Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why the BBC should save 6Music...

... in a very well written article by the very first 6Music DJ Phill Jupitus.

6Music is exactly the sort of (relatively) cheap broadcasting that the BBC should be investing in, providing a public service by promoting a range of unknown and upcoming artistic talent.  As opposed to the safe-from-the-cull Radio 1, who simply play whatever the record companies are pushing on them.

As Jupitus points out, 6Music DJs get a generous three free plays an hour outside of the station playlist. 

Let's not succumb to the bleatings of the BBC's media rivals, eh?  Or we'll all be listening to Cheryl Cole.  And what a boring life that would be.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

PCC Rules That Jan Moir Didn't Break Guidelines In Stephen Gately Article

This is utterly ridiculous, and will be commented on effectively elsewhere, so I'm not going to post a massive rant - just a couple of links to other people's blogs.

First up, for a more serious look at why this ruling is completely typical of the ineffectual PCC, here's Tabloid Watch.

Second, for those who enjoy the ranting of idiots, Army of Dave has been looking at the eternally bemusing BBC's Have Your Say.

As MacGuffin of Tabloid Watch has just pointed out to me on Twitter, the BBC Have Your Say question isn't even strictly relevant - the point is that Moir outright lied, not that she merely offended people.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Simon Singh's Weird Idea That Just Might Work

Hello there.  Long time no write.

I got this email from today.  I signed up some time ago but please do consider signing the petition.  I think most online petitions are rubbish and spurious but this is a weighty and worthy campaign gaining significant momentum.

Dear Friends,

I’ve had an idea – an unusual idea, but I think it might just work.
As you know, England ’s chilling libel laws need to be reformed. One way to help achieve this is for 100,000 people to sign the petition for libel reform before the political parties write their manifestos for the election. We have 17,000 signatures, but we really need 100,000, and we need your help to get there.
My idea
My idea is simple: if everyone who has already signed up persuades just one more person each week to sign the petition then we will reach our goal within a month!

One person per week is all we need, but please spread the word as much as you can. In fact, if you persuade 10 people to sign up then email me ( and I promise to thank you by printing your name in my next book … which I will start writing as soon as I have put my own libel case behind me. I cannot say when this will be, but it is a very real promise. My only caveat is that I will limit this to the first thousand people who recruit ten supporters.

When persuading your friends remember to tell them:  

(a) English libel laws have been condemned by the UN Human Rights Committee.
(b) These laws gag scientists, bloggers and journalists who want to discuss matters of genuine public interest (and public health!).
(c) Our laws give rise to libel tourism, whereby the rich and the powerful (Saudi billionaires, Russian oligarchs and overseas corporations) come to London to sue writers because English libel laws are so hostile to responsible journalism. (In fact, it is exactly because English libel laws have this global impact that we welcome signatories to the petition from around the world.)
(d) Vested interests can use their resources to bully and intimidate those who seek to question them. The cost of a libel trial in England is 100 times more expensive than the European average and typically runs to over £1 million.
(e) Three separate ongoing libel cases involve myself and two medical researchers raising concerns about three medical treatments. We face losing £1 million each. In future, why would anyone else raise similar concerns? If these health matters are not reported, then the public is put at risk.

My experience has been sobering. I’ve had to spend £100,000 to defend my writing and have put my life on hold for almost two years. However, the prospect of reforming our libel laws keeps me cheerful.
Thanks so much for your support. We’ve only got one shot at this – so I hope you can persuade 1 (or maybe 10) friends, family and colleagues to sign.

Massive thanks,

The Libel Reform Campaign is a coalition of English PEN, Index on Censorship and Sense About Science.

So far, 188 MPs have signed our Parliamentary Early Day Motion calling for libel reform and the Justice Secretary Jack Straw has formed a working party that the Libel Reform Coalition is represented on.
Please also considering donating to keep our campaign going:

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Karamu Afrika! 22nd February, School of Oriental and African Studies - in aid of The Hoja Project

Cross-posted from the Hoja Project Blog (the Hoja Project is the charity I helped set up in my friend's village in Tanzania).

[Click on the picture to make it bigger...]

It would be great to see you at this event.  You can find SOAS here on this map.  It's close the Russell Square on the Picadilly Line, or Goodge Street on the Northern Line (Charing Cross branch).

Contact 07584 065211 or email for more information.

You can also RSVP to the Facebook event page, and invite all of your friends.  All of them.