Hard News by Russell Brown

It never rains ...

Like Telecom didn't have enough bad news for the moment: Xtra went down for hours last night - which may or may not have been connected with action to remedy an issue reported in a message passed on by a Public Address reader yesterday afternoon:

ALL of XTRA's e-mail servers were BLACKLISTED by international SPAM blockers on Friday last week. Oops! I'm sitting here at my Helpdesk fielding calls re this. Your mail will slowly be delivered, but most will have gone into your JUNK folder in your e-mail.

What we really need to be asking is why Xtra denied it was having problems when most of its customers knew it was. The Herald reported that there was a 'minor' problem from 3.30 to 5.30pm yesterday, yeah right!!! The website help said there where 'no known problems' so we individually thought it was our own computers and settings at fault. Great customer service I don't think.

Our company (HUGE IT) had to call their (XTRA) engineers this am and tell them that XTRA had appeared on our SPAM filters ... oops. XTRA have been scrambling since 11am to fix.

NB: Got this straight now. The above are quotes from two different people on this Trade Me forum.

I have some sympathy here - zealous blacklist operators can do more harm than good. But Xtra's servers were presumably blacklisted because they were found to be running open relays (which can be used by filthy spammers to deliver unsolicited bulk email). How did that happen?

And so the announcements continue to flow as the Telecom ship turns around. Rod Deane's departure was inevitable, given the extent to which he represents the old order. As chief executive of Telecom, Deane did a marvellous job of driving out costs, and shareholders have doubtless been grateful to him. But as chairman he's responsible for strategy: Telecom appears to have had only one of those, and it wasn't the right one. Meanwhile, Juha speculates on when the telecommunications commissioner will say his goodbyes.

There were some forthright responses to Karyn Hay's open letter on the Kiwi FM windfall yesterday. Noelle McCarthy of 95bFM said this:

Just read Karen's comments re Kiwi and I have to say Wallace and I are gobsmacked by the reference to "holier-than-thou" student radio.

We have never, ever tried to hide the fact we sell ads on bFM - if anything we celebrate it to the extent our ads are more popular and more high-profile than some shows. I am so tired of the old bleat that b is somehow hoodwinking people, that behind our student radio, devil- may- care facade is a well oiled commercial machine. This place, while operational, is far from a serious money-spinner, and we've got the pay cheques to prove it.

The simple fact is, we are attempting to survive in the market so we can continue to do what we do best - break new music and develop new talent. In order to do that we have to sell ads. We do that, but we also ensure that wherever possible we develop relationships with the sort of advertisers we dig, and who get us in return. Our ads are witty, funny and always real because we respect our listeners, not because we feel the need to dupe anybody with "very clever spin."

We object to the Kiwi deal, because it runs the risk of ghettoising kiwi music, and also because ( a few honorable exceptions notwithstanding) what [I've] heard of the station in the last year just hasn't been very good.

Jarrod Baker had some more to add:

You've taken issue with one part of Karyn Hay's open letter - but there are other things in there that probably need addressing as well.

Firstly, her claim about Kiwi's audience only stands up to scrutiny if you compare Kiwi's NATIONAL results from the last radio survey with the Auckland-only (because the stations are Auckland-only) results of bFM, George etc.

Not exactly apples with apples - to get a genuine comparison you'd have to match up Kiwi's national audience with that of bFM, Active and RDU combined (which is impossible because the latter two don't participate in survey - but I suspect that this combo would beat Kiwi by a significant margin).

Furthermore, nowhere in Karyn's letter does she address the issue that I think lends greatest credence to the idea that this represents a significant advantage to CanWest - the prospect of ad space on Kiwi being given as a freebie to clients of other CanWest entities.

Covering costs through advertising is one thing - boosting the value of a CanWest multi-buy ad package (at little extra cost to CanWest) is another.

Scott Common noted discussion of the issue on NZ Music.com. There are also a range of comments on The Wireless.

Logan O'Callahan said this:

Why all this yabber about another youth radio station? A fair chunk of commercial radio aims at youth. It's the little fellas (and ladies) that need catering for. Aim a station at the under 10s. That would fill a niche and expand the future radio market.

Of course they'd have to do without the usual ads - magnet therapies, vasectomies and erectile disfunction.

But Karyn had at least one friend in Paula Lambert:

Go Karyn. Make that 43,001 listeners, I loved it from the word go.

I have obtained, by the usual means, a copy of this month's BBC Five documentary, Robbie Williams' Secrets, in which local tattoo artist (and briefly special friend to the star) Otis Frizzell unloads his frustrations about being flown to Britain as Robbie's private on-tour tattooist and then pretty much cast to one side like last week's toy. Otis tells stories of the star's daily shagfests ("feeding time") with local hookers and more, but unfortunately, the producers manage both to incorrectly pronounce his name ("Frizzle") and spell it ("Frissell"). Oh well. Otis looks good anyway.

And, finally, here's this week's Public Address Virtual Super 14 leader board. It's still fairly stable at the top, where a bunch of Hurricanes fans are clamouring behind a Crusaders supporter and a Chiefs fan, but there were some substantial reversals of fortune further down the table.