Archive of Postings to January 2016

29-Jan-2016

BBC Floats Extension To TV Tax

The big guns at our state broadcaster have been testing public reaction to potential changes to the UK’s annual TV licence fee. Their rather obvious aim is to try to raise more money for the BBC. And some say that is needed more to maintain the extravagant life style of those at the top - than to produce programmes that its captive audiences actually want.

Heckerslyke_160This week the latest mad idea was that the over 75’s could be persuaded to continue paying the TV tax voluntarily - possibly pushed along by adverts featuring some of the BBC’s silver celebrities. Sadly for the BBC this idea did not go down too well. Being asked to pay more by people made rich with the help of the BBC has lead to some rather predicable reactions. Most are along the lines of - the silver celebrities can pay it if they want to - they have done well enough out of the BBC to afford it. But why should UK pensioners pay to prop up a BBC pension scheme that is far more generous than the ones the licence payers get themselves.

The BBC has promised to cut back its byzantine, bloated management structure but the real question that pensioners need answering is why do they have to wait until age 75 before the TV levy stops? Why does 145 still get deducted from virtually every household’s income even after the occupiers have retired? With a pension age of 68 that’s at least a further six years of paying - making 873 in total - and it’s not even tax deductible!  Anyone paying income tax cannot claim back this unavoidable state tax. It has become, in effect, a compulsory after-tax deduction.

So this particular idea may soon fade away - but it seems likely to be followed plenty of others before the next BBC settlement is agreed. But whatever happens this is one Grandad that will stop paying at age 75 ...

tags: BBC, top heavy, excess management, poor quality output, wrong target

 

23-Jan-2016

A New Empire?

Charlemagne became king of the Franks in 768 AD and extended his control through also becoming King of Italy just six years later. This expansion of power continued to the point when, in 800 AD, he was created head of a new Holy Roman Empire covering much of Europe. Then his main base was at Aachen in modern day Germany. And in 1950 that city introduced the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen.

karlspreiss1E_300The first of these Charlemagne Prizes went unsurprisingly to the founder of the Pan-European Movement - Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi. And since then its aims have been to reward any major steps towards the unity of Europe and to encourage more unification in the future.

Reading the list of past winners throws up some names that even the less-interested Grandads might know. Last year it was Martin Schulz and in 2014 Herman Van Rompuy; two highly paid Eurocrats. Looking back a bit further we have Angela Merkel (2008) and Jean-Claude Juncker (2006) - so no surprises there. But things are not always so obvious. In 2004 it was the Pope - then John Paul II - that got the award and some sources say that in 2016 there be a repeat with Pope Francis adding to the Holy Roman image of this grand reenactment plan.

Now the UK has often been around the edges of any European master plans. But still Tony Blair (1999), Roy Jenkins (1972) and Edward Heath (1963) have all been winners of the Charlemagne Prize in the past - to reward their pro-European efforts. As was Sir Winston Churchill in 1956 - but in this case his efforts as the British wartime leader put him in a different league.

EFTA_stamp1For any Grandads who remember WW2, or who learned about it from their parents, the whole concept of creating a single European nation has dark echoes of that previous Nazi master plan. Hitler’s megalomania had much in common with the plans of Kaiser Wilhelm II and Emperor Napoleon before him. With Britain having fought against all three of them the thought of having to give away its sovereignty to a Europe controlled by Germany and backed by France is not an easy one to swallow. Especially since we thought, and were told, back in the 1960s that we were only joining a European free trade area.

So if the UK ever gets a chance to vote on its future position in this plan for a new Holy Roman Empire let us hope that we really do know what we are letting ourselves - and our grand children - in for ...

ps  our links are to the English version of the official website however this has much less content than the German version. As at today only the German version contains any mention of the 2016 award going to Pope Francis.

tags: EFTA, Germany, Europa, big Idea, referendum, vote

 

9-Jan-2016

Not Another Song Contest!

TheVoice_160Tonight sees the start of another season of The Voice on BBC TV. This multi-million pound, extravagant production is the UK edition of a reality singing competition created by Dutch television producer John de Mol - who also created Big Brother. Now franchised worldwide, including such unlikely places as Afghanistan and Vietnam, it has helped push de Mol into the billionaire bracket since it started in 2010. However few of the UK contestants progressed very far in the music business despite their free national exposure. And even the winners have had limited success. Perhaps this year will be different? Perhaps not ..

