Right To Reply – Broadcast Friday April 6th, 2001 on Channel 4
I am a member of the Right To Reply 500, which once had its own website, and after emailing the show in late January about the unnecessary need (in my opinion) of adding a DOG (Digitally-Originated Graphic, aka onscreen logo) to their new channel E4, which specialises in American imports, repeats and original widescreen programming, rather like a combination of Sky One and BBC Choice, I was contacted by researcher Ian Lynch, who played the casino croupier onscreen, about the topic of ONdigital smartcard piracy, something which is on the increase lately, particularly in the usenet and newsgroups like uk.tech.digital-tv where traders post their wares – and the monthly cracking codes – regularly without a care in the world and just one of the effects is that it impacts on the genuine subscriptions in the form of increased subscriptions, in similar manner to that those who insure their cars are subsidising those who drive without insurance and have a crash.
I also discussed the topic at length with the director of the segment, Paul Moore, who I don’t recall having seen in front of the camera but his distinctive voice is regularly heard reading out some of the viewers’ comments during the show. The script was put together by the R2R team with the occasional doff of the cap to things we had previously discussed.
Originally, the segment was due to be filmed on April 9th with an air date planned for the following Friday, Friday 13th! Those who saw the programme aired on Friday March 30th would have seen presenter Roger Bolton stating that the next show would be in two weeks. Like many blockbuster films though, they shot two endings: that one and another saying it would be back “next week”. However, on the night of Monday 2nd, just as the staff were about to leave, Channel 4 said that because the election was being put back to June 7th, Channel 4 News would no longer need an hour on Friday 6th and so the race was on to make a show.
I nearly didn’t get to go on the show after that as I’d got the day off on the 9th and wasn’t sure if I could change it to Wednesday 4th, but all came good in the end.
When the day came, I’d had about two hours sleep the night before. This was the first time I’d ever been on TV and I was understandably nervous about it so had trouble sleeping. When 5am came and the alarm clock went off I then had trouble getting up! I had to get the 06.08 train to London Euston which was jam-packed and as (bad) luck would have it I ended up in the ‘Quiet Coach’ so couldn’t use my walkman and saw the carriage as anything BUT quiet since many people ignored the ban on mobile phones and I just wanted to try and get some sleep (managed some, but not a lot).
As if this wasn’t bad enough, when I bought the train ticket at the station I asked for a return to London Euston and was told the price was £150.00. I asked him if this was the cheapest alternative because I just wanted to travel on the train and not buy it. It transpired that saver returns, et al,
aren’t available until after 9am and Virgin‘s website confirms this, so they must like to fleece their customers – and now they’re having the cheek to up the prices by 10%.
Just after 9am I arrived and met up with Paul Moore, where we took a tube to a stop just past Victoria Station and then a train to Battersea, location of the ONdigital HQ which they share with QVC – a channel that isn’t even broadcast by ONdigital (!)
There I met ONdigital bigwigs Andrew Marre and Simon Dore, the latter of which answered the questions I put to him. Like the other two subsequent interviews, I was given a list of questions to ask although I could ask others if need be. After the recording I thought of a question I wish I’d asked, about why ONdigital went with an encryption system that had allegedly already been cracked, compared to SkyDigital’s which hasn’t …yet.
Doing these type of interviews was a bizarre sequence of events. Firstly, the camera was pointed in Simon’s direction and I would ask the questions from the sheet and he would reply, only stopping a handful of times to clarify a question or restart the answer. Once complete, he left, the camera was turned round, Paul Moore sat in his chair, took the questions off me and then I was filmed with Paul reading out the questions for me to read back to him. Sort of reminded me of those French lessons from school where the teacher would say, “Ecoutez… repetez”, except in English.
It was at this recording where I met researcher Ian Lynch, soundman Paul Vigars and cameraman Chris Merry, who also worked on the recent Channel 4 series, Science and the Swastika.
Next up on the menu was lunch. The next part of the day would be spent in the area of Clapham Junction. We were eating an early one just before 12 so the only place open was a Churchill’s pub which served Thai food. It was quite nice but to be honest I hadn’t got a bloody clue what I was actually ordering 🙂
Go to page 2 for more of my Right To Reply experience, including the programme itself!