depending on a number of provisos. The BBC must ensure that any content outside BBC iPlayer is 'easily identifiable as BBC content' and subject to editorial control by the corporation. It should only be made available in 'appropriate places and contexts,' be of a high quality and accessed 'free of charge and free from advertising and sponsorship.' BBC Trust vice-chair Diane Coyle, who led the review, said: 'Licence fee payers should be able to find BBC on-demand content available on lots of different platforms, but this has to be done in a way that gives value for money and satisfies some basic principles to ensure that BBC content serves the public as it is meant to. We've taken on board what the industry told us earlier this year. I hope that we have reached a sensible way forward in this complicated area, and we will take account of any final views before publishing the new policy early in 2012.' The public consultation will run until 21 December 2011, and the final syndication policy is expected to be announced in early 2012. The BBC Executive is also due to publish detailed guidelines on how it plans to implement the new policy.
News International chief James Murdoch has rejected suggestions the company operated like the Mafia over the phone-hacking scandal. During questioning by MPs, Tommy Watson (power to the people!) suggested its UK arm had adopted the 'omerta' code of silence. Murdoch said that was 'offensive and not true' and claimed he was not made aware in 2008 that phone-hacking went beyond one rogue reporter. He also said two former executives had given MPs 'misleading' evidence. The clash with Watson, who has pursued the company over the phone-hacking scandal, came halfway through the two-and-a-half hour session. Murdoch had repeatedly told the committee he had not been made aware of details suggesting phone hacking went beyond Clive Goodman - the former Scum of the World royal reporter jailed in 2007 - when he authorised a large out-of-court settlement to footballer's union leader Gordon Taylor in June 2008. He failed to explain whom he assumed Taylor's phone had been hacked by. Watson asked if he was familiar with the code of 'omerta' - which he characterised as 'a group of people bound together by secrecy who together pursue their group's business objectives with no regard for the law' and suggested that was 'an accurate description of News International in the UK.' Murdoch replied: 'Absolutely not. I frankly think that is offensive and that's not true.' The Labour MP said that the company was facing a series of allegations around hacking and told him: 'You must be the first mafia boss in history who didn't know he was running a criminal enterprise.' Murdoch said that was 'inappropriate' and said while it was a 'matter of great regret' that 'things went wrong' at the newspaper, when evidence had come to light 'we acted. I think with great zeal and diligence to get to the bottom of issues to improve the processes to make sure they didn't happen again.' The BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson, in the hearing, reported that a fellow MP said 'oh, come on' when Watson made his mafia claim, whilst others on the committee sighed or 'tutted.' Earlier in the hearing, Murdoch told the committee he had not been shown a copy of the 'For Neville' e-mail at a 10 June 2008 meeting with legal manager Tom Crone, when he agreed to increase an out-of-court offer to the footballers' union leader Gordon Taylor. He said he was given 'sufficient information to authorise the increase of the settlement offer' but 'was given no more than that.' He said the document was never referred to as the 'For Neville' e-mail: 'The nature of the so-called "For Neville" e-mail any wider spread or evidence or suspicion of wider spread of wrongdoing - none of these things were mentioned to me,' he said. Murdoch claimed that if he had known more about the e-mail 'the company would have acted differently.' He denied misleading the committee at a hearing in July, when he said he had not been aware of the e-mail - which is assumed to refer to former Scum of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and contained transcripts of private voicemail messages revealing that Gordon Taylor's phone had been hacked. Two former Scum of the World executives - former editor Colin Myler and former legal manager Tom Crone - have said they 'did inform' Murdoch of the e-mail in 2008 when he agreed to settle the Taylor case. Murdoch told the committee on Thursday: 'I believe their testimony was misleading.' Watson said he had been told by Neville Thurlbeck that Crone had told him he would have to show the e-mail to Murdoch - and later confirmed to Thurlbeck that he had done so. Murdoch replied: 'I really can't say what Mr Crone or Mr Thurlbeck may have discussed but my recollection is very clear.' He was also asked about information supplied to the committee in October by solicitors Farrer and Co, who advised News International in relation to the Gordon Taylor case, including a copy of its legal opinion to the company in June 2008. In the document, Michael Silverleaf QC says that there is 'a powerful case that there is (or was) a culture of illegal information access used at NGN in order to produce stories for publication' and advises