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The Media Show
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Listen to the latest editionHomepage of The Media Show, Radio4's weekly look at the media..  Wednesday 1.30pm.

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15 October 2008

DAB Radio, Nick Robinsons, Reporting on China and newspaper pricing
As of last week, Channel 4 Radio is no more. But where does that leave Digital Radio in Britain? We’ll hear about how it went wrong and from some of those left to pick up the pieces. When advertising is down newspapers can only survive by cutting costs or increasing their cover price. But with circulation dropping across the board surely price rises can only make matters worse. Where next for our national press? Journalistic freedoms became quite an issue during the Beijing Olympics, when the Chinese government relaxed their restrictions on foreign journalists. On October 17 these temporary regulations are due to expire. We find out if they are likely to be extended and if they made much difference to press access. And do political correspondents get so involved with reporting on those in power that other perspectives get ignored? The BBC’s political Editor Nick Robinson thinks it can happen – and, what’s more, its happened to him when reporting the Iraq war.

What is the future for DAB radio?

DAB RadioChannel 4 Radio was more than just another digital radio service. It had become the great hope, and quite possibly the only hope, for the future of the whole of commercial digital radio.  DAB beyond the BBC, was struggling to take off and Channel 4’s promised injection of enthusiasm, programming and cash appeared to offer salvation.

But were Channel 4's radio plans ever commercially realistic and what does the future now hold?  Steve talks to David Prest from Whistledown Productions, radio industry expert Grant Goddard from media consultancy Enders Analysis, Simon Cole Managing director of Unique Broadcasting - a member of the Channel 4 led DAB consortium, and GCap's former chief executive, Fru Hazlitt.

Newspaper Pricing and Circulation

NewspapersLatest figures show that all of Britain’s national newspapers are showing year on year declines in circulation. Throw in the threat to their revenues posed by the internet and an advertising recession – now reckoned to be about to bite very deep indeed, and the situation could hardly be worse. So what are the proprietors doing about it? At the broadsheet end of the market at least – they’re putting their prices up. But won’t that just make matters worse? Steve talks to columnist and former editor of the Guardian, Peter Preston.

Nick Robinson on the Iraq War

Nick RobinsonDo political correspondents get so involved with reporting on those in power that other important perspectives get ignored? The BBC’s political Editor Nick Robinson thinks it can happen – and, what’s more, its happened to him when reporting the Iraq war.

China and Press Freedom

Reporting in ChinaThe Chinese government introduced special regulations ahead of the Beijing Olympics which allowed foreign journalists greater freedom to interview subjects and carry out their work. The regulations have allowed limited improvements in media freedom in China, even though they have been widely breached by government and security officials. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) has documented more than 336 cases of interference in media reporting since the regulations came into force.
But with the regulations due to expire at the end of this week Steve talks to David Bandurski, journalist and researcher at Hong Kong University's China Media Project, about what difference they have made to the stories coming out of China and whether there is any possibility of them being extended.
 
China Media Project

Comments on today's programme

BBC Beyond the M25:
THE BBC PLANS TO CREATE ‘A BBC FOR ALL OF THE UK’ WILL RELEGATE MOST REGIONS TO THE MARGINS OF PUBLIC BROADCASTING. Plans by the BBC to placate licence fee payers who are more disaffected the further they live from London, will relegate most regions to the margins of BBC TV production. The announcement by Jana Bennett that the BBC will move 50% of TV production outside of London by 2016 is unlikely to produce a programme supply that ‘better reflects the diversity of creative talents around the UK and connects with the audiences it serves.’ The root of the disaffection with the BBC is not just a question of where its programmes are made. More importantly it is an issue of what programmes are made where and where the decisions to make programmes are made. Over the past 20 years the BBC’s decision making about programmes has been centralised to a small management group based in London. Restricting the diversity of programme decision making and although more BBC production is made by independent companies, the increased mobility between senior BBC and Independent Production Company staff does little to restore that diversity. For the Midlands, a population roughly equivalent or larger than nine countries of the EU, the new plan will see it become the Centre of Excellence for Horticulture, responsible for coverage of the Chelsea and Hampton Court flower shows in London. It will also continue production of the Coast and Trawler Men series, presumably due to it ideal coastal location. Whilst Midlands TV drama will continue to be represented by Doctors, notable within the BBC for being the one cheapest drama series it produces. Essentially the Midlands will become a drama wasteland with fewer opportunities for drama producers, independent or otherwise, to ask a commissioner to ‘Gis’ a Job’, as in Boys From The Black Stuff, the drama produced at Pebble Mill, Birmingham in the days when commissioning power was distributed regionally. Its not that BBC TV production is poor, far from it, but the issue is about the commercial and creative diversity, which as a public broadcaster it is funded to address. Simon Woods - European Drama NetworkA midlands based independent producer of modern movie from classic plays. Its Renaissance comedy The Mandrake Root, by Niccolò Machiavelli has been nominated for Best Drama at the Midlands Royal Televison Society Awards 2008.
Simon Woods

DAB Radio:
Your programme yesterday was very informative, but I must take issue with the assertion that there is no real quality difference between DAB and FM. Maybe that would be true in a comparison between the two systems under ideal conditions. But, has your contributor never experienced the reception difficulties with FM using the standard telescopic aerial provided on portable radios? My two "fixed" radios work perfectly using the simple dipole wire supplied with the sets, whereas, to get interference-free reception with my "old" Yamaha hi-fi setup I had to install a proper VHF aerial in the loft(now redundant).Go back to FM? I hope not! Brian M Barber, Worcester.

