CMU Daily - on the inside Tuesday 4th December
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Morrissey/NME - the story continues
- Williams to apologise over 90s song
- Velvet Revolver man facing DUI charges
- Flaming Lips and Chuck Berry to headline Camp Bestival
- Jean criticises US AIDS report
- Maximo Park get their own beer
- Kylie to play Nobel Prize concert
- Glastonbury Festival new talent search begins
- Will Led Zepp play Bonnaroo?
- Spice Girls deny miming claims
- US major job cuts
- Warner merge Lava and Roadrunner US promo teams
- Former EMI digital guy takes role at web start up
- Grade wants Sky's ITV interest to be much less than 10%
- MTV announce gold and platinum vids
- Macquarie cans Plymouth radio plans
- Concerns expressed about new radio ratings system in US
- Five lady goes to BBC1
- Five Live man goes to Channel 4 radio
- Suggs steps back from Virgin show
- NME to launch radio station
- More Winehouse nonsense
- Dannii pissed off with Louis' digs
- Kaiser Chief too tired for groupie sex

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TOP BIT RECOMMENDED
Don't forget that this Friday is the first Friday of the month, which means another top, top edition of the CMU Recommended Twisted Licks night over there at the 229 club next to Great Portland Street tube station.

This time we have the rather wonderful Captain topping the live bill, with The High Society and Talk Taxis in support. Meanwhile in room two you'll get One Night Only and Sergent. Yep, all that in one night, plus the DJ talent - Stealth Disco, Slim Jim and special special guests.

It all takes place this Friday, 7 Dec, and tickets are on sale now, £6 in advance, from good old http://www.ticketweb.co.uk.

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INTERNSHIPS N STUFF

START YOUR CAREER WRITING ABOUT CAREERS
A fantastic opportunity to learn journalist skills and have your stories published on the net. We are currently recruiting contributors for unicornjobs.com, an exciting new graduate careers website We'll ask you to research and write stories about different careers - you'll interview leading figures in roles from banking to ballet, PR to pop music, sales to circus skills. You won't be paid but you will receive training and feedback on your work and a byline when your story is published. unicornjobs.com is a new website devoted to providing careers advice to help students and recent graduates navigate the precarious route from education to work. For more details on becoming a student contributor or to apply check...

http://www.graduatejobsnetwork.com/studentcontributors.html.

JOIN TEAM CMU - INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES 2008
CMU is looking for a full time intern to join the team for the first quarter of 2008. This is a great opportunity to join the CMU team as we embark on our tenth year of connecting everyone in music. Our intern will help on a wide range of editorial, marketing and admin projects, and pick up lots of skills and contacts along the way. You will be based at our Shoreditch HQ. Travel expenses will be paid. Send a CV to recruitment@unlimitedmedia.co.uk if you are interested.

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CMU TRACK OF THE YEAR 2007
Yes, it's December everybody. Which means it is time for the CMU Track Of The Year thingimy thing - where the great and good that are the CMU Daily readership have the opportunity to big up the tracks that got them most excited in 2007.

If you haven't voted yet, there is still chance to get your votes in - you can pick a single, album track, b-side, bootleg, remix, demo, anything that first surfaced this year. You should email the name of your fave track and a couple of sentences on why it's great to 2007@cmumusicnetwork.co.uk.

Meanwhile, here's some votes already received...

Laura Marling - New Romantic
Great sentiments, super lyrics, wonderfully simple production and really evocative of this time of year too. And, the process of seeing her play on Jools Holland and then downloading the track straight away has been all about the spontaneous content consumption that was so 2007.
Andy Wood, Director, Tough Cookie

LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends
Foals - Hummer
The first is an epic, life affirming song that sounds like nothing before or since. It has got plenty to say about getting older, although it's plainly about being on the road and missing home. The second is a devastating assault where an indie band make the most convincing electro on guitars etc. An assured debut single that, apparently, won't even be on their album.
James Kendall, Editor, Source

Vote for your track of the year - email the name of your fave track and a couple of sentences on why it's great to 2007@cmumusicnetwork.co.uk.

