Saturday, June 16, 2007

My friend has a very high energy dog. It's one of these border collie crosses which lives in a perpetual state of agitation. It won't sit still - it whines all the time. I'd have sunk the thing to the bottom of the Tweed in a burlap sack with a builder's brick a long time ago. The dog has a young woman who loves it though, and her little boy loves it even more and so I understood long ago that she was a package - and that this package included the world's least obedient dog.

The dog wanders the house at night. Up the stairs, down the stairs, in the bedrooms and back downstairs again. Hopping up on the couch to look out the window lest a cat be walking by. Back upstairs to get a better view from the upstairs window. All night - every night - up and down and round about. When my friend is at work the dog sleeps. It makes it easier to be up and active and vigilant during the night. To make her joy complete my friend decided that she would baby-sit her friend's dog as well for a few days. A large and very dense chocolate lab. Together these dogs would wrestle and tussle the whole night through - glad of each others' company - glad to do things in tandem.

I tried to help. I loaned my friend a pair of really effective ear plugs made of cotton and wax. A good night's sleep would ensue and so it did. She slept like a log. The dogs whined and tussled and she slept. The dogs ran around in circles and she slept. The dogs dug away at the wall of the living room until there was a hole in the plaster four feet high which exposed all the wiring and still she slept.

It is perhaps unfortunate that her dog never discovered the joy of chewing those electrical wires. To have uncovered so much and not to have tasted the joys of copper wiring - to have stopped just below the crest of the hill but to have proceeded no farther seems a strange and self defeating thing.

My friend will phone her insurers. She will no doubt be told that the damage is not covered due to the fact that it constitutes an Act of Dog.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Have just witnessed a wonderful exchange between Andy Duncan, the Chief Executive at Channel 4, sitting alongside Mark Browning, the Programme Director at Heart Radio and a group of BBC types sitting in the audience.

They'd both had a good half hour each to explain to us the changes in radio and television - the explosion of new stations tailored to the needs of subgroups, the new role of ' the consumer' as the one who sets the agenda and plots the course and the media as those who merely respond to changing needs and tastes. Marketing in such an environment becomes an appeal to a small group - a gathering together of like minded people into a tribe - and not a matter of convincing folks to tune into a 'one size fits all' programme schedule.

One of the media type working for the Church of England asks why - given that 70% of the general population expressed an 'interest' in 'spiritual issues' there was such a paucity of such programming on commercial radio and television? Could it be that only 20% of those involved in professional media production had a similar 'interest'. The answer was that such programs had been tried and had received low ratings - Priest Idol was one example given by the Director of Channel 4

Another C of E clergyman involved in commercial radio pipes in that he considers it his job to find the interesting angle on a religious theme - to ferret out the people who can speak in such a way as to animate a subject. If it's simply a matter of responding to 'what is the case' then we should simply be broadcasting pornography since it has a market which can be demonstrated. If a religious program is poorly rated it may be the program which is at fault and not the audience which is disinterested. Many rumbles of assent from the audience. BBC Manchester man jumps the queue and suggests loudly to the two hapless guests at the front that it's their job to find a stimulating way of responding to the market and that their disinterest in the subject is more notable than the market

At which point the two speakers make the major error of the morning and state that the BBC hasn't fared any better in their religious programming - something which the BBC religious programmers in the audience - numerous and all sitting in a row - take great exception to and begin to list off the BBC shows - Monastery, Son of God - along with others in the process of sale to BBC 1 and 2 which they believed had more than adequately linked the 'interest' in spiritual matters.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Blogging from the Churches' Media Council

"A Future and a Hope"

Having just gotten off a plane from Canada I was not looking forward, initially, to hopping back onto a train but it happened nonetheless. By day I'm here in Derbyshire representing a little organization in Edinburgh in support of Local Broadcasting - here as well because I do a little broadcasting on commercial radio in Edinburgh. But by night and herein I am merely looking for all the good scoops, gossips and interesting personalities - of which there are several.

Every second person I've met so far is from either London, Manchester or with the Evangelical Alliance - lots of these latter. I shared a taxi from Derby with Joel Edwards, the Chairman of the Churches' Media Council and another fellow from Tearfund. We're starting in a couple of minutes with our first plenary. Plenty of workshops upcoming on New Media and Old Media. I'll tell you what happens