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All posts by Michael

Below are all of Michael's postings, with the most recent are at the bottom of the page.


I simply meant having their terrestrial broadcasts available here. We could be like my fellow- students in France decades ago, who were mostly from Luxemburg, who could get broadcasts from their neighbours across their several borders and, besides their mother-tongue, could all at least understand French, German and English. I first saw the blockbuster "The Longest Day" in a cinema there, which enhanced realism by having the French, German, Russian and English (and - it was a long time ago - perhaps other) characters speak their own languages but wasn't subtitled. There was more foreign language material on TV in the several other European countries I spent time in than there is in UK, and especially England
Multilingual TV would have been very good for the 100s of Modern Language students I taught in my lifetime.

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Having problems with TV background music?
Sunday 2 November 2014 12:24PM

Why do producers think 'background' music or sound effects necessarily enhance a programme in which the live speech or commentary is an essential component? It is apparently (BBC anyway) partly driven by the desire of those employed to provide it to justify their jobs, but why doesn't the programme maker hold the power of decision as to what if anything is desirable? Background muzak in shops etc is similarly annoying, not least to staff, inc managers, who apparently have no choice of what if anything to play.

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Having problems with TV background music?
Wednesday 5 November 2014 2:51PM

MikeB,
Actually, the BBC reported not so long ago that they were getting complaints of this sort, about factual programmes whose content the listeners said didn't need 'enhancement' (or jollification). They also got complaints from makers/presenters, or whatever the right word is, about such additions which they were not aware would be made. It doesn't happen with heavyweights, like Attenborough, Cox.

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Having problems with TV background music?
Wednesday 19 November 2014 10:59AM

TV programme guides/schedules. Unless there's some clash that can't be solved by recording, I watch via my Humax PVR, which has a 7-day Guide. However, the full 7 days is only available on BBC Channels, a bit less on ITV/C4/C5 and often only 4 days on the rest. Why should this be, when more than 7 days is available on the channels' own sites? More puzzling is that on a couple of occasions I''ve moved along to the 5th/6th day and some of these channels have appeared then shortly afterwards blanked out, not to appear if I try again later. The Guides on our two TVs also show 7 days, yet it is precisely for recording that one needs advance knowledge.

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There is not a single journalist, presenter etc on the BBC or any channel who does not proclaim that we live in a democracy. If you ask people What is democracy? you are most likely to be told 'Govt of the people by the people' (usually without the superfluous rhetorical third 'for the people'). But no honest person could claim that a majority of the people/electorate (at least outside the World Wars) can reasonably be supposed to have agreed - and certainly not to have been given the chance to - to all (or even the major) manifesto commitments, far less the decisions that supplanted them: so where precisely do they see democracy in that?
MPs were supposed to hold the govt to account but now their main aim is, not to promote the interests, still less the will, of their constituents, but to support their Party (whose members are a very small proportion of the electorate) in order to gain office themselves, and the BBC dare not really antagonize them, so long as they determine the fortunes of this once highly respected channel for free speech.

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Brian, Could we have an article (or a link to one) with an explanation and evaluation of all the alternatives to a landline, both for telephone calls and broadband? What are the dis/advantages of using Skype, etc instead of a phone? I didn't know satellite phones were an 'everyday' piece of kit now. Are there any big changes in the offing?

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I think BBC iPlayer is great, but it is catch-up. I was sure that, maybe 2 years ago, BBC said it was making all its classical music available online (not just Discovering Music) but this does not seem to be the case with its Archive, which I find difficult to search anyway. Can anyone help?

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It's not the actual channels missing that puzzles and annoys me, but the fact that if I go forward more than 3-4 days on the programme guide (Humax), many channels are blank, mostly other than the old terrestrial channels, tho sometimes BBC1. It means I can't click on programmes I want to record. There seems no way to do anything about it and it's no help that the TV (Panasonic) guide is ok. I also have a Technika TV, largely as a monitor, and its guide is also a pain, as it shows only one channel at a time, with the day's programmes in a single vertical column - the only guide I've seen in that format.

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What retune, and why?

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I couldn't agree more. As soon as I saw those evening slots, I didn't like them. I don't know the presenters, and their main audience is not us in Britain, but others, with different interests, in other parts of the globe. Then there's that stupid, I assume non-real, 'device' that is 'touched' to bring up some reporter; what possible 'advance' is that on simply announcing the item, live or recorded? At no time does the BBC have enough, licence-payers', money to do everything they might like, so why, all those years ago, did they start paying two 'co-presenters', simpering next to each other like a couple of teenagers, to do what one had done previously, varying his/her style according to the 'story'? Why do they go to the expense of sending their special correspondent, with at least a cameraperson and one other, to stand and deliver her/his report (no interview), eg, outside Parliament or the Olympic stadium, just because the subject is politics or sport? Why not from the studio? Indeed, if there is to be no discussion of the report, why can it not be made by the presenter? Even worse is when two historians, each walking knowledgeably and spontaneously through their own programmes, are then teamed up, as with Lucy Worsley and Helen Castor, to swap the same inane scripted comments and smiles, as they mince togeter through Versailles.
And the BBC or its producers/directors/whatever should get their heads round the fact that they make programmes for the audience, not as an opportunity to get a bit of their expertise in. Experts like Attenborough and Cox speak as though off the top of their heads, though doubtless they will have prepared their own 'scripts', and would see off any suggestion that they needed 'enhancement', but in other programmes there is 'background music' or similar, which distracts from or even 'blurs' what is said. I couldn't understand why that would be, until I read an item making the same point, which said it was the sound dept insisting on making their 'contribution', as if some theatricality was required.
Where voice-overs, or whatever they're called, are needed, I wonder what expertise is needed by those who choose them. 'Yosser', though his voice is instantly recognisable to my age-group, is excellent; some others are either utterly pedestrian or overly 'theatrical'. The worst are usually US programmes, whose commentaries are uniformly didactic but whose content is so light that it could have been fitted into half the actual length.

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