CMU Daily - on the inside Thursday 24th May
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Finger nail was concealed: Spector trial update
- Diesel-U-Music UK finalists announced
- Allofmp3.com voucher sellers hesitant after London arrest
- Eve pleads not guilty to DUI charge
- QOTSA album preview
- Linkin Park score fastest selling US album of the year so far
- Dizzee LP will get no physical release in the US
- Italian consumer groups call for Streisand gig to be cancelled
- Morello announces appearance
- Lexapalooza announces line-up
- Rizla announce invisible playing
- Go! Team and Doves to DJ for Electric Cabaret
- Fightstar tour
- Corvus confirm they are out of the EMI race
- Woolies stay committed to singles
- Northwest bootleggers sent to jail
- Airey confirms ITV role
- Virgin Media a takeover target
- C4, possible sale, OfCom CBB ruling
- Trent Reznor rants
- Sparks wins American idol
- Iggy garden gets a medal
- Manic man hates Franz lyrics
- Gordon Ramsey joins Lily vs Cheryl debate

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TOP BIT>>
Now, it's not normal that we run the same plug in the Top Bit two days running, unless we're running really short of ideas, but this one is extra exciting and looming very close, so I thought it might be worth giving it another plug, for those of you that skipped over this bit yesterday (or who are subscribed at a hotmail address and only receive the Daily every ninth day - sorry about that, that's Hotmail's fault, but we are trying to sort it, though if I may suggest you all get a Gmail account instead, that would also work).

This particular plug is about the RockCouture auction that our friends at BigTime are staging in London next week. This stems from the previously reported 'Born To Rock' exhibition that was at the core of the Harrods Rocks month at Harrods in London back in February. Those of you with extra good memories may remember that at the core of that exhibition was a collection of unique electric guitars each one of which has been customised by a leading artist, designer or musician - with designs from the likes of Ronnie Wood, Rankin, David LaChapelle, Graham Coxon, Lord Richard Rogers, Sir Peter Blake, Jennifer Lopez and Bono all featured. Well, those guitars were created in aid of various charities, and in particular Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres, which is where the auction comes in.

The RockCouture auction will take place next week, Thursday 31 May, at the Gibson Hall in the City of London, supported by BT Vision and musical instrument insurers Allianz, and with Lord Dalmeny, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby's UK, set to wield the gavel. Thirty of these unique guitars will be up for auction in aid of charities including Amnesty International, Keep A Child Alive, the Variety Club Children's Charity and, of course, Maggie's. Guitars under the hammer include the one designed by photographer Rankin featuring one Heidi Klum striking a rather provocative pose, another designed by Bryan Adams featuring one Kate Moss strutting her stuff, one from David LaChapelle featuring model and burlesque artiste Amanda Lepore in the buff and one made by Patrick Cox, wrapped in python skin, plus the one you Londoners no doubt saw in the big Harrods Rocks ad campaign, Hedi Slimane's wonderful Union Jack guitar featuring over 4,500 Swarovski Crystals.

Any of you out there with a charitable heart, money to burn and some kind of aspiration to own one of these unique works of rock art should either get themselves to the auction itself or, and here's the good news for you non-London types, sign up to participate in the live online auction being staged by eBay Live Auctions. We'll tell you how to sign up to bid online in a future Daily, but if you are interested in attending the auction you should get in touch with the Born To Rock team right now to request a registration form - email borntorock@bigtime.tv or call Mary on 020 7538 9946. Meanwhile, if you are interested in coming along to the auction as a spectator, well the event is pretty oversubscribed, but we have managed to secure a couple of invites for CMU Daily readers. If you are interested in attending as our guests email borntorock@cmumusicnetwork.co.uk

Meanwhile, you can check the guitars up for auction here...
http://www.borntorock.tv/theguitars/rockcouture

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CLASSIFIEDS>>

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CMU AT THE BRIGHTON FESTIVAL

The Brighton Festival is in its third and final week with even more brilliant theatre, comedy, art, dance, talks, debate, cabaret and music to come. CMU's sister publication, ThreeWeeks, is covering it all, and you can check the coverage at http://www.threeweeks.co.uk. In the meantime, here are some of the latest Brighton Fringe music reviews for you...

