The Times has revealed that a whopping 25.6 percent of readers who are confronted by the newspaper’s new paywall pay-up which apparently equates to retaining one in ten readers.
Back in September 2009, I forecast that readers would pay despite survey evidence that just one in twenty would do so. The Times has confounded that survey prediction even though its competitors continue to give their content away.
It seems that only the Daily Mail has been able to make the free to air advertising supported model pay, but only by turning itself into a semi-pornographic celebrity gossip sheet.
The Times’ competitors will either disappear or follow suit. As that process proceeds so the Times will find it easier to recruit.
The weekend saw culture secretary Jeremy Hunt use a major interview to herald major cuts at the BBC. Not surprisingly, the campaigning to save the BBC has already begun in earnest.
The licence fee is a unique funding mechanism that effectively shields the corporation from recession and Hunt appears to be arguing that this is somehow unfair. The private sector has suffered from recession, now some branches of government face cuts of up to forty percent.
This is a spurious argument at best that makes no reference to kind of BBC the country needs and wants. The shielding of such a large part of Britain’s broadcasting industry may be unfair in a school yard kind of way, it is a strength. It ensures that we enjoy a quality and diversity of broadcasting that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
In truth, the plan to cut back the BBC is as ideologically inspired as the plan to cut back government.
Hunt is not committed to a well regulated broadcast media run in the public interest. He finds all that rather paternalistic. Instead, he’d like to see our news dominated by something akin to Fox News in the USA. Rather hysterical and unashamedly biased towards the most bizarre right wing ideas.
Jeremy Hunt will find this hard sell. Even the Daily Mail columnists, not known for being friendly towards the BBC feel the need to label him a philistine and warn that ‘it’s our BBC not his’.
Yesterday saw the Conservative Lib Dem coalition announced fundamental reform of the NHS the progress of which will go al long way to defining the government and its legacy.
And yet Jon Snow introduced Channel 4?s coverage by telling us that the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, would not be giving interviews. At first sight that’s an outrageous position to take, but no worries, a Lib Dem minister is on hand to promote the reforms.
This is a brilliantly simple strategy for the Tories, who not only get to implement their reform programme without compromise but have the Lib Dems sell it for them. In this way the junior partner in the coalition gets its ego boosted — hey we’re in power! — while being inextricably linked with the most controversial reforms, reforms it will never be able to deny supporting.
As each day passes, so it will be increasingly difficult for the Lib Dems to explain to voters what it is that makes them different from Conservatives. And without a point of difference, they have nothing to sell to the electorate.
The Tories have them in a deadly embrace.
Cision, the public relations database and monitoring people, recently published a list of the top ten whistleblowing blogs. And what a disappointment.
To be fair there are some a important blogs on the list, like Guido Fawkes and Pickled Politics. But I’d question whether these are true whistleblowers.
Sure a whistleblowing civil servant might leak some stuff to Guido or Pickled Politics, but I’d expect a whistleblowing blog to come from the source.
And I’d expect a whistleblowing blogger to have had some impact. So one does wonder how Biased BBC got to be at number three.
Back in 2005, I kind of blew the whistle on this outfit having caught them fiddling their website statistics to get into another chart.
I’ve not visited them for a while, but was hardly surprised to see the usual far right nonsense prominent on their front page. Today we learn that the BBC has reported the World Cup in South Africa has been a success, not because it has been, but because the BBC is pro-ANC.
Fortunately, but not surprisingly, Biased BBC has yet to have an impact on the BBC’s coverage of anything. As I wrote in 2005, ‘Biased BBC: blogging continuously since 2002 and not one accusation substantiated.’
Richard Branson apparently conducting the Bellagio fountains was probably not that great a publicity stunt in itself. I reckon it’s a bit: ‘who cares?’
But the stunt appearing to go wrong with Branson and a model falling into ‘ice-cold water’ was great, securing a nice big piece in the Daily Mail. The Virgin boss is someone we all love to see coming a cropper and now we all know that Virgin Atlantic fly direct to Las Vegas (something of which I’ve made a mental note).
But having just returned from Las Vegas I can assure readers that falling into the Bellagio’s lake at this time of year almost certainly came as a mighty relief to the overdressed pair.
