May, 2010

Paywalls

This morning a PR team from The Times was dishing out free coffee to colleagues at work. They’re promoting the fact that from today, The Times and Sunday Times have new websites. And with them come paywalls.
As it happens, I don’t drink coffee…
Last week I had the pleasure of attending a live recording of Radio Four’s The Media Show. It was a debate on the merits of paywalls for newspapers between Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and Sunday Times editor John Witherow.
The Times and Sunday Times sites will shortly disappear behind a paywall with charges for access set at £1 for a day, and £2 a week. Access will also be available to print subscribers.
The programme recorded for a good hour, although it was edited down to half an hour for broadcast, and you can listen to that here.
Here, for what they’re worth, are my current thoughts on paywalls.
Newspapers are certainly losing money. While in better times, The Sunday Times has been a pretty profitable beast, it’s not currently. And The Guardian is suffering too, relying on a broader GMG to bring in revenues that prop the newspaper up under the terms of The Scott Trust.
So what’s the answer?
The free route surely remains the safer bet. The Guardian has done exceptionally well expanding out of the UK. While Witherow talked about how valueless ex-UK readers were to his web-offering, I think that he and News Group are missing a trick. Selling approrpriate advertising in different locales is very achievable, and the titles his group owns are famous enough around the world to deliver large readerships.
Rusbridger talked about the vast amounts that they were making from advertising. It sounds quite healthy – albeit that their costs are fairly “healthy” too.
So does that mean that The Guardian is right and The Sunday Times is wrong?
Well it’s not quite that simple.
Why The Sunday Times Isn’t Right

  • The payment plan, as it’s laid out is too draconian. I can’t for the life of me think why they don’t at least have some kind of metering system in place. Even the FT, which is acknowledged to be a special case, has some form of metering. And the FT is very profitable indeed. They realise that as an individual, I’m unlikely to subscribe to their site. But I only read one or two articles there a month. Am I less valuable because of that, as Witherow argues is true of many of his readers who read just a couple of articles and then disappear?
    No.
    You can serve me separate, appropriate advertising. As things stand, if someone sends me a link to something interesting in The Times, I’ll face a request to pay a pound if I want to read it. If it was published that day, it’d actually be in my interest to instead buy a print copy of the paper. Less hassle getting my credit card out, setting up an account and so on.
  • They haven’t developed a micropayement scheme. They’ve gone for the easy option of just putting a payment mechanism in place that charges me one pound or more dependent on the length I’d like to subscribe. If, instead, they’d developed a scheme – a new PayPal perhaps – that many newspaper and other retailers joined, and then let me painlessly purchase an article for say, 5p, then that’d have been smart.
    This is where Apple wins. You enter your card details up front, and then it’s small amounts as you go. Apple carefully doesn’t process the first 79p track you buy to your credit card. They wait a few days in the hope that a meaningful amount is built up reducing their processing costs.
    But mostly it’s about me not worrying too much if something costs me just 5p, and there being a payment mechanism in place that makes sense for a vendor. That means scale to make sense.
  • Current subscribers to The Times may miss out. If you contract directly with the paper, then it can arrange daily delivery to your door at a preferential fee. But many people prefer to use and support their local newsagent. Indeed John Witherow made that point himself, despite it costing more for readers. Think about middle-class Times readers concerned about the welfare of their local newsagent/village store? But if you do that, The Times doesn’t know about you. And you don’t get free inclusive access to The Times’ websites. That’s despite the fact that ordering from your local newsagent will almost certainly be more expensive than dealing directly with The Times.
  • Finding new readers is going to be exceptionally hard. How will I know whether I like the product if I have to pay from the outset? “Freemium” is surely the better model to persuade people like me who only irregularly buy the paper edition of The Times but do visit their site a couple of times a month, that I should think about a subscription.

So does that mean The Guardian is right?

  • I don’t think they’ve currently got their app model right. Currently you pay a one-off fee, and that gets you as much of The Guardian as you like. The subscription model – paying say £2.99 a quarter – is better, and is available via iTunes now.
    Perhaps when the iPad version comes along that’ll be the case (Hint: I’d pay now for an Android version). But Rusbridger noted that the trouble with the iPad was that the web version looked so good, it was a struggle to come up with reasons why you’d buy an app. I guess offline caching is about the main reason – synchronise data when you’re in a wifi zone, and then read offline later.
  • Despite making upwards of £40m via advertising a year, The Guardian loses money. That’s the inherent problem. And that’s why even The Guardian will be watching carefully to see what learnings Murdoch takes from his experiment.

