July, 2011

F1 on Television

The news that the BBC is sharing Formula 1 rights with Sky leaves me personally unperturbed.
While some of the rule changes introduced in recent years do seem to have led to some actual over-taking, other forms of motorsport seem more interesting, and seem less like engineering competitions. However, my own ambivalence towards the “sport” is neither here nor there in the scheme of things. The bigger picture is more to do with how much the BBC was paying to show the sport at a time when it’s facing a severe curtailment in what it can spend.
However, this deal does feel a little as though Bernie Ecclestone is both having his cake and eating it. Indeed Bernie seems to be saying as much himself:
“…we get the best of both worlds.”
Fairweather viewers like me will still be able to see Monte Carlo and the British Grand Prix, otherwise just turning on to see if there’s a big pile up in the first corner (In fact, I’ll be able to see all the races because I do subscribe to Sky).
I think it’s clear that F1 teams, which are supported to such a large extent by sponsors, need to have their cars in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Going to a pay-TV world only does not help this. It could have been worse, and free-to-air may have been left with highlights, or indeed no coverage at all.
I’ve banged on and on in the past about how cricket has abrogated its responsibility by ensuring that no live cricket is broadcast on free-to-air television, leaving us with the fact that only IPL cricket on ITV4 is live on free-to-air television. This deal is better than that one, which is some small solace.
It seems as though the F1 teams have to agree this deal, and I’d anticipate that there will be some concern that sponsors don’t lose their visibility.
For Sky this is clearly a good deal. There were rumours that News Corp actually wanted to buy the sport lock, stock and barrel earlier in the year. That seemed a little unlikely – although in motor racing, pretty much anything goes.
On the other hand, the BBC spends an awful lot of money on F1, and for every race it broadcasts, it could probably fund a pretty impressive two hour drama. Given that some of those races take place at some quite anti-social hours, and in some quite anti-social places, I’m not sure that it is such a bad thing.
That said, fans who like to watch every race – even as the calendar has greedily expanded to twenty races (if you include the now cancelled Bahrain Grand Prix) – are going to miss out if they don’t subscribe. And there’s already been a lot of understandable vocal outpouring from non-Sky subscribers who are F1 diehards.
In the end, F1 is too expensive. So this is probably the least worst option.
Mind you, I did laugh when earlier today I saw Martin Brundle’s “come and get me” tweet:
BBC/Sky/F1 2012+. Found out last night, no idea how it will work yet I’m out of contract, will calmly work through options Not impressed

Satire and Parliament

Over the last few days, there’s been a bit of a Twitter-ruckus (is that a word?) about the lack of More 4’s Global Edition of The Daily Show this week.
Graham Linehan has full details (and this New Statesman piece essentially regurgitates Linehan), but essentially the episode had to be pulled because the main item was based around clips from UK Parliamentary procedings. Boing Boing has also published a piece today.
And as regular readers of this site will know:
no extracts of Parliamentary proceedings may be used in any light entertainment programme or in a programme of political satire;
The producers of Have I Got News For You, for one, are well aware of this, and it has been mentioned on the programme on several occassions. But people tend to forget.
Incidentally, it doesn’t really need a Freedom of Information request to discover why broadcasters can’t use Parliamentary footage. It’s all right there on the www.parliament.uk website:
The guidelines for the use of the signals are:
a) no extracts of Parliamentary proceedings may be used in any light entertainment programme or in a programme of political satire;
b) subject to paragraph (a) above, extracts of Parliamentary proceedings may be included in broadcast “magazine” programmes which also contain music or humorous features, provided that the different types of item are kept separate;
c) extracts from Parliamentary proceedings may not be used in party political broadcasts;
d) no extracts of Parliamentary proceedings may be used in any form of advertising, promotion or other form of publicity, except in the form of trailers for programmes which use extracts within the requirement of these guidelines and where the trailers also comply with those requirements; and
The user shall at all times comply with all the rules of coverage, guidelines and directives laid down from time to time by the relevant select committee of each House in reports issued by them and otherwise.

