CMU Daily - on the inside 11 Sep 2002
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Which band have been pronounced ‘best international group’ at the Brits twice – and how many years went by between the two awards?
Answer on Thursday


Entertainment giant AOL Time Warner has admitted it is interested in buying a British TV company when legislation changing media ownership here comes into play. They also said they hadn’t given up on acquiring EMI, the only major label with a truly British base.

Warners and EMI tried to merge their music operations last year but were blocked by EU officials worried about the global music industry being in the hands of too few multi-nationals. Speaking to the Royal Television Society, Warners chief executive Richard Parsons said of the merger: "It would have been a brilliant transaction but the timing was not right. The regulatory environment was not ready for five music majors to go to four ... All I can say is, we never give up, we live in hope."

On the TV front he told the audience of broadcasting bosses he was interested in following up the group’s acquisition last year of UK publishing group IPC (publishers of NME and Muzik amongst others) with the takeover of a UK TV company. Industry insiders reckon Channel 5 or one of the major cable channels would be most likely, though the group may set it sights on ITV.

However, like with the EMI deal, any move into UK TV would need government approval. Though Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt is keen to open up British TV companies to foreign ownership she still faces opposition from her own MPs.


Meanwhile, in major label ownership land, the break up of French media giant Vivendi Universal continues in a bid to save the company from the financial crisis it has suffered since allegations of false accounting earlier this year. While confusion surrounded the future of the group’s publishing empire (originally it said only its education publishing house Houghton Mifflin was for sale, now it seems negotiations are underway to sell all of its publishing interests) advisers are known to be turning their attention to Vivendi Entertainment, the unit which covers Universal’s movies, music and theme parks businesses. The Media Guardian yesterday reported that analysts believe Barry Diller, the media tycoon who sold USA Networks to Vivendi last year, could lead some form of demerger or buy-out of the entertainment division. How this would effect Universal’s music interests in the UK – Mercury, Island and Polydor – is still unclear.


Space and Catatonia did it, Robbie and Kylie did it, and now the two big names of the US indie rock scene are set to team up and record a joint record. Jack White has told the NME the idea for recording a track together came about when the two bands played Leeds and Reading last month, and that there’s a high chance said track could make it as a double-a side with both band’s next releases. "We're thinking about it,” he said, “it would be cool."


Richard Ashcroft will play a warm up gig for his November tour at London's Astoria next week (18 Sep). The set should include tracks from his forthcoming album ‘Human Conditions’ including new single ‘Check The Meaning’ due for a 7 Oct release.


Seems like he won’t. Latest word on Nsync’s Lance Bass’ attempts to get into space is that the Russian Space Agency have officially removed him from the crew of their next mission after he failed to pay his fees. In a letter to NASA, dated Friday and faxed Monday, the Russian Space Agency's director of human space flight confirms Bass will not be included in their next space flight. "They said they couldn't wait any longer for contractual terms to be implemented, that they haven't received any money," NASA spokesperson Debra Rahn told reporters. "This is officially where the Russians stand. This letter would not be sent unless they were certain of their position. For them to send this letter, that's it. It's off. It speaks for itself."

But David Krieff, President of Destiny Productions who has been trying to arrange the finances for Bass' trip via corporate sponsorships and a network television deal told reporters: "It ain't over yet," insisting talks continue with Russian officials. But even if a financial deal is met, Rahn says it may be too late for Bass to be included. "It's a matter of safety," she said. "He's been losing days and days of training on an already compressed schedule. They can certainly send another letter asking us to reinstate him, but how would that make up for the lost training?” When asked about the possibility of not making it in to space at a recent press conference Bass told journalists what he expected his reaction to be: "After I stop crying? I would work my butt off trying to go for another mission."


A number of music and film companies in the US have asked a judge to rule on an internet copyright case without trial after their opponents - music file-sharing sites Kazaa, Grokster and Morpheus - asked the courts to dismiss the case against them. The Motion Picture Association of America, Recording Industry Association of America and National Music Publishers Association have filed a motion in a Los Angeles federal court asking for a quick ruling in their copyright infringement case against file-sharing sites which the trade groups claim have become the centre of digital piracy since the demise of Napster and Aimster. "The defendants' business model is premised on legal theories that have been soundly rejected by both the Napster and Aimster courts," the RIAA’s Matt Oppenheim told reporters.

The file-sharing services are using pretty much the same plea originally made by Napster – that they cannot be held responsible if web-users use their technology for the illegal exchange of copyright music or movies. It’s a case based on a 1984 US Supreme Court ruling that said video recorder manufacturers were not liable for copyright infringement because recorders had "substantial" legitimate uses as well as illegal ones. "There can be no liability for two reasons," Morpheus’ lawyer Fred von Lohmann told the BBC. "The first reason is that we have no ability to control how people use our software. Secondly, the software is capable of substantial non-infringing uses. You don't hold a crowbar manufacturer responsible if its product is used to break into a house."

The RIAA is also caught up in a dispute in Washington with telecommunications company Verizon. The RIAA claim one of Verizon’s customers is acting as "a hub for significant music piracy" and they want to know the individual's details. However Verizon has refused, saying that it must protect customer privacy. "We need to make it abundantly clear to people that they are engaging in illegal activity when they are offering their personal music collection, which they don't own copyrights in, for others to take," RIAA president Cary Sherman has said. But the trade group might face a big battle in this regard – over 300 US based ISP’s are supporting Verizon in their stand.


One of the tour buses used on Eminem’s Anger Management Tour caught fire last weekend, just before the tour ended. Pittsfield Township Fire Sgt John Maguire said the bus, USED BY Eminem's management team, was fully engulfed in flames by the time his department got to the scene at 1.30 pm on Sunday, just hours before Slim Shady’s finale performance at the Palace in Auburn Hills. The blaze was quickly brought under control, and word is friction from a flat tire caused the fire. No one was hurt.


Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Rage Against The Machine’s new project, working until now under the name Civilian, has got a new name - Audioslave. The project seemed like it was over when Cornell’s manager (his wife) and RATM’s management fell out and the new group was disbanded a week before they were to perform at Ozzfest. But, having agreed to take external management on this project, recording of the album has resumed and the new name agreed upon. Sony will release the album in early 2003 and the band was set up to keep fans un to date on developments in the meantime.


Answer to Tuesday’s pop quiz:
From 1994 to 2001 two of the categories at the Brits might as well have been merged – which and why?
Best video and best single awards – because in all but one year the same bands took both awards. In 1994 Take That won both (for ‘Pray’), in 1995 Blur won both (for ‘Parklife’), in 1997 the Spice Girls won both (for ‘Wannabe’ and ‘Say You’ll Be There’), in 1998 All Saints won both (for ‘Never Ever’), and in 1999, 2000 and 2001 Robbie Williams won both awards each time.

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