Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Twenty Two Days Of Christmas: Rhythm & Blue Christmas

Steven Moffat has hinted the seventh season of Doctor Who may not feature any two-part stories. Writing in the new issue of the Doctor Who Magazine yer actual Moffster, his very self, has suggested that the next series of Doctor Who may lack multi-part stories. 'I was looking at the facts and stats and it's not true that the two-parters save us money. We've assumed it for years. They don't save us money at all. Not a penny. So what's the point in them? The viewing figures always go down. The AI goes down, even if the second episode is the better one. The press coverage goes down. The trailers are a bit boring. I want to be able to say, every week, we've got a big standalone blockbuster, and then a trailer that makes it look like nothing compared to what's going to happen next week! That's the form for next year,' he said.

And now, it's ... Daybreakwatch:
5 Dec 818K AI 66
6 Dec 746k AI 69
7 Dec 797k AI 70
8 Dec 791k AI 69
9 Dec 760k AI 67
12 Dec 762k AI 73
13 Dec 726k
So, to sum up dear blog reader, since the gruesome twosome were - very satisfyingly - sacked on 5 December, the ratings for ITV's notorious breakfast TV flop have, actually, gone down a smidgen. But the AI scores have gone up, albeit only by a little bit and they're still not hitting even 'average' yet. I know it's not very nice to mock the misfortunes of others. But, then again, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is, himself, not a very nice person. Sometimes.

Downton Abbey has received four nominations for Golden Globe awards as America's love affair with British period drama shows no sign of abating.
Lord Justice Leveson has branded e-mails sent by the Scum of the World to two women involved in the Max Mosley expose as 'frankly outrageous.' The judge put it to the paper's former editor, Colin Myler, that the reason the disgraced and disgraceful tabloid's chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, was not reprimanded about the e-mails was because of the general 'ethos' of the paper. Myler, giving evidence to the inquiry on Wednesday, admitted that the e-mails were 'totally inappropriate.' The e-mails were sent by Thurlbeck to get the first hand accounts of the women involved a so-called 'orgy' organised for Max Mosley. They offered the women cash and anonymity if they told their story first hand to the Scum of the World for a follow-up story. Myler claimed he didn't know until Thurlbeck's evidence to the Leveson inquiry on Tuesday that Ian Edmondson, the paper's then news editor, had written the e-mails. Myler said: 'In hindsight I should have reprimanded them [Thurlbeck and Edmondson] and a letter should have gone on the personnel files.' Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, asked Myler why, if he felt the e-mails were 'totally inappropriate' - 'borderline blackmail' was another phrase used - was the Mosley story put forward for 'scoop of the year' at industry awards. He suggested that far from being 'contrite' Myler was actually 'proud' of the story. Myler said that he was not 'gloating' but was 'humiliated' by the Mosley subsequent court victory over the libellous article. 'Let me be clear about this, the News of the World was humiliated by Mr Mosley's court victory,' he said. 'I was humiliated and it was a landmark for how tabloid newspapers would have to approach these stories. I wasn't gloating at all,' Myler added. Myler claimed that he thought the Scum of the World's story on Mosley was justified. 'Mosley was the head of the richest sport in the world. It had a global membership of one hundred and twenty million including the Automobile Association,' said Myler. 'As head of that he presided over a huge expansion programme. He should have displayed ethical standards. Taking part in orgies that were brutal and depraved and included paying women for sex was not [behaviour] the FIA could reasonably accept.' This, according to Colin Myler a man who, in 2008 knew that phone-hacking was not the work of a single 'rogue reporter' at the Scum of the World and yer said nothing publicly about this and used at least one subsequent front page editorial in the Scum of the World to attack the integrity of two Labour MPs - Tom Watson and Paul Farrelly - for continuing to question the paper's public defence that phone-hacking was just down to Goodman and Mulcaire. So, his moral compass is clearly in perfect working order. Myler also claimed that he feared 'bombs under the newsroom floor' in the form of possible widespread wrongdoing in the past. And yet, again, he said nothing. He 'always had some discomfort,' but accepted phone-hacking 'must have been limited' because police had not shown otherwise, he told the inquiry. Myler claimed that he had 'initially' believed News International's assertion that phone hacking at the Scum of the World had been limited to one 'rogue' reporter. 'Given what I believed to be a thorough police investigation throughout that period, and the fact that the police had not interviewed any other member of staff from the News of the World other than Mr Goodman, I think that weighed heavily on my mind,' Myler said. 'I assumed that they would have done so if they had any kind of evidence or reason to speak to somebody else.' But, he added: 'It's fair to say that I always had some discomfort and at the time I phrased it as that I felt that there could have been bombs under the newsroom floor. And I didn't know where they were and I didn't know when they were going to go off.' Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, suggested that the Scum of the World's payout to Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor over the hacking of his phone had been to avoid 'creating a tendency for one or more of those bombs to explode if there were a trial.' Myler denied that the Scum of the World had carried out 'a cover-up' by paying out four hundred and twenty five thousand smackers plus costs to settle the Taylor case. But, he added: 'The company, not unreasonably or unsurprisingly, wanted to try to get things back on track after Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman went to jail. And it was a significant process to do that.' Therefore 'there was no appetite to go back' to court, he said. Myler told the inquiry that he felt self-regulation of the press did work, but that the system needed to be strengthened. 'We are an industry that historically is quite dysfunctional. The competition between us means we are not very good at coming together,' he warned. 'Unless this industry comes together and unites and engages with the courts and the politicians, I think it's a pretty gloomy and grim future.' Later on Thursday, former Scum of the World journalist Daniel Sanderson described how he had been involved in 'obtaining' a copy of the diary of Kate McCann, the mother of missing Madeleine McCann, from a Portuguese journalist. Sanderson, then a junior reporter, said the task had 'caused him concern.' But, he still did it anyway. 'It was clearly a private document - I understood that - but at that stage we were not in possession of the diary so we didn't know what we were dealing with,' he claimed. He added: 'I was told at the time that we would not be publishing the diary unless we had the express permission of the McCanns.' After extracts were published without any such permission, the paper apologised and made a donation to the McCanns' fund to find their daughter, who went missing during a family holiday in Portugal. 'With hindsight, it was completely the wrong decision to publish,' Sanderson told the hearing. Earlier in the inquiry, Mrs McCann said that finding out that her private diary had been published in the Scum of the World in 2008 had made her feel 'totally violated.' Sanderson said: 'I have every intention of apologising to the McCanns. I did feel very bad that my involvement in the story had made Mrs McCann feel the way that she had.' Most people with a heart beating in their chest will only pause to wonder why Sanderson hasn't done so already.