In short then, there are no right answers. The FT and Wall Street Journal can make their models work because they have exclusive data that nobody else can get, and is mostly paid for by employers. The Economist works because it’s a business magazine that works to a large extent on a subscription model. It makes sense bundling web access with the paper subscription.
The Times is a general newspaper. That news is available in lots of different places. They need to make money, but this almost certainly isn’t the right way. Be wary of early subscriber numbers as their paper subscription package probably does reasonably well, and those people will automatically be considered subscribers.
And watching what their big name columnists have to say will be interesting. They were the people who got the New York Times to end their previous paywall experiement. They might be well paid by their papers to have those opinions, but they hate it when others – who’s views are free to read – get bigger traction.
I don’t think most newspaper executives quite understand the link culture and the effect that can have on traffic. The Guardian does. And I think the Mail does. It’s that latter paper that’s going to be worth watching the most. A popular, big website (it might be full of awful stuff, but it’s popular), that while not directly competing with The Times, might well pick up a lot of the slack from The Times. We’ll see.
I’d like to see a newspaper group really do something clever. A deal to give me a free iPad (or similar – because we all know that the iPad is vastly over-priced) if I take up a two year subscription – like my mobile phone company does.
I’d look at perhaps the biggest success in publishing in the last ten years – The Metro. It’s not a bad product, but it’s certainly not good. You could get quite a lot of the same news in the same depth reading Ceefax in the morning. But it’s successful because it’s free. For between 20p and £1 you could pick up a much better paper with far more interesting editorial. But even 20p is not free. And so, every morning, Metro’s dump bin at my local station is empty well before 8am.

Justified

This is a late heads up to look out for Justified on Five USA. Sorry – we’re three episodes in – but you can still start watching!
The next showing of episode 3 is on Saturday at 9pm on Five USA, and you really should be watching. The good news is that you can still catch up with the first couple of episodes on Demand Five. Episodes are also available to buy on iTunes.
If you’re like me, then you might remember Maximum Bob. It was set in Florida and starred Beau Bridges as a “strange” judge. It got cancelled after 7 episodes back in 1998. It hasn’t been released on DVD.
Then there was Karen Sisco. This was a spin-off, of sorts, of the fine feature film Out of Sight, which is still probably the best thing that Jennifer Lopez has ever done. In the TV series, the wonderful Carla Gugino played Karen Sisco, a US Marshall in Florida. The series was cancelled after 10 episodes in 2004. It hasn’t been released on DVD.
And now we have Justified starring Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens, a US Marshall who’s been moved from Florida to his home state of Kentucky. He’s not happy about this. But he dresses a bit like a cowboy, and has a mean shot.
The good news is that Justified has not been cancelled – indeed FX in the US has just renewed the series for a second season! (At some point, somebody can explain to me why the UK FX channel keeps missing out on the great shows commissioned by its US parent company. I know it’s really the production companies’ distributors who get to flog the show, but still…).
What do Maximum Bob and Karen Sisco share with Justified?
Elmore Leonard.
At 84, he’s still going strong and still writing books as he has done since the fifties.
And just like those cancelled series before, Justified has the same tone of voice as Elmore Leonard’s books. The recent third episode, Fixer – which can easily be watched as a standalone episode – has precisely those values. The two bad guys are brilliantly funny. If you liked Jackie Brown or Get Shorty, then you’ll recognise it.
I must admit that I’ve been slow getting onto Leonard. To make amends, I went to Waterstones last night and picked up Pronto. This is the first of two novels and a short story that the Raylan Givens character appears in. Although according to a piece written a couple of months ago around the launch of Justified on FX, Leonard is considering another story.
In the meantime, in the UK we’ve got another 10 episodes of Justified to look forward to.
Thanks to my friend Chloe for pointing me in Justified’s direction!

Has The Mail on Sunday Lost England The World Cup?

It’s the question that isn’t really be asked – at least in the media. But did the Mail on Sunday’s scoop last weekend fatally damage England’s chances of hosting the World Cup in 2018?

Lord Triesman’s words were certainly ill-advised, and, without any proof, completely unfounded. He was foolish to confide such beliefs with anyone – including people who thought were close friends. And now FIFA is carrying out an inquiry into the claims he made.

