Friday, May 25, 2012

Give Me A Reason

The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt, wrote - privately - to the prime minister urging him, 'in strong terms' to back billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's takeover bid for BSkyB just a month before David Cameron appointed the vile and odious rascal to take charge of the bid himself in a supposedly 'quasi-judicial' capacity.
The intervention by the vile and odious rascal Hunt, who is facing increasing calls for his resignation, was revealed for the first time in a document shown to the Leveson inquiry on Thursday. The vile and odious rascal Hunt urged Cameron not to allow the business secretary, Vince Cable, to block the BSkyB bid despite strong advice to the lack of culture secretary from his own officials that he should not involve himself in the process which, at that stage, had nothing whatsoever to do with him. The lack of culture secretary claimed to the prime minister that if the Murdoch bid was blocked 'our media sector will suffer for years.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt asked for a meeting with Cable and Cameron to 'discuss the handling of the deal.' The document appears to corroborate the picture which emergeed from earlier e-mail exchanges between the vile and odious rascal Hunt's single 'rouge' adviser Adam Smith and the News Corp lobbyist Frédéric Michel. The Gruniad Morning Star considers that those e-mails 'would seem to document an, apparently, collusive relationship' with the Murdoch empire and have already put the vile and odious rascal Hunt's cabinet position in proper peril. The vile and odious rascal Hunt drafted his memo to Cameron on 19 November 2010, initially using his and his aide's private G-mail accounts instead of the government internal e-mail system, according to counsel to the inquiry. The vile and odious rascal Hunt protested, in strong terms, about Cable's decision to move against the bid earlier that month by calling in the regulator, Ofcom, to investigate. Warning that 'James Murdoch is pretty furious' - as though the prime minister of this country, and his lack of culture secretary should be shitting in their own pants over what a mere media executive thinks about pretty much anything - the vile and odious rascal Hunt went on to say 'I think it would be totally wrong to cave in to the Mark Thompson/Channel Four/Guardian line.' The BBC director general, Mark Thompson, and other media firms were opposing the bid, claiming that it would make the Murdoch empire too powerful. Which it would have. The vile and odious rascal Hunt, who by then had already been extensively lobbied by News Corp and received 'angry phone calls' from Rupert Murdoch's son James Murdoch the small, said: 'I am concerned because essentially what James Murdoch wants to do is to repeat what his father did with the move to Wapping. The UK has the chance to lead the way on this as we did in eighties with the Wapping move.' In evoking the spirit of Wapping, the vile and odious rascal Hunt appears to be reminding David Cameron of the way in which Rupert Murdoch was allowed to buy The Times and The Sunday Times after vociferously supporting the Conservatives in his tabloids and holding a secret meeting with Margaret Thatcher at Chequers. Murdoch then infamously broke the power of the print unions by moving his operations to Wapping, where police helped staff brave picket-lines. The phrasing of the vile and odious rascal Hunt's 19 November draft memo appears to have been sanitised before being sent to Downing Street, with the help of Smith. The inquiry was told there was also 'in existence' an earlier version of the vile and odious rascal Hunt's thinking. The final version said: 'It would [be] totally wrong for the government to get involved in a competition issue which has to be decided at arms length.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt's activities on Murdoch's behalf had been the subject of stern legal warnings from his own department, according to the inquiry's counsel, Robert Jay. He said the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's legal director had advised that although it was 'not directly illegal' for him to attempt to intervene, to do so would be unwise.' One arrangement to meet James Murdoch the small had to be cancelled, but the vile and odious rascal Hunt instead spoke to him, privately, on the telephone. Michel, James Murdoch the small's lobbyist, told his boss in one of the previously disclosed e-mails: 'Jeremy has received very strong legal advice not to meet us today as the current process is treated as a judicial one (not a policy one) and any meeting could be referred to and jeopardise the entire process. Jeremy is very frustrated about it but the permanent secretary has now also been involved. You could have a chat with him on his mobile and I will liaise with his team privately as well.' Four days after receiving this warning, it now appears that the vile and odious rascal Hunt drafted his plea to the prime minister to intervene. It is not known what Cameron did as an immediate result of receving this memo. However, shortly afterwards, in a spectacular own-goal the Conservative-supporting, but anti-Murdoch-bid Daily Torygraph newspaper embarked on an elaborate 'sting' operation against Vince Cable. On 3 December, two reporters pretended to be his constituents and recorded their conversation. By what seems to have been an extraordinary coincidence, Cable confided to them that he had 'declared war' against Murdoch. The revelation of this remark - not in the Torygraph, interestingly, but by the BBC's Robert Peston - was greeted with hostility and outrage both by the Murdoch camp and by the prime minister, who said it was 'unacceptable' for Cable to have such bias. Cameron promptly turned the decision on the bid over to the vile and odious rascal Hunt and his department. The disclosed documents appear to reveal that Cameron knew perfectly well at the time that the vile and odious rascal Hunt, too, was biased, only in his case, the other way. The cabinet secretary, Gus O'Donnell, stated publicly, however, that he himself had taken legal advice and had decided that, although the vile and odious rascal Hunt had made previous public statements sympathetic to the bid: 'I am satisfied that those statements do not amount to a pre-judgment of the case.' Which is very trusting of him. The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson said that the memo was 'ammunition for the culture secretary's critics who say his mind was made up to give the Murdochs what they wanted.' The vile and odious Hunt's former aide, Adam Smith, was initially reluctant to concede that the lack of culture secretary had backed the Murdoch bid from the outset. Under persistent questioning from Robert Jay, however, he eventually admitted that the vile and odious rascal Hunt's 'personal view' was, in fact, favourable to the bid.