The Mail on Sunday billed Melissa Jacobs — who claims to be the ex-lover of now resigned chair of the Football Association, Lord Triesman — as the ‘woman who could cost England the 2018 World Cup’, but readers and football fans quickly turned on the sensation seeking tabloid. And others claim the cause of press freedom has been delivered yet another blow.
Despite providing an excuse to write about ‘a flame-haired 37-year-old with an impressive academic background… slim physique and ivory skin’, this was a silly story to run. It all came down to a hurt woman recording a private conversation in which Triesman revealed his suspicions that the Russians and Spanish 2018 World Cup bids may be corrupt.
His punishment for the unsubstantiated allegations was resignation, leaving the England bid in crisis. Gary Lineker stomped off to the Independent in disgust, not at Triesman, but the Mail on Sunday.
A rapid consensus emerged that it was against the national interest to publish. But what really turned the tide against the MoS, was the ability of football fans and others to leave comments on its website, blog and Tweet to show that they would not support the media narrative.
The media can no longer pretend its readers are blank canvasses onto which views and opinions may be projected. No doubt people have always retained the ability to think for themselves, but now they have the ability to quickly organise an effective backlash when the tabloids go too far.
Roy Greenslade has a good round up of the newspapers’ reaction to Gordon Brown’s resignation, which seems to come down to Brown being condemned as a ‘squatter’ if he stays or a ‘sordid coup plotter’ if he goes. Add to that Kay Burley’s bullying of pro-reform demonstrators and Adam Boulton losing his rag with Alistair Campbell it’s clear that the media is losing the plot.
‘This is what you do,’ complained Boulton. ‘You come on and say no one won the election. Don’t tell me what to think!’
But Campbell is simply stating the obvious. If somebody had won, they’d have been to see the queen by now to let her know.
Casual observers might have been misled into believing that the Lib Dems Nick Clegg had won. In fact he lost five MPs and lost control of four local councils. Meanwhile, Labour won control of 16 local councils on the same day as the general election (which, for the avoidance of doubt, it did not win).
All that leads to huge disconnect from the people — the newspapers’ readers — most of whom did not vote Conservative or a Lib-Con pact. It will be interesting to see just how sustainable this editorial position will prove to be and whether alienated readers simply give up buying newspapers.
The Independent’s new advertising campaign goes all out for Rupert Murdoch, while on the news pages the Sun is accused of censoring one of its own polls for being too positive for the Lib Dems.
Given the startling result, the unofficial Sun response that such surveys produce so many results you can’t report them all looks weak, but I’m left uncomfortable at newspaper editorial that so neatly ties in with an advertising campaign (especially when the ad is embedded at the bottom of the article).
Nevertheless, the Independent seems to have got the Murdochs riled with James Murdoch and News International chief executive Rebecca Wade bursting into the editor’s office sparking rumours they’d been comparing notes with the Daily Mail, with whom the Independent shares offices. But that’s all denied.
Later today the House of Lords Communications Committee will warn against turning off analogue radio, as part of the digital switch over, in 2015. They’re right to say we’re not ready. Unlike television, old analogue radios cannot be easily converted to digital and, to manufacturers and retailers shame, a great many analogue radios are still for sale.
2015 doesn’t seem that far away. I’d expect a radio bought today to still be in use five years from now and digital radio will not be fitted as standard in all new cars until 2013, which is crazy.
The committee has found that while the benefits of the TV switch over were well understood — and that does appear to have gone remarkably well — the same is not true radio. A scrappage scheme for radios is proposed, which would be a good idea.
Analogue radio will be switched off. The space it takes on the spectrum will be needed for ever hungry digital services, but it’s unrealistic to do that until at least five years have elapsed from the last analogue radio’s sale.
Putting oneself up for a gong in the crisis communications category of a public relations awards scheme must always be risky; you don’t want to remind people of what when wrong.
So pity Northumbria Police who were so pleased that they had ‘prevent[ed] local disorder after a tragic death and… prevent[ed] misreporting while an investigation was carried out’ that they submitted themselves for a North East PRide Award. They won gold.
Not so impressed were the family of sixteen-year-old Hayley Adamson who, the award submission admits, was killed by a police officer who was found guilty of death by dangerous driving. Worst still, as the Daily Mail reports, the family are playing a leading role in a campaign to force all emergency services to use their lights and sirens when breaking the speed limit.
Naturally, that tabloid is having much fun with the story which shows that PR people should always be shy about taking credit.