Red Stripe
Red Stripe had me tapping my feet, bopping my head and smiling from the moment they hit the stage with their vivacious and energetic display of rhythm and blues; displaying a tangible sense of humour, they amused their audience with an enjoyable collection of comic and up-tempo jazzy numbers. The seven piece band (drums, bass, piano, vocals, tenor saxophone, trumpet, baritone saxophone) gave an entertaining performance, and their numerous old-school renditions delighted the dancers amongst the audience. Red Stripe were lively and truly professional, a great watch and listen, and a wonderful way to spend a Friday evening transported back to the giddy days of fun, playful music.
Joogleberry Playhouse, 18 May, 8:00 pm, £10.00 (£8.00) fringe pp28.
3/5.
[zc]

The More Things Change
Brighton City Singers
I always suspected there were people doing 'improving things' with their free time - like singing in choirs or baking nice Victoria sponges - while I'm out pouring my paycheque down my throat. It turns out that they do - and they're in the Brighton City Singers. They compose new amateur choral music and sing it every year - and if you come next year, you may find yourself having just as good a time as them. The performance quality is consistently high, even if the songs themselves don't always work, but to make up for that there's a surprisingly seductive village fête atmosphere - a glass of wine plus a large piece of the aforementioned Victoria sponge costs £2.50. It succeeds without pretence, and for that it's worth my free time.
Tower Theatre, 19 May, 7:30pm, £8.00, fringe pp28.
tw rating 3/5
[jb]

1st Annual Harmonium Festival of Brighton
Bom-Bane/Bowen Productions
After a less than harmonious opening number this wonderful duo - harmonium-wielding and mechanical hat-collecting Jane Bom-Bane and International Casio Queen Lorraine Bowen - pedalled their bizarre coughing and splurging instruments into the first hit of the performance. 'Traffic Jam On The Old Steine' saw the Salvation Army harmoniums transformed into Fiestas, and the hilarious and sequin-adorned former Billy Bragg co performer Bowen nudge her vehicle into the back of a doe eyed Bom-Bane. Their combined love for the instrument produced a fab repertoire of such sing-along hits as 'Ashford International', 'The Crumble Song' and Wide Reader Blue Book inspired 'Ki Nog Stan'; this was a boundary-less evening, covering filofaxes to goldfish - pure entertainment, which for my money, has certainly rescued the harmonium from redundancy.
Bom-Bane's Café and Restaurant, 9, 16, 23 May, 8:00pm, £7.00 (£5.00), fringe pp26
tw rating 4/5
[sf]

ThreeWeeks in Brighton is only possible because of the kind support of Latest 7 http://www.latest7.co.uk - plus tune into the Latest radio show, every afternoon on Radio Reverb, listen online via http://www.latest7.co.uk/radio

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FINGER NAIL WAS CONCEALED: SPECTOR TRIAL UPDATE
So, that little tiny teeny bit of finger nail dominated the Phil Spector murder trail again yesterday. You may well remember that the prosecution in the case have been accusing the defence of finding and hiding crucial forensic evidence at the crime scene after the police had finished their investigation of Spector's Beverley Hills home following the shooting of actress Lana Clarkson there back in 2003. A week into the trial the prosecution requested a private session with Judge Larry Paul Fidler (ie without the jury) to present their accusations of evidence concealment. There seem to be two such claims - firstly that a forensic pathologist called Dr Michael Baden found and removed a fragment of tooth, and that high profile forensics specialist Dr Henry Lee found and removed a fragment of finger nail. The defence deny both accusations.

Fidler made a ruling on the finger nail claims yesterday. He said that in his opinion Lee did find a nail fragment at the scene of the crime and that he and the defence have concealed the evidence because it might show that Clarkson struggled with Spector before the shooting, ie she was trying to push a gun Spector was holding out of her mouth. However, he did not hold Lee to be in 'contempt' of court and said he would be able to be called as a defence witness, but on the understanding that the prosecution could formally present the concealment claims to the jury when questioning him.

Fidler reached his conclusion after hearing evidence from two former members of Spector's defence team, who were involved in the legendary producer's defence immediately after the shooting, but who are no longer working on the case. The key witness was attorney Sara Caplan, who said she had found a tiny white fragment at the scene of the crime, and that she saw Lee pick it up and place it in a vial. The other witness, one Greg Diamond, gave similar testimony, though there was some confusion as to who found what, and who gave what to whom. However, Fidler says he found Caplan's testimony to be completely credible - in fact she was the only witness he found "completely credible" - and he seems to have reached his conclusion based primarily on her version of events.