But should the Mail on Sunday have carried the report, and what long term damage might it do to the bid? We won’t really ever know – and certainly not until December.

The front page of The Sun this morning is turned over to attempting to revitalise the bid, carrying David Beckham’s belief that it’s not all over yet (Well he would say that wouldn’t he?).

Hang on Adam!

Surely it’s vital that the media and journalists can report anything that happens without care for the consequences? They’re just reporting it after all? A free media is one of the tenets of a democracy. And we know what happens to journalists in Russia who step out of line…

That’s true, and I’d defend any journalist from reporting anything.

But there is a slightly fishy smell surrounding the Mail on Sunday’s story though. The word du jour must surely be “entrapment”. However Triesman did say those things and he was very foolish to have voiced them at any time – never mind at quite such a sensitive time as now.

Today’s Guardian mentions an unnamed FIFA member who’ll be one of those voting to decide who gets the 2018 competition as saying that he believes its fatally damaged England’s chances. But as we all know – in the political arena of sport, nothing is ever quite as it appears.

Sports politics surely remains the one area in a western democratic world, where corruption remains. Just look at some previous FIFA and IOC administrations to find things that aren’t really very clever, very nice, and in cases, very legal.

But I do wonder how much pressure there currently is on the Mail on Sunday to reveal – or keep hidden – any further revelations that might come from it’s tape recorded conversations with Triesman? Are we seeing News International v Associated Newspapers over this?

In the end, the proof will be in the pudding. And if the average football fan begins to believe that the Mail on Sunday cost England the 2018 World Cup, then it could hit the bottom line of Associated Newspapers. And an endless supply of Phil Collins CDs won’t fix that.

[UPDATE] I must admit I wrote most of that without testing the water of fan reaction. And it seems pretty clear that I’m by no means the only person pointing a finger at the Mail on Sunday.
Roy Greenslade is wondering like I am, whether this could lead to Hillsborough style boycott of the paper. Of course Linekar’s left the paper, and the reaction in comments on the Mail’s site seems to be flowing one way for the most part.

The Spawn of Satan

Sorry. I’m going to return to an evil that I’ve talked about before.
What bedevilment do I mean?
Why – the standard “ear buds” that come with Apple’s products.
Look – I know I can sometimes moan about Apple. They have their closed systems, their sometimes bloated software (iTunes – I’m looking at you), and their prices. But nobody can doubt their flair in the design and implementation stakes.
Like it or not, they’ve built the portable music business. They banged record company boss heads together until they could launch the iTunes store. And they employ Jonathan Ive, who makes just about everything they manufacture look and feel gorgeous.
But there’s an Achilles Heel to many of their products. It’s the standard headphones they ship iPods, iPhones and, I daresay, iPads with.
Those white ear buds are awful. Worthless. Terrible. They don’t even sit in your ears nicely.
What’s worse – they leak sound to the extent that I can often sing along to the song their wearers are listening to on a noisy tube train, while I have my own headphones on! The reason those people are listening at such high volumes is because so much sound is leaking out, that listeners have to compensate by turning up the volume.
Frankly, if you want to carefully rip your CD collection, or buy music mastered in state-of-the-art multi-million pound studios, and then listen to it on inadequate and acoustically awful headphones, then that’s your choice. But if those phones are so awful, they cause me distress then it becomes a problem.
I genuinely believe that it’d be fair if I was allowed to carry a pair of scissors, or perhaps some secateurs. If I come across someone listening via those awful things, then a quick painless snip and I’d be improving both of our lives.
A general rule of thumb in the whole portable audio business, is that any bundled headphones from any device manufacturer are awful. The possible exception is Sony. They have a significant headphone business, and they know that if they sell terrible headphones bundled with their devices, then they’re not exactly encouraging consumers to upgrade to other offerings in their range.
So why does Apple make a fantastic device like the iPod, and then lumber it with such an awful, yet important accessory? They don’t do it with their other products. If you buy an Apple iMac, it’ll come with a terrific monitor, their “Mighty Mouse” (which everyone says is great), and an excellent keyboard. Those are all areas, where many PC companies save a bob or two when putting together packages.
Yes, Apple sells a superior pair of headphones, in-ear ones, currently retailing at £61 in the UK. But I don’t really think that’s their business plan. You can also buy headphones from many other manufacturers at Apple Stores and online.
Apple obviously builds its products to a price (not necessarily a UK price, it should be said). Decisions are made about what components can be included – cameras on iPhones, aluminium, plastic or ceramic finishes, hard or solid state disk drives and so on. Headphones are obviously not an important part of this process. They price up a $199 iPod Touch, and perhaps allow $1 for the headphones. The biggest part of the decision surrounding the included headphones is ensuring that they’re white and fit in with Apple’s iconic advertising. Sound quality doesn’t really figure.
Now there’s always been a certain part of Apple which says that it’s more about style than substance. And while its pro devices have always ensured that their evident style is also met with the requisite quality, I’m not always convinced that’s the case in consumer products. I think the headphones issue supports that assertion.
What’s more, Apple continued down this substandard headphone path with first their iPhone headphones with their built in microphone, and more depressingly with their most recent low-end iPod Shuffles. In the latter, they built the controls into the cable meaning consumers are basically forced to use the bundled headphones.
So what can you do if you’re still listening to your iPod or iPhone via the bundled headphones?
Frankly you could do a lot worse than head over to Amazon and buy yourself a pair of Sennheiser CX 300-II currently retailing for just £16.09 (They come in white too).
(I was going to say that I don’t have any monetary involvment in Sennheiser, but I will admit that I’ve put affiliate code in those links so that’s not entirely true. Buy them somewhere else if you’re not happy).
By the way, if you’re listening at home, let me heartily recommend Grado 60i headphones which are stunning. They, however, leak an awful lot and definitely aren’t for going out and about with. But if you’re after a relatively inexpensive pair of headphones for home, go for these. They might look a bit odd, and the cool kids in their WESC or Skull Candy gear might not look up to them, but the sound they produce is amazing.
Whatever you do, if you’re still listening with the default Apple ear buds, do yourself and your ears a favour, and buy something else.