Meanwhile submissions for the UK entry in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), also on BBC TV, closed back in November. The shortlisted entrants were all informed by the start of January according to the BBC but nothing has appeared on the official BBC website as yet. The plan is that the final shortlist will be presented to a professional panel and the public, who will have the final say on which song is taken forward. So that seems to say that The Voice and the ESC national competition will both be asking for our votes over the coming weeks.

ESC2016But not everyone (anyone?) thinks the handling of our national ESC entries in recent years has been good enough. Certainly recent British songs have been very late making their public appearances. And once available they lacked any serious promotion or overseas exposure. Instead the BBC’s limited budget seems to have been spent on staff having extended parties in the host cities.

Just how far the BBC is behind the curve can be judged if you take a look at the other counties and their schedules. This weekend will see the second live show for the Belgian entries with the final next weekend. The finals of the competitions in Belarus and Malta then follow soon after. And during February there are no less than 31 contests around Europe to select their respective entries - but so far nothing is confirmed for the UK entry. True there are still four months before the ESC final in Stockholm - but after last year’s late, weak, inept and truly embarrassing performance you would have thought that the BBC would have finally got the message ... and, at least, kept up with the other broadcasters.

So after Grandad’s misguided optimism for our ESC entry in 2015 the only predictions this time are that The Voice will move to ITV next year and the UK will finish in the bottom five at Eurovision 2016.

tags: singing, competition, phone-in, BBC, staff, party

 

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28-Dec-2015

Looking Back

The end of the year so time for a quick review of some earlier stories that kept on running ..

Blatter Splattered - Just days after our article FIFA announced an eight year ban for president Sepp Blatter and vice-president Michel Platini. Blatter claimed afterwards that he was still FIFA president until February 2016 but that must mean very little when he is banned from anything to do with football. And with so many suspect transfers of funds yet to be invested, some reaching back for decades, Mr Blatter may be best advised to head for somewhere safe and far, far away.

Donkeys-270Look At Me - a robotic weather presenter, powered by Microsoft’s Xiaoice, is now appearing live on Dragon TV in China; a channel that is part of the Shanghai Media Group. For its part Microsoft have been quoted as saying - As Xiaoice is gradually penetrating into human life, engaging herself in more jobs and playing more social roles, Microsoft expects her to bring more bliss to human beings. But perhaps that quote sounds less sinister in the original Chinese?

Unarmed Invasion - Frau Merkel’s open door policy on migration has backfired so badly that even she has had to backtrack to a more realistic position. But not before she was awarded the accolade Person of the Year by Time magazine - the sort of ironic gesture normally reserved for the Nobel Peace Prize. At least her actions gave the migration issue a boost up the eurocrat’s agendas - and lead to some EU countries taking a clearer stand on the practicalities of moving millions into unsuitable locations.

According to Save The Children - 2.1 million Syrian children are now refugees with 7.5 million affected by the conflict. More than 10 million people have been forced from their homes and 13.5 million need humanitarian aid. So there is still a long way to go if Europe is going to feed, clothe, house, educate and employ a significant number of them. But it could be a social and economic disaster for many smaller countries even if migration was limited to just Syrians. But many more from Africa and the Middle East also want to migrate to western democracies so the one million reaching Germany this year are just a drop in a human ocean.

Powerless UK - someone has pointed out to the UK politicians that closing Eggborough Power Station and losing its 4% contribution to the UK’s electricity capacity could be a step too far. To save a little face Eggborough will now be kept on standby instead.

Missed Gear? - back in June Grandad suggested that the BBC would have been better served by selling the Top Gear franchise while it was still highly rated. Instead the Beeb opted to spend 3 million (more by now?) on a high-risk, new format show with Chris Evans as both its presenter and producer. There is still over four months until the first episode is due to air but already the press has plenty of bad news. The relaunch of ‘Top Gear’ is in disarray after the executive producer, personally brought in by Chris Evans, quits the BBC motoring show ... Losing the knowledgeable production team behind the show has also caused teething troubles ... They've brought in a production team that doesn't know anything about cars. Writers from Top Gear magazine have had to be called on for .. ideas and advice. If the BBC was stock market listed then its shares would be falling rapidly.

