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26-09-2014 10:16
Doomwatch is the best show around

31-05-2014 09:13
Missed you this week.. Happy Birthday Alex for Sunday. you misunderstood my text last week as I meanth a local broadcast audience. ie Local Bar or suchlike

04-11-2013 00:50
Fantastic first show Alex and great to hear Patrick Henningsen again

03-04-2013 21:37
Good guest this week. When is someone going to knock on the Royals' door???

20-03-2013 21:40
pass the parcel lol

Doomwatch 10 - Get Out of Debt Free - Wither the BBC Licence Fee?

Doomwatch 10 - Get Out of Debt Free - Wither the BBC Licence Fee?

You are invited to join us for this 10th edition of Doomwatch, Friday 17 January 2014, 6.00pm-8.00pm GMT on Peterborough FM

alex:g catches up with Jon Witterick and Ceylon from the Get Out Of Debt Free website. They suggest ways to beat the Christmas over-spending blues, and go in-depth on the BBC breaking its charter, and the ramifications this has for the TV licence.

They will also be covering some of the headlines of the week, many of them either ignored by the mainstream or completely misinterpreted.

You can also see the show, in-vision, via www.ukcolumn.org/doomwatch



Suicide rates peak in the Springtime



ITN battles for whistleblower anonymity

ITN is prepared to go to court if Derbyshire police continue to demand documents and unseen footage from a Stephen Lawrence Dispatches film it made for Channel 4 last year. Derbyshire chief constable Mick Creedon asked ITN to hand over evidence last week to assist with his investigation into whether whistleblower Peter Francis broke the Official Secrets Act when he revealed that Scotland Yard had attempted to smear the family of murdered teenager Lawrence. ITN Productions’ The Police’s Dirty Secret aired the revelation in June last year and the company is prepared to fight to withhold the information from the police, believing it to be a “fishing expedition”.

The production company has already rejected Creedon’s request, but the chief constable may wish to pursue the matter through a court order, which ITN is also ready to resist. A spokesman said: “Our policy is to resist such police requests for un-broadcast footage in order to preserve our journalistic independence and impartiality, ensure the safety of our staff, and protect whistleblowers who come to ITN to speak out in the public interest.”

At the time Broadcast went to press, a spokeswoman for Derbyshire Constabulary was unable to confirm if Creedon intended to lay down a court order, or if he wished to drop the matter. ITN has not been updated on the police’s intentions since the original request last week. ITN and a wider alliance of news providers, including the BBC and Sky, won a landmark High Court decision in 2012 that meant they did not have to hand over unbroadcast footage of the Dale Farm traveller evictions to police. Mr Justice Eady’s judgement outlined three criteria needed to issue a production order: what the footage is likely to reveal; how important such evidence would be to carry out the investigation; and why it is necessary and proportionate to order the intrusion.


Corporate Raiders Use Government to Attack ‘Net Neutrality’

Wiki defines “Net Neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) as the principle that Internet Service Providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.” The Register has reported that a US appeals court has ruled that net neutrality measures put in place by America’s Federal Communications Commission… are ‘invalid’.

This digression on the part of the US courts reared its ugly head on Tuesday, when a three-panel appeals court rolled over for corporate giant Verizon, claiming that “the FCC had classified broadband service providers in a manner that excludes ISPs from the anti-blocking and anti-discrimination requirements instilled through the Open Internet Order”

This is potentially a serious blow to Americans – as well as internet users in Europe, freedom to access information and enjoy the choice they’ve become used to over the last decade and a half, should understand where this counter-revolutionary push is coming from. It’s not so much a government agenda, although the government is making the legal move. It is a corporate drive to extract more profit and exert more control over users.

Wiki continues, “There has been extensive debate about whether net neutrality should be required by law. Since the early 2000s, advocates of net neutrality and associated rules have raised concerns about the ability of broadband providers to use their last mile infrastructure to block Internet applications and content (e.g. websites, services, and protocols), and even block out competitors.”

The corporations along with their legions of lawyers, are planning to throttle the internet in order to bake the pie again, this time securing a bigger monopoly of control. There will be a fast lane and a slow lane, and corporate raiders will make very difficult for anyone in the slow lane, including cutting down bandwidth and access. That monopoly will be divided up by the cartel comprised of media moguls like Verizon, Google, Microsoft and Apple. Content will plentiful, but predictably bland, unintelligent and politically vacuous. The real power will be in controlling content along that last mile, which means that telecoms and cable providers like AT & T, Comcast and Verizon (and soon Google) will be pivotal in making this corporate counter-revolution a reality.