Absolute 80s Goes National on D1

Rubik's Cube
Good news if you’re a fan on 80s music – Absolute 80s, which only launched in London at the end of 2009 – is going national from 10am this morning on digital radio.
If you can hear stations on the D1 multiplex (i.e. Absolute Radio, Talksport, Classic FM etc), then you should be able to hear Absolute 80s.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s RAJAR analysis, Absolute 80s had a great digital launch and has already superseded some of its digital competition in its first RAJAR book. So the station will probably be well received across the country.
And if you’re thinking: “But what about that space in London where Absolute 80s is currently broadcast?” Coming soon: Absolute Radio 90s…
Read more here.
Disclaimer: This is the company I work for, and I’ve been involved in getting the station launched on D1. But I think it’ll prove to be a very popular station.

RAJAR Q1 2010

RAJAR
In an experimental change, RAJAR brought forward the release time of this quarter’s RAJAR to midnight tonight. But I’ve been out, so I’m an hour or so later than Matt’s sterling summary of RAJAR which is pretty comprehensive.
There are two big stories that are going to get all the coverage in the papers later today… Well I say that, but the Cameron/Clegg government is probably going to fill most of the Home News pages leaving little room for incidentals like RAJAR. But should radio make a mark, there are two big stories:
1. Chris Evans has grown his audience by 1.1m.
2. BBC 6 Music has recorded its best results ever – by a massive margin.
The first story is interesting because there had been so-called leaks appearing in the Sunday papers (well the Sunday Times anyway) suggesting that Evans’ audience would increase by 10%. In fact, that turned out to underestimate the true figures. On a like for like basis (bear in mind that Evans extended his show by half an hour eating into Sarah Kennedy before him) his audience increased by 1.1m or 13.1% on the previous quarter. What’s more, that’s a 17.6% increase on the previous year.
Anyone who was at the Sonys where he was presenting, saw Evans in a fairly “up” mode, and the unpublished monthly data that the BBC (and other broadcasters) receives had probably hinted at this.
One interesting note is that while Radio 2’s overall average age did rise slightly to 51.0 from 50.7 (a marginal increase to be fair, and probably not statistically significant), the average age of Evans’ show did decrease from 52.6 to 50.9. That’s something that will begin to concern commercial competitors to Evans. Nobody wants to see Radio 2 getting younger – including the BBC to be fair.
But undoubtedly it’s a great result for one of our most talented broadcasters.
On Twitter, the 6 Music story started much earlier. I’m not sure how wise it is for broadcasters who have a vested interest in a station (and indeed a show on a station) to hint at stories they’ve heard – whatever the source – prior to the figures being released. But one way or another by about 6pm this evening, a Twitter search for “6Music” showed lots of excitement about the station’s figures.
In fact, we didn’t need to wait until 8am later today to find out the story. The station has had a rise in reach and hours through the stratosphere, putting on very close to 47% in reach – which means just over 1m listeners per week, up from just under 700,000 previously.
What’s more interesting, although will be less widely reported, is that listening hours more than doubled. In some respects you’d expect reach to have gone up given the enormous amount of coverage the “Save 6 Music” campaign has achieved. If nothing else, people who perhaps hadn’t previously discovered the station, have now found it. I say that the hours result is surprising because “trial” of a station is one thing: you look around – listen for a bit – and then perhaps don’t tune in again. But hours reflects the volume of listening, and it’s there that the figures are really impressive.
What this will mean for the station is hard to say. The BBC Trust consultation closes in just less than two weeks, and rumour has it that they’ve had a staggering response. But will this growth in audience help the station? Or might it hinder things as commercial competitors begin to feel the pain (more anon)?
Those are the two stories you’ll probably read about, but what else is there?
Well RAJAR helpfully pointed out that the overall number of people who listen to radio has increased to a new record high – 46.5m people listening every week. And all radio listening returned to over one billion hours. Last quarter it dipped for the first time in a long time below that amount. It’s a testament to the medium that despite the many other things seeking our attention, radio remains so important and so relevant to so many people.
That’s undoubtedly fantastic news for a medium which is never at the forefront of people’s perceptions. Radio’s often just there.
Digital listening has massively increased. We all know that there are a lot of digital “naysayers”, and sometimes there are some valid points to be made. But just as most other media have gone digital, so radio’s digital growth continues. There was something of a “blip” – a statistical aberration, if you will – last quarter, when digital listening actually fell from 21.1% to 20.9%. Statistically, this wasn’t a significant decrease, but it got reported in some quarters as though listeners were rejecting digital radio as a platform.
