MediaBizTech

Robert Freeman's whole Media, Business and Technology thing. Sorted.

Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Travel offpeak in London? 2.5% fare increase? Double it, then double it again. Still not close.

with 2 comments

travel tickets and paper calculations

Off-peak – not a thing anymore

Welcome to 2015!

I don’t normally write about topics which appear everywhere else in the mainstream news, but here’s something that I can’t understand isn’t a bigger story, judging by the comments I’ve seen online today.

The news in London, and across much of England is that with today being the first work day of the year for many, it now it costs on average 2.5% more for the train or bus to work.

Here’s the headline you haven’t seen:

Price of off-peak travel in London leaps 38%

You read that correctly. If you, like many, like the cost-saving and lack of crush of travelling after 0930, then you just got what must be the largest fare increase in the country.

In 2014 an offpeak travelcard for zones 1-6 cost:    £8.90

In 2015 an offpeak travelcard for zones 1-6 is now £12.00, a rise of 34.8%.

There are some other interesting changes.

The Anytime Travelcard is now also £12 for zones 1-4. There seems to be no incentive at all to travel offpeak anymore with this type of ticket.  Live further out? Your fare jumps another 40% higher:

Buy a travelcard at 8am in Oakleigh Park – £12.  Buy it at New Barnet about a mile further up the road, and you’ll pay £17. My advice, walk the mile! (Does TFL have a secret pact with the NHS to encourage pedestrians?)

Price capping

It gets even more interesting when you look at what’s happened to the price caps.  This is the maximum possible you will pay in a day if you use an Oyster card, or a contactless payment card.

In 2014 the offpeak price cap for zones 1-6 was: £8.50

In 2015 the offpeak price cap for zones 1-6 is    : £11.70, an increase of 38%

And in these zones, TFL have effectively abolished offpeak fares. The peak and the offpeak caps are the same.

Where this does make a difference is outside zone 6.  Let’s stay with north London for a price example:

Use Oyster at Enfield Lock at 8am on a weekday and you won’t pay more than £11.70 for the entire day. Do the same at Waltham Cross, again about a mile further away and you will pay a whopping 70% more! The peak cap in zone 7 is £20.

Now let’s compare last year’s peaktime price caps, because in 2014, there was a significant premium for travelling with the herd.

In 2014 the peak price cap for zones 1-2 was: £8.40.   It’s now £6.40, a fall of 23%.

In 2014 the peak price cap for zones 1-3 was: £10.60. It’s now £7.50, a fall of 29%.

In 2014 the peak price cap for zones 1-4 was: £10.60. It’s now £9.20, a fall of 13%.

In 2014 the peak price cap for zones 1-6 was: £15.80. It’s now £11.70, a fall of 26%.

It seems if you live in zones 4 or 5, you’re not seeing your fair share of reduction, and those living in zone 1 (possibly those who can afford high prices the most) also see a significant reduction.

Silver lining

There’s one upside however, if you’re not travelling through zone 1. The price of a single between zones 2-6 is still £1.50.  After 0930 you can travel from Hammersmith to Heathrow, or from Mile End all the way to Epping for just £1.50.  That’s a bargain, a weird sort of bargain, but a bargain nonetheless.

Getting rid of paper

For the last few years, we’ve had a significant additional cost to buying a single paper ticket with cash, now that’s grown to day travelcards as well, with the cost of the paper travelcard being well above the price caps, both peak and off peak. Here’s an expensive example:

Travelling from Sidcup in SE London before 0930 an Anytime travelcard is £17, but the peak price cap is £10.90 so you’ll pay 55% more for that paper ticket.

I can see how the cost of dealing with paper tickets must have increased proportionally as usage of them has dropped. After all, they still need to keep all the gates taking paper, and offices and machines issuing them. But has the dropoff in the use of paper tickets in the last few years really brought us to the point where the cost is 55% more?

And with 2015’s fare regime it looks like off-peak travellers are being massively penalised. And penalised for what exactly? For waiting a bit longer, thus allowing more space for people who don’t have a choice about when to travel?

There isn’t a financial incentive any more if you live within zones 1-4. Just crush onto the trains with everyone else, because with the price-caps the same, you’re not going to pay any more than they are.

By travelling off-peak in 2015 you’re now paying more, not less. While those travelling at peak times can pay less, not more. That’s a strategy I don’t understand.

If you do understand … or you have a sensible comment, let me know.

Advertisements

Written by Robert

5 January, 2015 at 5:45 pm

The sale of stuff from TV Centre – Valuable? Or Junk?

leave a comment »

Useless things – worth more than they cost to make

The contents of a building where I used to work are being slowly sold off.

The closure and sale of BBC Television Centre has ignited strong emotions and there was a protest to prevent planning permission for a redevelopment, involving some high-profile celebrities of British culture, to no avail.

As an armchair economist it’s fascinating to pick out a couple of results of some of the completed parts of the auction, because for me at least, the prices just don’t make any sense.