Fidler added that if Lee was holding on to any evidence from the crime scene then he was obligated to hand it over, but said that, while he believed some evidence was being concealed, he didn't expect the defence to hand anything over. And despite his belief that something has been concealed, he confirmed he wouldn't hold Lee in contempt of court, or instruct the jury to judge him as a non-credible witness. But he added that Lee has "a large reputation" and that therefore he had "a lot to lose" by acting dishonestly in this case.

What all of this means for each side's chances in the case is unclear. It will be interesting to see if Spector's defence will now call Lee to testify. Doing so would give the prosecution a good opportunity to formally present their concealment claims to the jury - it is unclear if prosecution lawyers can or will try to bring the whole thing up without a Lee testimony. Then again, while the jury have not been witness to the finger nail arguments so far, they will be aware of the claims and counter-claims from the media and, with all the best will in the world, the allegations will affect their opinions on both sides in the case, even if they technically speaking shouldn't. With that in mind the defence might be better off bringing it all up in the court room via a Lee testimony, so there is a chance for both sides to formally communicate their standpoints on the finger nail controversy to the jurors.

The case continues.

Elsewhere, US TV have shown a home recording made by Spector in 2005 in which he talks about the murder case. Among the claims he makes in the video is that he simply wasn't tall enough to have shot Clarkson. He says that Clarkson was 6'2" when wearing heels, and he is only 5'5". He adds that the gunshot trajectory originated from a downward angle meaning he couldn't have been holding the gun that killed her. Unless he stood on a box, presumably. Or she was sitting down. I'm not convinced it's a rock solid defence. He also used the video to offer $100,000 to unnamed women who have made claims against him (presumably the various women who have since claimed in court that Spector had once pulled a gun on them) to make their claims while taking a lie detector test. Concluding on how and why Clarkson, as he claims, shot herself, he says: "She may have accidentally taken own life. She may have purposefully taken her own life. She may have been eating the gun with her dancing ... I don't know why, when, how or where in what circumstance she may have taken her own life - whether she planned to or not".

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DIESEL-U-MUSIC UK FINALISTS ANNOUNCED
The organisers of the Diesel-U-Music unsigned band competition thingimy last night announced the nine UK finalists for 2007 at a party at London's Cuckoo Club. And the finalists are:

Urban/Hip Hop: Alex Blood (Derby), Iman (London), Stefan & The Artschool (London)
Rock: Bo Pepper (London), The Steers (Cardiff), Revenue (Peterborough)
Electronic: Get Shakes (IoW), The Electric Riot (London), My Toys Like Me (London).

So hurrah for all of them. They have been selected from hundreds of entries for this year's competition, and they will now all play a series of showcase events in London, Leeds, Nottingham and Glasgow. From that an overall winner will be picked for each genre category, and they will then go forward to the worldwide version of the competition, the overall winners of which are announced in October.

Commenting on this particular battle of the bands type competition one of the judges, Wall Of Sound's Mark Jones, told CMU: "The fresh talent that has emerged and gone on to mainstream success from the electronic music category is there for all to see. Any competition that gives unsigned talent support and a platform should be applauded".

While Diesel's UK Comms Chief Andy Griffiths added: "The quality of the entries this year has been outstanding. We've found nine strong finalists and we're looking forward to working with the final winners in the months following this year's Diesel-U-Music Awards".

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ALLOFMP3.COM VOUCHER SELLERS HESITANT AFTER LONDON ARREST
Hey, good news for foes of Allofmp3.com. As previously reported, earlier this week a London based man who was selling vouchers that can be used to buy music from the rogue Russian download site was arrested on the grounds that, because Allofmp3.com is selling unlicensed music, he was acting illegally accepting money on their behalf. The move, backed by the BPI and International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry, was important because since the major credit cards refused to do business with Allofmp3.com last year the vouchers were the only way people could buy the cut price major label downloads available via the service.

Anyway, since that arrest, techy website Ars Technica has approached other people selling Allofmp3.com vouchers and found that many of them are seriously considered dropping their associations with the Russian website, fearing they too could now face arrest. One told Ars Technica: "Until a few days ago, I had never heard of the IFPI. But yes, I am concerned about them now. Although my attorney assures me that reselling gift certificates bought from AllOfMP3.com isn't breaking any laws, it isn't worth the possibility of engagement with their legal machine". So with one arrest the BPI/IFPI may have closed down many more of Allofmp3's current routes to market.