Vince Cable, of course, lost responsibility for overseeing the BSkyB bid when his private anti-Murdoch views became public. And, the whole side-issue of how Peston was leaked the comments, presumably by someone at the Torygraph, is yet another question entirely. 'Yet now we learn that the man who replaced him, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, had expressed equally strident - albeit pro rather than anti Murdoch - views in private in a draft memo to the prime minister, before he took over responsibility for the bid,' notes Nick Robinson. The memo was sent to the vile and odious rascal Hunt's ex-special adviser Adam Smith on 19 November 2010 before it was tidied up and sent to Cameron. Smith resigned in April after saying his e-mails to and from News Corp lobbyist French Fred Michel over the firm's bid to take over BSkyB 'went too far.' He claimed that the 'content and extent' of his dealings with Michel had not been authorised by the lack of culture secretary. Downing Street confirmed the prime minister did receive the vile and odious rascal Hunt's memo. But a spokesman for Cameron claimed that the vile and odious rascal Hunt had previously said there were 'no grounds' for blocking the deal over competition requirements. The vile and odious rascal Hunt has resisted calls to quit over claims that his relationship with billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's company was, like his single 'rogue' adviser, 'too close.' He is due to give his own account of events to the inquiry into media ethics on 31 May. Which should be fun. The vile and odious rascal Hunt's memo - read out at Thursday's inquiry session to an astonished reaction from those present - expressed 'concerns' that referring the bid to Ofcom could leave the government 'on the wrong side of media policy.' Robert Jay read from the memo during questioning of Smith. Jay suggested to Smith that the vile and odious rascal Hunt had drafted the memo and sent it to Smith to 'check for mistakes.' In his evidence to the inquiry the ex-special adviser claimed the vile and odious rascal Hunt was 'not close' to News Corporation, and the vile and odious rascal Hunt himself has denied News Corp had 'any influence' with his office. One or two people even believe him. Earlier, Michel said that his dealings with Smith were 'not inappropriate.' But Michel denied government claims that he had exaggerated the closeness of his relationship with the single 'rogue' adviser in his e-mails to James Murdoch, the small. Smith stepped down from his position on 25 April, saying the 'content and extent' of his dealings with Michel had 'not been authorised' by the lack of culture secretary. In his witness statement published by the inquiry, Michel said that he did not have 'any direct conversation' with the vile and odious rascal Hunt relating to the BSkyB bid beyond his attendance at two formal meetings. But the statement confirms that the men had exchanged 'numerous' text messages in a personal and business capacity. Michel told the inquiry that references to conversations with 'JH' in his e-mails with Smith and Murdoch were 'shorthand' for the entire lack of culture department. He added that he had the 'sort of impression that some of the feedback I was being given had been discussed with the Secretary of State before I was given it.' Later, he said that he believed Smith was 'representing' the lack of culture secretary in the same way he was representing News Corporation and James Murdoch, the small. Michel told the inquiry: 'I was never of the opinion that it was inappropriate to at least try to put the arguments to or make representations to these officers.' The government has suggested that the string of e-mails previously published by the inquiry show Michel had 'exaggerated' his the extent of his access to the vile and odious rascal Hunt's department. But, questioned by counsel to the inquiry, Michel denied he had 'bigged up' the information Smith gave him or 'puffed' himself up. 'I think my e-mails, as they were internal e-mails, were an accurate account of the conversations I had,' he said. He added there 'perhaps' would have been 'exaggeration or spin' in e-mails during earlier dealings with the Department for Business when 'morale was quite low because we had not much success.' News Corp unveiled its bid for BSkyB in June 2010 but abandoned it in July 2011 amid national outrage and fury over the phone-hacking scandal at its disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World newspaper. At the time of the correspondence between Smith and Michel, the lack of culture secretary had been given a 'quasi-judicial' role to decide whether the proposed BSkyB purchase should be referred to the Competition Commission for final approval. The inquiry heard Michel made one hundred and ninety one telephone calls and sent one hundred and fifty eight e-mails and seven hundred and ninety nine text messages to the vile and odious rascal Hunt's team, ninety per cent of which were were exchanges with Smith. Jay said that Smith himself sent two hundred and fifty seven text messages to Michel between 28 November 2010 and 11 July 2011. Michel told the hearing that his work on the BSkyB bid eventually took up about eighty per cent of his time but he had also sought to promote the takeover with the Department for Business as well as with Labour and Lib Dem politicians. Michel's witness statement reveals that in May 2010 he and Hunt had 'bumped into each other' at a London hospital where their wives were about to give birth and 'shared a night of anxiety.' But, after he was handed responsibility for the BSKyB bid in December 2010, the lack of culture secretary said in a text message exchange that all business contact 'now needs to be through official channels until decision made.' Michel contacted the vile and odious rascal Hunt by text message in March 2011 after his appearance on Andrew Marr's Sunday morning BBC show to slavver that the vile and odious rascal Hunt had been 'very good.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt replied: 'Merci hopefully when consultation over we can have a coffee like the old days!' When News Corp withdrew the BSKyB bid, the vile and odious rascal Hunt's response to a text from Michel said 'it has been the most challenging time for all of us. Would be great to catch up when the dust has settled.' Jay referred to an e-mail in which Michel called on the secretary of state, via Smith, to 'show some backbone' and dismiss Ofcom's calls for concessions in the bid proposal. Michel told the inquiry: 'It's my English - I might use words in a more melodramatic way than I intended.' Michel claimed that the vile and odious rascal Hunt was 'keeping an open mind' about the bid but when asked whether the vile and odious rascal Hunt had been supportive of it, he replied: 'I can't say.' Yeah. Right. Sounds fair enough. Michel denied that he had been given a 'running commentary' on the progress of the bid by Smith. Meanwhile, the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has defended the government's decision not ask Sir Alex Allen to investigate the conduct of the vile and odious rascal Hunt. Giving evidence to the Commons Public Administration Committee, Sir Jeremy flatly denied that the matter was left to the Leveson Inquiry to 'buy time' for the lack of culture secretary. Thursday's Leveson Inquiry hearing got under way with Lord Brooke, heritage secretary - the predecessor to the lack of culture secretary post - under the Conservative government between 1992 and 1994 - giving evidence. Lord Brooke said the press has not been subject to statutory regulation since 1695 and the 'first time it happens it's going to be a very significant event.' He said ministers had 'recognised' that the newly formed Press Complaints Commission attempts at self-regulation 'had to improve.' But the government had chosen to oppose MP Clive Soley's 1992 bill to introduce an independent press authority. It had intended to bring in changes following Sir David Calcutt's review of the press and there 'was no sense at all in having other legislation,' he said.