Take for example, lots 1455, and 1456. These are what’s left of some of the interior signs.

TV interior sign sold for £660

Lot 1456 sold for £423

They sold for a combined total of over £1,000!

I’m amazed, particularly as there’s not much about these which is scarce. The BBC still occupies three buildings across the road from TV Centre – I’m in one of them most weeks – and there’s still a machine that makes these signs and labels. If they’re worth this much money, someone should be running that machine night and day cranking more of them out!

How about lot 1444:

SFX door

 

£55 for a door to nowhere, and you could surely make this for half that price with bits from a DIY shop. With this piece though, I can understand more why it is valued highly

It would be interesting to know the history of this door. It’s possible it was originally made for radio drama and came over to Wood Lane if it was needed to re-dub sound effects for TV. Or it could have a longer heritage and started life in a film dubbing suite, maybe in Ealing, or in Lime Grove. It could however just as easily been knocked up in 20 mins by a TV Centre carpenter in the 1980s.

It’s clearly the possibilities of this history, and the unusualness of the item which make it worth more.

Time for a reality check though.  TV Centre was also full of functioning valuable equipment. Great for radio stations, universities, or small TV / film companies.  Let’s take a look at the going rate for something still being used, like a professional digital videotape recorder.

Sony digi beta recorder

New, they are sold for thousands. Even second-hand, you’ll get hundreds for them. There were many like these for sale in TV Centre’s auction. Here’s lot 1505.

Lot 1505 - Digi beta recorder

I think ‘thetoplens’ got a bargain there!

The sale of stuff from TV Centre isn’t over yet!  Two more auctions are scheduled, more equipment here, and you can still buy the satellite dishes and comms equipment. Although being unmaintained and exposed to the elements for well over two years, I’m not sure how much operational value there’s left in them. Plus for a domestic bidder in need of a new birdbath, you’re going to need a very large garden, and probably planning permission!

BBC TVC

flickr / peterdaniel

Let me know in the comments if you got a bargain, or whether you consider you got something valuable, no matter what you paid.

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Robert

21 August, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Skype to make group video chat free

leave a comment »

Skype group video

Not so exclusive anymore.

If you’re one of the people who got a free year’s subscription to Skype Premium as part of the Christmas collaboration offer, and are congratulating yourself for saving over $100, then hold on! It might not be as great a deal as you think.

Skype are about to make some big changes.

First the ‘Collaboration Premium’ freebie doesn’t include any free phone calls to real phones (one of the main parts of Skype Premium), the other important part, group video calls is about to be offered free to everyone anyway.

Skype is also ditching both the 12-month subscription offer (with its 50% discount) and the 3 month version.

Here’s part of the email reply I got from Skype when I enquired where the 12 month option had gone.

 

The reason behind these changes is that Skype will soon include Group Video Calling for free for those users who will link their Skype Accounts with MSA [Microsoft account]

 

I’m guessing this means if you have a hotmail, outlook or live.com email address.

So, if you’re about to buy or renew your Premium account, might be worth waiting to see if you can do with just Skype Credit (which is 30% off at the time of writing if you buy a git card)

Written by Robert

8 January, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Posted in Business, Software, video

Tagged with ,

Blackberry – still stumbling over presentation

leave a comment »

Trips up, gets up, trips up again

Blackberry 10 launches today, and their UK managing director, Stephen Bates was on 5live Breakfast to talk about it.

(Also on 5live’s own site here)

A less than triumphant performance.

Stephen Bates’ problem here was perhaps that he didn’t acknowledge the question. All he needed to do was to agree with the interviewer something like this:

“Yes, each phone manufacturer has their strengths and they learn off each other and they particularly learn what it is the consumer wants. And what Blackberry has learned about the consumer is ….”

And annoyingly it wasn’t even his first interview of the day, an hour earlier, he was in the BBC1  Breakfast studio, with something very similar.


Blackberry have form when it comes to reacting badly to unexpected questions. Remember this famous interview with (at that point, but not shortly afterwards) Chief Executive, Mike Lazaridis?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/9456798.stm

Written by Robert

30 January, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Why crowd-sourced films are the biggest disruptive force I’ve seen in years

leave a comment »

Vyclone screenshot

Warning: Severe disruption ahead

Something new for entertainment executives to stress over

Over the last few days, I’ve been playing around with a mobile video app called Vyclone.

Check the site, download and play, but I urge you to play with other people who have the app in the same room. It’s really important you do, or you just won’t get it.

If you’ve ever been to a large event, videoed it, and have then been disappointed at the results, you’ll love this app. If you’ve experience of storytelling in video, the possibilities will probably charm you.

If you work for a commercial broadcaster, or in electronic distribution rights for events, it will probably stop you sleeping at night.

Vyclone finds all the other people in the same place as you, recording the same thing, and stitches their videos together into a multi-camera shoot. If you don’t like what it does automatically, you can make your own camera mix.