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SNAP OF THE DAY: GWYNETH HERBERT

Having played Gwyneth Herbert's recent long player, 'Between Me And The Wardrobe', to friends recently only to elicit the reaction 'she sounds a bit like James Blunt', CMU's credibility is surely on the line with her inclusion as today's Snap of the Day. However, we're not too worried as the Blue Note signed singer confidently has far more going for her than 'You're Beautiful'. 'Lay You Down', for example - her album's opening track - is a short, wistful jazzy number that ups tempo from its tepid start, breaking with crashing cymbals and dissonant piano chords before moulding into a foot tapping barn dance. And though you may well have missed her playing as part of last month's BBC Radio 3 Jazz Festival, you can still deride those Blunt comparisons by visiting this SNAP.

http://www.myspace.com/gwynethherbert

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MORRISSEY/NME - THE STORY CONTINUES
Oh, this is getting all kinds of fun. Yes, the Morrissey/NME debacle continues. The story so far...

Morrissey is interviewed by freelancer (and Smiths fan) Tim Jonze for NME. Asked if he'd return to live in the UK, Morrissey outlines problems he has with modern Britain, observing that, in his opinion, there is too much immigration, and that that is having a negative impact on British identity. In a second phone interview Mozza expands on other reasons he dislikes the UK, but stands by his comments on immigration and British identity.

Jonze and the NME choose to get outraged about Morrissey's opinions, essentially claiming that it panders to the agenda of racist groups, and referencing the magazine's previous falling out with Mozza over allegations some of his early nineties lyrics and a routine with a union flag at a London concert could be seen to support racist causes.

Emails fly between NME editor Conor McNicholas, Jonze and Moz's people as the interview and an accompanying commentary are edited for publication. Along the way Jonze asks for the editorial parts of the article to be credited to "NME" rather than to him. The NME interview is publishing. The magazine don't go as far as labelling Morrissey's comments racist, but they say the singer's comments sound like "the ravings of a rogue Tory MP", and that they "dangerously echo" opinions stated "in the current manifesto of the crypto-fascist BNP".

Morrissey immediately issues a statement claiming he has been misrepresented by the NME, and accuses McNicholas of twisting his words. Mozza's people use the fact that Jonze asked not to be credited for the final piece as proof that the NME editor had "sexed up" the comments to make them sound more controversial.

Morrissey demands an apology. Morrissey doesn't get an apology. Morrissey's lawyers announce they will launch legal action against NME and McNicholas.

Jonze writes a piece for the Guardian saying that Morrissey had said everything the NME had printed, and that he only asked to not be credited because he had not seen the commentary content before it went to press, and he was concerned that the mag's editors may have toned the piece down - ie not sexed it up at all. He argues that Morrissey's people are using the 'credit' issue to sidetrack attention from the singer's comments.

You keeping up, yes?

Well, yesterday Morrissey's manager Merck Mercuriadis hit back at Jonze's Guardian piece, saying that his latest claims don't tally with emails he sent Morrissey's office regarding the piece, in which the journalist seemed to claim that he thought the NME were making the interview sound more controversial than it should do.

Mercuriadis claims Jonze wrote: "For reasons I'll probably never understand, NME have rewritten the [Morrissey] piece. I had a read and virtually none of it is my words or beliefs so I've asked for my name to be taken off it". Given Jonze's subsequent Guardian piece, you might say that Mercuriadis was meant to interpret that email as basically saying "the NME are going to go soft on your client, I'd rather slag him off more, I'm really sorry I won't be able to" - which would be an odd message to send to an artist's manager in a polite email.

Hitting back at Jonze yesterday, Mercuriadis wrote on the Morrissey-Solo website: "It would be easy to feel sorry for Tim Jonze. He is clearly out of his depth and has panicked to the point of admitting in writing that he will say anything to anybody if it gets him what he wants. Clearly integrity - journalistic or otherwise - means nothing to him and he has just spelled it out for every reader, publicist, band, editor and potential employer to know. It is arguable that he has just been a pawn in Conor McNicholas' zeal to make a name for himself at Morrissey's expense but on the other hand the level of collusion between the two of them would appear to be thicker than blood. We won't know until we get to court and start picking them apart. What we do know as evidenced by his posts is that Tim is prepared to say and do anything. Keep that in mind when reading his work and particularly this week's NME cover story".

