HOUSE OF COMMONS OFCOM RTS DINNER
I started the week at an event at the House of Commons in the Members Dining Room, at the RTS (Royal Television Society) All Party Parliamentary Group Dinner in honour of Dame Colette Bowe, The outgoing chair of Ofcom who was stepping down after five years in the role.
OFCOM are the office for communications in the UK and the Independent regulator and competition authority for all the UK communications industries. They regulate the TV, radio, phone and postal services citizens and consumers use at home and in business, and are the body you contact if you’re not happy with anything you see on UK media channels. Viewers and listeners often complain to OFCOM about programmes they’ve seen or heard on TV and radio, so it’s a huge responsibility for Dame Colette Bowe and her team.
I arrived 30 minutes early to get through the rigorous security check at the main gate, which is akin to airport security for obvious reasons. By the time I’d had my photo taken, removed and replaced my shoes, belt, jacket and coat and made my way through the grand, cold stone hall I was just in time to join the reception drinks where I spotted my fellow RTS Futures committee, Channel 4 head David Abraham, photographer to the stars Paul H, Lord Patten from the BBC Trust, one of the top women in TV- Sophie Turner-Laing, Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE and BBC Scotlands Marcus Ryder.
Dinner was a lot of fun with discussions both serious and frivolous about current TV and big screen content accompanied by a sumptuous feast of roasted lamb, spiced chocolate truffle with caramel corn and traditional after diner coffee. A fascinating discussion between Sir Peter Bazalgette and Dame Colette about her time at OFCOM and thoughts on its future followed dinner.
We all listened intently as Dame Colette revealed that technology has totally changed news content and the things viewers are now more likely to accept on their TV screens, especially after the Woolwich tragedy.
Dame Colette stated ‘’People are more tolerant now on what they’ll accept. We received around 700 complaints about news shows giving this content a platform. Some said it was about child protection and this content should never have been shown, that the Murderers were given a platform. But in our opinion, no broadcaster had overstepped the mark. It was a seminal moment in UK TV history. Is was in the public interest”
Its OFCOMs job to regulate content on TV and Dame Colette was more than realistic about what is possible in todays social media driven society ‘’I feel strongly about kidding parents that someone somewhere can protect your kids from the big bad world online cos they can’t. No regulator can. You have to do what is possible. You can’t take on a job that’s undoable. There are limits to regulatory action’’. Ofcom works with “the art of the possible,” and “there are limits to regulatory action,” Bowe admitted.
When it comes to viewing content illegally online Dame Colette was on the side of the industry who have been losing money to piracy for years ‘’Piracy. I object to the word Piracy. It’s actually stealing’’.
A fascinating chance to hear first hand about the trials and challenges facing our broadcast regulators on a daily basis in 2014. Good luck to the next chair at OFCOM who steps into Dame Colettes shoes. Technology is moving media so fast that who knows what further changes will occur in the next five years. An undoable job? Sounds like it.
R&B SUPERSTARS AT WEMBLEY ARENA.
Photos credit Bassbuds PR.
(L-R) Steven Beckford, BassBuds Founder & CEO , Clint Ippoma, BassBuds Founder & CEO, Lisa Maffia, Jasmine Dotiwala, Jay Davidson (BBC), Tinchy Stryder.
Next it was the now regular huge old skool showing of R&B Superstars show at Wembley Arena. Acts on the line up included Mint Condition, Kut Klose, Total, En Vogue and Blackstreet2.
TINCHY STRYDER BCAKSTAGE AT R&B SUPERSTARS.
On arrival backstage in the Bassbuds VIP lounge I bumped into Tinchy Stryder who has new music coming very soon. He told me he’s evolved with the times. I think we all know he’s a master chameleon what with going from grimy RinseFM mic spitter to pop chart star whenever he needs to. Look out for his new music. Also backstage was Lisa Maffia who persuaded me to have my nails done in their VIP nail booth where nail technician Roxanne Campbell took amazing care of my fingers- a week later they were still looking groomed to perfection!
WRETCH32 BACKSTAGE AT R&B SUPERSTARS.
The main arena was buzzing and as usual Mike Anthony, Treble Tee and their Rampage sound system were keeping the crowd on their feet dancing and whooping along to sets, during the gap between each act when the stagehands were resetting equipment and staging. There was a jungle, slow jams, bashment and hip-hop set. The crowd was up for doing the candy dance en masse which is always a breath taking vision to see thousands moving in unison.
TOTAL ATTEMPT THEIR BEST MIMING AS A TWOSOME.
One of my fave bands, TONI, TONE, TONY brought the show to a great midway climax before girl band Total made it crash. I say girl band but there were only two of them there, clearly mostly miming which was a disappointment. En Vogue then came and smashed it with the best performance of the night. Their costumes, vocals and set were a rounded 10/10. They sang and took it back to church, their costumes clearly had some thought put into them and their dance choreography was strong and slick. They brought the house down!
The Blacksteet story is a complicated one but in a nutshell, founding members Teddy Riley and Chauncey Hannibal fell out years ago. Chauncey took Teddy to court to have full rights over the name of the group and won. So now, when Chauncey performs with his line up the band is called Blackstreet. When Teddy performs with his line up they are officially called Blackstreet2. The both of them need to sort it cos I’ve seen both line-ups perform this past few months, and whilst Chaunceys was stronger vocally and with presence, without Teddy it just misses something. Please guys- bury the hatchet- life’s too short!