It’s the most disruptive, fascinating, troubling, creative, delicious, innovation I’ve seen in years. This is a game-changer.

Some perspective: 15 years ago, worried rights-owners would try to ban people bringing video cameras into their events (some still do). They had already sold the TV rights to another company and were obliged to protect that sale.

With mobile phone video, there were too many people to police, but they quickly realised it wasn’t a threat because these individuals made rubbish content. They weren’t organised and had no scale or impact. The individual YouTube stats for the uploaded videos proved that.

These elements have now irrevocably changed. A crowd-source video app offers both organisation and scale, automatically.

Let’s say I’m at Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend music festival. I’m recording Nicki Minaj performing ‘Starships’

(top chune btw). My camera only gets a general view of the stage. But at the front, two other people I don’t even know are recording the left and right sides of the stage. One might have Minaj in full close-up. Yet another person is recording the crowd and their friends further back.

The app stitches all of those shots together into a music video.

If you’re a broadcast professional, I can already hear your say “it still won’t be as good as our planned, directed TV coverage”, and you are absolutely right. But, here’s the kicker:

It’ll be good enough.

YouTube doesn’t amass millions of eyeballs a day because it’s professional. It has content that for the most part, is just good enough for the few minutes those millions want to watch.

Now, take my music festival scenario and imagine instead a riot. Or a war zone. You see how powerful this might be for news gathering?

There’s still a long way to go obviously. For now, you actually have to be recording through an installed application for the auto-mix to work. There’s a limit of 4 other cameras in a single mix. The video quality is, well, from a mobile phone. All these will improve and become less restrictive.

But even now, it’s good enough.

There are fights to come. The technology raises massive issues about whether anyone can “own” the resulting video when anyone is free to remix and share the individual parts.

Given the massive, lucrative sporting event about to engulf my home city of London, I’ll give you one last scenario to imagine the impact of a crowd-sourced, non-owned, multiple camera recording:

The men’s 100 metre final.

I wish the International Olympics Committee a good night’s sleep.

Written by Robert

25 July, 2012 at 12:23 am

The Tower lives and grows

leave a comment »

BT Tower, 47 years and still going strong

Transmit til it megahertz, 47 years and counting.


It is such an iconic part of the London skyline, central to telecoms, and in particular television development in the UK.

I have a soft spot for the BT Tower / Post Office Tower. I gaze up at it. I watch it. I take photos of it.

When the antenna galleries were stripped of all the original (and subsequently added) microwave aerials at the end of 2011, I wasn’t the only one worried we were at the end of an era for the Tower.

In an era before fibre optics and before satellite transmission really got going, you moved signals across the country in point-to-point hops from one transceiver to the next, and the Tower was the centre of the network.

But I’m pleased to report a small return to form. The picture on the left I took in mid April 2012. The picture on the right was taken on 2 May 2012.

Spot the difference (apart from the weather) There’s a new white microwave antenna – the tower is beaming long-distance signals again! 47 years on, it still performing its original purpose.

Interestingly, the new dish isn’t located in the traditional gallery, but much further up the tower which means it probably has a range of around 25-30 miles depending on the power output. It’s facing west, which takes it out to about Slough.

The diameter is about 2 meters, so a significant sized dish.

It’s highly likely that this link is being used by a company other than BT, but if you know any details, let us know in the comments.

Written by Robert

3 May, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Posted in Business, Media, radio, Technology

Tagged with , , ,

To-do, or not to-do. It’s a good question.

leave a comment »

To-do list

Keep it simple

A rare off-topic post. Because flexibility is fun.

I got to my desk this morning and as I’ve got into the habit of doing, I made a rough list of the things I wanted to do today.

Then I made some tea, and looked at my list to work out which one I should start first. And I thought, yep, this list really helps me focus on what I need to do, and it’s a great visual prompt.

At this point I was immediately distracted by wondering how many other people think so to, so I started search for “Why to do lists are great”. I got four words in and google’s autocomplete came up with:

Why to do lists don’t work

Oh dear.

It seems the productivity industry can’t agree on whether they’re good or not:

Lifehacker notes that some people have so many things to do, they need a range of online tools to help them keep track. (I go for the pen/paper option)

Morgan McLintic likes To-Do lists, but says you need to do more than just write stuff down.

Although Mike Reeves-McMillan goes into  little too much depth for me, suggesting I should “Link To-do Items to Higher-Level Goals”. I think I might spend all day supercharging my list, rather than doing the actual work.

Workawesome clearly loves To-Do lists. Oh wait, no they don’t. Apparently a ‘Done’ list is much better.

This post on the Harvard Business Review blog shuns lists because they are “setting you up for failure and frustration”.

Actually I think the best advice comes from Leo Babauta’s calm-inducing Zenhabits, with some simple tips on getting things done. Basically, take a deep breath, and start a small part of the task.

I feel better now.

Written by Robert

2 March, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Posted in Business, Fun, tools

Tagged with , ,