So, the vile and odious rascal Hunt had clearly indicated to News Corporation by the end of 2010 that he was 'probably in favour' of arguments for allowing its eight billion smackers BSkyB takeover, the company's lobbyist responsible for contact with the lack of culture secretary's department told the Leveson inquiry. And, the vile and odious rascal Hunt exchanged texts with Frédéric Michel at least four times despite telling parliament that he'd had no 'unofficial' contact with the News Corp lobbyist while he was considering the company's bid for BSkyB. Robert Jay asked Michel whether News Corp considered the DCMS to be 'onside' in terms of being in favour of the Sky bid by December 2010. 'I think they were probably in favour of, or in agreement with, the arguments we had put forward in terms of plurality, definitely,' replied Michel, who at the time was News Corp's European head of public affairs. Where, then, does this leave the vile and odious rascal Hunt. 'He is a liability to the people. He is compromised by his former cheerleading for Rupert Murdoch, for his special adviser's contacts with James Murdoch's lobbyist and now by the investigation by the parliamentary standards commissioner into claims that he failed to register donations from media companies,' wrote the Evening Standard's Roy Greenslade in relation to the vile and odious rascal Hunt. Who, Greenslade considers, has 'helped to destroy the BBC. He has wacky ideas about local TV news services. He is so tied up defending himself from a range of charges that he cannot produce a much needed communications green paper. And, even if he stays in place, his chances of piloting any sensitive communications legislation through parliament are virtually nil. David Cameron has to let his old university friend go, even ahead of his appearance at the Leveson inquiry. The public perception that he has been far too close to the Murdochs is justification enough to jettison him. Remember this,' concluded Greenslade. 'If the Milly Dowler hacking revelation on 4 July last year had not been published, Murdoch would have been given the nod to assume total ownership of BSkyB. And Hunt was the man who would have made the decision.' Robert Jay suggested to Michel that he understood 'the value of human interaction, whether it's by jokey text message, warm text message, mobile conversation or face-to-face meeting. You understand that because you're very good at it, aren't you?' Michel said: 'I don't know if I'm good at it? People would rather have interaction and talk things through rather than just respond through letters.' He added: 'I apologise if my texts are too jokey sometimes.' Jay said: 'It's not a question of apology. These are private texts and it's for you to decide the appropriate tone. These texts were never designed to enter the public domain were they?' 'They were not,' agreed Michel. The inquiry also heard that Michel was in close contact with Adam Smith at key points during the bid approval process. On 10 January 2011, the day the lack of culture secretary met Ed Richards, the chief executive of Ofcom, to discuss the regulator's objections to the Sky bid, Michel spoke with Smith on the phone three times. Jay said the records show there 'were three calls which lasted in all twenty seven and a half minutes that day.' Michel denied that Smith gave him 'a running commentary' of the bid process. The News Corp adviser added that Smith instead provided 'updates on timing, process, on the atmospherics of the day.' The lobbyist said that he would not describe his phone calls, texts and e-mails 'as clandestine. I would qualify that as advocacy.' By contrast, the inquiry heard repeated evidence that Cable refused to meet James Murdoch the small or any News Corp representatives in the period in which the business secretary had responsibility for the Sky bid. Michel said he thought the approach adopted by the vile and odious rascal Hunt subsequently was 'more normal' – and that the company should have the opportunity to make its case directly and in person. Michel admitted that 'on two or three occasions' he may have been in indirect contact with the vile and odious rascal Hunt about the deal, through Smith. Michel also admitted to the inquiry that on some occasions he 'had the impression' that Smith had spoken to his boss first. 'I think there's two or three events when I probably had the sort of impression that some of the feedback I was being given had been discussed with the secretary of state before it was given to me,' Michel said. Michel added that he knew it was 'inappropriate' to have had any informal contact with the vile and odious rascal Hunt and told the inquiry he did not have 'any direct conversation' with the minister relating to the BSkyB proposal. One text the inquiry was shown was sent by the vile and odious rascal Hunt to Michel on 31 July 2011, after the BSkyB bid was abandoned because of the backlash against Murdoch's media empire following revelations that Milly Dowler's phone - and many others - had been hacked by the Scum of the World. The vile and odious rascal Hunt's text read: 'Dear Fred it has been the most challenging time for all of us. Thank goodness we have children to remind us what really matters. Would be great to catch up when the dust has settled, Jeremy.' In August 2010, three months after billionaire tyrant Murdoch launched his BSkyB bid, Michel sent the vile and odious rascal Hunt a message criticising a speech by the BBC director general, Mark Thompson. 'Because he trained his guns on you, he failed to make his case to me,' the vile and odious rascal Hunt, who has plenty of previous form - going back a long time - of anti-BBC attitudes, replied.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping, frankly, never thought he'd see the day when he would actually be agreeing with a Daily Scum Mail editorial. But, I guess, it had to happen sooner of later: 'What on earth were they thinking of?' the loathsome jack-booted bully boy-lice thugs say, take a break from their usual wretched BBC-bashing and wittering on about asylum seekers, house prices and gays to write. 'It's bad enough that, as the Leveson Inquiry heard yesterday, Jeremy Hunt considered it appropriate to act as the Murdoch empire's Cabinet cheerleader – writing a pleading letter to the Prime Minister urging him to back the hugely contentious BSkyB takeover bid. But doesn't it defy belief that, only a month after this memo was written in 2010, and only days before enjoying a Christmas dinner at the home of a senior Murdoch executive, David Cameron saw no conflict of interest in making the clearly biased Mr Hunt the supposedly quasi-judicial, independent arbiter of whether the deal should be approved? Disturbingly, it's only part of the emerging picture of a Tory party which, from the Prime Minister down, had grown so sickeningly close to News Corporation that it seemed to lose its marbles. Mr Hunt maintains that most of the inappropriate contact was between his ex-special adviser Adam Smith and News Corp, not himself. How else is it possible to explain the incredible one hundred and ninety one calls, one hundred and fifty eight e-mails and one thousand and fifty six texts between a News Corp lobbyist and Mr Hunt's office during the time the £8billion takeover was being considered? Last night, Mr Hunt – who should have resigned last month – was still hiding behind the feeble defence that most of the inappropriate contact was between his ex-special adviser Adam Smith and News Corp, not himself. But isn’t it beyond credibility that Mr Hunt had no idea what his closest aide was doing? Isn’t he responsible for Mr Smith’s actions under the Ministerial Code? The BSkyB affair had already stained the integrity of the Cameron government. That stain grows uglier by the day.' Of course, there is - one has to acknowledge - more than a smidgen of self-interest in this; the Scum Mail was, after all, part of the highly unlikely coalition with the owners of the Gruniad, the Mirra and the Torygraph along with BT, Channel Four and - ironically - the BBC (definitely not a case of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend') in opposing the News Corp-BSkyB bid on plurality grounds. But, even so, it's very hard to argue with virtually anything in that piece. I know, I feel like I need a shower after saying that. But, hey, look at it this way - even a broken clock is right twice a day.