Is it unfair? Absolutely.
Does it make us something of a laughing stock? Certainly.
I suggest we try a couple of courses of actions:
– employ those sketch artists we normally only get for court appearances, and over-dup them with the voices of actors previously employed to be the voice of Gerry Adams;
– get those nice Taiwanese news animators to use their vivid imaginations to denote how they think things went.
It’s also worth noting that many daily newspapers employ sketch writers who are given privliged seats in the Commons, despite their sole job being to report procedings with gentle humour.
Whether or not The Daily Show was breaking the rules by rebroadcasting clips taken from C-SPAN, I don’t know. It’s worth noting that around the Royal Wedding earlier this year, they noted that they weren’t allowed to use footage as that too was expressly forbidden in terms of satirical output.
All this does indeed remind us that a single late-night Global Edition of The Daily Show isn’t enough. Someone needs to broadcasting the programme four nights a week as it used to be.

Following Le Tour

No. Sadly, I don’t mean spending large parts of July in a camper van driving between the Pyrenees and the Alps, joining the multi-national throngs clinging to the mountainsides.
I mean following the Tour, on-air and online.
Assuming that you’re not “available to view” during the daytime on weekdays, your first decision is whether to go for the “Mugabe media lockdown” option and try to avoid all references to the results before you get home in the evening and catch up with highlights/recordings. Depending on what you do for a living, and who you speak to, this may or may not be possible.
The problem I have with this approach is that it means that Twitter and much of the web would be completely out of bounds for the latter part of every afternoon. And working in a radio station as I do, if Mark Cavendish (or another British rider) wins a stage, then it goes out on air. I learnt that the hard way last year. No amount of fingers in the ears and la-la-ing can prevent the knowledge being imparted. That all said, there were certainly days this year that I escaped prior knowledge – usually days that I was locked up in meetings all afternoon.
Twitter is actually really good for a number of reasons. There are plenty of cyclists online and using it to greater or lesser extents. Not least, Cadel Evans, this year’s winner. But Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas, Andy Schleck, David Millar, Jens Voight, Simon Gerrans and many others can all be found online. They can give you some good inside information into riders’ thoughts.
Then there are the live feeds from the likes of ITV Cycling, Eurosport’s Spokesmen, Versus Cycling and Cycling Weekly. Throughout the stages, these (and others) and busily giving you updates of what’s happening. So if you have access to no other media, you can get excellent live updates, just as fast as people can type.
But it’s the broadcast media where things are best. And with ITV4 and Eurosport, pretty much all your television bases are covered. ITV4’s free to air coverage is excellent – with the ever present Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen (both on Twitter too) – providing not just ITV4, but most of the English speaking world with their peerless commentary. With Gary Imlach, Chris Boardman, Ned Boulting and Matt Rendell, they have a formidable team.
I know that the Phil and Paul show isn’t to everyone’s tastes, and they do have to explain the basics each year for the benefit of new viewers, but there’s the alternative in Eurosport’s David Harmon and Sean Kelly. British Eurosport viewers also get James Richardson and the gang in the studio introducing each stage. Eurosport is essentially the broadcast home of cycling, but it has always been slightly hamstrung, in my eyes, by the lossy compression that they use on satellite. The SD picture quality has always been lacking, and you’d only have to switch between Eurosport’s pictures and, say, the BBC (if both are covering the same sporting fixture), and you’d easily see the difference.
Fortunately, like ITV4 (at least on Sky), Eurosport now broadcasts in HD, and the host coverage from France 2/3 just looks stunning. You could easily draw up a longlist of places to visit in France at a later date just drooling over those pictures. HD is certainly the way to go for cycling.
Eurosport does have the advantage of coming on air a little earlier than ITV4 on most stages. Although ITV this year offered more complete coverage to those who paid £2.99 for its iPhone or iPod Touch app (no Android version sadly).
Both channels offered at least two and half hours’ coverage of each stage. And for one monumental day, ITV4 came on-air for the better part of six hours – by far the longest I can recall them being there.
As someone who was introduced to Le Tour in the mid-eighties, I had to learn about the race from nightly half-hour highlights on Channel 4. As well as expertly compressing the day’s procedings into a tight timeframe, they produced some excellent recorded “packages” around the commercial break.
