Month: August 2006

  • DTT Update: trial launch postponed until Wednesday (16th August)

    Having just spoken to a representative at the DCMNR I can confirm that the DTT trial, which was due to launch officially tomorrow has now been put back to the 16th of August, next Wednesday.

    The DTT signal itself seems to be available from Three Rock already, and has been since earlier in the month. Clermont Carn, the other site of the trial is still not broadcasting a digital signal and may not until next week and the official launch.

    For all your DTT news and information, head over to this forum.
    More on the content tender process, which ended yesterday, later.

  • How old are your ears?

    A story was doing the rounds some time ago about a new “adult-proof” ringtone that was at a pitch only children and teenagers could hear.

    Simply put, the human ear has a standard range of hearing from birth which slowly deminishes as we get older; research in the UK showed that by the time people reached their 20’s they generally couldn’t hear a frequency of 17 kHz or more.

    The scientific finding was hijacked and the ‘Teen Buzz’ ringtone was created (which according to the Wikipedia is at 14.4 kHz); the point of the ringtone is to allow students in a classroom to be alerted to incoming text messages without being caught by teachers.

    This website has a useful list of mp3 links set at different frequencies (scroll down), from 10 kHz to 25 kHz; I’m aged 21 and I can hear as far as 17 kHz; anything above that is completely without sound for me. I recommend people check out the site and see what age their ears are; be warned that the sounds are very annoying however.

    So, as a variant to the question posed by the superb Nintendo Brain Training game; how old are your ears?

  • What’s happened to

    I’ve noticed in the past few days that many of my favourite Irish blogs are not coming up in the IrishBlogs feed I subscribe to; I only realised because I subscribe to these forums individually also but perhaps someone could shed some light on it; have people taken themselves off the aggregator or has done it instead?

    TCAL hasn’t had a post show up on the feed since the 5th of August; Slugger hasn’t shown up since the 3rd and Irish Election hasn’t shown up since June! I’m sure the odd post gets dropped and missed out, but is it just my feed that’s b0rked or is something amiss on

  • Village Magazine having a tough time

    The Irish Independent notes the near €1m losses over at Irish left-wing publication Village Magazine since it launched 16 months ago. (free reg req.)

    In the short period of time since its launch the magazine has changed its format to a more compact edition (going from 14″ x 11″ to 11.5″ x 9″). In the two different sized editions I have to hand (issues 11 and 97) the pagination has also decreased (from 70 in #11 to 62 in #97). Considering the fact that there are less pages and even less space to fill on each page this could mean one of two things; either the staff were struggling editorially to fill the publication or the company was struggling to justify the scale of the project financially. There’s every chance that both issues are to blame to some degree.

    Journalistically the magazine is a mixed bag; John Waters is a regular contributor and of course Vincent Browne is the editor; on top of this journalistic heavyweight Frank Connolly, whom after numerous great pieces of investigative work became the target of a claim by “Justice” Minister Michael McDowell that he was involved in IRA activity in Columbia is also a member of staff. On the other side of the coin the number of writers is relatively small with the likes of Colin Murphy and Emma Browne churning out a lot of the magazine’s copy. This is almost certainly as a result of the financial situation the magazine has found itself in and its budget is said to be zero for the foreseeable future.
    The cover of the magazine, which is always a vital selling point has also gone under some changes since launch with the ‘Village’ masthead starting out as a large red strip and slowly shrinking into the left hand corner (as you can see in the images below). In #11; which sports a bigger masthead there are four stories detailed, on #97 there are just two.

    There is every possibility that the format and front-page changes made to Village since its launch have damaged its readership; sudden and consistent changes do not sit well with the public in any industry. Another weak point with Village is the amount of spelling and grammatical errors on show in the publication; in #97 a silly typo is apparent on pg. 13, and that’s just from a quick scan of the headlines and sub-headers.
    As Village magazine approaches its 100th issue it is obvious that the publication is still a work in progress. Hopefully it won’t go to the wall before it is given more of a chance to shine and its biggest problem is the chronic under-staffing; in a better situation it has probably the best chance of becoming home to investigative journalism in Ireland.
    Rumour has it that it is not the only political publication facing financial hardship in Ireland however; Village’s idealogical opposite is also said to be considering its options as the purse strings grow ever-tight, but hopefully more on that later in the week.