Meanwhile, Neville Thurlbeck, the sacked chief reporter of the Scum of the World, has claimed that knowledge of phone-hacking 'went to the top' of the newspaper 'but no further.' In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Media Show broadcast on Wednesday, Thurlbeck said: 'The News of the World were provided with evidence by me as to where the culpability lay. Now at that point the News of the World were faced with two choices, either deal with the problem or ignore the problem and on that decision rested, I believe, the future of the News of the World.' Asked how his bosses reacted when Thurlbeck allegedly provided them with evidence of wider hacking, he replied that they said: 'Leave it with us.' And, 'eventually they fired me.' Thurlbeck told the BBC that: 'It was clear when the "For Neville" e-mail came about that phone hacking was taking place.' The so-called 'For Neville' e-mail contained transcripts of private messages left by Gordon Taylor and was compiled by private investigators working for the Scum of the World in June 2005. It is inferred that the transcript was provided to, or was intended to be provided to, Thurlbeck. Thurlbeck, who worked under Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson while both were editors of the Scum of the World, has previously insisted that he took 'no part' in voicemail interception despite his name being on the so-called 'for Neville' e-mail. The e-mail came to the attention of the Scum of the World's lawyer Tom Crone in May 2008 and Crone subsequently spoke to Thurlbeck about it. In his interview with The Media Show, Thurlbeck was asked who knew about widespread hacking at the Scum of the World. He claimed: 'I think it went to the top of the News of the World and then no further. It should have gone down the corridor to Rebekah Brooks and then to James Murdoch.' Thurlbeck did not say under which Scum of the World editor it 'went to the top.' Brooks was editor of the Scum of the World from 2000 until 2003, during which time it is alleged that a private investigator hacked into murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's mobile phone. She moved to become editor of the Sun and then chief executive of News International. Coulson was editor of the Scum of the World between 2003 and 2007, when he resigned and was replaced by Colin Myler. Asked whether Thurlbeck thought Brooks, who resigned at the height of the phone-hacking scandal in July, knew of wider hacking at the Scum of the World, he said: 'I don't think she did at all. I've got no doubt at all that if James Murdoch had have been made aware he would have instigated an investigation into it at the very least and informed the board as to why he was making a record privacy payout to Gordon Taylor.' However, Tom Watson, the Labour MP and prominent critic of News International, immediately cast doubt on Thurlbeck's version of events. Watson said on Twitter that the interview was 'totally inappropriate,' adding: 'He's appealing his sacking. He told me a completely different story.' The Labour MP said last month before the Commons culture committee that he had taped a private conversation between himself and Thurlbeck, and that the former Scum of the World reporter said Tom Crone, the former legal manager at the title, indicated he would show the damning 'for Neville' e-mail to James Murdoch.