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EVE PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO DUI CHARGE
US rapper Eve has pleaded not guilty to that misdemeanour DUI charge that stemmed from that previously reported incident back in April when she crashed her car on Hollywood Boulevard. The rapper didn't attend the initial hearing on the case on Tuesday, with her attorney entering her plea. She will now go back to court on 28 Jun. If found guilty she may face up to six months in jail plus a thousand dollar fine.

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QOTSA ALBUM PREVIEW
Queens Of The Stone age are previewing tracks from their new album 'Era Vulgaris' on a specially dedicated UK website, ahead of its release on 18 Jun.

To listen to the songs, fans need to go to http://www.eravulgaris.co.uk (although I'll warn you now, if you don't have the latest Flash installed, you may find this page somewhat confusing...) and play the hangman game thingy in which you have to put in the name of one of the album's tracks. Then you get to register with the site, I think, and then listen to the tracks. I'm trusting my co-editor on this one, because I'm too lazy to install the latest version of Flash. In my defence, it would involve logging off, and logging back on as the administrator, which is a bit of a palaver.

Anyway, this item's about QOTSA, not me. They release new single '3's And 7's' on 4 Jun, and they also release a download only track featuring Mr J Casablancas, 'Sick, Sick, Sick', sometime around then too.

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LINKIN PARK SCORE FASTEST SELLING US ALBUM OF THE YEAR SO FAR
I wonder if Linkin Park have an opinion on whether Warner should try to merge with EMI or takeover the Sanctuary Group. I can't help thinking their opinions would have some sway at the top of Warner Music because they remain one of the major's most bankable artists. New album 'Minutes To Midnight', as well as topping the UK album charts, has gone straight in at number one in the US shifting 622,000 units in week one, making it the fastest selling album so far this year. Although some albums scored US first week sales of a million+ in the early part of this decade, the 622,000 figure is very healthy for the current market, not far off one of Universal Music's most bankable artists, Jay-Z, who shifted 680,000 of his album 'Kingdom Come' in the US the first week of sale back in December.

Commenting on their chart topping success, Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson told reporters this week: "We're shocked and humbled by this extraordinary show of support. We invested ourselves entirely into the creation of this album, with the hope that this music would resonate with our fans as deeply as it does with us. We couldn't be more excited about today's news".

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DIZZEE LP WILL GET NO PHYSICAL RELEASE IN THE US
Unlikely to get anywhere near those kind of first week units in the US is Dizzee Rascal, not least because his upcoming third album, 'Maths & English', out here on 4 Jun, will not get a physical release in North America because the Grime king isn't able or, possibly, willing to do any promotion in the States. Billboard quote the Sales Director of Beggars US, who distribute Dizzee in North America (he being signed to Beggars UK imprint XL), as saying: "We've always had a difficult time getting him to come over here and do promotion here, and with this album, he's even less available for that". The album will be available in the US and Canada via most major download platforms.

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ITALIAN CONSUMER GROUPS CALL FOR STREISAND GIG TO BE CANCELLED
Consumer rights groups in Italy have called on the city of Rome and the Italian Olympic Committee to stop Barbra Streisand from performing at the city's Stadio Flaminio next month because they claim ticket prices are too high. The Adusbef and Codacons groups have called the ticket price range that goes from 150 euros (£100) to 900 euros (£600) "absurd and shameful".

Of course, it is not the first time the high prices of tickets to Streisand's concerts have been in the news. At one point ahead of her last tour some commentators speculated that the high price tickets might backfire on Streisand and her promoters because early indications were that ticket sales were slow. However, in the end tickets sales were good, helping Streisand score the second highest grossing tour of 2006, second only to the Rolling Stones. That said, Reuters is reporting that all but the cheapest tickets are still available for the 15 Jun concert in Rome, suggesting sales may not be going so well there. However, tickets for the singer's first date at London's The O2, where ticket prices are similar to those in Rome, sold out in just twenty minutes, and promoters have added a third date there.

Aside from public demand, promoters of the Steisand tour might also try to justify the high ticket prices by pointing out that the singer is touring with a 58 piece orchestra. However, that is unlikely to convince Adusbef or Cadacon that the prices are justified. They concluded their demand that the Rome concert be cancelled by saying that the Stadio Flaminio is "public property" and "cannot be used for immoral deals that are shameful to a civilised country".