that a public trial would be 'extremely damaging' to the company's reputation. Murdoch told MPs on Tuesday: 'It was not shown to me at the time, nor was it described to me in those terms in any way.' He said 'clearly' some within the company knew about the legal advice and the 'For Neville' e-mail - but 'none of those things were made available or discussed with me and I was not aware of those things.' Thurlbeck denies he ever saw the e-mail, telling the BBC that he neither carried out nor commissioned hacking. He says he gave Scum of the World managers a dossier of evidence in July 2009 to show that hacking was still a problem at the newspaper and they took no action. Asked which other News International newspapers might be involved in illegal practices - something the company is investigating - Murdoch said the recent arrest of a journalist on the Sun was a matter of 'great concern' but added: 'At this point I have no knowledge of any of the other papers being involved in the hacking of phones.' He also said that the use of private investigators on his company's papers had since been 'severely restricted' and they could not now be hired without the editor first getting the approval of the chief executive. In July, the Scum of the World was shut down in disgrace after it was found to have hacked into the voicemail messages of numerous prominent people, including murdered teenager Milly Dowler. James Murdoch, his father Rupert, and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the Scum of the World, have denied knowing the full extent of the allegations until evidence in civil cases was requested in late 2010. Since the July hearing, the Metropolitan Police have raised their estimate of people who may have had their phones hacked since 2002 to approximately six thousand. The row has put pressure on James Murdoch's position at News Corp - with nearly thirty five per cent of News Corporation investors voting against him being re-elected to the board last month.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the Scum of the World's former chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, has rejected a request by Metropolitan police officers to help in their phone-hacking investigation. Scotland Yard asked him whether or not he would be prepared to give evidence against News International, but he has rejected the request. It has been reported that the police took key documents from Thurlbeck's home when he was taken into custody on 5 April. Among them is said to be a copy of a 2009 memo which Thurlbeck says he sent to the paper's former editor, Colin Myler, and its legal manager, Tom Crone, in which he made serious allegations about a Scum of the World executive's involvement in hacking. The dossier is also said to contain a tape-recorded phone-call made by Thurlbeck to Ross Hindley, the junior reporter who transcribed the 'For Neville' e-mail that has been much of the focus of the hacking investigation. Thurlbeck had tracked Hindley down to Peru. During the call, which he taped, he is believed to have made allegations against the same executive. The police now have a transcript of that call. This latest twist in the saga comes the day James Murdoch, appeared before the Commons media select committee for a second time. He was recalled because of discrepancies between his previous account of a crucial meeting with Myler and Crone about the 'For Neville' e-mail, and their version of events. Ever since that e-mail emerged in public, Thurlbeck has said that he was 'unaware of its provenance.' He says it was 'read to him over the phone' and that he 'never saw or read the contents.' According to the Gruniad Morning Star, he has 'broken cover after meeting two senior Met officers last Friday.' Though they were not part of the Operation Weeting team devoted to investigating the hacking affair, he claims that they 'were empowered to offer him a deal' in which he 'might have obtained some form of immunity from prosecution' in return for 'giving them evidence.' He was told that the offer, itself contingent on the information being 'deemed to be in the public interest,' was 'made under the Serious Organised Crime Act 2005.' In such cases, the final decision is taken by the Director of Public Prosecutions. It is understood, the paper claims, that Thurlbeck refused the offer because 'he was convinced that he could prove his innocence and wished to clear his name in an above-board fashion.' The heart of his claim is that his warnings about hacking activities stretching beyond the so-called 'rogue reporter' – the ex-Scum of the World royal editor Clive Goodmnan – were ignored by the paper's senior executives. Thurlbeck is one of sixteen people to have been arrested on suspicion of taking part in phone-hacking, most of whom have been placed on bail until March next year. He spent twenty one years at the Scum of the World, as a reporter and, briefly as news editor. In explaining why he rejected the police offer to give evidence against his former colleagues, Thurlbeck said: 'I have informed Scotland Yard that while I fully understand and respect the reason for their request of me to give evidence for the crown in any prosecution arising from Operation Weeting, it is my opinion that a detailed and forensic inquiry into my working methods by what is a highly-professional police unit will fully exonerate me. So, on that basis, I have declined their offer.' In September, Thurlbeck lodged a claim for unfair dismissal against News International after he was sacked. The company has stopped paying his legal fees. He has spoken about the Scum of the World newsroom's working methods, saying 'reporting teams operated rather like IRA cells.' He said: 'We were assigned to stories and given specific details, but we didn't know where the tips came from.' He told of an occasion when his team were told by the news desk exactly when and where they would find a person they were required to interview or photograph. 