Another problem is that corporate cartels would like to implement a bigger pay-per-view internet experience. Basic access could be metered by time or by data usage, or degrees of access could be dependent on how much you pay your ISPs. Basic access would probably be a lot of junk like basic cable TV, followed by an ‘extended basic’, or you pay for the gold package and then you get to view all content online. Either scenario will be a major shift away from what you have now.



Victory on secret courts: Rulings in family cases to be made public after Mail campaign

Decisions by secret courts that can lead to children being taken from their parents or old people forced into care homes are finally to be opened up to public scrutiny.

Under rules set out on Wednesday, future judgments in the family courts and the Court of Protection must be made public except in cases where there is a clear reason to dictate they should not be. Councils applying to take children into care or to take control of the lives of the old and sick can no longer hide behind a cloak of anonymity.

Expert witnesses, including social workers, should also be named in public, as should anyone found responsible for wrongdoing.  The landmark changes break a silence that has surrounded family justice for nearly 100 years.  They also mark a major victory for the Daily Mail which has campaigned against secret courts and exposed a series of major scandals over the past year resulting from justice being conducted behind closed doors.

The new rules, laid down by the most senior family judge, President of the Family Division Sir James Munby, say that judgments in the family courts and the Court of Protection must always be publicised unless there are ‘compelling reasons’ why not. Only children and adults caught up in disputes and members of their families should be protected by anonymity. The guidelines warn that secrecy prevents families who have been involved in cases from complaining when they believe they have suffered injustice.



Muslim Brotherhood offices relocate

After being forced out of power in Egypt, Mohammed Morsi’s radical Islamic Muslim Brotherhood organisation has scattered to the four winds, with its Mothership landing in the most unlikely of places. Their new headquarters: a small flat above a disused kebab shop in North London.

Despite initial denials that they had relocated to the run-down property, the Daily Mail has confirmed the existence of the group’s new command centre: “Mohamed Ghanem, 68, the expatriate Egyptian who has run the non-profit World Media Services for more than 20 years, confirmed: ‘This is an Islamic charity and we have same values of the Muslim Brotherhood. So when their members had to leave Egypt, we helped them.’

Regulars at an Algerian cafe across the road are in no doubt that the flat is the organisation’s command centre. One said: ‘The Muslim Brotherhood have been there for just under a year.” Even though the organisation has been openly linked to terrorist factions in Libya, Syria and East Africa, it still receives political backing and cover from governments in both Great Britain and Washington DC. Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is currently awaiting trial, languishing in a jail cell in Alexandia, Egypt for various crimes against the state and affiliations to terrorist groups.

This latest move will not do any favours to London’s already seedy reputation as a haven for shady Islamic radicals and terrorists, dubbed ‘Londanistan’ by French Intelligence and others



Romford ‘hero’ unearths bedroom tax loophole which could see 40,000 receiving a refund

Peter Barker on his revelations: “In December, I suggested that council and housing association tenants getting housing benefit for the same home since 1996 are exempt from the bedroom tax. Last week ministers acknowledged that my analysis is correct. Councils are now indentifying tenants eligible for refunds. The refund is available to people whose housing benefit is reduced by the bedroom tax and who have been on housing benefit for the same home since January 1996 without a break.

“One break of up to four weeks is ignored and a longer break is ignored if you started work after being long term sick and then became sick again within 52 weeks. In some cases, the exemption can be passed from one person to another. Some councils are finding that their records as far back as 1996 are not easy to search and in some cases have been destroyed completely. So if you think you qualify for the exemption contact the council’s benefits department.

“If the council does not agree that you qualify, you can appeal as long as the council receives it within 13 months of the original bedroom tax decision last year. For most people this will be around the end of March so there is still time.” Mr Barker, 53, spotted the oversight made by the DWP in legislation they drafted in 1996. Housing benefit regulations from 1996 were not updated when the coalition created the bedroom tax.

It has also been reported that the suicide of the woman from Solihull who, in a note, blamed her death on the financial strains aggravated by the bedroom tax would have been exempt and, if she was still alive, eligible for a refund.