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MORELLO ANNOUNCES APPEARANCE
Rage Against The Machine chappie Tom Morello has announced that he'll take part in the 'Bring The Troops Home' concert taking place at Scala on 4 Jun, which is also set to feature performances from the likes of Ed Harcourt, ex-Million Dead man Frank Turner and comedic type Mark Steel.

Morello, incidentally, is shortly to release a debut solo album under his political folk alias The Watchman. It's out on 11 Jun.

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LEXAPALOOZA ANNOUNCES LINE-UP
Organisers of London's Lexapalooza event have announced that their fundraiser is back for a second year, and takes place next month. A Breast Cancer Campaign benefit (with the strap-line "Rock Your Tits Off!"- I shit you not), the all-dayer takes place at Islington's Lark In The Park, and features an eclectic line up of bands, DJs, a raffle and a barbeque. Acts appearing at the event include Hinterland, Gene Loves Jezebel, Madox Ford, Inertia Blooms, Melody Nelson and Adam Boucher, whilst raffle prizes have been donated to the cause by a variety of labels including B-Unique, Gravity DIP, Xtra Mile Recordings, Small Town America, Parlophone, Mute and Cooking Vinyl. I have nothing further to say about the barbeque.

All kicks off at 2pm on 16 Jun. Tickets are £5 advance, more on the day. See www.myspace.com/lexapalooza or get press info from Press Counsel.

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RIZLA ANNOUNCE INVISIBLE PLAYING
Rizla's inspired by... programme have announced that their previously reported new collective - Rizla Invisible Players - are set to come together for two gigs this weekend, the first in Bristol on Friday, the second in Sheffield on Saturday. The group consists of a number of musical maestros - Greg Wilson, Don Letts, Andy Votel and Peter Fowler. I'm not sure, because I'm easily confused if all four appear at both gigs, but I definitely feel clear on the fact that Derek Carter and Freeform Five will also be appearing at the Saturday gig. See here for info: www.myspace.com/rizlainvisibleplayers. You'll note, if you look at the page, that the collective are also planning festival appearances at Lovebox, Connect and Bestival.

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GO! TEAM AND DOVES TO DJ FOR ELECTRIC CABARET
The Go! Team and Doves are to DJ at this year's Electric Cabaret Experience in Ibiza, which is nice, if you're going to be in Ibiza. The Go! Team appear on 20 Jul, whilst The Doves play their set on 17 Aug.

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FIGHTSTAR TOUR
Fightstar - remember them? Charlie Busted's band, you know - well, they've just announced a little tour for August to precede the release of a brand new single called 'Floods' on 20 Aug. Here are those dates:

11 Aug: Stoke, Sugarmill
12 Aug: York, Barfly
13 Aug: Glasgow, ABC
15 Aug: Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
16 Aug: London, Scala

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CORVUS CONFIRM THEY ARE OUT OF THE EMI RACE
Private equity types Corvus Capital Inc have said they will not bid against Terra Firma for EMI.

As previously reported, the EMI board have approved and recommended a 265p per share takeover offer by an private equity firm called Terra Firma, but other investment types and/or Warner Music had been expected to pitch rival offers to the major's shareholders.

However, Corvus, who had previously expressed an interest in bidding for the record company, have now said they will not be entering into a bidding war with Terra Firma. Meanwhile, the FT has reported sources as saying that another possible bidder - a consortium of Cerberus, Fortress and One Equity - is not planning on trying to outbid Terra Firma either.

Whether that means Terra Firma have the major in the bag remains to be seen. Warner Music are yet to confirm or deny that they plan to compete with the private equity bidders. More and more commentators are speculating that Warner might rather let Terra Firma win ownership, and then attempt to buy it off them at some point in the near future.

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WOOLIES STAY COMMITTED TO SINGLES
Woolworths have denied reports that they plan to follow the supermarkets in dropping CD singles from their music departments. Woolies comments follow confirmation from Asda earlier this week that they plan to follow Tesco's lead of a couple of months back and stop selling the CD single format. They say that the falling cost of CD albums (caused, in part, by Asda using its bulk buying power to force trade prices of albums down) and the growth of single track download sales mean that not enough CD singles are now sold to justify dedicating shelf space to them.