'This information was remarkably detailed,' he said. 'In many cases, reporters would be sent by an executive to intercept people at very specific locations and they would be taken by surprise. They were often baffled how we had found them and to be honest, so were we. We just assumed the executive had received a tip-off. But we wouldn't know for certain as they kept their cards very close to their chest.'

RTL, the European broadcasting giant that previously owned Channel Five, is thought to be preparing to rival Time Warner in the bidding for Big Brother maker Endemol. However, the company is understood to be holding back on submitting an offer for Endemol until the production giant takes action to reduce its €2.8bn debt-pile. Last week, US media giant Time Warner submitted a speculative one billion Euros takeover offer for Endemol, which is jointly owned by Mediaset, Cyrte (Endemol founder John De Mol's investment vehicle), and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners. RTL, which is the parent company of The X Factor co-producer FremantleMedia, has submitted a non-binding offer for Endemol, according to a report in Italian newspaper La Repubblica. An Endemol spokesman said that the company was aware of other interest beyond Time Warner, but confirmed that no other formal offers had been received. He also said that the company was currently discussing with lenders about a deal to restructure its debt. The Gruniad reports that RTL is holding off on submitting a formal offer for Endemol, but will keep a close eye on the situation in case the firm resolves its financial situation and is put on the market. A 'source with knowledge of RTL's strategy' allegedly told the paper: 'It is pretty clear they are interested, there is an industrial logic to joining Fremantle and Endemol. I think they are interested if it is for sale, but is it? I'm not sure. I am sure they have told the parties involved of their interest if Endemol was ever to come to market, but I'm sure there isn't an offer in the post, so to speak.' Other potentially interested parties could include NBC Universal and Sony, along with Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset, which is working with private equity group Clessidra to make a bid. A report in August also claimed that ITV could team up with Mediaset to purchase Endemol, although the UK broadcaster subsequently played down its interest.

A provocative advertising campaign for Marc Jacobs perfume featuring seventeen-year-old Dakota Fanning, the US actress who has starred in films including War of the Worlds and Charlotte's Web, has been banned following accusations that it 'sexualised children.' The magazine campaign, which featured in the Evening Standard's ES Magazine and The Sunday Times Style magazine, featured Fanning wearing a short skirt and holding a bottle of Marc Jacobs perfume in what the advertising regulator deemed a 'sexually provocative' position between her legs. The Advertising Standards Authority received four complaints from that the advert was 'offensive and irresponsible' because it portrayed the young model in 'a sexualised manner.' The press adverts ran with the strapline 'Oh, Lola!' the name of the perfume, which is produced and distributed by Coty UK. Coty UK, ES Magazine and The Sunday Times Style magazine said they had not received any complaints about the campaign. Coty said that most readers of the titles would be over twenty five years of age – the target age for the perfume – and the type of picture was 'similar to many other edgy images in those magazines.' The ASA said that the way the perfume bottle rested in Fanning's lap was 'sexually provocative' and considered that the actress actually looked to be under the age of sixteen. 'We considered that the length of her dress, her leg and position of the perfume bottle drew attention to her sexuality,' the ASA said. 'Because of that, along with her appearance, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualise a child. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious offence.' The ASA banned the advert in its first ruling since a Downing Street summit in early October attended by senior executives from from the media and retail industry – including broadcasters, magazine editors, trade bodies and advertisers – who updated the prime minister about cracking down on the 'sexualisation' of TV programmes, advertising and products that may be inappropriate for children. At the same time the ASA published new guidance to advertisers to advertisers and agencies tightening sexual imagery in outdoor advertising campaigns.