Houblon £50 note to be withdrawn

Around 63 million £50 banknotes bearing the portrait of the first governor of the Bank of England Sir John Houblon are to be withdrawn from circulation in 15 weeks' time. From 30 April, only the £50 note which celebrates the 18th century business partnership of entrepreneur Matthew Boulton and engineer James Watt, who helped forge the Industrial Revolution, will hold legal tender status, the Bank of England said.

Around 224 million £50 notes worth £11.2 billion are in circulation, of which the Bank estimates 63 million with a total value of £3.2 billion are Houblon notes. From May onwards, retailers are unlikely to accept the Houblon notes as payment, but most banks and building societies will still allow customers to deposit them into their accounts. However, agreeing to exchange the notes after 30 April will be at the discretion of individual institutions. Barclays, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Ulster Bank and the Post Office have agreed to exchange the older-style £50 notes for both customers and non-customers up to the value of £200 until 30 October.

If people do not pay in or exchange the Houblon £50 notes by the withdrawal deadline, this does not mean that the notes then become worthless.  All notes that have been issued by the Bank whose legal tender status has been withdrawn are covered by its "promise to pay".

This phrase dates back to times when notes could be swapped for gold. It means that people can, at any time, obtain the face value of a note that has been withdrawn by exchanging it at the Bank of England in London. There is no fee for the service and banknotes of this type can be exchanged by post or in person. Legally the Bank of England is only required to give one month's notice of an intention to withdraw legal tender status. It gave a similar three-month notice period to its latest announcement when a £20 note featuring composer Edward Elgar was withdrawn in 2010.

In December, the Bank announced that it plans to issue plastic banknotes for the first time from 2016, when a new £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill appears. A £10 note featuring Jane Austen to follow around a year later will also be made from polymer rather than the cotton paper currently used. The announcement at the end of last year followed a three-year research programme that concluded plastic notes stay cleaner for longer, are more difficult to counterfeit and are at least 2.5 times longer-lasting.



The Rodin Coil: The Greatest Discovery of All Time?

In what might be the greatest discovery of all time, Marko Rodin has figured out how to 3-dimensionally model the mathematical language of nature. As student of Marko Rodin Randy Powell says in his Ted Talk in 2010, “They say mathematics is the language of god, but until now nobody has been speaking god’s language”.

Some of the practical implications of this technology are said to be: Inexhaustible free energy; An end to all disease; Produce unlimited food; Travel anywhere in the universe; Build the ultimate supercomputer; and Obsolete all existing technology. Unfortunately, despite Marko Rodin’s work being peer-reviewed by some of the most prestigious names in science, it has suffered from a tremendous lack of attention.

Because of their unwillingness to sell out to private interests, the information remains in the hands of exhausted volunteers like Randy Powell. The goal of Marko Rodin and his volunteers at Vortex Based Mathematics is “to create a grassroots energy and technology revolution by turning this knowledge over to the public in an open-source project. Science museum exhibits for kids, a simple book, a simple DVD, that’s all we’re looking to do. We want to turn it into the hands of the people to produce and save the whole world”.



Sugar-free fizzy drinks make people eat more food

Many dieters opt for sugar-free drinks in a bid to shed some excess pounds, but new research suggests this tactic is not effective. U.S. researchers found that overweight and obese adults who drink diet fizzy drinks consume more calories from food than those who drink regular fizzy drinks. The researchers, at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, examined national patterns in adult drink consumption and calorie intake.

Artificial sweeteners, which are present in large quantities in diet soda, are associated with a greater activation of reward centres in the brain. In other words, among people who drink diet soda, the brain’s sweet sensors may no longer provide a reliable gauge of energy consumption because the artificial sweetener disrupts appetite control.  As a result, consumption of diet drinks may result in increased food intake overall.

Consumption of diet drinks has increased considerably in the past few decades from three per cent in 1965 to 20 per cent today. Individuals who drink diet soda typically have a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) and consume more snack food than those who drink sugary beverages.   



BBC to pump £740m of licence fee payers' cash into pension scheme deficit

This is to try and close a funding deficit that has nearly doubled over the last three years. According to a new valuation, the deficit in the BBC pension fund – i.e., the value of its assets minus its projected liabilities to retiring staff – has grown from £1.1 billion in 2010 to £2bn in 2013. However the BBC has decided not to ask its long-serving staff – who, in common with much of the public sector, enjoy guaranteed pension benefits when they retire – for any additional contributions. As a result, licence-fee payers will be expected to foot the entire bill, at an additional cost of £365million over the next four years.