According to the BBC, Asda's Music Buyer Andy Powell says: "We're reluctantly saying goodbye to one of the most important products in music history", adding that the space previously dedicated to singles would be used to promote "breakthrough albums". He concluded: "Customers want more than just a song from their favourite artists - they want the whole album at an affordable price".

Asda's move follows a similar decision made by its main rival, Tesco, two months ago, though Asda always accounted for more singles sales than any other supermarket (in 2005 they accounted for about 12.5% while Tesco just 3%) so their decision could have a bigger impact on the overall physical CD single market.

However, Woolworths, who account for a third of all single sales, has denied press speculation that it too was considering taking CD singles off its shelves. Their music chief, Jim Batchelor, said yesterday: "They are still an important part of the music business. If you give people what they want, they will buy it. The Proclaimers sold over 200,000 copies of their single for Comic Relief and X-Factor winner Leona Lewis sold over half a million singles in 10 days".

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NORTHWEST BOOTLEGGERS SENT TO JAIL
The BPI yesterday welcomed the sentences handed down to the ringleaders of a counterfeiting operation in the North West which generated in excess of £40,000 over six months by selling bootlegged CDs, DVDs and video games via markets and car boot sales. Eight defendants pleaded guilty to running the operation, as well as admitting various benefit fraud charges. Ringleaders Barry Powell and Mark Quincey were imprisoned for 12 and 15 months respectively for their roles, while another of the defendants, Sarah Haynes, got nine months.

Announcing the sentences, the judge hearing the case said: "I want to send a deterrence message to any people who may think counterfeiting is an easy way to make a lot of money".

Welcoming the ruling, BPI boss Geoff Taylor told CMU: "Music fans should not be taken in. Buying illegally copied CDs from these stalls not only cheats artists and the record labels that invest in them; it also helps to fund other criminality. These defendants were caught as part of a wider investigation into music piracy and benefit fraud in the North West, and although their operation was well organised they were by no means the biggest players in the region. This result shows that the courts will not hesitate to hand down strong sentences to deter this area of crime. Excellent work by our enforcement units, the Department Of Work & Pensions and police has ensured that these individuals face a significant term in prison, consistent with the seriousness of their offences".

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AIREY CONFIRMS ITV ROLE
ITV has confirmed rumours that Dawn Airey is to join the company. She will become the commercial broadcaster's Director Of Global Content and be responsible for developing "ITV's UK and international production, distribution and content exploitation businesses". She will start in October - the delay down, I think, to 'non-compete obligations' she is still under from her former employer BSkyB. Confirming the appointment Airey told reporters: "It's wonderful to return to my alma mater. It's an incredibly exciting time to be joining ITV and I'm looking forward to working with some of the UK's best production talent".

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VIRGIN MEDIA A TAKEOVER TARGET
A consortium of those always mysterious, increasingly ever present private equity firms is reportedly considering making a bid for Virgin Media. Reports say that Virgin's recent somewhat disappointing quarterly financial results, which are expected to be followed by even more disappointing results this quarter because of the much previously reported BSkyB spat, has made the mobile/cable TV/ISP/ phone company, created by the merger of NTL, Telewest and Virgin Mobile last year, of course, something of a takeover target. The Observer reports that a consortium of Providence Equity Partners, KKR, Blackstone and Cinven are now considering a bid to take control of the firm. Should Richard Branson, whose Virgin Group is the largest shareholder in the company, decide to sell out he could pocket £400 million, though sources say Branson is likely to want to keep a stake in the firm for the time being at least.

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C4, POSSIBLE SALE, OFCOM CBB RULING
If those private equity types can't get their hands on Virgin Media, perhaps they could bid for Channel 4 instead. Because reports yesterday said that PM in waiting Gordon Brown is considering selling off the state owned fourth channel - the government slowly running out of things to sell in order to raise much needed funds. The Times says that, while the Labour Party manifesto is committed to keeping Channel 4 in public ownership, Brown and his officials are seriously considering the implications of selling it off - with some saying the government could make a billion pounds by selling the TV network.

Rumour of the sale comes as media regulator OfCom publishes its report on the whole Celebrity Big Brother debacle from back at the start of the year - you know, all that Shilpa Shetty, Jade Goody, racism nonsense. The regulator has rushed its report out before the next series of normal Big Brother kicks off (next week, I think) partly so producers can be forced to adapt their ways so they are unable to manipulate racism to boost ratings ever again, but mainly so the show's makers can be forced to deliver a slightly humiliating apology before the first edition of the new series. The regulator said that Channel 4 and Endemol made some "serious editorial misjudgments" in its handling of the whole Goody-gate incident.