Channel Four has confirmed that its head of documentaries Hamish Mykura is to leave the broadcaster after ten years. Mykura, who was responsible for hit shows including One Born Every Minute, Twenty Four Hours in A&E, Katie: My Beautiful Friends and Seven Dwarves, intends to make an announcement on his future plans in due course. After being made head of More4 in 2008, Mykura guided the network from the twelfth to eight most-watched digital channel in the UK, gaining particular international acclaim for the True Stories strand. As Channel Four's head of specialist factual between 2004 and 2008, Mykura gained a reputation for risky commissions, including Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel, 9/11: The Falling Man and the anatomy shows featuring Gunther von Hagens. He said: 'I've loved every minute of my time at Channel Four. The Channel gives such a range of film makers an opportunity to reflect the modern world. It's a great institution and I'm sure it will go from strength to strength under its present leadership.' Channel Four's chief creative officer Jay Hunt added: 'Hamish has been an inspiring and dynamic head of documentaries, keeping Channel Four at the forefront of innovative filmmaking. He has a talent for generating programmes that are genuinely creative as well as popular, and reflect every angle of modern Britain.' Channel Four declined to comment on who will take up Mykura's role, although the speculation is that head of specialist factual Ralph Lee is being lined-up by the broadcaster.

Paul Weller has denied being a big fan of The X Factor, despite admitting to watching it. The former Jam frontman was outed as a fan of the show by his friend Noel Gallagher in a recent interview. 'His daughter told my daughter that he watches it with her,' Gallagher said. 'That's fucking interesting, isn't it? The Modfather sitting around watching The X Factor!' Weller told ShortList: 'He needs to be outed, mate. Yeah, I do watch it, but I also watch Peppa Pig with my six-year-old boy. And I'm more of a fan of Peppa Pig than I am of The X Factor. If anything, it makes more fucking sense.' He added: 'I watch EastEnders with my missus because she's mad for it, and Ben Ten's my little boy's favourite, but it doesn't mean I really love those programmes. It's just something you have to do.' Of Gallagher's claim that Weller makes a weak cup of tea, he added: 'Listen, Noel's got a lot of stories, but how many of them are actually true is another matter! He's from that Manchester school of bullshit, bless his heart. He's got lots of stories and theories but few of them are rooted in truth.'

Sky Atlantic is to broadcast Steve Coogan's online series Alan Partridge's Mid Morning Matters. The comedy series - which originally ran online as twelve ten-minute episodes - has been re-edited into six thirty minute instalments for television. In addition to the first run, Sky Atlantic has commissioned a follow-up second series and a one-off Christmas special. Coogan is also developing non-Partridge projects for the channel, a Sky representative confirmed. 'We are talking to Steve Coogan about a variety of projects and more details will follow in due course,' said the spokesman. The BBC had previously expressed an interest in adapting Mid Morning Matters for television. Coogan has also suggested that an Alan Partridge movie could start filming in 2012, with the comedian planning to co-write a film script with Armando Iannucci and Pete Baynham.