The amount that the BBC pays to its pension fund over the next four years will increase from an already-agreed £375m to £740m. It means that every licence fee payer will be paying roughly £7.36 a year, out of an annual licence fee of £145.50, solely to pay down the BBC’s pension deficit.



Outrage over commercialisation plans for BBC World Service

The BBC has sparked anger with plans to commercialise the 80-year-old World Service, and to downplay the coverage of politics in its global television news output. The changes, which one MP warned could jeopardise the future of the licence fee, are being lined up as the broadcaster prepares to take over funding of the World Service, previously paid for by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Reforms could include having advertising on the service.

In a letter sent to a member of the House of Lords, the Director of the World Service, Peter Horrocks, has also revealed plans to use private funding to support the prestigious radio network which began as the British Empire Service in 1932. "The BBC Trust is considering proposals for a wider commercialisation of World Service, which might involve launching new language services, if they could be commercially self-sustaining," he told Lord Alton of Liverpool. Defenders of the service's traditions are alarmed at the potential implications. John Tusa, former managing director of the World Service, said: "It's breathtaking and reckless. It would really alter the basis on which the World Service has existed for 80 years. Anything as radical as this needs to be openly and publicly debated with all the implications fully stated."

In a different part of the BBC empire, The Independent on Sunday has seen an internal BBC communication which encourages journalists working on the BBC World News global television operation to follow a supposedly more female-friendly news agenda, with more stories on "fashion" and fewer on "politics". Staff believe the shift in emphasis is partly designed to attract more advertising clients to the BBC, which relies on commercials on its television channel and website outside the UK. Latest accounts show that BBC Global News Ltd made a loss of £800,000 last year, with £21m of losses incurred by the UK operation being mostly offset by advertising and sponsorship revenues made overseas.

The BBC has been experimenting with advertising on the Berlin FM radio output of the World Service. It said it had not received complaints from that network's audience that the commercials impinged on the quality of the output. Advertising has also been introduced into the Spanish, Arabic and Russian language editions of the BBC website.



BBC's six-year cover-up of secret 'green propaganda' training for top executives

The BBC has spent tens of thousands of pounds over six years trying to keep secret an extraordinary ‘eco’ conference which has shaped its coverage of global warming, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.  The controversial seminar was run by a body set up by the BBC’s own environment analyst Roger Harrabin and funded via a £67,000 grant from the then Labour government, which hoped to see its ‘line’ on climate change and other Third World issues promoted in BBC reporting. At the event, in 2006, green activists and scientists – one of whom believes climate change is a bigger danger than global nuclear war  – lectured 28 of the Corporation’s most senior executives.

Then director of television Jana Bennett opened the seminar by telling the executives to ask themselves: ‘How do you plan and run a city that is going to be submerged?’ And she asked them to consider if climate change laboratories might offer material for a thriller. A lobby group with close links to green campaigners, the International Broadcasting Trust (IBT), helped to arrange government funding for both the climate seminar  and other BBC seminars run by  Mr Harrabin – one of which was attended by then Labour Cabinet Minister Hilary Benn.

Applying for money from Mr Benn’s Department for International Development (DFID), the IBT promised Ministers the seminars would influence programme content for years to come. The BBC began its long legal battle to keep details of the conference secret after an amateur climate blogger spotted a passing reference to it in an official report.

Tony Newbery, 69, from North Wales, asked for further disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. The BBC’s resistance to revealing anything about its funding and the names of those present led to a protracted struggle in the Information Tribunal. The BBC has admitted it has spent more than £20,000 on barristers’ fees. However, the full cost of their legal battle is understood to be much higher.

In a written statement opposing disclosure in 2012, former BBC news chief and current director of BBC radio Helen Boaden, who attended the event, admitted: ‘In my view, the seminar had an impact on a broad range of BBC output.’ She said this included news reports by Mr Harrabin, and a three-part BBC  2 series presented by geologist Iain Stewart, who told viewers global warming was ‘truly scary’. According to Ms Boaden, ‘Editors and executives who attended were inspired to be more ambitious and creative in their editorial coverage of this slow-moving and complex issue.’ She claimed the seminar sought to ‘identify where the main areas of debate lie’. However, there were no expert climate sceptics present.

