In my latest Guardian column, What Canada's national public broadcaster could learn from the BBC, I look at the punishing cuts to the CBC, and how a shelved (but visionary) BBC plan to field a "creative archive" of shareable and remixable content could help the network lead the country into a networked, participatory future.
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Joly writes, "It seems the BBC are capable of tracking down a single Scot in Brazil who cheered a goal against England but fail to notice 50,000 demonstrating on their doorstep." The Guardian noticed. There's much bigger stuff -- likely too big for the Beeb to ignore -- coming in October.
Caroleine Siede reviews the latest episode of the BBC’s clone dramaRead the rest
Premier League orders censorship of Radio Times and other legit sites, blasts ISPs for correcting their error
In the UK, rightsholders have the power to demand arbitrary censorship of websites they dislike, and ISPs are required to block those sites. The Premier League -- the multibillion-dollar football organization -- carelessly added the IP address of a major web-host to its censorship list, and as a result blocked The Radio Times (the BBC's former listing service now operated by a private company), Galaxy Zoo (an important astronomical research project), and many other legitimate sites. People who tried to visit those sites instead saw a warning saying that the sites were devoted to copyright infringement and that anyone visiting them was also infringing copyright.
ISPs were flooded with complaints, and began to unblock the sites themselves. But the Premier League is outraged at this. They say that even if the Premier League censored the wrong sites, it isn't up to the ISPs to uncensor them -- the ISPs are supposed to comply with the lists they get from rightsholders, no questions asked.
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Blake's 7, the classic BBC science fiction show, is coming back.
A Microsoft-funded reprise of the 1978-1981 series is headed to the Xbox Live service, according to The Financial Times (paywall), replacing earlier plans to revive the show on the SyFy channel. SyFy's choice of director, Martin Campbell, will still helm the new production. Read the rest
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The BBC, in an unbylined report:
"Paula White was removed after 30 minutes of her afternoon show on Friday, which was to be her last show in that slot. ... A BBC spokesman said she had been "unable to continue as she was under par". The spokesman would not say if any other action had been taken."
"I'm not drunk. I've had a couple of drinks, but I'm not drunk! [squeaks]"
The Parable of the Ox: podcast explains the disastrous separation of financial markets from the real economy
An excellent recent episode of the BBC Radio 4 math/current affairs show "More or Less" dramatized "The Parable of the Ox," a short article by John Kay originally published in the Financial Times (
paywalled, alas, or I'd link to it available from Kay's site). Fans of James Surowiecki's Wisdom of the Crowds will know the first part of this story -- wherein the average of several guesses about the weight of an ox was more accurate than the guesses of any of the experts in the crowd. What this podcast and the article adds is a coda about how the use of "guesses" (or stock trades) as a way of weighing the ox quickly departed from guesses about the weight of the ox (or the value of a firm) and turned into guesses about other peoples' guesses about other peoples' guesses -- a financialized system that soon has no connection to the real economy or the real ox. And it ends, predictably enough, when the ox dies.
The Parable of the Ox [More or Less]
The parable of the ox [John Kay]
We learned a while back that author Neil Gaiman would be returning to Doctor Who to write a follow-up to his Hugo Award-winning episode, "The Doctor's Wife." And now we know a little bit more about what he'll be writing about -- one of the series' most classic villains, the Cybermen, will be brought back by Gaiman for an episode later this season! Something else to keep in mind about the next time we see the Cybermen -- it will be the first time the Doctor's new companion, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman, will meet them. (We will finally meet her on Christmas Day, when Doctor Who's Christmas special airs on BBC!)
The episode, which will air some time next spring, will be directed by Stephen Woolfenden and will feature appearances by Warwick Davis (Harry Potter), Tamzin Outhwaite (EastEnders), and Jason Watkins (Being Human). The trio will be playing, according to BBC, "a band of misfits on a mysterious planet."
I always found the Cybermen to be one of the most creepy, dangerous, and heartbreaking bad guys on Doctor Who, so I would imagine that Neil Gaiman's take on them will make all of us cry for hours if he does his job correctly.
Photo credit: BBC
Neil Gaiman’s Doctor Who Episode Will Feature Return of Cybermen [Spinoff Online]
The BBC World Service recently vacated its historic digs at Bush House in the Aldwych in London (a building I have fond memories of, as it's where my wife worked when we started courting). They're selling off all their superannuated, surplus and otherwise unneeded gear. The auction includes pretty much everything you need to build a radio studio, a ton of office furniture, and rather a lot of miscellaneous miscellanea.
A UK judge has ordered the BBC not to broadcast a documentary about England's August 2011 riots, reports The Guardian. The judge also banned the BBC and media from disclosing the court in which the censorship order was made; the judge's name; or the details or nature of the order.
The documentary features actors reading from interviews with rioters, but it's not clear exactly what was deemed worthy of censorship. The BBC "strongly objects" to the ruling and plans to appeal.