Now Morrissey himself has laid into Jonze, and McNicholas, and the NME, in a piece published online last night and due to be published in the Guardian this morning. The piece begins: "On Friday of last week I issued writs against the NME (New Musical Express) and its editor Conor McNicholas as I believe they have deliberately tried to characterise me as a racist in a recent interview I gave them in order to boost their dwindling circulation. I abhor racism and oppression or cruelty of any kind and will not let this pass without being absolutely clear and emphatic with regard to what my position is. Racism is beyond common sense and I believe it has no place in our society. To anyone who has shown or felt any interest in my music in recent times, you know my feelings on the subject and I am writing this to apologize unreservedly for granting an interview to the NME. I had no reason whatsoever to assume that they could be anything other than devious, truculent and unreliable. In the event, they have proven to be all three".

The long piece goes on to give Morrissey's side of the whole debacle, outlining his memory of the interview and the whole "immigration" debate, and accusing Jonze and McNicholas of this and that and all sorts of the other. You can read the full piece at this URL:

http://www.morrissey-solo.com/

Where next? Well, court probably, with neither side seemingly willing to give way just at the moment.

Though I suspect that, despite all the wranglings over who said what when, and what the NME did or didn't do to the piece, and what Jonze really thought about it all, the defamation allegations, justified or not, aren't really the issue that we should all be pondering on. The issue is whether you consider that expressing concerns about immigration and its impact on British identity equals being racist or, rather, plays into the hands of racists. I'm not convinced it does, and personally find Morrissey's statements, as published by NME, more confusing than offensive. But either way, if you want to share your opinions on the tricky challenges of immigration and identity in modern Britain, I think it's fair to say an interview with a popular music weekly possibly isn't the best place to do it.

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WILLIAMS TO APOLOGISE OVER 90S SONG
Talking of defamation, Robbie Williams is expected to formally apologise to former Take That manager Nigel Martin-Smith tomorrow over that previously reported dispute regarding the lyrics to his song 'The 90s' off the 'Rudebox' album. As previously reported, the original edit of the semi-autobiographical song accused Martin-Smith of denying Take That correct tour payments in the 90s. As soon as he heard what the song contained Martin-Smith began legal action, and successfully forced a re-edit of the song to remove the allegations. In a bid to bring that dispute to an end Williams has reportedly agreed to an out of court settlement, which will see him formally apologise and pay his former manager a six figure damages settlement. Martin-Smith told the Manchester Evening News: "Robbie has agreed to make a public apology and will pay damages. That will be the end of the matter".

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VELVET REVOLVER MAN FACING DUI CHARGES
Velvet Revolver cancelled their Australian tour on Friday, possibly because frontman Scott Weiland is due in court in LA on 13 Dec to face new 'drinking under the influence' charges, relating to an incident on 21 Nov. The official announcement regarding the tour postponement did not give a reason, but reports about the DUI charges have since surfaced. Weiland is on $40,000 bail, and probably isn't allowed to leave the US until the court case. It's not the first time Weiland has been charged with DUI - he was done for the same crime back in 2003.

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FLAMING LIPS AND CHUCK BERRY TO HEADLINE CAMP BESTIVAL
Flaming Lips and Chuck Berry will be among the headliners at the all new Camp Bestival festival which, as previously reported, will be launched next July adding an extra Bestival event into the festival calendar. Also on the bill at the event will be Suzanne Vega, Billy Bragg, Kid Creole & The Coconuts, The Cuban Brothers, King Creosote, The Wurzels and Scroobius Pip, while DJs will include Andrew Weatherall, Kevin Rowland, Idjut Boys, Greg Wilson, Queens Of Noize and, of course, Bestival chief Rob da Bank. As previously reported, as well as all the music Camp Bestival will feature lots of games and other kinds of entertainment.

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JEAN CRITICISES US AIDS REPORT
Wyclef Jean has criticised a study which claims that AIDS made its way into the US via his home country Haiti. Jean says the study, while confirming a long held belief among some in scientific circles, isn't helpful and could prejudice people against Haiti.

Jean said: "World AIDS Day (1 Dec) is an opportunity to evoke the progress and challenges that Haiti must confront in order to fight this epidemic, but also the recent news that unjustly targeted our country and showed serious prejudice. AIDS is a worldwide illness that does not discriminate. Making Haiti the scapegoat only gets in the way of world progress in AIDS research. Haiti needs the support of the international community to be able to respond effectively to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country and bring its unique response to the global response to the problem".