Paul Merton is to to return to stand-up for the first time this century. The Have I Got News for You regular is tour with a show from next spring. Just eleven dates have been announced by individual venues so far, but the tour has not yet been formally launched. But his show, Out Of My Head, will not just feature stand-up, but also promises 'sketches, music, magic, variety and dancing girls.' Those 'dancing girls' are Lee Simpson, Richard Vranch and Suki Webster, his wife. Merton will be working on his tour with three warm-up dates in Hemel Hempstead this month, which have already sold out, but he is no stranger to live performance, as he is still a regular with the Comedy Store Players improv team most Sundays and has toured with his own 'improv chums.'

And, speaking of comedians, just as all the kerfuffle and malarkey surrounding yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Mapgies seemed to have settled down and with the team currently third in the Premier League, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies have managed to do it again. Create a crisis out of a bit of slapstick comedy. Newcastle's owner, Mike Ashley, faces yet another backlash from supporters after the crass and insensitive announcement that St James' Park - United's home since their formation 1892 and, of one of their parent clubs, Newcastle West End since 1882 - is to be 'rebranded' as, get this, The Sports Direct Arena. All as part of the club's plan to sell the naming rights to the stadium. In a move which ends one hundred and nineteen years of history, Ashley has temporarily renamed the ground after his own company – and, therefore, at no financial benefit to the club whatsoever – and invited external backers to purchase the name rights. By following Arsenal and Manchester City the club believes that it will become 'financially self-sufficient' in the long term. Despite Alan Pardew's side currently sitting unbeaten in third place in the Premier League, the announcement looks set to further antagonise the already uneasy relationship between the board and the fans, which had been - marginally - improving thanks to the team's impressive on-the-field performances this year. Mark Jensen, the editor of The Mag fanzine, said: 'I'm very disappointed that with the team sitting in the top three that the club have taken the opportunity to basically bring up such a negative. It's very hard to take. Everyone understands the economics of football in that you need to maximise the revenue but I think most fans would rather the ground not be renamed. Most fans will see this as pretty opportunistic with the team doing well on the pitch and when the fans are just enjoying two weeks when they'll be in the top three no matter what happens. It comes when people were maybe thinking: "Who knows, maybe he [Ashley] has had second thoughts about how he is running the club." It just seems very opportunist and it certainly won't help the mood, but obviously we've got more or less the full ground capacity guaranteed. Apart from having more exposure for Sports Direct, and I can see the benefits for Mike Ashley to do that, I don't see how there are any benefits whatsoever for anybody connected with Newcastle United.' Jensen, described it as 'all stick and no carrot.' Former Newcastle defender John Anderson who now works for the BBC said that he thought most fans would continue to call it St James' Park. Which, of course, they will. The Gallowgate End remains such to the Toon Army even though it hasn't, 'officially' been called that for nearly twenty years. He added: 'I think it's going to rub people up the wrong way, a lot of people aren't going to be happy with it.' You think?! Newcastle striker Sammy Ameobi, who made his first appearance at the home ground on Saturday, said in a tweet: 'I guess my first game at St James's Park was my last.' Nexus, which owns the Tyne and Wear Metro, said St James Metro station next to the ground would continue to be known as St James. The club's managing director, the odious Derek Llambias, insisted that there would be 'significant benefits.' Newcastle hope to strike a combined deal for shirt and stadium sponsorship worth, Llambias claimed, about ten million quid a year. Or, in other words, about a third of the cash which they received for selling Andy Carroll to Liverpool in January and then stuck in the bank. 'Our aim for Newcastle United is to continue to deliver success for the fans and everyone associated with the club,' Llambias said. 'We must make this club financially self-sufficient in order to deliver that success. To grow sustainably and allow us to invest in our future, we will need to rely increasingly heavily on commercial income. These are very difficult economic times and the board have a responsibility to maximise all revenue streams for the benefit of the club. Stadium rebranding offers a lucrative way for clubs to secure significant additional income. When we initially launched our plans at the end of 2009, we invited sponsors to attach their brand to that of St James' Park. However, it has become clear that in order to make the proposition as commercially attractive as possible, a potential sponsor must be given the opportunity to fully rebrand the stadium.' Llambias said that a shirt sponsorship deal might also be available to any company interested in taking on the naming rights of the stadium. 