OfCom chief Ed Richards summarised his organisation's investigation into the affair by telling reporters this morning: "Ofcom takes allegations of racist abuse and bullying on television extremely seriously. An unprecedented number of complaints were received. It is essential that broadcasters are able to air challenging and controversial material but in doing so they must have effective compliance procedures in place and must exercise their editorial duties responsibly".

Labour MP Keith Vaz, who led protests in Parliament as the racism thing unfolded on the CBB show, welcomed the OfCom ruling and again called for C4 chief Andy Duncan to carry the can for his company's failings and resign. Vaz told reporters: "I welcome the adjudication by Ofcom. This is a vindication of the huge number of complaints that were made by viewers. Andy Duncan should now apologise to Shilpa Shetty and realise that the contempt that was shown by them during this whole episode, in my view and that of many of the viewers who complained, now merits his resignation".

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TRENT REZNOR RANTS
Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor has been ranting about major labels again. Speaking to Melbourne newspaper Herald Sun, he has accused his label, Universal Music, of ripping off his fans by overcharging for his most recent album, 'Year Zero', in Australia. He also claims that such is his outrage that he has banned label reps from getting guest list spots at his live shows.

He told the paper: "I have one record left that I owe a major label, then I will never be seen in a situation like this again. If I could do what I want right now, I would put out my next album, you could download it from my site at as high a bit-rate as you want, pay $4 through PayPal".

He also says that his label messed up the digital campaign around the new album, saying: "I knew they wouldn't understand what it is. I knew the minute I talked to someone at the record label about it, they would be looking at it in terms of 'How can we tie this in with a mobile provider?'"

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SPARKS WINS AMERICAN IDOL
For those of you who care about these things - anyone? - 17 year old Jordin Sparks was crowned the sixth American Idol last night. There was lots of clapping, and thankings, and pyros. Then Cat Deeley presumably asked her some really inane questions. Sparks, the youngest ever winner of American Idol, wins an automatic recording contract with SonyBMG's RCA Music Group.

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IGGY GARDEN GETS A MEDAL
That previously reported Iggy Pop inspired garden at the Chelsea Flower Show has won a prize. The 'Lust For Life' garden, entered by The Children's Society, got a silver medal in the Best Chic Category.

Pop is delighted by the news. He says: "It's awesome the 'Lust For Life' garden won a silver medal. It's great to know my music reaches out to so many and inspires. I'm honoured The Children's Society's garden is inspired by my music and wholeheartedly support the work they do - they rock".

I really want to go to The Chelsea Flower Show. Is this a sign that I'm getting old?

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MANIC MAN HATES FRANZ LYRICS
Manic Street Preacher Nicky Wire has had a go at Franz Ferdinand on account of their lyrics. The bassist said of the Scottish rockers: "They committed the worst ever lyrical crime - 'Here we are at the transmission party/I love your friends, they're all so arty.' Crap!"

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GORDON RAMSEY JOINS LILY VS CHERYL DEBATE
I'm surprised this hasn't come up in the House Of Commons yet, it's generating so much debate. Gordon Ramsey is the latest to voice his thoughts on the ongoing Cheryl Cole nee Tweedy versus Lily Allen debate. I'm surprised he didn't weigh in on all of this earlier, actually, given that it was on his show The F Word that Cheryl made the "Lily Allen's a chick with a dick" comment that seemingly kicked things off.

Ramsey's made it clear that he's not on the side of his former guest, however, telling The Daily Mail: "Lily's beautiful isn't she? She has a great figure and obviously eats properly. There's none of that vegetarian shit with her. Girls Aloud really need to eat; Cheryl came onto the show and she is so skinny, it's a fucking disgrace. They need to stop worrying about having to be disgustingly skinny and start looking like real women, like Lily Allen".

Which is fair enough. Apart from yet another dig at vegetarianism and this old fashioned stereotype that Ramsey attempts to perpetuate that all vegetarians are pale and skinny. I've been a vegetarian since childhood, and - and frankly, it gives me no pleasure to tell you this - I've never been accused of being skinny in my life.

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