And that’s still the case today on ITV4’s excellent nightly highlights pacakge. It should be noted that the production team hasn’t really changed enormously – just the channel they work for. Of course, for the bigger mountain stages, the time is handed over entirely to the cycling, but during some of the flatter stages when little aside from the final sprint happens, they’re useful addendums. You can also be sure of interviews either in English or with subtitles, with all the relevant riders.
The nightly ITV4 highlights package is the bedrock of my Tour de France viewing. Even the montages they put together at the end of each day are exceptional. Even more exceptional is the fact that the ITV website has actually published a list of all the music they’ve used throughout the 2011 Tour! I speak as someone who – on more than one occassion – has pointed the Shazam app on his mobile at the TV to discover this very information.
And then there are streaming options for both ITV4 and Eurosport. As well as the aforementioned app, ITV4 streams free online. Interestingly, they ensured that anyone who viewed had to provide an email address. On the one hand, that meant getting an email daily when the stage was available to view online (or on-air). On the other hand, a Media Guardian story about impending micropayments for some ITV programming rings a couple of alarm bells.
As Eurosport is a subscription channel, there aren’t any legal free ways to view it online. However, viewers can subscribe on a month by month basis to the Eurosport player which offers decent value for money. And Sky subscribers can access Eurosport as part of its recently rebranded Sky Go service, free of charge. With up two devices registered per subscription, that means you could be watching on a PC, mobile or even Xbox.
So finally, that brings us to the radio. Five Live Sports Extra sends Simon Brotherton out to follow the Tour. And this year, there was plenty of coverage of the last few kilometres of each stage on the digital station.
But I do have a criticism.
For various reasons I found myself in the Scottish Highlands for the final stage of this year’s Tour – mountain biking as it happens. Unfortunately, Aviemore does not seem to get the Freeview multiplex that ITV4 broadcasts on (I even tried retuning, adding BBC Alba to the set, but not adding the service I was chasing). With an unreliable WiFi connection that meant streaming was not an option, I had to “fall back” to radio.
Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be a problem. As I say Five Live Sports Extra has offered excellent coverage throughout the Tour. But at the weekend, the Tour clashed with the first Test at Lords against India. That took precedence on Sports Extra, so no live commentary there.
Over on the main channel, they were covering a rugby league fixture, as my Twitter feed showed me that the riders were entering the last few kilometres.
What you need to know is that although the overall winner of the race had been decided in the previous day’s time-trial, with Cadel Evans ousting Andy Schleck with a superb individual effort, the green jersey was still up for grabs.
And the main man in contention was a Brit – Mark Cavendish.
No Briton has ever won the green jersey, and indeed only Robert Millar in 1984 has won any jersey at all. So this was big news.
While many had Cav in as a shoo-in – his powerful HTC-Highroad delivery train besting everyone else on the Tour – you can never be certain. The margins in points offered meant that his nearest rival only had to beat him by a couple of places in the final sprint, and Cav could lose out. So favourite or not, there was all to play for.
Five Live had not one, but two people in the commentary booth on the Champs-Élysées. We must surely go over to them soon – rugby league or not.
Half time in the rugby arrived and there were less than 10km to go. That’s around 10 minutes of riding.
FIne – the timings are working out OK. Let’s cross over to Paris now.
“First the news headlines…”
OK. The news has been awful over the last few days. And Five Live is (as Talksport never tires of pointing out) primarily a news channel.
We come out of the news.
Let’s head straight to France for the final five kilometres then.
Uh no.
First an interview about the boxing last night. I’m not denying that the bout was worthy of discussion. It was live on terrestrial TV – all too rare for the sport these days – and was closely fought by all accounts.
But there’s LIVE cycling happening right now.
Go to Paris! Now!
Finally, as the sprint entered the final kilometre, we headed to France and heard the last sixty seconds or so of the race.
Now, by the sound of things, we entered commentary mid-stream, and it’s likely that had I had reliable internet access, I could have streamed the coverage. But on-air Five Live treated the cycling awfully.
Just ten minutes was all I was looking for. The boxing conversation could have happened at another time. The news – already rescheduled to squeeze into a half-time break in the rubgy – could likewise have been shuffled around.
Poor. Very poor.
In summary, excellent coverage on television. Excellent coverage online. And mostly excellent coverage on the radio. With the exception of Mark Cavendish winning the Green Jersey.
And I realise I haven’t mentioned it, but wasn’t this a superb Tour? Absolutely excellent across the board. The best in many years.