The new study hypothesises that AIDS arrived in the US in about 1969 via a Haitian immigrant, and that it spread from there across the US and beyond.

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MAXIMO PARK GET THEIR OWN BEER
Maximo Park have launched their own version of Newcastle Brown Ale called, obviously, 'Maximo Brown Ale'. The Geordie band's Paul Smith told reporters: "So many amazing things have happened for our band in a short space of time and to have our image emblazoned on a Brown label is another addition to that list. It would be great for our band to be as synonymous with Newcastle as the mighty Brown Ale, and it's both amusing and an honour to be able to deface the label in this manner!"

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KYLIE TO PLAY NOBEL PRIZE CONCERT
Tickets for the previously reported Kylie UK tour sold out rather fast yesterday morning, obviously, prompting another six dates to be added almost straight away. Meanwhile, Kylie has been confirmed as a performer at this year's Nobel Peace Prize concert which will take place in Oslo on 11 Dec. She joins a bill that already includes Alicia Keyes, Annie Lennox and Melissa Etheridge. The Prize will be presented to former US Vice-President Al Gore and the UN's climate change panel the day before.

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GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL NEW TALENT SEARCH BEGINS
Unsigned bands who fancy a slot at the Glastonbury Festival should get on over to http://www.Q4music.com where they can submit two demo tracks for consideration. The deadline for uploading entries in 27 Jan. Glasto's Emily Eavis, who will be among the judges to decide which unsigned bands get a slot, told reporters: "It's been very exciting to have been involved in this competition since the beginning. Now we are moving to digital entries, our net will be wider. I am sure we will be able to find some incredible new bands out there. It's great for the competition, and most importantly, it will be a great contribution to the festival."

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WILL LED ZEPP PLAY BONNAROO?
More festivals news, and rumour has it Led Zeppelin's next big gig after their upcoming one night reunion at The O2 in London will be at the Bonnaroo festival in the US next June. Though neither Bonnaroo nor Led Zepp have commented on those rumours.

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SPICE GIRLS DENY MIMING CLAIMS
And talking of reunions, as you no doubt saw, The Spice Girls reunion tour has begun in Canada. Despite getting some good reviews, the whole reunion has garnered most press attention over [a] rumoured tensions between some of the Girls and [b] allegations some or all of their reunion show is lip-synced. But a spokesman yesterday denied the miming allegations, telling reporters: "All of the girls sang live. There is a click track for the band to keep them in time, which is standard, but all of the girls' vocals were live". The fact all the vocals are live would explain, of course, why Victoria Beckham has opted to do a cat walk strut rather than join her bandmates in performing a solo.

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US MAJOR JOB CUTS
More on the previously reported downsizing going on in the US major label sector.

The cuts have begun at Universal's Island Def Jam division, with A&R execs Paul Pontius and Rob Stevenson exiting, and Exec VP Of Promotion Greg Thompson also departing. The major is also ending its relationship with imprint Stolen Transmission, which was founded by Stevenson with blogger and DJ Sarah Lewitinn. She plans to continue Stolen Transmission as an indie though it isn't clear how many of the staff working on it will stay on.

Meanwhile, at SonyBMG US, gossipers suggest up to 70 people could be axed this month, though that comes from a report in Silicon Alley Insider. SonyBMG themselves have not commented on the rumours.

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WARNER MERGE LAVA AND ROADRUNNER US PROMO TEAMS
Not sure whether this is causing any downsizing, but Warner have announced they are merging the promotions department of Roadrunner US, which they fully acquired a year ago, with the promotions department of their Lava Records division. The combined department will be headed up by Lava's promotions chief Mike Easterlin, with Roadrunner US's VP Promotions Dave Loncao due to leave the company later this month. So, that's one downsize I suppose.

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FORMER EMI DIGITAL GUY TAKES ROLE AT WEB START UP
Former EMI digital music exec Ted Cohen, who has been consulting on all things digital music since his departure from the major last year, has been announced as Chief Strategic Officer of a new webby company called en2go which will develop "entertainment applications" for PC, online and TV use, whatever that means. Cohen will continue to consult through his TAG Strategic company as well as taking the role at en2go.

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GRADE WANTS SKY'S ITV INTEREST TO BE MUCH LESS THATN 10%
ITV supremo Michael Grade last week told the House Of Lords he wants BSkyB's stake in third channel broadcaster cut to well below 10%.