History Repeats Itself - last Christmas Grandad moaned about the quality of the festive TV schedules. This year we could re-hash the same story as even Chas & Dave’s Christmas Special from 1982 is wheeled out again. But you know the story by now so no point in adding to the repeats count ourselves. No wonder sales of DVDs, Blu-rays and download subscriptions are so popular.

tags: easy, prediction, saw that coming, on-going

 

13-Dec-2015

Farcical Finale

We can now announce the results of our inaugural Whitehall Farce Award for long-running bungling ineptitude within Whitehall and its offshoots. And in the end the runaway winner was that first nomination - the Proposed EU Referendum. So despite challenges from High Speed Rail 2, Runway 3 Heathrow, Northern Powerhouse and Nuclear Energy there was a clear-cut and undisputed winner.

Award_WFA2015However our awards ceremony planned for tonight has had to be canceled after our organisers - the events arm of the Grandadz charity - mislaid its funding. There had been rumours circulating for several weeks that there were problems. But the charity’s boss, Carmen Bataneyelid, had reassured us that everything would be fine and all the key figures would be there for a glittering evening of fine dining and entertainment.

Certainly the promises of a five course organic, halal, kosher vegan banquet and a rare live performance by Coldfeet did sound very appealing. But alarm bells should have started to ring when the Royal Albert Hall called to chase a missing booking deposit. However Ms Bataneyelid reassured us and them that this was just a misunderstanding and that an envelope containing the cash would be delivered shortly by a old man in a grey shell suit. We were all very upset to find out later that the old man had been robbed when he stopped in Westminster for a fair trade macchiato. A matter that warm-hearted Ms Bataneyelid did not report to the police to avoid any further distress to the old man and any bad publicity for the charity.

The next day Ms Bataneyelid and three of her assistants had to fly to Zurich to discuss setting up a Swiss branch of Grandadz and to collect some donations from reception at the Hotel Baur au Lac. But it seems that they did not board their flight back to the UK. We have not been able to contact them since. With no venue confirmed and unpaid caterers we decided to cancel the 2015 award ceremony and send the award to the Referendum Office by second class post. Hopefully the 2016 award ceremony will turn out better ... and that Ms Bataneyelid and staff are able to return safely very soon.

tags: farce, comedy, Whitehall, UK, politics, award, WFA

 

8-Dec-2015

Blatter Splattered

Back in May the FIFA media machine provided us with our Website of the Day - featuring Sepp Blatter enjoying his triumphal re-election. Just six months on and FIFA’s President Blatter is suspended from office and under investigation for criminal malpractice. A dubious privilege shared by a number of FIFA vice-presidents that may have been tempted by the many millions of Swiss Francs flooding through FIFA’s hands for decades.

FifaBlatter2And in last night’s report on BBC TV retired journalist Andrew Jennings was given what may have been his final opportunity to spell out just how far the alleged bribery and corruption has spread. With thirty or more people linked to the top of FIFA already under investigation Jennings is not the only one with incriminating evidence. In fact the shocking stories reported by Jennings may turn out to be just a small fraction of the malpractice that actually occurred.

Last week this was issued by FIFA ...The Executive Committee has today unanimously approved a set of proposals from the 2016 FIFA Reform Committee to pave the way for significant and much-needed changes to FIFA’s governance structure. The recommendations will be put before the Congress as proposed statutory changes for approval at its extraordinary session in Zurich on 26 February.

This meeting is where Blatter is supposed to hand over power to his successor. But knowing how long legal cases can last not much will have been resolved by February 2016 - and even more FIFA big cheeses may be unavailable by then. Meaning there may not be any eligible FIFA presidential candidates left to fill the Blatter vacancy. But with the 2018 and 2022 World Cup cash mountain already assigned it will be the build-up to 2026 before the next big football corruption opportunity comes along. So not a lot left to play for ...

tags: ego, Eurocrat, pension plan, FIFA, Blatter, football, soccer, corruption, world cup

 

Earlier postings ...

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FOOTNOTES

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