After weeks of whinging about Britain's unseasonably cold weather, the tabloids are having a field day now that it's warmed up a bit. Britain roasts, says the Daily Scum Express. Baking Britain goes beach barmy, screams the Daily Lies. Britain bakes – it's a heatwave, steams the Daily Mirra. And the Sun weights in with: 82F as Britain bakes. What on earth are they going to say if it gets any hotter? They'll probably start a campaign asking why the government aren't doing anything to cool the country down. Is it all the vile and odious rascal Hunt's fault? Probably.

The first three episodes of the next - J - series of Qi have been recorded this week. Journeys, recorded on Tuesday will feature Rob Brydon, Phill Jupitus and first timer, New Zealand comedienne Cal Wilson. Two episodes were recorded on Wednesday, Joints will also feature Cal along with Jimmy Carr and the odious, risible, wretchedly unfunny slob Jack Whitehall. I think I might give that one a miss, frankly. Which would be the first episode of Qi this blogger has missed since it started, actually. I even watched the one with Daniel Radcliffe in it. Finally, Just the Job features another first-timer, Jason Manford, along with semi-regulars yer actual Jezza Clarkson and Sandi Toksvig. Filming of the rest of the series is scheduled to take place, roughly at a rate of three episodes per week, throughout June. We'll have regular updates about who's going to be appearing on From The North. The series will be shown in the autumn (probably starting in September). Oh, and for anybody who doesn't have BBC HD, you might like to know that the XL edition of last year's final episode, Idleness, which still hasn't been shown on BBC2 yet, received its UK transmission début on 24 May.