As you'll remember, the Sky company took a 17.9% stake in ITV last year, just as Virgin Media, then still NTL/Telewest, was expressing an interest in merging with ITV to create a broadcasting powerhouse that could take on Sky.

Although the purchase didn't contravene media ownership rules it has caused concern at the Competition Commission (not to mention at ITV and Virgin Media) and they are still looking into how to deal with the whole thing. The Commission may, as yet, force Sky to sell some or all of its ITV stake.

Grade was questioned about the issue last week and he said that Sky's interests in ITV "would not necessarily, as a trading competitor, be in line with the overwhelming majority of our retail and institutional shareholders".

ITV has previously told the Commission it ideally wants Sky to be forced to sell its entire stake, but Grade was last week asked if he would be happy if the stake was simply cut, say to 10%. While the ITV chief didn't refuse to accept anything but a complete sale, he did say "we would like to see it well below 10%".

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MTV ANNOUNCE GOLD AND PLATINUM VIDS
MTV International has announced a new ongoing awards programme in which it will honour the videos that have been most played across its network of channels. See, I knew there was a reason they had that bloke locked in a cupboard in Hawley Crescent counting.

39 MTV channels from across the world (though not the US) will contribute data to the new programme, and any video that gets more than 3000 plays will be declared as having 'gold' status, and any video that is played 6000 times will have 'platinum status'. The counting actually began back in February, and based on plays between then and June the following gold and platinum awards have already been presented.

Platinum:
Akon - I Wanna Love You
Avril Lavigne - Girlfriend
Beyonce & Shakira - Beautiful Liar
Christina Aguilera - Candyman
Fall Out Boy - This Aint A Scene
Gwen Stefani Feat. Akon - The Sweet Escape
Justin Timberlake - What Goes Around
Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby
Mika - Grace Kelly
Nelly Furtado - All Good Things Come To An End
Nelly Furtado - Say It Right
Pussycat Dolls /Timbaland - Wait A Minute

Gold:
Amy Winehouse - Rehab
Arctic Monkeys - Brianstorm
Bloc Party - The Prayer
The Fray - How To Save A Life
Good Charlotte - Keep Your Hands Off My Girl
Gym Class Heroes - Cupids Chokehold
James Morrison - Wonderful World
Just Jack - Starz In Their Eyes

Commenting on the whole shebang, MTV SVP Talent & Music Jamie Caring told CMU: "We are delighted to introduce these awards. It is appropriate that this exciting new initiative comes from MTV, the original pioneers of music video broadcasting. MTV's growing roster of international music based channels (78 at last count) represents one of the globe's biggest TV networks. Our MTV, VH1, TMF and VIVA services across the world have music videos and artist led content as their backbone, generating thousands of music hours reaching millions of viewers. We thought the videos that had made most impact on our channels and on our viewers across the board, generating the most air time and the best reaction from audiences needed celebrating in some way...official recognition for staggering numbers of plays!"

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MACQUARIE CANS PLYMOUTH RADIO PLANS
Attempts by Australian investment types Macquarie to get a hold in the UK radio industry took a strange turn last week when they, erm, gave back the one FM radio licence they had successfully won.

Macquarie put much efforts into securing an FM licence, unsuccessfully bidding for new licences offered by media regulator OfCom in Ipswich, Warwick, Swansea and the north-east of England before finally securing a new licence to broadcast in the Plymouth area.

They announced they would launch a station called Diamond FM, to be led by former EMAP exec Tim Schoonmaker, and we were promised "quicken-your-pulse" radio. Though lots in people in Plymouth, presumably happy with their existing pulse rates, criticised OfCom for giving the licence to an Aussie backed company over four rival bids from Devon based operations, and they started mounting a campaign against the new firm.

Whether that campaign is behind Macquarie's decision, 19 months on, to pull the plug on the station before it even launches isn't clear. More likely is that the Aussie firm's business partners have backed out because of Macquarie's failure to win anything more than one local radio station in Plymouth - hardly a dramatic arrival in the UK radio market, and not really on par with the investment firm's original ambitions.

Either way, as OfCom announced that the licence would be put back up for tender last week, some of the people involved in unsuccessful local bids first time round are even more pissed off, because they are being asked to spend more money bidding for a licence that, in their opinion, OfCom should never have awarded to Macquarie first time round.