The post Christmas period has historically always shown increases, and this quarter is no different. Think of all those DAB radios gift recipients unwrapped! Of all the radio listened to each week, 24.0% is now via a digital platform – significantly up on that 20.9%. Both commercial radio and the BBC saw increases in their digital listening shares achieving 22.9% and 24.6% respecitively.
Does the radio industry still have a way to go until we reach the 50% suggested by Lord Carter in 2009’s Digital Britain report? Certainly. But this is a significant leap forward, and is terrific growth. Set against a backdrop of DAB radios continuing to become cheaper (Sainsburys is currently selling DAB radio alarm clocks for just £9.99) and before the UK RadioPlayer has launched (which should drive online listening), this is a superb result. Nearly 35% of homes now have a DAB radio too.
I should at this point mention one of my employer’s stations – Absolute 80s. This only launched at the end of 2009, and this quarter had its first set of figures. They are stunning. It already reaches well over a quarter of a million people and delivers 1.4m hours a week. To put this in perspective, it’s more than NME Radio and Q Radio, and delivers nearly as many listening hours as Heat. All of these are stations that have been around much more than three months.
Remember that this is a station that so far is only available on DAB in London! And to say that it has had a modest marketing budget is unfair on the word modest. It’s success to date has been totally based on discovery.
Perhaps its success isn’t too surprising given the success of TV series like Ashes to Ashes, and one look at the compilation album charts will highlight the demand for eighties music.
What else is there to say? Quite a lot.
Absolute 80s contributed to a solid overall impression on the Absolute Radio Network of stations which showed an increase in reach and hours (although the main service did see small declines. Perhaps some of our listeners moved across to 80s?).
That’s not a bad result set against an overall disappointing picture for commercial radio. All of the four biggest commercial radio groups saw falls in market share (i.e. listening hours) against a successful BBC set of figures.
Indeed Evans helped BBC Radio 2 to what I believe is Radio 2’s biggest ever reach figure. And while Evans is stealing all the limelight, it’s worth noting that Radio 1 has also had a great set of numbers with Chris Moyles also getting a great breakfast result, and leading Radio 1 to reporting its biggest reach since at least 1999 and possibly ever as well! (I don’t have the paper figures to hand to check right back to the start of RAJAR).
With all five of the BBC’s main networks reporting increases in reach, and many of them reporting increases in listening hours too, it’s not perhaps surprising that the BBC’s lead over commercial radio increased to 56.5% compared with commercial radio’s 41.3% (No – they don’t add up to 100%. The difference is non-RAJAR radio listening). That’s something that will concern commercial operators.
It’s also interesting to note that while 6 Music has obviously received an enormous boost via the threat of its closure, the same isn’t true of the Asian Network. It saw decreases in both reach and hours. While I imagine 6 Music’s future isn’t completely determined yet, you must imagine that the Asian Network’s future has been.
In London, there’s a great merry-go-round happening. Look forward later this morning to hearing top-of-hour jingles from both Captial and Magic, each claiming to be the city’s biggest music service. This is because more people listen to Capital, but people spend more time with Magic. Rumours that this is because Magic listeners fall asleep listening to the station are not fair…
Capital’s reach is a real storming number, since in one fell-swoop, it overtook three other competitors to reach top spot. I rather suspect that we’re going to continue to see lots of changes in London listening figures each quarter, because there’s no overall trend really happening.
Global will also be pleased with Classic FM’s results which show decent increases in both reach and hours. UTV will be less happy with Talksport which sees a 5.1% dip in reach but a much more significant 20.0% drop in hours. Quite why that might be is difficult to say, since as far as I’m aware, programming has remained consistent. But they did have a good previous quarter, so perhaps there’s something of a statistical correction happening.
Planet Rock is probably still celebrating its Sony Radio Academy Award as digital station of the year (more on these awards in the next couple of days – I’m still catching up). And they’ve now received a record number of listening hours, which is great news for the station.
Do feel free to ask questions in the comments. I’ll try to help where I can.
Disclaimer: I work for Absolute Radio and these are my views, and don’t necessarily reflect those of my employer. I’m also on the RAJAR Technical Management Group, but I don’t really think that comes into play here. That all said, if it wasn’t for all of that, I probably wouldn’t be able to write this. I certainly wouldn’t have full access to the figures. And this piece is based on something I wrote for my employer internally earlier yesterday.