eBook Readers – Reappraised to an Extent

I love books. Real, physical books. Two arrived in the post just today! And I have 30 pages left to read in the thriller in my bag. In fact, why am I typing this in my lunch break and not reading it?
As such, I’ve not bothered buying something like a Kindle. They seem vastly popular among the commuting crowd – especially on the line that I use to get to work. But thus far, I’ve not been interested.
However that may soon change. I’m still going to stick with physical paper where I can, but a couple of things have happened recently that are making me change the way I think.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that Byliner’s business model sounds interesting. The mid-length pieces that they’re publishing are never going to find their way into print, so digital is the obvious route.
Then something else interesting.
A few weeks ago I went to the excellent new British Library exhibition on science fiction: Out of this World. It’s an excellent distillation of science fiction from its very earliet days through to the current (including the Arthur C Clarke winner Zoo City by Lauren Beukes – a great read by the way).
As I went around, I found myself taking notes of books that I’d never read and wanted to read. For complicated reasons I lost the list, and will have to visit again to put together a full list. But I remembered a handful, and headed off first to Waterstones on Gower Street, and when I struck out there, to Amazon. Shockingly, all of the titles I was looking for (or could remember at least) were out of print – even books that had been published this century were no longer available. One book in particular seemed to be achieving very good prices indeed in the second-hand market.
So that’s why it’s excellent news that the UK’s leading science fiction imprint, Gollanzc, is launching the SF Gateway in September. Launching with 1,000 titles, the number of books available will rise to 5,000 by 2014 we’re promised.
These are books that you’d otherwise have to search high and low for. Perhaps you can get a copy in your library, although the average fiction title has a relatively high turnover in libraries. And no doubt you might find a copy in your local second-hand bookshop or charity shop (I passed an Oxfam recently made great use of yellow-covered Gollanzc books in its window).
Combined – these two initiatives might just push me over the edge. I’m not sure devices are quite there yet however. Amazon will undoubtedly update to a new iteration of its Kindle in time for the run-up to Christmas, and Sony has recently announced a new line-up of eBook readers. I may just be in the market for one…

Phone-Hacking Media Talk

Last night I spent a fascinating hour at a “live” recording of The Guardian’s Media Talk podcast, presented by Matt Wells, in a packed room with somewhere around 100 Guardian readers in attendance. It was devoted completely to the hacking scandal, and featured some of the key players in the case including Nick Davies, the journalist who’s been working doggedly at this for at least the last two years, and his Editor-in-Chief, Alan Rusbridger.
Also there were Jane Martinson, formerly editor of Media Guardian, and who’d spent the previous day in the committee room alongside Davies watching the Murdochs give testimony (at least until that idiot’s utter stupidity meant that the media lost focus, and members of the public – including all the journalists – were thrown out of the meeting room), and Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, who pointed out that the editor of his series of thrillers under his alternative identity, author Sam Bourne, would have rejected all the twists and turns that this affair has seen in just the last two weeks.
Anyway, the podcast of this is already up, and it’s really worth a listen, even if you’re beginning to feel that you might have OD’d on the whole subject.

London to Brighton 2010

I’ve got a few videos saved up that I’ve not edited or posted. So I thought I’d work through the backlog!
This was taken last August (so it’s been a while) when a few of us cycled from London to Brighton as part of a vaguely radio-themed outing. As you might be able to tell from the quality and colours, it’s a Super 8 film.
This year’s ride is on 7 August, and I’m sure that there’s space for you if you want to join us!


The London Street Photography Festival will shortly be coming to an end, and I’ve enjoyed having a look at the work of some of the photographers exhibiting. In particular, I can heartily recommend the Vivian Maier exhibition at the German Gymnasium between King’s Cross and St Pancras Stations. Try to get to see it this weekend when it closes if you get a chance.
Anyway, as part of the festival, I went on a really interesting one day course with Mimi Mollica, a terrific photographer who was very honest about what he would and wouldn’t be able to teach us in a single day’s course.
Mimi runs an intensive three week course called Photowrap which hones the skills you need to develop your documentary or street photography skills.
I can’t say that I did particularly well on the day. The photos I took were largely bland, and by going out on the streets of London Fields (where the course took place) I felt that a DSLR was a bit bulky. Furthermore, my exposure was all over the place.
Nonetheless, at the end of the day, we headed over to Exmouth Market where the paperback edition of Street Photography Now was being launched, and Mimi went through our photos in a surprising level of detail even though time was limited.
So in part, I was frustrated at my own inability, but at the same time, I was driven quite a lot by the course, and I intend to get out and do some more. Indeed I’ve already done a bit.
The following day, Mimi’s work accompanied a piece in the Independent on Sunday investigating Romanian gypsies and the mafia in that part of the world.