Some are now speculating whether anyone will want the licence, because discussions about turning off analogue radio signals have now properly begun, which makes the prospect of launching a brand new analogue radio station in eighteen months time - by which time those discussions may be really developed - not especially attractive.

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CONCERNS EXPRESSED ABOUT NEW RADIO RATINGS SYSTEM IN US
More radio nonsense, and plans by radio ratings body RAJAR to introduce a technology based measurement system that doesn't involve people writing what radio programmes they listen to down in a little book may have suffered a setback after plans to introduce the same system in the US were delayed because of concerns by some in the sector.

As much previously reported, RAJAR have been looking into new ways to measure radio ratings for some time. The whole issue was much more high profile while Kelvin Mackenzie was running TalkSport, because he reckoned that the RAJAR system unfairly represented his station's ratings (because, he argued, RAJAR diary keepers who heard sport on the radio may assume they were listening to the BBC when actually they are listening to TalkSport). He ranted about the whole thing on a regular basis, taking RAJAR to court, and introducing his own radio ratings system that used watch-like devices that a sample group of listeners wore, and which tracked what radio stations they were exposed to.

RAJAR, however, expressed its own concerns regarding the technology Mackenzie's ratings system employed, and have argued any new measurement technology would need to be rigorously tested before being used instead of the diary system. For the last year or so they have been rigorously testing one such technology in London.

The same technology has also been tested by Arbiton, a US based radio ratings firm, but they have announced they are delaying the roll out of the so called 'pager-style people meter' because some of their clients - mainly radio stations aimed at younger or niche audiences - have expressed concerns the new system seems to give them much smaller audience figures. It's not clear if that is because of some kind of technical or statistical anomaly, or because less people are actually listening to these stations than previously thought, but either way Arbitron boss Steve Morris told reporters last week: "We remain confident in the audience estimates that the Portable People Meter service is producing. However, over the past three weeks, feedback from our customers, the media rating council and other constituencies has led us to conclude that the radio industry would be better served if we were to delay further commercialisation of the PPM in order to address their issues".

Of course RAJAR are doing their own tests - due to be completed in late 2008 - and they may persuade UK radio firms that the PPM system is delivering accurate fair ratings. Though if the new system has the same effect as in the US market, ie that youth and niche stations score much lower ratings, then the companies that own those stations over here may have the same reaction as their American counterparts, meaning the good old (or rubbish old, if you're of the same mind as Kelvin) diary system could be with us for some time to come.

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FIVE LADY GOES TO BBC1
Jay Hunt, currently Director Of Programmes at Five, has been headhunted to take on the role of Controller of BBC1. She takes over from Peter Fincham who, as previously reported, quit over the whole "we have a show with the Queen storming off in a huff, oh, actually we don't" debacle.

Confirming the new job, Hunt said this: "Controller of BBC One has always been my dream job. Ultimately, I could not resist the opportunity to take on such a creatively exciting role. I am thrilled to be part of the channel's future. It has been an incredibly difficult decision to leave my talented team at Five but I could not turn down the best job in television".

Her new boss, BBC Director Of Vision, Jana Bennett, said this: "I am really pleased to welcome Jay back to the BBC to take up the reins of the UK's most popular channel and the BBC's flagship channel. She has impeccable credentials as a commissioner, channel leader and journalist and has a deep commitment to the BBC's mission to bring the best programmes to the widest audience. I am sure she will be greeted with huge enthusiasm by programme makers inside and outside the BBC, BBC Vision and the BBC One team".

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FIVE LIVE MAN GOES TO CHANNEL 4 RADIO
One in one out I believe it goes. BBC Radio Five Live boss Bob Shennan has announced he is leaving the Beeb to go run the three new national stations that will appear on Channel 4's new digital radio network when it launches next year (well, they will launch one by one over a 12 month period I think). He will in essence take over from Nathalie Schwarz, who is moving onto the Channel 4 board as New Business And Corporate Development Director, taking over from Rod Henwood who announced last week he was leaving the broadcaster, where he oversaw C4's successful bid for the second national digital radio multipex. So, there you go.