    Village Issue 11
    Issue #11

    Village Issue 97
    Issue #97

    (images not reflective of actual size however comparative scale difference is accurate.)

  • Stage is set for Doughty Hanson to take TV3

    While the intended buy-out of Tv3 by private equity group Doughty Hanson is old news at this stage the turmoil over the water at ITV plc headquarters has likely squashed whatever remote chance that existed of ITV enacting its pre-emption rights which would allow it to out-bid the group within 90 days of their offer being made.

    The waiting period in which the pre-emption can happen is due to end (by my count) on the 17th of August at which point €295m will be paid for 100% of the Irish commercial broadcaster.

    It’s hard to say what will happen next; some rumours say Doughty Hanson is acting on behalf of another group while others figure it is investing now in order to sell the company down the line; probably on once it gets a DTT space and renews its TV licence in 2008.

    Perhaps come the end of August we will be slightly more informed on the matter but either way don’t expect much to chance on your TV set for the time being.

  • Irish DTT to launch this week (but don’t tell anyone)

    Having just had an interesting conversation with an important member of staff at RTÉ I was surprised to find that to the best of her knowledge the Irish Government’s DTT trial is due to be launched this Friday.

    The two year trial, which has been in gestation for some time has been alocated an “Autumn 2006” launch date for some time now but no concrete date has been set; it now appears that the launch will be heralded by a press release on Friday morning with no prior warning to expectant fans.
    At present RTÉ has yet to see the set-top box being given to beta testers, they do not yet know the exact technology being used in the trial and they have not been informed as to what the initial trial will comprise of.

    It is likely that testing of the service will be staged too as the content tender closing date is tomorrow leaving little room to finalise plans in the coming days. That means that the initial signal, should it go out on Friday will be traditional terrestrial TV only with additional programming (and perhaps interactive content, HD trials etc.) coming on board at a later date.

    Despite numerous queries I have made to the DCMNR it is still not clear if Freeview standard boxes (which are now available on the Irish market built-in to numerous TV models) will be compatible with the trial.

    Good to know the DCMNR is leading the field in communication between its partners…

    Update: Somehow missed this thread; apparently the test has already begun (although the official test will probably launch on Friday)

  • Sargent plays it safe with semantics

    Green leader Trevor Sargent today tipped his hat towards the ABB’s (Anyone But Bertie’s) in the country by announcing that a coalition between Fianna Fail and the Green Party would not happen, although he did so with some important small print too. According to RTÉ, Sargent stated that his party could not join forces with Fianna Fail “in it’s current form” and no responsible party would either.
    The comment is part of a careful Green Party alignment in light of the impending election campaign, which is sure to start in earnest when the Dáil is recalled in a few weeks.

    In order to gain support the Greens, like all parties in opposition, will need to criticise the existing government and highlight its failings. In the same breath the Green party recognises the potential it has next year and knows it could hold the balance of power; Sargent is ensuring that he doesn’t say something now he will regret later on.
    If the Greens were to right off a FF coalition completely Sargent could be forced to either to go back on his word or refuse the major influence a ‘balance of power’ situation gives; both have the potential to be any leader’s undoing. At the same time if the party aligns itself too closely to FF now it would be in effect injured in its election campaign.