Newspapers lost sales
The reason I gave up buting and reading Newspapers has nothing to do with the cost, it's the content. What is the point of buying a newspaper ? It doesn't contain news it contains the biased views of the papers reporters and proprietors. If you know what the paper is going to say before you buy it, why buy it ?

DAB:
HiI cannot understand what,from the consumers point of view, the advantage of DAB is supposed to be.Audio quality is dependent upon bit rate. As far as I can tell most broadcast is at a standard no greater than an average mp3.This is significantly poorer quality than can be obtained through a good FM ariel and reciever.So what earthly point is there to DAB?
Steve Milne:

DAB:
I have just heard one of your contributors say the Digital Technology will be the best way to Radoi into Portable devices. I have a Roberts Portable device (RD 14) and I was listening to your show on it in FM whilst walking through the city . I thought how will this sound in DAB so I switched to DAB, and as I expected I could get a signal in the open but near to buildings , narrow roads, in shops I got more and more of what I call squelching. I cannot say the reception is any better than FM. In fact I also prefer FM. My device cost £100. What a waste of money. I grieve for the quality of FM device I could have got for £100.
Bob

Digital Radio:
You seem to forget Internet Radio!In 10 years time all radio will be via wi-fi of one sort or another. Why would any broadcaster in their right mind want to invest in a technology that is more expensive than today's FM and doomed to be replaced in a few years?As soon as I have stopped listening to you, I shall be listening to a Boston (mas) station for an hour, followed by veteran pirate Radio Caroline - all via wi-fi internet.Cheers
Andrew Graeme

Incidentally why does DAB radio always give a hiccup and then lapse into silence for a few seconds after being switched on? Not very "state of the art"!!
Hugh Suter

Dab radio:
Why doesn't the BBC ever mention the well known technical limitations of DAB? No other country wants to use this standard. Music is much better on FM because of the bandwith restrictions on DAB. Every radio engineer knows this.
Phil Ridley

DAB:
I live in Guildford - can't get reception on £100 Roberts radio. Neither can my daughter in Twickenham. BBC told me reception will be difficult near hills, trees and buildings!!!
g johnston

DAB:
You don't mention and nobody else seems to remember. DAB was invented and launched as a way of improving reception in moving vehicles. That was its rason d'etre. Why did it fail in this area? It is still virtually impossible to get a DAB set in a car.Why not investigate the alternative delivery method - DRM. This might be a better option, especially for national coverage.
Graham Mytton

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The Media Show

Listen again

Previous Programmes

1 October 2008
Andy Burnham on public service broadcasting

8 October 2008
Michael Grade on ITV
 
15 October 2008
Future of DAB Radio

22 October 2008
Andy Duncan and Channel 4
 
29 October 2008
Reporting Poverty

5 November 2008
Stephen Carter

12 November 2008
Lionel Barber and the FT

19 November 2008
Dr Tanya Byron on Kids TV
 
26 November 2008
Manchester and the Media

3 December 2008
Twitter's role in Mumbai Attacks
 
10 December 2008
Shannon Matthews and media coverage
 
17 December 2008
BBC Partnerships and media access to family courts
 
24 December 2008
Bush and the press and 1968 Apollo broadcast

31 December 2008
The Moralising Media
 
7 January 2009
Jeremy Hunt, Gaza Reporting and New Talent

14 January 2009
Prince Harry, Gaza, Persian TV and iPlayer
 
21 January 2009
Ofcom's PSB Review, Ross' return and British News
 
28 January 2009
Sir Michael Lyons, Hutton Report and New Nation
 
4 February 2009
Sky, Children and Reality TV and Financial Reporting
 
11 February 2009
BBC Children's Services, Jade Goody and  Journalists' Conscience Clause

18 February 2009
Reporting Trauma, Subeditors and Teletext

25 February 2009
Dawn Airey, Disability on TV and Facebook
 
4 March 2009
Media and The Miners' Strike and ITV
 
11 March 2009
The Editors' Codebook, "Crown Jewels" of British Sport and Viviane Reding

18 March 2009
Christopher Meyer, Metro at Ten, Phorn and Impartial Drama

25 March 2009
Future of Journalism, Obama, Radio Caroline

Steve Hewlett

Steve Hewlett

Steve Hewlett is a Guardian Columnist and broadcasting consultant. He is visiting Professor of Journalism and Broadcast policy at Salford University and a fellow of the Royal Television Society.


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