To yer actual Top Telly ratings the'nooo. BBC1 continued to dominate Tuesday nights thanks largely to 9pm's Silk, overnight data confirms. Despite the sunny weather, episode two of the legal drama's second series mustered 5.3m punters in the 9pm hour, an audience far superior to any other channel at that time. Meanwhile, ITV's line-up performed extremely poorly, with a repeat of Martin Clunes: Horsepower scraping just 1.28m at 8pm, and Dirty Britain engaging 2.54m at 9pm. BBC2 actually beat ITV during the 8pm hour with The Chelsea Flower Show being watched by 2.84m viewers, after which the documentary series following Great Ormond Street Hospital had 1.82m an hour later. Channel Four's Embarrassing Bodies dipped to 1.67m at 8pm, then the audience dropped further to seven hundred and sixty thousand for the risible Hidden Talent at 9pm, but the network rebounded for My Big Fat Fetish, which opened with 1.75m at 10pm (and a further one hundred and eighty thousand on C4+1). Dependable crime franchise CSI lit up Channel Five's schedule with 1.56m at 9pm and 1.1m for CSI: NY at 10pm. Overall, BBC1 had double ITV's primetime average audience share with twenty four per cent against just twelve per cent. BBC3's live coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest's first semi-final pulled in an average of seven hundred and fifty four thousand viewers between 8pm and 10pm.

More than six million viewers saw the latest firing on The Apprentice on Wednesday night. Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie's reality show was seen by 6.22m in the 9pm hour. 2.29m turned to BBC2 to catch the You're Fired! spin-off afterwards. The Apprentice was preceded by DIY SOS: The Big Build (4.07m), while ITV's Lewis took an average of five million across two hours from 8pm (with an additional three hundred and thirty thousand on ITV+1). Elsewhere on BBC2, the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show continued to attract strong audiences with 1.63m and Hitler's Children was watched by 1.36m. NCIS continued with 1.18m on Channel Five. Overall, BBC1 secured primetime victory with 21.8 per cent, beating ITV's 20.6 per cent.

Cheeky chappie - and, probably now in danger of getting seriously overexposed - Richard Hammond is to host a new hidden camera comedy series for BBC1. The Secret Service will launch in a Saturday evening slot in 2013 in the slot formerly occupied by the Hammond fronted Total Wipeout. The six-part series will follow Hammond and a 'specially trained' squad of actors and comedians - who can be hired by members of the public to pull off absurd pranks on friends and family. So, Game For A Laugh, basically. Are there no new ideas in TV? Sorry ... stupid question. 'Richard has proved to be an enormous treat for the Saturday night audience with his own unique brand of humour,' said Mark Linsey, BBC1's controller of entertainment commissioning and the man who once thought Don't Scare The Hare was a good idea. 'I think the viewers are going to enjoy his Secret Service as much as they have Total Wipeout.' The new series is from Initial - an Endemol company - who previously produced Total Wipeout. 'Following on from the great fun we've had with Total Wipeout, we're delighted to be working with Richard Hammond again,' said Nick Samwell-Smith, creative director at Initial. 'This exciting new hidden camera show will make for great family viewing on Saturday nights.' Total Wipeout was dropped by the BBC in March, after running for four series (one of them is still to be broadcast). The Secret Service was co-created by The Hamster his very self, Pointless's Richard Osman, Samwell-Smith, Catherine Lynch and Andy Rowe.

Reality TV shows featuring child stars will be made to apply for licences under the biggest overhaul of performance rules for forty years. The shake-up was ordered after ministers complained about 'archaic complex and irrelevant' regulations. Producers will now need a licence to put a child in 'an artificial situation' contrived for 'artistic, editorial or dramatic effect.' The proposals also extend to factual and observational programmes. Regulations for children taking part in TV, radio, film and theatre were last changed in 1968 to require a licence for children under fourteens involved in singing, dancing, acting or musical performances. But critics say the guidelines were unclear about factual and entertainment programmes. Children's minister Tim Loughton said the government aimed to nurture future stars and 'help all children realise their talents by being able to perform. Everyone should have the chance to act, sing, dance and play sport - giving them memories for life,' he said. But he said the current rules were getting in the way. 'They are outdated, complex, confusing and not fit for purpose. They come from an age when there were just three television channels and bear no relation to the broadcasting or performing industries in the Twenty First Century.' Loughton added the rules had been 'incredibly complex, bureaucratic and patchily applied.' Under the new regulations, producers must show they have stringent safeguards in place before they can get a licence. Parents must also take responsibility for their children's activities, according to the proposals. if they don't, they'll be liable to a right good kicking. Under the last Labour government, former schools secretary Ed Balls called for a review of regulations on children appearing on television. He said the rules had 'failed to keep pace' with changes in reality TV, amid fears young performers were being exploited.

