Mobile broadband article in Business & Finance

The latest issue of Business & Finance, which hit the shelves late last week, has an article by myself on mobile broadband in Ireland. The article looks at its growth, its problems and where it might be going once these are overcome.

I spoke to someone from Three mobile and Dell about their involvement in a working group which aims to put 3G SIM slots into new laptops in the future and what that means for WiFi and WiMax.

Alongside that feature is a review of the Elonex / Carphone Warehouse Web-book and a few ‘News In Brief’ pieces.

Most of my B&F work hasn’t been put on up on the Portfolio page yet but I’m getting around to that in the near future – this will be going up alongside that once it happens!

RTE damages own argument against the Sound and Vision fund

Today’s Irish Times carries a piece on Noel Curran’s speech to the Cleraun Media Conference, where he suggested that an increase in the BCI Sound & Vision fund would force RTÉ to cut investment in Irish programming. Curran, who is the managing director of RTÉ, said imported programming tends to be cheaper than home-produced content and if the broadcaster had its licence fee income cut in the midst of an advertising downturn they would have no choice but to buy from abroad.

So today would surely be a bad time for RTÉ to announce that it was going to cut its investment in home-produced content anyway but that’s exactly what we got this afternoon.

The broadcaster announced details of its €25m cost-cutting plan, part of which will involve “some curtailment of programming”. Exactly what that means is unclear but it does seem somewhat self-defeating to say funding commercial broadcasters with the licence fee will kill home-grown content only to turn around within hours of the statement to do the same thing yourself.

Mr. Bird goes to Washington

So Charlie Bird, RTÉ’s Chief News Correspondent, is off to ply his trade in Washington DC, USA from the start of 2009.

As with all major movements in places like the RTÉ news-room you cannot help but ask who the winners are losers are.

The obvious winner here is Bird himself who undoubtedly requested the move across the water. Why? Well the next president of the USA, whomever he is, is sure to reign over a very interesting period in the country’s history as its economic and foreign policies are reassessed, questioned and challenged from a variety of angles. What’s more is that both “tickets” have some very interesting personal stories to them, somewhat as a result of their respective historical potential.

Barack Obama’s story is captivating for reasons beyond his race, of course. His meteoric rise, oration skills and message of hope has marked him out as something different to the pack and whether he succeeds or fails his tenure as US president would make for must-see politics. McCain, on the other hand, does not himself hold the same intrigue but his choice of vice-presidential candidate – Sarah Palin – does, given her own meteoric rise and often soap opera-style back-story.

As a result the obvious loser in this move must be Robert Shortt, although it may well be the case that he requested a move back to Ireland for his own reasons (even if such a request meant missing a very historic stage in the life of the USA).

For the rest of the RTÉ news-room it’s difficult to say if there will be winners and losers and if so who they will be. Perhaps the various correspondents will be somewhat happy to see the back of Bird, not for personal reasons but because his all-encompassing position of “Chief News Correspondent” translated into him regularly taking charge of a story they had worked hard on once it became the agenda-leading story of the moment.

For the person who moves into the “Chief News” vacancy, assuming there is someone, this could be counted as a victory but it could also be a poison chalice. After all, having a focused patch to report on allows a journalist to cultivate contacts of quality rather than quantity. While being a jack-of-all-trades journalist does not automatically mean you cannot also have good contacts it does mean you have to work considerably harder in order to do so across such a wide range of topics.

Comic Genius (The Irish Times – 4th October 2008)

Today’s Magazine supplement in The Irish Times has a piece by yours truly on Dublin comic book artist Bob Byrne.

The piece is available here for free and naturally in the printed form around the country.

It’s a long story that I’ll save for another day but this piece has been in development in some form or another for over a year, so it’s a delight to finally see it printed – at the very least it’s something I no longer have to chase and worry about.

When I find the time I’ll copy it and my recent B&F stuff to the Portfolio page.