Election Night Live

Olympus Trip on a Dark Day-21
Well not really live. But expect this particular entry to be updated as the night goes on. It’ll be in reverse order.
11:40
“Haven’t you got a city to run? Well go away and do it. Goodbye!” Paxman to Boris.
11:36
I’ve just realised that I missed the news that my own local MP who had her expenses issues has been kicked out. It was still a close run thing though.
She can’t be surprised, and frankly, there’s no need for anyone who lives around here to have a second home in Westminster.
Meanwhile Boris is talking nonsense with Paxman which might make for light relief, but he is still our mayor for God’s sake.
11:26
David Steel correcting Jeremy Paxman on what Nick Clegg actually said – which does mean the Tories get first attempt at putting a Parliament together, and not that Nick Clegg will talk to the Tories first. Those are subtly different things.
Jeremy Vine in his CGI parliament which looks like it’s been created with the help of those guys in Taiwan who animate the news.
10:54
The more alert may have spotted a large seven hour gap between updates. That’s because I went to bed for a bit around 5am.
So the news now is that Nick Clegg has said that he thinks the Tories should get to be first chance to make a government. That doesn’t mean that he’ll support them however. But one way or another it’s a disappointing result for the Lib Dems.
03.54
OK – so I’ve slowed down these updates quite a bit. Still on Twitter though.
02:58
It seems as though Boss Hogg from the Dukes of Hazzard was standing in Witney where amazingly, David Cameron won the seat.
02:46
Paddy Ashdown was interesting on Five Live just now talking about the growing importance of postal votes and noting how the exit poll can’t take proper account of those voters.
Paxman asks Opik if he lost because of a Cheeky Girl!
02:26
Lembit Opik loses his seat. I don’t think this quite counts as 2010’s version of “Were you still up when Portillo lost his seat?”
02:06
Yes – I know that I’m not updating every couple of minutes now. But there’s little to add really. Jeremy Vine has a table now as well as his earlier staircase.
And a drunk woman who turns out to be a C4 property porn presenter was interviewed on the BBC boat.
01:34
So where are we now? Labour wants to work with the Lib Dems.
David Blunkett pretty much conceded defeat and then immediately rowed back.
Some BNP “Land is Power” lunatic in Gordon Brown’s constituency is wearing sunglasses and seems to be giving a Black Panther salute of some sort.
Gordon Brown’s acceptance speech seems to refer to the reports of people unable to vote.
01:08
“Is this the Ashdown money?” ask Paxman
“AshCROFT,” says Lord AshDOWN.
01:02
“Well there’s very little to see there…”
Dimbleby on Cameron arriving at his count after seeing some dull footage of nothing much happening.
00:54
Over on Sky, Adam Boulton gets his turn with the Electoral Commission’s Jenny Watson and opens his interview with, “Are you going to resign?”
00:48
The Dark Lord himself has moved on from the BBC and seems to be in Westminster now where he’s talking down the line to Adam Boulton on Sky. No love lost in that interview!
00:45
It turns out that Ian Paisley has a son, and he’s comfortably won his seat in North Antrim.
I am beginning to wonder if Fiona Bruce has had a little tipple.
Willing Margaret Hodge on in Barking.
00:28
“An Eton and Oxford educated white man. They said it wouldn’t happen in our lifetime!” – Andy Zaltzman on The Sun’s likening of Cameron with Obama on their front page yesterday.
00:25
Andy Zaltzman has joined Geoff Lloyd on their election night show. Obviously he still has a few political gags left after recent appearances on The Vote Now Show, The Bugle, 7 Day Sunday and even his sister’s podcast, Answer Me This!
00:15
Oh good. Back to Andrew Neil’s party – obviously the hot ticket of the evening. David Starkey, Martin Amis and Simon Shama. Oddly Amis didn’t use it as an opportunity to plug BBC2’s upcoming adaptation of Money.
And is that Joan Collins gurning at the camera in the background? Yes it is. And she has little to no idea what’s happening. Richard Wilson wants proportional representation and Tony Parsons doesn’t seem to be able to differentiate between Milibands. Finally Armando Ianucci must be wondering what the hell he’s doing there.
Collins is a strong believer in the family, something she thinks Labour has forgotten. She’s such a fervant believer that she has lots of family via her four different husbands.
00:00
Over on Sky, wherer they made a great deal of the fact their election night is in HD (despite the fact that the vast majority of counts will only be in SD), we’ve got pictures of Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, at the Barking count. Thank god I don’t have an HDTV.
The he talks to George Osborne in Tatton. He uses the same line with Adam Boulton that he did with David Dimbleby on BBC1 a few minutes earlier.
22:50
Fiona Bruce has now twice smirked when talking about Nigel Farage’s crash earlier. Well I suppose – given that nobody was too seriously hurt – it is a little bit funny.
Now the BBC is taking it a bit more seriously and we’re getting a hospital update with both Farage and pilot being stable.
