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Cameron vs Ofcom

BBC NEWS | Politics | Tories pledge to cut back quangos

The Tories would close one schools quango, while media regulator Ofcom would be stripped of its policy-making role, he told the Reform think-tank.

Ofcom hits back at David Cameron | Media |

“As Ofcom is itself a product of regulatory rationalisation – merging five regulators into one – we are surprised at being highlighted in the speech,” a spokesman for the regulator said.

“Since its establishment, Ofcom has delivered five consecutive years of real terms budget reductions, reduced headcount by more than 300 people and saved more than £117m in the process – a 21% reduction. Ofcom has always been very clear that we provide analysis and recommendations in line with our duties set by parliament but that outside specified areas, such as economic regulation and competition law, policy and decision making is a matter for the government of the day,” he added.

“Ofcom’s responsibilities cover the entire communications industry and the management of the UK’s spectrum. We are an independent regulator with clear statutory duties including the promotion of competition in the interests of the UK public. It is important that the UK communications industry has a strong and effective independent regulator to protect the consumer interest.”

Ofcom looked “forward to discussing the proposals” with Cameron, the spokesman added.

Legal Action Against Sky

David Prosser: Sky’s future is not quite so bright – Business Comment, Business – The Independent
Sky may have to cut wholesale channel prices by 30% | Media |

BSkyB could be forced to slash the prices it charges other companies for its sports and movies channels by up to 30%, Ofcom said today, potentially allowing consumers to subscribe for less.

Ofcom set out a range of prices below what Sky currently charges the cable operator Virgin Media. The aim is to make channels such as Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 2 and Sky Movies more widely available on pay-TV services such as Top Up TV, BT Vision and other broadband services.

But it’s hard not to have some sympathy for the broadcaster, as Ofcom tries to force it to sell more premium content. After all, Sky invented the UK pay TV market 20 years ago, took all the risk in turning it into a profitable concern and, having established it as just that, is now being told it must share the spoils with rivals.

Those rivals, led by BT, claim that Sky is more or less refusing to sell any of the content in which it invests so heavily – spending around £1.3bn a year on sport and film rights – so that viewers who want to see such stuff have no choice but to invest in a Sky subscription.

To summarise: Sky were given a monopoly by Margaret Thatcher, who ignore EU rules and allowed Sky to use non Simulcast Technology – eg By sky receiver, receive Sky. Imagine needing a different TV to receive BBC and Ch4? Anyway, that is not to mention the rules that are currently scuppering ITV about making and broadcasting programmes from this country, and from regions – SKy have pretty non stop US imports, which would actually contravene a lot of regulations.

1997, and Blair gives BSkyB and Rupert Murdoch a deal – possibly around a relaxing on the rules on Media Ownership, as well as more freedom to continue his subscription based monopoly.

2007, and MP’s have noticed that there are other broadcasters, and other means of broadcasting. Hmmm.

Example of Factual issues….

BBC pays £50k to man featured in car crime programme | Media |

OK, so besides factual inaccuracy and general stereotyping, there was also a lack of research and permission. Programmes like this (that feature CCTV footage of real events) may be cheap, but unless the proper research is done the are also breaking the law themselves.

Latest Ofcom Roundup

Rowan Atkinson Jesus sketch cleared by Ofcom after 540 complaints | Media |

Rowan Atkinson Not blasphemous, MTV Swear a lot and Casualty is a bit too graphic for Saturday evening. Nothing new, then.

Sky Vs Virgin – Ads banned

Sky anti-Virgin ‘ads’ slammed by Ofcom | – independent digital television and switchover advice, since 2002

Brand and Russel finally speak out

And the Plot Thickens. So far, we basically have the idea that two presenters phoned an answering machine and left lewd messages, and it was broadcast uncut and without the say so of the subjects. Brand, because of his relationship with the head of Radio2 was able to bully producers into doing his bidding. Both Presenters wanted to broadcast it.

 But, did they actually record the messages on the answering machine? Did Andrew Sachs actually give permission? We have several top people at Radio 2 Resigning, so should the presenters still be punished? Was it the producers job? And where was the compliance paperwork?

Russell Brand: We cut the really bad stuff | Media | The Observer

Brand says: ‘The grey area is that our brilliant young producer, Nic Philps, called Andrew Sachs afterwards and said, “Is it OK? Can we use it? Do you mind?” And he said, “Oh yeah, but can you tone it down a bit?” So we did. We took out the more personal stuff.’

Some radio sources have suggested that not all of the series of offensive messages, aired on Brand’s show, were left on Sachs’s answering machine, but were recorded separately. The BBC said it could not confirm or deny this claim.

Ross tried to stop broadcast but BBC failed to protect him – TV & Radio, Media – The Independent

Specifically, the [Independent on Sunday] has learned, Ross warned producers that the now infamous lewd phone call should not be broadcast. Friends of the entertainer say he realised within minutes that the call had gone too far. According to these friends, Ross told Radio 2 producers: “I expect you’ll be editing all that out”, to which the reply was: “Some of it’s funny.” Ross then said the producers should check if Andrew Sachs was happy with the edit before broadcast.