In an internal report, the IBT boasted that the seminars organised with Mr Harrabin had had ‘a significant impact on the BBC’s output’. Mr Newbery, who finally won his battle last month, said: ‘It is very disappointing that the BBC tried so hard to cover this up. It seems clear that this seminar was a means of exposing executives to green propaganda.’ The freshly disclosed documents show that a number of BBC attendees still occupy senior roles at the Corporation.



Are you putting Europe’s case well enough, 'biased’ BBC asks Mandelson

The BBC has been accused of bias after its flagship morning news programme gave an “easy ride” to Lord Mandelson in an interview on the EU referendum. Evan Davis, the host of Radio 4’s Today, interviewed the Labour peer in the prime 8.10am slot ahead of the 9th January’s Lords debate on the referendum Bill.

Mr Davis repeatedly asked the former European commissioner why he was not making the pro-EU case more convincingly, but did not ask why he thinks the public should not be allowed a vote. By contrast, Mr Davis told Lord Dobbs, the Bill’s sponsor, that it is a “waste of time” and “a charade” because it may be repealed in the next Parliament. He suggested Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, would be “stupid” to back the referendum.



BBC 'merry go round' as 200 staff rehired

The BBC has rehired more than 200 staff made redundant in the past decade including at least one executive who was given a six figure pay-off, The Telegraph has found. The corporation revealed it has re-employed 233 staff who are now on fixed-term or permanent contracts, a practice critics have described as the BBC “merry-go-round”. They include one executive reportedly given a £365,000 golden handshake and nine managers earning £100,000 or more who received pay-offs worth thousands of pounds.

The true scale of the “merry-go-round” is likely to be significantly greater as the figures released by the BBC do not include those working for as freelancers, often on even higher rates of pay.



BBC lost £1.2m on behind-the-scenes studio 'vanity tours' that the public shun

The BBC is losing £600,000 of licence-fee payers’ cash every year running ‘vanity tours’ of its studios. The tours are held at several BBC sites across the UK and cost between £9 and £13.50. They offer visitors ‘behind-the-scenes’ access to programmes including Dragons’ Den and Match Of The Day.

But in just two years the BBC has lost £1.2 million running the tours, according to details obtained under Freedom of Information laws.

The broadcaster has earned £1,231,912 income from the tours but has forked out almost £2.5 million on running costs. The popularity of tours differs vastly between different BBC buildings. Only 18 people attended a tour of the BBC’s Cardiff studios in 2011/12.



BBC to charge licence payers £5 to download favourite shows in challenge to Netflix and iTunes

As part of an ambitious online revamp, the Corporation has already tested a BBC Store from which viewers will be able to buy episodes or series months or years after they are first broadcast. Hit shows including Doctor Who, Luther, Sherlock, Horrible Histories, Murphy’s Law and Sir David Attenborough’s Human Planet will be for sale when the service launches later this year.

The BBC eventually hopes to offer downloads of almost every show it makes. Programmes on the free- to-use iPlayer will be also made available for 30 days instead of the current seven. One BBC source, who asked not to be named, said: ‘It is a no-brainer. At the moment viewers can only buy shows on DVD in high street stores and online. Luther would be offered for about 99p an episode and other series are being offered for about £5.’

The first series of the crime drama can be purchased from iTunes for £5.99 and can also be watched on Netflix – which charges subscribers £5.99 a month to stream shows over the internet.  The BBC’s plans still need to be approved by its governing body, but bosses have already begun testing the idea with focus groups.



TV licence inspectors three times more likely to be attacked by a householder than an animal

Officials enforcing the £145.50 TV licence were physically assaulted by a member of the public 271 times and savaged by animals 89 times between 2008 and October 2013, BBC discloses. A recent leaked document disclosed that TV Licensing employed 334 enforcement officers in August, which would mean that about one in seven of them can expect to be attacked on the job in each year.

TV Licensing inquiry officers are employed by Capita, the outsourcing giant, which is contracted by the BBC to enforce payment of the licence fee. They make about 4 million home visits a year, and each day catch an average of more than 1,000 people who are watching television without a licence. The number of those who attempt to avoid paying the fee has remained steady at about one in 20 of the population for the last five years.

TV Licensing estimated that evasion cost the BBC £204 million in lost income in 2011-2012. Watching live programmes without a television licence is a criminal offence, in contrast to the non-payment of parking tickets or utility bills, which are treated as civil matters.


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