Hundreds of youth engagement schemes exist across the UK to attempt to help youth gain employment and life skills. a huge proportion of these use the power of music to work. I have been asked to attend, oversee, sit on boards and advise on many of these but I always leave feeling frustrated at their lack of longevity and real progression to actually change lives.
The TV show I exec produce- LONDON360- actually makes real life changes for young people who want to work in media from diverse backgrounds and this week I attended the launch of something that parrellels this in UK music.
The launch of The Big Music Project funded by the Big Lottery Fund- and delivered by Global, The BPI and UK Youth. The launch at the 02 arena in London saw over 150 youth from all across the uk (bussed in to be sworn in as hub ambassadors. These 150 are tasked with mentoring 10 of their peers in their city hubs across the UK in music related activities, talented shows and more.
£4 million Lottery funded cash has gone into this and aims to not just make young people more confident and gain employment skills, but also encourage them into a music career that isn’t the music star or producer. it highlights the other hundreds of jobs that exist in music from rigger, roadie, fire tech, jingle writer and so on. This area will also cover training on marketing, social networking, recording, production, PR, promotion, legal affairs and other elements that will help talented acts rise to the next level.
BIG DOG GEOFF TAYLOR SPEAKS.
Chief Executive of the BPI and The BRIT Awards, Geoff Taylor, enthused: “We’re really excited about the opportunities that The Big Music Project will create for young people who never dared to dream that the music industry would come direct to their doorstep with the skills, contacts, and reach that this initiative offers. We’ll give talented young musicians the chance to compete and perform in front of industry stars and decision-makers. And we’ll offer internships in record companies, provide work experience at the BRIT Awards, and signpost young people towards real training opportunities, so that they may one day find themselves working in one of the many exciting roles in the business. We can’t wait to get out on the road to discover a new generation of emerging talent and music executives. Get involved – it could be your chance to make it big!”
4milion’s a lot of money. Peter Ainsworth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, told me: “The Big Music Project is all about inspiring young people across the UK to fulfil their potential and achieve their personal goals. It is just one of a number of initiatives the Big Lottery Fund is backing that aim to empower young people to shape their own futures and to play an active role in their communities. This exciting event today is a great way to kick off The Big Music Project and is just the start of its engagement with young people up and down the country through a range of inspiring events, workshops and work experience opportunities.”
The Big Music Project (TBMP) is all about music, young people, and possibilities. This year long project, which kicks off in April, will include a national music competition – The Big Music Project Competition powered by Next BRIT Thing, alongside nationwide careers fairs, community projects through youth clubs and hundreds of work experience and internship opportunities, all fully supported online.
Aiming to build confidence, create real career opportunities, and secure positive outcomes and futures using the power of music, TBMP will harness the attraction of the music industry and its many ancillary careers to empower and engage more than 4.5 million young people aged 14-24 across the UK, using a list of 100 hubs and 1000 local champions identified and selected by UK Youth.
The afternoon included Q&A panels, performances by ridiculously talented classical and pop youngsters about to hit their own fame time, and an exclusive backstage tour of the BRITs set just 2 days ahead of the renowned Awards show. Speakers included artists Plan B, MNEK, Chase & Status, and Capital’s Pandora, music executives, and young people who have secured their first jobs in the music industry who were happy to share their journeys and experiences.
PLAN B TAKES THE MIC.
There was much excitement and screaming (that these young music wannabees will need to stifle in their future careers!), when Plan B stepped onstage to tell them about his charity Each One Teach One Trust, which is a charity founded to improve the lives of young people by providing access to new skills.
“If you don’t have a clear talent, it just seems impossible to make something of yourself in the society that we live in. There just doesn’t appear to be enough places you can go, offering advice and support. “We (EOTO) have decided to support the ‘The Big Music Project’ because it will attempt to do just that. By not only providing information, but creating and highlighting genuine opportunities for all young people interested in music and beyond.”
The aims of the BIG Music Project are to deliver a large scale, year long, media-led youth engagement campaign, reaching over 4,500,000 young people aged 14-24 across the UK, and focused on the opportunities created for them by their passion for and interest in music. It will take a lot of hand holding by mentors to actually achieve this. I’ve seen first hand that the promise of a carrot dangled is often not enough to engage youth who frankly have bigger dramas to survive. but TBMP will create some amazing first opportunities for a strong percentage of Britain youth, to make or produce music, thereby increasing confidence and collaboration skills, and building links across communities and this can only be a good thing in the long run. To nurture and develop young musicians both musically and commercially to provide them with a rounded view of the industry they aspire to work in isn’t something the big music brands have put so much resource into in the past.
Lookout for their four national The Big Music Project events that will attract over 1,000 young people each through major artist performances. These events will promote opportunities to engage with the music industry, sign up to the music competition and explore their work opportunities programme.
There aren’t many doors open to diverse unconnected audiences who want a part of the music industry pie. this looks like too good an opportunity to miss. you know what they say- you’ve got to be in it, to win it!
Tweets by bigmusicUK
BRITS / SKY NEWS
Finally I ran off to SKY News to join the wonderful anchor Kay Burley live on air to talk about that evenings Brit Awards. Love being a social commentary pundit but love SKY News even more for being the only broadcaster that calls me for generic news opinions not just when its an ‘’ethnic protest or negative urban music’’ issue. Big up SKY!