'Naming the stadium the Sports Direct Arena helps up to showcase the opportunity to interested parties,' he said. 'We are now actively seeking a long-term sponsor wishing to acquire full naming rights for the stadium. Our shirt sponsorship deal with Northern Rock will also expire at the end of this season, which presents would-be sponsors with the opportunity to acquire both the naming rights and shirt sponsorship deals. The history will always be there, we just become part of the history or they become part of the history. We just need to make sure we give ourselves the opportunity. You know Chelsea has come out to basically say they are going to re-name their present stadium. Now, they have a long history as well, but they have an owner who actually has more money than God. We can't compare ourselves to Abramovich, we have not got that sort of money, so if we want to compete with the big boys, we have to bring more money in.' So, just when a sort of Peace in our Tyne' style situation seems to have established itself after another tumultuous period of player (and managerial) departures and other distractions, this does seem both ill-advised and easily avoidable - running the risk of opening up old wounds for no guaranteed reward. If commercial investment in the club from third parties is to be forthcoming though, then surely that would be driven by the continuing good form of the team and the resultant full stadium and content fan base rather than what a two acre piece of land on a hill at Gallowgate is called by some cockneys? As the lads at nufc.com noted: 'Handing a cause to those moved to protest - and risking a return to the "toxic brand" days of 2008 hardly seems likely to attract inward cash and again, throws up a subject that will inevitably cause fury among fans. The announcement is timed to maximise the period before our next home game and give any dissent and protests ample time to blow themselves out before Chelsea head to Tyneside on the first Saturday in December. The best chance of convincing justifiably distrustful fans that a stadium rename is for genuine commercial reasons remains someone walking up Barrack Road clutching a big cardboard cheque with lots of zeroes on it. Making fans believe that this rename is a trade off for the financial investment of the owner though is a much harder sell - perhaps if Ashley just came out and admitted that, then acceptance might come easier. Perhaps if he spoke at all in public then it might help on a general level. While the notion of renaming stadia with sponsors names is a familiar one, the other current Premier League examples tend to be newly-built venues where naming rights were sold "off-plan." We have to be different, apparently and give the impression of jettisoning decades of history to anyone with a spare bag of swag. In a cock-eyed way though, that precedent of trying to change the name of an established stadium may turn out to be the one saving grace - and a cast-iron reason why trying to sell those rights to a third party is futile. The Emirates Stadium is the Emirates Stadium, it's never been anything else, except a plan of a hole in the ground once called Ashburton Grove - it has no other name.' Newcastle United, however, as the article continued play at St James' Park and always have done, every since the club was formed. 'Everyone knows that and will continue to know that - regardless of what irritating branding is applied to it. You won't call it that and neither will we. It's an interesting dilemma: moan about calling it The Sports Direct Arena sufficiently and it will stay as that; allow it to pass comparatively un-remarked and increase the chances of it becoming a fifty two thousand seat billboard for an airline or a credit card company. You want to leave it the way it's been since 1880? Then buy it. And of course, any negativity from fans as a result of this renaming attempt that transmits itself to the team (as happened in the relegation season) will then become the sole explanation for any consequent downturn in on-field fortunes - regardless of whatever else happens.' What they said.

Therefore, in-keeping with the mood of the day, yer actual Keith Telly Topping has now rebranded himself as The Actual Keith Telly Topping Zak Prussian Coca Cola And Spaghetti Hoops Arena, In Association With Lard Ltd. I shall, from henceforth, expect everybody to use this handle on all occasions. Including my mother, no matter what Mama Telly Topping might have been calling yer actual Keith Telly Topping for the last forty eight years.