The former crime editor at the Scum of the World is understood to have been arrested as part of the investigation into alleged payments to police officers. According to media reports, Lucy Panton was arrested on Thursday morning by officers from the Operation Elveden probe into police bribery claims. In a statement, Scotland Yard confirmed that a thirty seven-year-old woman was arrested at 6.15am at an address in Surrey 'on suspicion of committing offences involving making payments to police officers for information.' She is the seventh person to be held under Operation Elvedon since it was launched to run alongside the Operation Weeting probe into phone-hacking. The woman has been taken to a south London police station where she remains in custody. The BBC said that its correspondent had witnessed 'bags of evidence and papers' being seized from Panton's home in Ashtead, Surrey. In October 2005, Panton was promoted from crime correspondent to crime editor at the Scum of the World, a role which she held until the paper was closed, in disgraced, in July. Alongside the seven arrests under Operation Elveden, there have been sixteen people arrested under Operation Weeting and one arrested under Operation Tuleta, the investigation into computer hacking by newspapers. News International, the publisher of the Scum of the World, declined to comment on the latest arrest report. Presumably whilst they all got together to get their stories straight.

Sky has announced another 3D documentary project with Sir David Attenborough, this time telling the story of the remote Galapagos islands. Attenborough fronted the BAFTA-winning Flying Monsters 3D for the Sky 3D channel this year, and he has also produced Bachelor King 3D, a documentary about King Penguins which will premiere on New Year's Eve. His latest collaboration with Sky, a three-part 3D natural history series on the Galapagos islands, is the first film to be produced by Colossus Productions, the production company formed by Sky and Atlantic Productions this summer. Galapagos 3D, scheduled to be broadcast on Sky 3D in late 2012, will explore the islands which are surrounded by a biological marine reserve and home to the giant Galápagos tortoise. 'Galapagos is one of the most wonderful places in the world. There are extraordinary creatures living there that live nowhere else - a whole slew of marvellous animals,' said Attenborough. 'But one of the things that make them even more extraordinary is that because the islands were not discovered by human beings until relatively recently, and they had remained isolated for so long, the animals still haven't become frightened of human beings. You can walk among them carrying your own snap shot cameras or even carrying a 3D rig and they won't go away. They continue behaving in just the way that they would do naturally. Galapagos is full of drama, full of charismatic creatures which you can film; it is a natural for 3D.' Sky 3D director John Cassy added: 'The Galapagos is one of Earth's greatest treasures but it is unreachable for the vast majority of us. 3D will bring the islands to life for our customers in a way that has never been possible before. Sir David and Atlantic Productions are the natural partners to take on this ambitious project on - and ensure our natural history programming continues to break new ground.'