Dragon's Den businessman Peter Jones is to return to BB2 with his own series Peter Jones Meets ... In which the entrepreneur will, you know, meet ... people. Sounds like a bit of a shaky format, personally but, you never know, I'm sure somebody at the BBC in 1963 looked at a bit of paper in Sydney Newman's hand and said 'Doctor What? Jones will host four hour long 'meets' which will see the very tall, very rich chap interview some of the UK's most well-known entrepreneurs. Having exposed a new dimension to his traditional television persona in a pilot of the show last year Jones will be interrogating more of the country's most successful and inspirational business giants, to find out how they grew their companies, the challenges they faced along the way, and work out what the anatomy of success looks like. How they got rich, basically. So, this is one millionaire talking to other millionaires about how they all made their millions. Sounds riveting for somebody living on a council estate of benefits. 'This promises to be a fascinating watch. As a hugely successful entrepreneur himself, Peter is ideally placed to ask the questions we want to hear. I'm really looking forward to seeing Peter find out how Britain's top entrepreneurs made their millions and what lessons they've learnt along the way,' said Mirella Breda, the BBC executive who commissioned this show. One thing, Mirella. It's 'learned' not 'learnt.' You'll never make DG if you don't get that sorted out. Jones is most famous for his role on Dragon's Den which sees members of the public pitching their - often loopy - business ideas in order to secure investment finance from one of the five dragons. Jones had a less successful stint at ITV hosting The Tycoon, a show which he went searching for Britain's next Tycoon. But, failed to find one.

Yer actual Eddie Izzard whom long running dear blog readers will know yer actual Keith Telly Topping admires enormously, both as a comedian and as a man (or, you know, whatever he's dressing as that particular week) has been forced to put his latest running challenge, a tribute to Nelson Mandela, on hold for a while. He had hoped to complete twenty seven marathons in twenty seven consecutive days, in honour of the twenty seven years that the former South African President spent in captivity. She's too small for to fit his feet, and all that. However Eddie has called a temporary halt to the challenge after completing four of the marathons. In a message on his Facebook page, the comedian blamed 'unforeseen medical complications.' He said 'severe terrain, humidity and altitude' were among a 'multitude' of factors. Eddie still hopes to complete the challenge, which is being filmed for a documentary to be broadcast this autumn. 'I wish to say that my attempt is not over and I will return to South Africa and run the twenty seven marathons and finish this story,' he continued. 'I owe that to Nelson Mandela, who has inspired the world to struggle and succeed no matter what obstacles are thrown at us.' The route was intended to geographically retrace the ninety three-year-old's life in South Africa, with Eddie setting off in the Eastern Cape where Mandela was born. All proceeds raised will be donated to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and other South African charities. In 2009, the actor, comedian, action transvestite and all round good chap ran around the UK, effectively undertaking forty three marathons in fifty one days, to raise a vast wad of wonga for Sport Relief.

Despite the growing popularity of on-demand services, live TV is still favoured by the vast majority of the British public for some programming. An exclusive poll from the Digital Spy website received over three thousand three hundred responses, with seventy five per cent of those who expressed a preference saying that they like to watch at least 'some' of their TV live. Almost twenty two per cent of those questioned said that they always prefer to decide when they watch, while three per cent were not sure. How can you not be sure? You either do or you don't, it's implicit! Nevertheless, 66.2 per cent of those questioned admitted that giving them the opportunity to watch what they want, when they want was the main way the Internet has improved TV viewing. Just over twenty per cent pointed to the web making it easier to discover new shows, while 6.3 per cent most benefited from the ability to interact while watching. Just 7.1 per cent of those questioned thought the Internet had not improved TV viewing. Sky was the top platform for live TV viewing with fifty seven per cent. 52.5 per cent use Freeview and 45.7 per cent use a PC or a Mac, while 26.5 per cent use iPhones and 20.5 per cent use an iPad. Multi-screening proved popular, with fifty nine per cent of people using another screen device while watching TV, with viewers checking e-mails, surfing the web and using social networks.

BBC2 has commissioned two new documentary series, The Planners and Racing Legends. The programmes will be made by the BBC in Salford. The Planners is an eight-part, hour long, observational documentary series that reveals the work of a number of Council Planning Officers from across the UK. Shot over a six-month period, the series follows home owners, property developers and businesses as they navigate the planning process. 'The Planners is a subject area that everyone has an interest in, particularly in these straitened times. Whether you’re doing it yourself or experiencing it on your own doorstep, I'm sure this series will be prove very popular with the BBC2 a audience,' noted BBC Daytime controller, Liam Keelan. Each episode will include a range of different stories highlighting properties and buildings at different stages within the Planning process and will show what it takes to build the most inspirational, complex and beautiful homes and buildings in Britain today. From finding out what goes on in the architects' offices and the council planning meetings to every stage on the building site the story is told through the eyes, ears and drawings of the Planners themselves – the people who interpret the rules, evaluate the proposals and make the recommendations. Racing Legends, meanwhile, is a three-part series that follows three celebrity car enthusiasts as they re-trace the steps of Great British Racing Legends. Over the hour long episodes a mix of revealing interviews with family and friends and fascinating archive footage celebrities will pay tribute to a racing legend by learning what made them great. The documentary hopes that by charting the highs and lows, the victories and the near-death experiences, the enthusiasts will discover what it took to succeed in a dangerous era of motorsport. They’ll learn about the vehicles they drove, the engineering they employed and try to understand what put them in pole position.