    At the moment, any FG/Lab coalition will need Green support to survive in office. As well as this with a weaking PD vote Fianna Fail are looking increasingly isolated in their coalition options. The Greens offer the best alternative for Bertie as Labour have already written off the idea and a partnership with Sinn Fein would be at best a last resort. Just like with FG/Lab, any FF offer of a coalition will be to the advantage of the Greens more than the main party and so coalition discussions and concessions on FF’s end would allow Sargent to tell his people that Bertie’s party had changed enough to be trusted again.
    The Green Party may prove themselves to be the most important political force in the Dáil next year. Going by the latest Red C/SBP poll (PDF) the Green party would indeed be a key player in either sides aspirations for power and with that in mind it would be foolish for Sargent to limit his bargaining opportunities and even make himself out to be a liar this early in the game.

  • Sarah Carey on Newstalk 106 tomorrow

    Congratulations to Sarah Carey who is taking a pretty impressive leap up as she stands in for George Hook for his Newstalk show tomorrow.

    Sarah is a testament to the power of blogging in career development; her GUBU blog led to a weekly column in The Sunday Times. This is just another step up for (as I’ve said before) one of our best and brightest!
    Well done (and don’t forget your roots when you hit the big time!)

    Newstalk 106 is available in the Dublin area on 106 FM or over the internet; The Right Hook broadcasts from 16:30 – 19:00 weekdays.

  • Cutting ties with the rival

    It’s no secret that Associated Newspapers currently sees its main rival in the Irish market as the Independent News & Media stable. Metro (AN) is battling Herald AM (IN&M) for the freesheet market; the (Irish) Daily Mail (AN) is challenging The Evening Herald/Irish Independent (IN&M) and Ireland on Sunday/(Irish) Mail on Sunday (AN) sees itself as an heir to the throne currently home to The Sunday Independent (IN&M).

    With that intense rivalry in mind it comes as little surprise that Associated will soon cut off all ties with Independent News & Media; namely the remaining distribution links between the IoS, Buy and Sell (AN too) and Newspread (IN&M).

    It makes little business sense to help your rivals make a profit, even if it is in an area that won’t directly damage your own readership. According to The Irish Times, Easons will pick up the contract starting in late August/early September and the rivalry is sure to get stronger as the year draws to a close.

    Associated Newspapers ventures in Ireland to date haven’t been entirely positive. The (Irish) Daily Mail has been haemorrhaging readers since it’s launch and the Ireland on Sunday has proven itself to be an investment blackhole since the company took over there; the company are hoping a re-brand later this year will turn things around once and for all. The Metro has probably been the most successful Associated venture to date and that has so far failed to turn a profit; it is also being pipped at the post for readers by Herald AM (which hands out around 8,000 more copies a day than Metro).

  • RTÉ News revamp

    Just thought I’d point you in the direction of a broadcasting thread on the RTÉ News revamp.

    Those watching the situation closely will note that the newroom has been moved to a temporary studio to facilitate a studio 3 revamp; the new studio should be revealed in September.

    Information is thin on the ground but Telefís details some of the possible improvements here. An LCD wall would certainly bring RTÉ up to date with its British counterparts, namely the BBC and ITV.

    This revamp is just one piece in a huge puzzle of rebranding going through the PSB at the moment, from RTÉ.ie to RTÉ One itself.

    As some speculation on the thread suggests some of this may be part of a repositioning to facilitate new digital ventures although in my opinion that kind of repositioning will only happen at a channel-wide level; for example we may see RTÉ One move more towards serious programming and aim for a 35+ age group while RTÉ Two continues on its more funky and young venture. It is likely that any new DTT channels (RTÉ Three and Four perhaps) will only happen if each of the existing RTÉ stations is given a more specific role. Look at the way the BBC had tried to reposition BBC One and Two when it brought Three and Four into the public gaze.

    Another hot topic is the viability of an RTÉ News channel and under what guise it would take (Rolling news, factual, current affairs etc.); I’ve already discussed the matter here before but I’m sure I’ll return to it soon enough.

    The fact is though all of this is speculation; few know for sure what RTÉ News will look like in September or what RTÉ in general has to offer in the digital world; what can be said is that it’s interesting times for media geeks like myself!