Ofcom has ruled out referring the television advertising market to the Competition Commission for a lengthier review, after finding no 'significant detriment to consumers' in the current system. The media regulator launched its review of the annual four billion smackers market in the summer, examining whether the way that TV adverts slots were bought and sold 'could prevent, restrict and distort competition.' Ofcom had identified 'competition concerns' and suggested that the situation could be referred to the Competition Commission for a lengthier review, but it has today ruled out that move. After taking a number of submissions and reviewing the evidence, the watchdog found that the current system presents 'no clear evidence of harm to consumers - whether TV viewers, advertisers or end users of products advertised on TV. In light of the costs associated with a reference, we concluded that it would not be proportionate to refer the TV advertising market to the Competition Commission,' said Ofcom. In May last year, the commission ruled that the Competition Rights Renewal mechanism - which restricts how airtime is sold on ITV - should remain in place, but advised Ofcom that a full review of the TV advertising market was long overdue. The regulator had initially expressed concern that there was 'poor' transparency in the pricing of airtime, making it difficult for advertisers to draw 'meaningful and informed' price comparisons between channels such as ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five. Advertising is generally sold in packages, or bundles, but Ofcom said that certain broadcasters may be using their 'market strength' to achieve higher prices across their entire channel portfolios. Ofcom also noted that the way TV ads are bought and sold has not changed for almost twenty years, meaning it has not evolved with 'commercial and technological changes,' such as the emergence of multi-channels and digital platforms. But today the regulator said that the 'current system may deliver benefits and could provide an effective way of managing some of the risks in planning and scheduling TV advertising. On price transparency, we found that media buyers and advertisers understand the terms of their deals with broadcasters and advertisers have access to detailed information about the performance of their media buyers. As a result, we do not believe that there is a basis for concern,' said Ofcom. 'Regarding bundling of airtime, while we are not able to dismiss completely that bundling of advertising across a broadcaster's schedule could harm competition, we have not found any evidence or analysis to lead us to conclude that there was a detrimental effect.' It added: 'On innovation, we considered whether the apparently limited evolution of the trading model could inhibit innovation in the sector. We found that the trading model has evolved to some extent and has proved capable of adapting to significant changes in content distribution and consumption in recent years. Such developments include the growing number of TV channels, more advertising spots and audience fragmentation.' Ofcom received twenty one written responses to its consultation, and the 'vast majority' advised against a Competition Commission referral. Separately, Ofcom has also today published a statement on regulating the quantity of advertising on TV, which refers to the number of advertising minutes allowed on ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five. It said that the current rules 'remain appropriate' and there is not 'sufficient evidence' justifying a change at this present time.

Former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas said that she felt 'vindicated' after a high court hearing in which her lawyer said that one of Britain's most famous footballers - who may or may not exist - had 'accepted' there was 'no basis' on which to accuse Thomas of blackmail. The model had previously been accused of allegedly blackmailing the Premier League player (who still cannot be identified in relation to this case even though everybody knows exactly who he is) and with whom she had an affair at an earlier hearing in which the judge, Mr Justice Eady, explained why he had imposed a gagging order preventing the naming of the married footballer. The injunction preventing the footballer's identification remains in place, despite the fact the footballer was named by thousands of people on Twitter and by Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming in Parliament. And by lots of newspapers who were able to quote what Hemming had said. Eady suggested at Thursday's hearing: 'There is no longer any point in maintaining the anonymity.' But there was no move by Thomas's lawyers to attempt to lift the gagging order. Thomas's solicitor advocate David Price QC said that the footballer, who was referred to in court as 'CTB', 'accepts there is no basis to accuse Ms Thomas of blackmail' and said the allegation was 'not how CTB had put it himself.' Price said that the blackmail allegation was 'widely and prominently reported by the media as if it were established fact. This was not correct. It has been extremely damaging and distressing to Ms Thomas.' He said Thomas did not want any 'private information' to be published, and was not responsible for an article in the Sun on 14 April. Thomas, who has always denied the blackmail allegations, said in a statement on Thursday: 'To suddenly have to defend my character, because of this legal process, has been extremely upsetting and stressful. I'm just relieved that the parties and the court now accept that I'm no blackmailer. I have been vindicated and that's all I wanted. I have nothing to add – it's all behind me now.' Price told the court: 'Ms Thomas did not want to disclose private information concerning CTB. That remains her position now that the record has been set straight.'

Christiane Amanpour's stint as the anchor of ABC News's weekly political affairs programme This Week has come to an end. In the face of declining ratings, the US network has decided to replace her with George Stephanopoulos, who hosted the show for eight years from 2002. Amanpour took on the anchor role in August last year. She is returning to CNN, where she previously worked for twenty seven years.

Four Hungarian journalists are on hunger strike in protest at government influence over the country's media. They began their fast four days ago and one of them, Balazs Nagy Navarro, said: 'We are going to stay until things change, even if we risk hospital.' Navarro, head of a trade union that represents television staff, said: 'Our strike will continue until the world realises that what is happening in Hungary under the label of "press freedom": employees terrorised, programmes manipulated or falsified.' He explained that the 'final straw' was a TV report on 3 December in which the face of former chief judge Zoltan Lomnici was pixellated on the state-run MTV channel and Duna Television. This gave the impression that Lomnici, a critic of the government of prime minister Viktor Orban, was a dubious character. In January, a media law came into effect that has outraged press freedom watchdogs. It requires online media to provide 'balanced coverage' without specifying exactly what this means. Journalists can also be forced to reveal sources on grounds of national security. The law also created a media authority that can levy large fines for reports it deems to be a 'breach human dignity.'