The problems over people failing to be able to vote sounds more serious – particularly in places where they actually ran out of voting slips.
23:40
More stories floating around on Twitter about voters refusing to leave polling stations having not been able to vote. Well there were an awful lot of soaps on this evening meaning you couldn’t easily get out of the house before 9.00pm…
23:29
Swings in safe-seats really aren’t relevant are they? But nonetheless, with little else to look at, it’ll get analysed to within an inch of its life.
23:27
Another less-than-shocking result from the north-east. The BNP guy didn’t bother to hang around for the result.
23:19
Looking forward to Jeremy Vine taking over as the new presenter of Five’s Domino Day
I seem to have strayed onto an old episode of That’s Life on BBC1. Esther Rantzen is a Luton independent.
22:15
A quick swing through radio now.
Geoff Lloyd has started his election night party on Absolute Radio with some old calypso music because the song was about British elections.
On Five Live they seem to have someone called Mike Smith on. But not the ex-Radio 1 and Saturday morning kids TV Mike Smith. Basically they’re filling…
(On my muted TV set Emily Maitliss is showing her map of the UK with one small red dot in the top right hand corner.)
Radio 4 is doing a professional job, filling in a similar manner.
LBC is a bit more argumentative, although they’re all saying that Clegg “peaked too soon”.
Back on TV Andrew Neil has moved indoors and has one of his This Week chums, Michal Portillo (ah, memories. He talked to us as school kids once).
Mariella Frostrup is here not talking about books which makes a change. She does know Gordon Brown seemingly. And Ian Hislop is also there, honing a few lines for tomorrow morning’s recording Have I Got News perhaps. He’s a not-really-in-the-closet Lib Dem.
Now we’re getting into why the exit poll doesn’t do percentages but does seats.
David Baddiel’s not really made a great effort considering he knew he was going to be on TV (NB I’m sure he’ll be terrific on a certain set of podcasts coming soon).
Sadly the signal cut out before we could hear what Fearne Britton had to say.
23:02
Huw Edwards on Sky 972 aka BBC Wales explaining why there’ll not be a great deal going on for at least another hour yet.
22:57
DImbleby: “We’ll be reporting more than the party leaders and all that.
22:52
No sign of Sunderland. Over on BBC Parliament, they’re broadcasting BBC Scotland’s election coverage. They’ll be in for a long night as many of their more rural constituencies will have polling stations far and wide.
On Fox News it’s Glen Beck. Moving on…
France 24 is running live coverage, but I think I’ll leave them to it.
Al Jazeera is just covering the news as usual. Not surprising given the financial markets today.
Finally we get Sunderland and there’s no surprise. And overall it tells us precisely nothing.
22:45
Over on Sky they’ve been talking to frustrated would-be voters in Sheffield who were turned away from their polling station because it was too busy and they couldn’t vote by the 10pm deadline.
Meanwhile on Sky they “know” that Labour will win 255 seats in their exit poll. That’s not actually how it works Sky. We don’t really know anything just at the moment.
Fraser Nelson has been “working with his iPhone” and can’t find any “blogger” who believes the exit poll. Of course they mightn’t, and I don’t really either. But then I know no more than anybody else.
Sunderland is being slower than the TV companies had hoped. They’ve yet to announce.
22:40
Alistair Campbell using the “we” word quite a lot on ITV.
22:35
Brucie thinks he’s on some new primetime gameshow. You could see him desperately trying to work one of his old Play Your Cards Right lines into his interview with Andrew Neil.
By the way, with Piers Morgan on the bank of The Thames somewhere, all it would take is a fast boat and a paintball gun. Just saying…
BBC reporting lines in Leeds at 9.30pm and hundreds turned away in Manchester unable to vote.
22:30
Andrew Neil is looking shifty on The Thames somewhere. He’s hearing from Piers “Moron” Morgan. So along with Simon Cowell in The Sun the other day, that just leaves Amanda Holden and we’ve got all the BGT judges.
22:25
A couple of great pieces on exit polls from the FT and the excellent Mark Blumethal on Pollster.com.
22:18
Kirsty Wark is most certain that Nick Clegg is watching BBC1. But she also reports things that others are saying on Twitter, that large crowds at some polling stations have been turned away due to inability to handle the numbers.
Pleased to see that Sith Lord himself is with Paxman.
22:15
Good news, according to ITV News’ Romilly Weeks, the Sunderland ballot box counters have been chosen because they’re “very good at counting” and “good with their fingers.”
22:12
Over on CNN, Richard Quest has been banished to Parliament Green where there’s not a lot going on. Quest isn’t appearing as a hologram.
22:10
Sky has Adam Boulton in HD which is probably an “H” more than I need. In Sunderland the pictures of the election workers rushing in the ballot boxes make it look like a Saturday teatime gameshow. But even Sky admits it’s like “It’s A Knockout”.