A Summer Storm

Summer Storm Montage (mp3)
A little recording I made going to the shops yesterday while a storm passed over. This is obviously an edit of a twenty minute walk removing as much wind noise as possible.
Recorded with Roland CS-EM10 binaural microphone/earphones on a Zoom H2.
Be sure to listen with your headphones to capture the full binaural experience. In any case, your laptop’s speakers are rubbish.

Lies, Damned Lies…

A YouGov/Sunday Times poll reveals that 6 Music would be the station most people would choose to close down to help the BBC achieve spending cuts.
There are one or two problems with this:
– In the survey, the station was named “BBC Radio 6” rather than “BBC 6 Music”. A small but important detail, since listeners to the station might know it better by its actual name.
– Of the radio stations listed, 6 Music has far fewer listeners than any of the others. And as YouGov notes in commentary 6 Music is the only station that’s digital only. In other words, when asked to nominate a channel for closure, the public chose the service they were most likely never to have listened to. Not terrifically surprising.
– According to last week’s BBC Annual Report, 6 Music costs £10.8m a year to run. In the grand scheme of things that’s going to make little to no difference, and is about one quarter the cost of the next cheapest service on the YouGov/Sunday Times list.
Lies, damned lies and statistics.
Story via Media UK

The News of the World

I’ve been following this week’s events with dropped jaw horror, as finally, after two years of solid reporting from Nick Davies and The Guardian, it all came home to roost for News International and the News of the World.
I hate to see people lose their jobs. We keep hearing about how 200 fine men and women are being layed off (give or take a few who will find employment elsewhere in the News International stable). But they’re not the only ones going this week.
Bombardier – the last train manufacturer in the UK – is laying off 443 staff and 983 contractors following the government’s awarding of a contract to Siemens in Germany since they didn’t take account of the social cost of failing to award to a British company (something that German and French rail groups absolutely do do).
Administrators have laid off 557 from Homeform, the group that owns Moben, Dolphin and Kitchens Direct following the collapse of the business.
And they’re just a couple of the groups that have seen significant loss of staff. The difference is that they – for one reason or another – were “failing” businesses or businesses that were unable to fill their order books. In every case, I’ve no doubt that there are going to be people struggling to make mortgage payments or pay the bills (and those gas and electricity prices are only going in one direction seemingly).
In the News of the World’s case, it was still a highly profitable newspaper selling more copies and having more readers than any other paper in the country. Whether it or The Times of India was the largest English language newspaper in the world, I’ll leave for others to determine (not having easy access to India’s ABC figures). But we do know that the paper was selling an extraordinarily large 8m papers in the fifties when that must have represented close to one in five adults in the country.
I’ve got a whole collection of first and last newspapers that have been launched or died during my life. I have The Independent no. 1. I have Robert Maxwell’s London Daily News; The Sunday Correspondent; first and last issues of Today. But I don’t think I’ll be buying today’s News of the World. It was never a paper I liked especially. And that was before I learnt what has slowly become clearer and clearer over the last two years.
An unscientific sample of two local newsagents to me revealed one with stacks of unsold News of the Worlds at 4pm, while another was sold out, yet I could buy any other title there.
Looking at the front page, it’s noticeable that the stories seem to all be from its recent tabloid era – the paper “only” turned tabloid in 1984, yet the paper itself goes far further back. Are our memories that short? I notice from the Andrew Marr programme that the paper includes a reproduction of the title’s first edition with its values at the top of the front page. While it was always a paper that targeted the working man, I’m not completely convinced that the News of the World in 2011 would have been recognised by those men who first created it. Apart from anything else, it’s title was the ultimate misnomer – it’s been a long time since we learnt anything from around the world, at least unless it involved celebrities in other countries.
I’m always somewhat unconvinced that a twenty-something journalist working at the title today really worries about what a title’s founders said about the paper nearly two hundred years ago. What we’ve learnt from this case is that journalists at the paper were under enormous pressure to get stories into the paper, and if you didn’t get a high enough byline count, you were out. Of course Fleet Street is and always has been competitive. But it’s now pretty obvious that out the window went any kind of ethics or morals. So get those stories however you can…