Country singer Billie Jo Spears, best known for her 1975 hit 'Blanket on the Ground', has died at the age of seventy four. The sultry-voiced singer, who had twenty five Top Forty country hits between 1969 and 1984, died at her home in Vidor, Texas on Wednesday, according to reports. Famed for her bluesy vocals, Spears had her first chart hit with 'Mr Walker, It's All Over.' Her other Top Ten hits included 'What I've Got in Mind', 'Misty Blue' and 'If You Want Me.' Though her popularity waned in the 1980s Spears continued to tour, despite having triple bypass heart surgery in 1993. The Texan had been scheduled to make a number of UK appearances next May as part of a touring show entitled Ladies of Country.

A thirteen-year-old schoolgirl has reportedly written a letter to Santa Claus threatening to kill him if he fails to bring her some good Christmas presents. Mekeeda Austin from Bedford warned that there would be 'fatal consequences' if she failed to receive at least two gifts from her list, which included a Blackberry and 'the real-life Justin Bieber.' The naughty little scallywag - and borderline psycho by the sound of her - also vowed to 'hunt down' and kill Santa's reindeer so that she could 'serve their meat to homeless people on Xmas day' and signed off the note with, 'Remember, two of these, or you die.' 'I don't really believe in Santa any more but I was angry because I thought I wasn't going to get all the presents I wanted this year,' Mekeeda stated to Metro. 'I want all of these things and I don't see why I shouldn't get them.' Well, I think Justin Bieber might have a thing or two to say about that, young lady. The teenager's mother, Tracey, who was the first to discover the note - and then, seemingly, the first to alert the newspapers as to its contents - insisted that her daughter would not be punished for her homicidal threats. 'When I first found the letter, I thought it was funny,' she admitted to the Daily Scum Mail who described her daughter as 'spoiled' and Tracey herself as a 'stay-at-home mother.' Oh, broken Britain, where art thou? 'Now I think I'd better get her what she wants. The last thing I want is for her to kill Santa.' As one Daily Scum Mail reader, Arsalan, Wakefield, commented: 'Meanwhile, in other news, the global economy continues its inexorable march towards meltdown. What a stupid, pointless, utterly inane piece of trash journalism.' Ooo, that's you off the Scum Mail's Christmas card list, Arsalan, Wakefield. To slightly restore a note of insanity to these proceedings, Shazz, Scotland opined: 'If she were mine I'd be willing to go to jail for smacking her backside.' Which, one suspects, you'd rather enjoy, Shazz, Scotland. Sherry, Kent also suggested a corporal punishment solution to the situation, noting: 'A smacked bottom, sent to bed and no tea, for being a brat. That's what she deserves for Christmas.' 'What a vile little madam. She deserves nothing on Christmas morning and any gifts her foolish mother has already bought her should be given away to charity,' added Betty Noir, Worcestershire. And: 'What she deserves is a lump of coal and a day in the real world' noted Laura, Warwickshire. Yeah, that's a bit more like it. I was starting to get a bit worried there that the Daily Scum Mail readership had a bit more common sense than a mollusc. Bless 'em, the 'spank 'em till they squeal' brigade proved me wrong.

Which, I suppose, brings us nicely to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's Twenty Two Days of Christmas. I'd like to plead with Mekeeda not to kill Santa. Think of the mess. And, you know, you get ten years in a young offenders institution for that shit. Apart from the fact that Santa is a fictional construct. Just like to Tooth Fairy. And Jesus. Allegedly. Personally, Santa, if you've got broadband and happen to be reading this at the North Pole - despite the fact that you're not real - yer actual Keith Telly Topping has been (reasonably) good this year and just wants the usual things from life. A roof over my head and enough in the fridge to last me till Friday. World peace. A top eight finish for his beloved (though unsellable) Magpies. A ten million plus audience for Doctor Who on Christmas Day. A big dirty woman. You know, like I say, just the usual. Right, on that note and example of horrible hand-wringing liberal malarkey, here's Amos Milburn.