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SUGGS STEPS BACK FROM VIRGIN SHOW
Suggs is leaving his afternoon show on Virgin Radio so he can concentrate on the upcoming Madness tour, which has caused a little rejig in the music station's schedule - with drive time host Neil Francis taking over the Suggs slot, and weekend presenter Nick Jackson taking over drive. Sugg's departure comes less than a year after he started the afternoon show, but the station told reporters yesterday they accepting his touring commitments made a daily show unpractical, adding: "He is still a very good friend of the station and we would welcome him back".

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NME TO LAUNCH RADIO STATION
Following the launch of their TV channel last month, NME have announced plans to launch a radio station to be called, yes, you guessed it, NME Radio. Hurrah.

The new station will be "an essential listen for any fan of the indie genre", which obviously puts them into Xfm territory, which is possibly why the press release stresses that this service will be a "presenter-driven" service, a reference to the fact daytime and overnight Xfm now operates an automated presenter-free format. The Xfm links are also obvious in the partners NME owners IPC have chosen for their radio station - DX Media, the company headed up by that Sammy Jacob fella who played a key role in setting up Xfm back in its 'not part of GCap' days.

Commenting on the radio plans, NME Publishing Director Paul Cheal told CMU: "For NME, it's the next logical step. With an average readership of 499,000 each week and 1.6m unique users on NME.COM every month, the NME brand already has fantastic reach amongst an audience who are notoriously difficult to target. Launching a radio service which allows that audience to hear NME recommended artists first, as well as the very best in indie music, is very exciting for our readers, users and of course our advertisers. Partnering with DX Media and the founder of Xfm - Sammy Jacob, and housing the operation here [inhouse], illustrates just how seriously NME is taking this venture and how important a platform we see NME Radio becoming".

Jacob added: "'Indie' has become the mainstream although it might be fairer to say the mainstream has become indie, and in the process - like so many other credible genres - has marginalised the very foundations upon which it was built. NME Radio will re-address the balance - giving much needed exposure to the great new acts that tend to get ignored by traditional broadcast media thereby making radio more relevant in an increasingly fragmented market".

NME Radio will launch in mid-2008 via various digital radio platforms and also online via NME.com. Perhaps they should go for the Plymouth FM licence too - I'm not sure anyone else will.

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MORE WINEHOUSE NONSENSE
So, yesterday's tabs featured pictures of Amy Winehouse wandering around the streets of Bow, East London, at 5.40am on Sunday morning barefoot, wearing just trousers and a bra. The papers say she had been partying at a friend's house all night, and drew attention to a 'white package' seemingly poking out of her bra. A source told the paper she was "mumbling something incomprehensible" while on her early morning walk. However the official line from Amy's people is that the singer had "been asleep and heard a noise, so she went outside to investigate". Which is, of course, a much more logical explanation.

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DANNII PISSED OFF WITH LOUIS' DIGS
You have to be wary when reporting about all the tensions between the 'X Factor' judges because we all know most of it is clever PR designed to make us talk about the show (ITV's PR being much more interested in us talking about the show rather than the artists it launches).

But, while risking getting taken in my some cheap PR activity, let's note that the latest judge to storm off the pop talent show is newcomer Dannii Minogue, with usual stormer-offer, Sharon Osbourne, sticking round this time. Minogue is apparently pissed off at Louis Walsh's regular snide remarks regarding her musical abilities. The latest came as Minogue criticised a contestant on the show for singing out of tune, to which Louis responded "Dannii, singing out of tune? Ho ho!", to which Dannii responded by storming off. A source told The Sun: "Louis keeps joking about Dannii's singing talents and it's really getting to her".

In my defence for reporting on all this nonsense, 'X-Factor' host Dermot O'Leary swears blind all these judge squabbles are genuine. He told the Belfast Telegraph last week: "What you see from the judges is 100% real. Off-screen they get on really well, especially Louis and Simon, but once the cameras roll, it's a different story. But it's not fake, it's as if they keep all their frustrations for the show and say what they've got to say then. Maybe it's like being on a psychiatrist's couch". And Dermot wouldn't lie, would he?

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KAISER CHIEF TOO TIRED FOR GROUPIE SEX
Chief Kaiser Ricky Wilson says all that jumping around on stage leaves him too tired to take advantage of any groupie sex on offer. He says: "I'd love to wake up surrounded by beautiful women every morning but I'm not sure I'd have the stamina. Everyone thinks touring is great, but six months in you're just desperate for home".

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