Only two days to go until Eurovision on BBC1 and the UK's entry, Engelbert Humperdinck, has 'shocked fans' (has he still got any?) by posing with a German flag draped round him. Nul points for the Hump! The singer does his best to calm nerves in the Sun by telling the newspaper that the German magazine piece was 'just a bit of fun.' And, if it wins more votes for the UK, who can blame him? Cos, frankly, having heard the song i reckon he's going to need all the help with votes he can get. 'My mother was German so my blood is half German. But of course my heart belongs to the UK,' said Arnold Dorsey, born in India.

Meanwhile, here's this year's first proper Eurovision scandal. Spain's contestant has admitted that the country would 'struggle' to host the event next year if it were to win this year. Directors from broadcasters TVE joked to Pastora Soler, who will represent them on Saturday, 'Please, don't win!' 'If we won, I think it would be impossible to stage the next edition because it costs so much money,' she told ABC Punto Radio. Spain last won the competition in 1969, when it shared a four-way tie with the UK, the Netherlands and France. Spain also won the contest in 1968 (after, allegedly, some dodgy vote-rigging art the behest of General Franco robbed Wor Cliff Richard of victory). Soler will sing her ballad 'Quedate Conmigo' ('Stay With Me') at the final in the Azerbaijan capital Baku on Saturday. It is written in the contest rules that the public broadcaster of the nation which wins must host the following year. Which, of course, led the ridiculous situation in the 1990s when Ireland won three years running of RTE almost bankrupting themselves having to put on a show in Dublin year-after-year. (Albeit, we did get a very good Father Ted episode out of that particular fiasco! it also explains why they've got Jedward representing them this year, too.) 'I think it is not the moment, neither for Spain nor for Spanish public, to win Eurovision,' Soler was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. The Spanish government has slashed spending in public television, resulting in the cancellation of several popular programmes. Meanwhile, the Italian entry, 'I Cant Get No Contraception' has been withdrawn after the pope advised them to pull it out at the last minute. I'm here all week.

Seann Walsh has landed his first sitcom role, starring alongside The Inbetweeners actor Blake Harrison in a new show for Comedy Central. The broadcaster is piloting a comedy called Big Bad World, in which a new graduate, played by Harrison, ends up back in his home town, frustrated that his degree has not led on to better things. Walsh, a regular on Channel Four's Stand Up For The Week, plays a 'guitar-obsessive bedsit-philosopher' called Eggman. The cast also includes Caroline Quentin, James Fleet, Rebecca Humphries from Come Fly With Me and David Fynn from Black Mirror.

England cricketer Kevin Pietersen has been fined for comments he made on Twitter about Sky commentator Nick Knight. Pietersen used his feed on the microblogging site to criticise Knight, who was appearing on Sky's coverage of England's first Test against the West Indies at Lord's. He wrote: 'Can somebody please tell me how Nick Knight has worked his way into the commentary box for the Tests? Ridiculous.' At a disciplinary hearing yesterday, the England and Wales Cricket Board opted to impose an undisclosed fine on Pietersen, part suspended for twelve months. 'The ECB announced that Kevin Pietersen today attended a disciplinary hearing convened by Hugh Morris, managing director - England Cricket and Andy Flower, England team director,' said the ECB in a statement. 'The hearing considered recent comments made by Pietersen on Twitter to be prejudicial to the interests of the ECB and a breach of the England player conditions of employment in relation to clauses regarding public statements. Pietersen has been fined an undisclosed sum, part of which has been suspended for twelve months, in accordance with the terms and conditions of his England central contract.' Morris is known for his wariness of England players using Twitter, once describing use of the microblogging site as 'like giving a machine gun to a monkey.' This is also not the first time that Pietersen has come under fire for his posts on the site, after he announced his dropping from the England one-day squad before it was officially confirmed. The ECB, which has a TV contract with Sky worth more than three hundred million smackers, has seemingly taken a hard line with Pietersen to signal a note of caution to others. Prior to the hearing, England opener Alastair Cook said that the controversy would not affect the team's preparations for the second Test against the West Indies next week at Trent Bridge. 'I'm not really on Twitter so I didn't really see it until yesterday,' Cook told the Press Association. It's not anything to do with me. It certainly won't distract us as a side. It just shows in the modern world how everything's always accessible. It always does get blown out of proportion, let's be honest. We always turn the volume down in the dressing room. I'm more worried about that red ball coming down at me than I am about what people are saying about it [on television].'