Sachs himself has confirmed that he was phoned by somebody at the BBC who asked if the messages left on his voicemail could be broadcast. Although he did object, someone at the BBC overruled his and Ross’s concerns and went ahead.

“It is not Ross’s fault,” a friend said. “There is a golden rule across the industry that producers are supposed to protect talent, especially guests on other people’s shows who might get roped into something. If you are a producer, then it’s your responsibility.

“If it’s a live show, you have talkback from your producer, so if you do anything wrong you can be told to apologise. If it’s a pre-recorded show, then it’s up to the producer. Guests are not responsible. Ross’s treatment has been grossly unfair. Whether what they said was right or wrong, it need never have gone to a wider audience. It could have stayed between the people in the studio and Andrew Sachs.”

Celeb Culture the issue with Brand

Radio silence at the BBC – TV & Radio, Media – The Independent

And it has happened before

BBC rapped over Brand a year ago | Media | The Observer

The BBC’c copiliance to standards was lapse a year before the Brand Ross incident.

Brand and Ross – Transcript

Russell Brand (RB): “This is Andrew Sachs’s answerphone. Right Jonathan, well this is unconventional..

Jonathan Ross (JR): “Don’t worry I’ll blurt something out”
RB: “Don’t blurt something out, not on the answerphone Jonathan.

Andrew Sachs’s answerphone: “Sorry I can’t answer at the moment, but please call again or leave a message. Speak after the tone, thank you.”

RB: “Hello Andrew Sachs this is Russell Brand. I am a great appreciator of your work over the decades. You’re meant to be on my show now mate, I don’t know why you’re not answering the phone, it’s a bit difficult – I’m here with Jonathan Ross.”

JR: “Hello Andrew…”

RB: “That’s Jonathan Ross speaking now. Anyway, we understand.. anyway.. we can still do the interview to his answerphone…”
(The two presenters exchange banter)

JR: “He f***** your granddaughter!” (laughter)… I’m sorry I apologise. Andrew I apologise… I got excited, what can I say. it just came out.”

RB: “Andrew Sachs, I did not do nothing with Georgina – oh no I’ve revealed I know her name! Oh no it’s a disaster. Abort, abort. Please watch that show. I am out of The Bill, starring Andrew Sachs, I’m out of The Bill… Put the phone down, put the phone down, code red code red. I’m sorry Mr Fawlty I’m sorry, they’re a waste of space…”

JR: “… How could I carry that round in my head like a big brain blister all day? I had to pop it and let the pressure out… Like it’s really bothered us though, he’s the poor man sitting at home sobbing over his answer machine… If he’s like most people of a certain age he’s probably got a picture of his grandchildren when they’re young right by the phone. So while he’s listening to the messages he’s looking at a picture of her about nine on a swing.”

RB: “She was on a swing when I met her. Oh no!”

JR: “And probably enjoyed her.”

RB: “Let’s ring back Andrew Sachs… What if he answers this time? Oh no Jonathan please. I’ll do anything.”
(Andrew Sachs’s answerphone message comes on for a second time.)

RB: Andrew this is Russell Brand. I’m so sorry about the last message. It was part of the radio show. It was a mistake.”

JR: “It was just a joke. If there is any truth in that, I don’t know. It was just a joke.”

RB: “It was just a joke that we done. I didn’t ask him to say it though…”

JR: “It might be true, but we didn’t want to break it to you in such a harsh way.”

RB: “Ok, look the truth is, Andrew I’m ringing you to ask if I can marry, that’s right marry your granddaughter, Georgina the granddaughter.”

JR: “And I’d like to be a page boy.”

RB: He wants to be a page boy. We’re going to have a Fawlty Towers-themed wedding.”

JR: “No, no, you’ve spoiled it…”

RB: “No I’m sorry I’ll do anything. I wore a condom. Put the phone down. Oh, what’s going to happen?…”

JR: “You’ll never become king rat in the Variety Club now Russell Brand.”

RB: “Oh no that’s over for me. I’m never going to be king rat in the Variety Club. Jonathan I think we’ve made the situation worse.”

JR: “Who’d have thought two people like us could possibly have made the situation worse.”

RB: “How could we with all our skills, our social skills, our talents our experiences.”

JR: “Our intentions were pure.”

RB: “You know the only way we can make this better don’t you?”

JR: “Let’s phone him again. Let’s leave a nice message.”

RB: “Listen, we’ve got to make it better. We’ll phone Andrew Sachs back. We’ve got to stop upsetting Manuel. This time Jonathan I’m convinced we can make it better.”

JR: “What should we not mention, the war?”