I’ve no doubt that, at times, there were some incredibly significant undercover stories that came out from the paper, including use of the infamous “fake sheikh.” But even some of them turned out to be not quite as good as they might, as trials collapsed, or things actually not quite being as they were first presented. The paper’s sports coverage was strong too. I know some who bought the title purely for its football coverage, with good writers who knew their stuff and had the inside track on what was going on; without the use of mobile phone messages, I trust.
In the end, the public also has to have a say in this. If you were buying the paper, you were also responsible for the kinds of stories it was digging out. Papers shift very quickly to meet the needs of their readers. And they delivered what the readers seemingly wanted. Of course those readers didn’t know how the paper got it stories, but they happily devoured them nonetheless, and the paper has been a cash cow for many years. And that’s not something that many papers from any area of the market can say.
What’s going to happen to all those News of the World readers? Who knows. I suspect that many bought the paper alongside another – perhaps the Mail or a broadsheet. Some will switch to the Sunday Mirror or the Mail on Sunday – the real play for new readers will begin in earnest next weekend and I suspect that already the big guns in the marketing departments of Mirror Group and Associated are putting together strong offers for next week’s paper. What’s the best DVD or biggest value voucher they can afford to give away?
Undoubtedly the Sun will go seven days a week – not before the autumn I’d have said. I would look towards some serious offers being made to get current Sun readers to move to be seven day purchasers. While somebody might have been buying up relevant URLs, I suspect that in reality sun.co.uk will be the single place for readers to go, although the title may well be called The Sun on Sunday (The Sunday Sun being a 100 year old paper in the northeast of England).
As for the PCC. Well its patently a shambles. As things stands, it’s hopeless with ridiculous limits on who’s even allowed to complain – if I’m not the focus of a story, then it’s nothing to do with me? It’s been thoroughly useless all the way through this scandal. And it doesn’t even monitor the whole press – Express Newspapers isn’t a part of it at all.
The big question now is political. Is Rupert Murdoch going to take full control of Sky? And that means what Jeremy Hunt, David Cameron and Ofcom do over the next few weeks will… let’s just say be fascinating. That’s if a proposed Commons rebellion doesn’t take place in the meantime. Murdoch’s flown in now to try to sort everything out. But what’s really encouraging is that the political parties now seem to have developed some balls, and don’t have to worry about how a corporation may react to what they’re saying. For too many years, too many politicians have worried far too much about getting on the right side of Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch is entitled to behave as he wishes in the best interests of his companies. But that does mean that UK politicians have to be in thrall to him.
I suspect that one way or another now, the BSkyB deal is going to get bogged down. Cameron’s on enough shaky ground already. And we’ve probably seen one too many politically feeble performance recently; to wit Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport’s pathetic performance on Newsnight earlier this week attempting to defend the loss of the rail contract I mentioned earlier. Compare that with Steve Coogan’s withering put down of Paul McMullan, the man with most airtime minutes this week as he appeared on every show known to man defending the practices of the News of the World. Whether he really is wanted by the police as he asserted on live television this morning? Who knows.
I don’t think that James Murdoch is guilty of much more than being foolish when he authorised some large cheques in an attempt to buy off problems earlier in the case. But Rebekah Brooks? Well that’s an interesting question.
Murdoch is standing by her for the time being. But you’ve got to think that there are a lot of people losing their jobs that might hold a bit of a grudge as far as she’s concerned. Look no further than today’s News of the World crossword for proof of that. Of course, if she knows nothing, then there won’t be anything to reveal.
But this story now has real legs. And we’ve certainly not reached the end of it yet, with at least two inquiries and who knows what more still to go.
Apologies if you were expecting something a little less political from me – perhaps about radio or the media. But this is something I’ve been following for years and feel strongly about. Clearly these are my own views and blah blah blah. I’d also strongly recommend that you read Guardian reporter Nick Davies’ book that came out a few years ago. I trust that Davies is writing a definitive book about this scandal.