Goal-line technology will be tested at Wembley when England host Belgium in a friendly on 2 June. Hawk-Eye, a camera-based system, will be used by independent testers during England's final game before Euro 2012. But the match officials will have no access to data and the trial will have no impact on any contentious goal-line decisions. The first live test of Hawk-Eye's system was conducted earlier this month in the Hampshire Senior Cup final. Calls for goal-line technology have increased with dubious decisions marring a number of high profile games last season. Moscow Chelski's Juan Mata was awarded a goal which had not crossed the line in his side's 5-1 FA Cup semi-final win over Stottingtot Hotshot on 15 April. Although, since that put a massive scowl on Hapless Harry Redknapp's much, no one was too bothered about that. And Queen's Park Strangers defender Clint Hill's header was clawed back into play via the crossbar from two feet behind the line by Notlob goalkeeper Adam Bogdan during the London club's 2-1 defeat at the Reebok Stadium on 10 March. Andy Carroll believed his header had equalised for Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws against Moscow Chelski in the FA Cup final, too. Wembley has seen many controversial goal-line incidents over the years. The most famous came during the 1966 World Cup final, when Sir Geoff Hurst's shot was ruled to have crossed the West German goal-line. despite the fact that it was miles over the line. Look, that's our story and we're sticking to it, all right? Weeks of talks between FIFA, the Football Association and Hawk-Eye have resulted in an England international being selected to experiment goal-line technology. England's match, with an expected sell-out crowd of over eighty five thousand punters, is seen as an ideal test venue. FIFA's independent appointed testing body - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology - will conduct further tests after Roy Hodgson's first Wembley game in charge of England, and again the following day. The six cameras per goal that Hawk-Eye require are due to be installed at Wembley over the course of the next week. In March, football's law-makers, the International Football Association Board, approved two companies - Hawk-Eye and GoalRef - to take part in the second phase of goal-line technology testing. GoalRef is also currently undergoing tests. Denmark's friendly against Australia in Copenhagen, on the same day as England's match with Belgium, is under consideration for a live test. Barring any last-minute problems, the expectation is that one or both systems under review will gain approval. If that happens, any league or competition will be free to introduce the systems if they so wish. Despite the Premier League's long-term enthusiasm, the indications are that there may not be sufficient time to install a system in all twenty top-flight stadiums in time for the start of the 2012-13 season. The German, Swiss and Dutch leagues are also thought to have expressed an interest in adopting the technology. FIFA's World Club Cup competition in Japan later this year - which will involve Champions League winners Moscow Chelski FC - could also feature one of the approved systems.

The Olympic flame boarded a Severn Valley Railway steam train on its journey from Gloucester to Worcester on day six of the torch relay. The flame was being taken from Bewdley to Kidderminster on the footplate of the Worcestershire Express, receiving an elephant's salute on route. Earlier, large crowds cheered on former swimmer Sharron Davies who carried the torch through Leominster. A total of one hundred and nineteen bearers - and that one locomotive - were carrying the torch over Thursday's ninety nine-mile route. After departing from Bewdley station at 16:05 the Worcestershire Express was to reach Kidderminster twenty minutes later, via a stop at West Midlands Safari Park - outside the elephants' enclosure. Keepers at the park had prepared their two female African Elephants, twenty-year-old Five and Latabe, nineteen, for their special moment to give a 'trunk salute.' Earlier in the day London 2012 fencing hopeful, Sophie Williams, twenty one, was the third person to carry the flame as it passed from Gloucester Docks through crowded streets towards the city's cathedral. Davies, who was the third of five torchbearers in Leominster, was only thirteen years old when she competed for Britain at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and four years later won silver medal in Moscow in the four hundred metres medley. As well as Davies' Olympic feats, she won six Commonwealth Games medals, including two golds at Edmonton in 1978, and was later awarded an MBE for her services to swimming. The Olympian is now a TV commentator, has written a number of books and is currently patron of Disabled Sport England and The Sports Aid Foundation, as well overseeing her own annual event, Swim for Life, which involves more than two thousand pools nationwide and helps raise money for many different causes. Also at home in the pool is Samuel Leveitt, one of four twelve-year-olds who will carried the torch in Bewdley. He has competed in national competitions organised by the British Disability Swimming Association despite losing parts of both legs and one hand after contracting meningitis in 2006. The relay then passed through Droitwich Spa before arriving in Worcester, where the torchbearers included twenty eight-year-old Thomas Neathway, a former member of the Parachute Regiment who was badly injured four years ago when he triggered a booby trap bomb while serving in Afghanistan. An evening celebration at New Road, the home of Worcestershire County Cricket Club, followed with a specially composed piece about the city's history called Raise The Sky sung by a one thousand-strong choir.

And, finally, yer actual Matt Smith will only be carrying the Olympic Torch this weekend when it reaches Cardiff in the latest leg of its seventy day trip around the United Kingdom, innit? Smith will bear the torch early on Saturday morning, at the start of its journey from Cardiff, the capital of Wales and home of Doctor Who, to Swansea a few miles along the coast. The day will see the torch visit the communities of Barry, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda and Bridgend. Smudger told the official BBC Twitter feed: 'To carry the Torch is an honour, one I thought I'd never get, I'm very excited!' Okay but, just don't sell it on eBay afterwards, Matt, the Internet would simply explode. The journey can be followed live via the BBC News website, starting from around 6.25am. The route begins in Cardiff Bay and goes through Bute Place and James Street on its way towards Penarth. The Olympic Torch featured in the 2006 Doctor Who story Fear Her, where Matt's predecessor, David Tennant, carried the torch on the last part of its journey towards the Olympic Stadium, as well as in the mini episode Good as Gold, shown on Blue Peter this week.

On Thursday evening yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self attended the latest Record Player event at the Tyneside along with his good chums, 'the regulars.' This week the featured LP was Portishead's mighty trip-hop masterpiece Dummy. And, truly it was large. So, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's the divine Beth, Geoff, Adrian and ... some other people and one of the great TV performances of the 90s. Tune.

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