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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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Classic British sci-fi show Blake's 7 returns ... to Xbox

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.

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Slurring BBC radio presenter yanked from air

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]

MP3

The parable of the ox [John Kay]

Crypto and Bletchley Park podcast from BBC's Infinite Monkey Cage


BBC Radio 4's great math and science show "The Infinite Monkey Cage" did a great (and very funny) episode on crypto and Bletchley Park, with Robin Ince, Brian Cox, Dave Gorman, Simon Singh and Dr Sue Black.

Secret Science

MP3

(via Schneier)

Petition for transparency in the selection process for the new BBC boss

Anthony from OpenDemocracy sez, "OurBeeb, hosted by openDemocracy, have launched a petition calling for all candidates to be head of the BBC to publish their vision and principles for taking it forward. They say the Trust must not carry on with its closed, old-boy secret appointments. If the BBC is to embrace new media and technology it's essential that there is an open debate, see for example, Tony Ageh's call for a digital commons." Cory

Neil Gaiman's next episode of Doctor Who will bring back a classic foe

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]

BBC World Service junk auction has nearly everything you need to start a radio station

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.

BBC World Service Phase 1 (Thanks, Joly!)

(Image: Bush House, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from visualfield's photostream)

Secret UK censorship court orders BBC not to air documentary

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.

The Dalek Relaxation Tape (by Peter Serafinowicz)

[Video Link] Created by Peter Serafinowicz.

BBC News mashup finds parallel universe between lines


Cassetteboy vs. The News: "There's been a shocked response around the world to video footage appearing to show U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urinating on Boris Johnson." [YouTube via Metafilter]

Laurie Penny talks #OWS with a Goldman-Sachs mouthpiece, totally crushes it

In this clip from BBC Newsnight, Boing Boing pal Laurie Penny (who's in NYC covering the Occupy demonstrations) takes on a former Goldman-Sachs partner who tries to concern-troll the #OWS movement, saying that they're flacid, decentralized, and have the wrong target, because the problem isn't banks, it's those damned liberal governments who incurred huge debts with their deuced social spending. Laurie wipes up the floor with the bloated plutocrat, without breaking a sweat.

Goldman Sachs view on crooked banker protests (17Nov11) (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Secret documents reveal the flimsy case for Ofcom to give into BBC's public TV DRM demands

The Guardian just published an investigative piece I've been working on since the summer: "How the BBC's HD DRM plot was kept secret … and why." It contains the previously secret text of a memo that the BBC sent to the UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, explaining why they wanted to put DRM on publicly funded broadcasts.

The British public overwhelmingly rejected this approach, as did archivists, tech companies, activists, scholars, disabled rights groups and others. But Ofcom granted permission anyway, saying that the BBC's secret memo made a compelling case for DRM being in the public interest. Both Ofcom and the BBC refused to disclose what the BBC's arguments had been, declining both press queries and Freedom of Information requests.

Essentially, the BBC and Ofcom were saying that DRM was in the public interest, but it wasn't in the public interest for the public to know why. I acquired a copy of the secret text and, as I think you'll see, it does not contain any sort of compelling evidence in support of DRM. Rather, it makes flimsy and sometimes laughable arguments (for example, the BBC says HBO demands DRM on its programming, but HBO has an exclusive deal with BBC rival Sky, so it won't be licensing new programming to the BBC, with our without DRM). What's more, the BBC's claim that this material was "commercially sensitive" doesn't bear up to scrutiny -- is it really "commercially sensitive" for the BBC to publish the fact that people like to watch movies on TV?

At the end of the day, I'm left with the impression I got the first time I met with Ofcom about this: that Ofcom wanted this and the BBC wanted it, and regardless of the public interest, the evidence, or the law, they'd get it. In my opinion, the secrecy that Ofcom and the BBC deployed here was only there to allow them to say, "Well, it seems difficult to understand why we're doing this, but that's only because we can't tell you about the important, secret stuff."

Here the BBC discusses its plan to accommodate educators, critics and archivists. It plans on establishing a confidential marketplace for more powerful "professional" TV receivers and recorders that can defeat its scrambling system. This bizarre system – creating an entity that would have to manufacture and distribute these devices, after approving the credentials of archivists, critics and scholars – is meant to be kept secret because it makes it clear that it would be easy to defeat the scheme.

So here you have the BBC claiming in one breath that its partners want effective protection from copying, and in the next breath saying that this won't be very effective protection.

Funnily enough, "this will be easy to defeat" is a point that many of the individuals and institutions who formed the majority opposed to this plan made in their statements.

How the BBC's HD DRM plot was kept secret … and why

HOAX: Trader dreams of Euro crash, tells BBC: "Governments don't rule the world, Goldman-Sachs does"

Update: Alert readers point that that this gentleman isn't a trader, he's a self-described "attention-seeker"

Update 2: The Yes Men deny responsibility: "If you’d like to see the human face of the human perspective—the perspective of the 99% victimized by our demented and out-of-control financial system—come join the occupation of Wall Street"

In this telling BBC clip, a news presenter is rendered virtually speechless as a stock-trader explains that for traders like him, a Eurozone crash would be a godsend, since someone always makes money in crashes; he then goes on to state that it doesn't matter whether governments intervene in the Euro or not, because "governments don't rule the world, Goldman-Sachs does."

(via Memex)

1968: when Britain's Daily Mirror tried to overthrow Parliament

Ben sez, "This Adam Curtis documentary (he posted the rough cut of his new one) is pretty incredible. It features the story of the head of the Daily Mirror in 1968, attempting to organize a coup of the British Parliament, partially by spreading financial panic rumors through his newspaper. He is abetted by the head of the Bank of England, and his psychic wife who convinces him that he has super powers.
Many in the Labour Party have believed ever since that Cecil King was conspiring with members of MI5 to destroy the democratically elected government, but there appears to be no hard evidence for this.

The truth is that King was in league with more familiar "rogue elements" - senior City of London bankers, including the Governor of the Bank of England, who wanted to force the Labour government to slash the financial deficit. But the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was refusing to bow to their demands.

At the same time as this was happening, many of the journalists in Fleet Street were filled with a terrible doom about the future of newspapers. As a result the BBC got excited and went and made all sorts of films about newspapers - recording Fleet Street before it died. Some of the material they filmed is just wonderful - it is full of both touching and silly moments of an old world of journalism.

EVERY DAY IS LIKE SUNDAY (Thanks, Ben!)