22:05
A good start with no sound from Michael Gove.
The BBC’s “big innovation” is an FHM-style projection on Big Ben. Interestingly, I was at a picnic with Gail Porter a couople of weeks ago (friend of a friend).
Harriet Harman makes a good point that a decent turnout seems to have led to queues in a few places. She wants to change the voting system.
22:00
Hmm. Exit Poll predicts a hung pariament, but Dimbleby is already giving it a certain degree of scepticism.
307 Tories
255 Labour
59 Lib Dems
29 Others
21:58
Paxo’s on the “naughty step” while Jeremy Vine is following his Yellow/Red/Blue Brick Road. Oh good. Andrew Neil will be interviewing Brucie. I really need to hear his views.
21:55
David Dimbleby tells us this is the most exciting election for a generation. I note that this is going out in HD – much like Sky’s coverage – except the BBC would probably admit that 99% of their OBs are in SD since tonight must be one of the most resource hungry for any broadcaster.
21:49
I’ve been watching C4’s alternative election. It’s been advertised a lot today, including a wraparound on the Evening Standard.
Seemingly its actually being shot in the next studio along from BBC1’s election coverage in Television Centre.
Anyway, it’s a bit hit and miss so far, with significantly more miss than hit. I didn’t bother with the Come Dine With Me special at all, on the basis that I can’t stand Come Dine With Me and will never watch it.