Any thought that this week's poppy controversy might just quietly die down now that everyone has, pretty much, got what they wanted was instantly crushed by, inevitably, the Daily Scum Mail's ludicrous crowing headline: Victory! FIFA finally back down in poppy row to allow special Home Nations armbands for Wembley as the thoroughly odious right-wing bigots wrapped themselves in the Flag of St George and claimed credit for FIFA's change of heart. As mean-spirited, self-aggrandising and thoroughly obnoxious Daily Scum Mail articles go, that one's virtually a dictionary definition. 'Look at us, everybody, we stand up to foreigners! Aren't we, like, the coolest kiddies in the whole wide word.' No, you're not. Instead, you're bullies and cowards hiding behind an objectionable cloak of Little Englander rhetoric to push a thoroughly sick and venal sinister agenda. My dad fought in the war against people like you. As noted yesterday, there has been only one sensible quote on this entire subject: 'There are other ways to honour the poppy than by wearing it on a shirt. The FA has helped us explore every alternative available and we are satisfied that England will enter the competition knowing they have shown proper respect for our Armed Forces.' Who said that? Some pinko-liberal-Commie-type with an agenda? Some appeaser of fascists who doesn't want Our Fallen Boys to be remembered? Some horrible scumbag who spent the morning pissing on the Cenotaph? Nope, it was Chris Simpkins, the Director General of The Royal British Legion. He went on to add, poignantly and with a dignity that one would expect from such a properly respectful organisation: 'The Legion never insists that the poppy be worn or insists that others allow it to be worn. We are grateful when people wear it as a sign of respect, but the decision must be a free one - after all, the poppy represents sacrifices made in the cause of our freedoms.' But, here's a funny thing. This time two years ago, the top England stories in the football section of the Daily Scum Mail included Darren Bent's call-up to the England squad (and how this had thoroughly vindicated his recent decision to move to Sunderland from Stottingtot Hotshots), Peter Crouch looking forward to joining up with the national squad, Glen Johnson pulling out of the squad with an injury, Fabio Capello continuing to ignore Michael Owen (because he doesn't like The Little Shit) and a story about England players being available for drugs tests. One mentions this because that was the last time England played an international around 11 November, when they faced Brazil in a friendly in Qatar. Dear blog readers may notice in that this selection of stories includes very little (or, indeed, no) frothing at the headline for England to be allowed to wear poppies on their shirts in that game. Six years before that, England played an international against Argentina on Remembrance Day itself. Nobody even mentioned whether poppies would be worn or not. And so it's been for the approximately fifteen internationals that England had played around the second week of November in the last ninety odd years. It's simply never been an issue before. For those with a somewhat loose grip on history, the first World War ended in 1918, and poppies first became a symbol of remembrance in 1920. One can, perhaps justifiably, wonder why it's only in 2011 that this has suddenly become an issue. It's not even as if Britain has gone to war recently (which would explain it but would also, unquestionably, make the poppy debate a political one rather than a remembrance one). But, that's can't be the answer, we've been at war in both Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002. Dear blog readers with a longer memory may also recall that this time last year, the Daily Scum Mail and their sick scum agenda had a different target with regard to the issue of poppies. The BBC. Not that BBC presenters weren't wearing poppies but, rather, that they were wearing them 'too early'.

A man has been fined for calling 999 to report a loss of eight sausages. Mark Holbrook, forty seven, was reportedly drunk when he called the police, informing them originally that he had taken eight hostages. Prosecutor James Nichols is quoted by Bang Showbiz as saying: 'Police warned him not to ring again and it was not the way to use 999. He then phoned back again to say, "No it's okay, I've found them."' In his defence, Andrew Main said that he had been drinking 'more than usual' due to his mother's death. Holbrook was fined one hundred and sixty five pounds for the offence.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a bit of vintage Hank Williams.

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