RB: “Don’t mention the war, don’t mention his granddaughter. Don’t say: ‘You only ever played Manuel’… Don’t mention The Bill in a negative way. Yes! We’ll just sing to him. I’ll make up something as I go along.”

JR: “I’ll be Bing Crosby to your David Bowie.”

RB: “I’ve always seen our relationship as a Christmas-themed hit.”
(The answerphone message plays again).

JR: (as the message plays): “She was bent over the couch…”

RB (singing): “I’d like to apologise for these terrible attacks – Andrew Sachs. I’d like to show contrition to the max, Andrew Sachs.
“I’d like to create world peace, between the yellow, whites and blacks Andrew Sachs, Andrew Sachs. I said some things I didn’t of oughta, like I had sex with your granddaughter. But it was consensual and she wasn’t menstrual it was consensual lovely sex. It’s full of respect. I sent her a text. I’ve asked her to marry me… Oh Andrew Sachs, will you marry Jonathan, it sounds like he wants to now.”

JR: “This has made it worse, I feel it’s made it worse, you’ve trivialised the whole terrible incident. It started fine and then you went on about nonsense.”

RB: “You said you wanted to marry him…”

JR: “I wasn’t really listening to you, I was concentrating on my back harmonies… There’s only one way we could possibly make this better.”
(Brand laughs)

RB: “What can we do?”

JR: “Let’s use up the rest of his tape, this time with a heartfelt and sincere apology… Pretend you’re Gordon Brown and make a beautiful speech rescuing the country from the credit crunch and rescue him from the inner turmoil you’ve caused by saying that you jumped on a relative.”

RB: “Yes, you’re right Jonathan, you’re right. Only by doing the exact thing that we’ve done three times already can we make the situation better.”

JR: “If you learn one thing from history, it’s do not repeat your mistakes.”

RB: “Don’t repeat them.”

JR: “So let’s do it right this time.”

RB: “Thank God Jonathan.”

JR: “Maybe this time… I want to do the song this time.”

RB: “You’re not doing the lyrics. You’ll balls it up. And can’t do backing it’s not in my nature.”

JR: “But you talked about his granddaughter’s menstruation.”

RB: “Look we’ve got a golden opportunity here, to make Andrew Sachs happy.”

JR: “… we should go in a little bit more relaxed this time.”

RB: “Right yeah that’s true, let’s not look at this as the last time we’re going to call Andrew Sachs.”
(Ross laughs)

JR: “… The wonder of technology is such that we can keep doing this for hours.”

RB: “And even after the show’s finished Jonathan we can find out where Andrew Sachs lives, kick his front door in and scream apologies into his bottom… We can just keep on troubling Andrew Sachs… let’s do it, right, ok. You pretend you’re Andrew Sachs’s answerphone.”

JR: “Hello, Manuel is not in right now. Leave your message after the tone.”

RB (as the phone rings again): “Alright Andrew Sachs’s answerphone, I’m ever so sorry for what I said about Andrew Sachs.”

JR: “Just say: ‘Sorry’.”

RB (laughing): “I’ll kill you!”

JR: “Don’t say you’ll wear him as a hat, just say: ‘Sorry’.”

RB: “Sorry, right.”

The Scotsman Transcript 27 October 2008 5:52 PM

Recordings of the show

Brand and Ross again

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Timeline: Russell Brand prank calls
Just so you know exactly what happened…

Here are extracts from those messages:

Message one: As Brand begins to leave a message, Ross blurts out: “He fucked your granddaughter… I’m sorry I apologise. Andrew, I apologise, I got excited, what can I say – it just came out.

Brand replies: “Andrew Sachs, I did not do nothing with Georgina – oh no, I’ve revealed I know her name. Oh no, it’s a disaster.”

Ross goes on to say: “If he’s like most people of a certain age, he’s probably got a picture of his grandchildren when they’re young right by the phone. So while he’s listening to the messages, he’s looking at a picture of her about nine on a swing…”

Message two: “Andrew, this is Russell Brand. I’m so sorry about the last message, it was part of the radio show – it was a mistake.”

Ross adds: “It might be true but we didn’t want to break it to you in such a harsh way.”

Brand goes on to say: “No, I’m sorry, I’ll do anything. I wore a condom. Put the phone down. Oh, what’s going to happen?”

Message three: The message opens with Ross saying: “She was bent over the couch…”

Brand then improvises a song which includes the lines: “I said some things I didn’t of oughta, like I had sex with your granddaughter…”

Message four: Brand opens the message with: “Alright Andrew Sachs’ answerphone? I’m ever so so sorry for what I said about Andrew Sachs.”

“Just say sorry,” adds Ross,

“I’ll kill you,” says Brand laughing.

“Don’t say you’ll wear him as a hat – just say sorry,” continues Ross.

“Sorry, right,” adds Brand.

And the voice of middle England speaks out.

Gordon Brown criticises Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand’s BBC phone prank | Media |

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Brown speaks out over prank calls