media and technology

the lowdown

Games . Web Sites . CD-ROMs

John Henderson reviews the latest multimedia releases.

PAWS. (PC CID-ROM £19.99)

The acronym stands for Personal Automated Wagging System. and now you can own one for nearly half its original price. P.A.\V.S. gives a dog‘s-eye perspective on a tranquil garden world. and it’s up to you to keep your trusty charge fed and watered. Although aimed primarily at children, the box recommends an upper age limit of l03, and rightly so. P.A.W.S. has all the humour, witty animation and slickness that other children‘s CD-ROMS are crying out for.

Euro 96 (PC CD-Roni £49.99)

In the world of video games, a major sporting event offers a licence to print money, and Euro 96 is no exception. This official release is an updated version of Actua Soccer, and comes with all the appropriate bells and whistles. There are 30,000 words of commentary from the great Barry Davies. along with accurate models ofevery ground that will be used in the competition. If you haven‘t got a football game. Euro 96 is worth a look.

Generative Music 1 ( PC £37.95) Brian lino‘s latest project comprises twelve musical pieces. for which he has set the rules and parameters. Your computer randomly generates the works, so none of the compositions will play the same way twice. Eno argues that before the gramopbone, music was ephemeral and unrepeatable. and suggests our grandchildren might find it hard to believe we listened to the same thing over and over again. The music's not bad. but whether this release marks the. beginning of a brave new world of composition and production remains to be seen.

Channels for change

As the Government’s Broadcasting Bill enters the last lap of its passage through Parliament. Stephen Naysmith asks writer and ex-head of arts at Scottish Television. Donny O’Rourke to shed some light on its implications for

ordinary viewers.

he Broadcasting Bill. currently

receiving its final reading in the

House ofCommons. paves the way for fundamental changes in the way television is made, transmitted and paid for that will have wide-reaching effects on the nation's viewers.

Yet when the House of Lords inflicted one of the Government‘s worst defeats over the bill in February. it was because of threats to televised sporting events. such as cup finals. Wimbledon and the Grand National.

BBC Scotland equally concerned. When asked to comment on the Broadcasting Bill. it said preserving national sporting events was ‘probably the roost important issue raised by the bill.‘ A spokesman said: ‘Sporis are very important in Scotland. Everybody is going to be working on that one.‘

A dissenting voice comes froin Donny ()‘Rourke. head of arts with Scottish Television until he ctrt loose a year ago in search of a quieter life. He says there are political and cultural issues which urgently need addressing.

‘A lot of the debate over the Broadcasting Bill hasn‘t been focused enough to be relevant in Scotland and won‘t be, unless control is passed from London to nearer where we live' he says.

()‘Rourke is scathing about the two main players in Scotland‘s television marketplace. “Nobody is giving a cultural lead in Scotland.‘ he 'Who's putting the vision in television at Queen Margaret l)rive'.’ The building literally faces south the people in charge are appointed and promoted by London.

'lt is damnable. inexcusable and profoundly sad that BBC Scotland isn‘t

say s.

giving tuore of a lead. It should be at the cutting edge of Scottish culture Hrinrrs/r Mitchel/1, while ()K. is far from that. Scottish Television are content to make programmes that pay their way Like BB(‘ Scotland. Scottish Television seemed ambivalent about the impact ofthe Broadcasting Bill. ‘\\'e are fairly neutral on most of it.‘ a spokesman admitted, Its main concern is over the possibility of lT\' companies losing the share they take of(‘hannel 4‘s profits. Another fear is from the relaxation of rules on cross—media ownership. ‘We are not worried about the Mirror (iroup, who own twenty per cent of Scottish Teley ision, If there was any attempted takeoyer it would be thrown out by the Monopolies and Mergers (‘oritiitissiori,' confident message from ('owcaddens.

w as the

Mergers and takeovers are one of

(YRourke's main concerns. ‘Teley ision is an extremely powerful medium.~ he explains. ‘It is vital that it doesn't fall even more into the wrong hands.‘

()‘Rourke left the industry because he felt there was no place to make thoughtful programmes. and claims modern scheduling is characterised by cynicism and nihilism. “Television is predominantly about shopping.‘ he says. ‘You have to make programmes people want to watch. but I don't see why they always have to be watched by IS million people.‘

()‘Roiti'kos claim that the Scottish iiitlttsli'y is short of direction. is if anything confirmed by the muted response from Scottish Teleyision and BB(' Scotland when asked to commetit on the Broadcasting Bill.

Both welcomed the deyelopments in

‘llilllill broadcasting. and said they

Key points of the Bill:

- .‘ylulti-channel digital broadcasting improved signals will eventually require viewers to replace their TV sets to receive the new output.

rules will be relaxed. allowing more new spaper

' Cross-media ownership

companies to operate TV stations and

satellite s‘et'y ices.

° listed sporting cyciits w ill be pi'csei‘ycd for open access rather that! subscription satellite or cable .sei'y ices

° The Broadcasting Standards ('otutcil

w ill be required to monitor broadcasters for fairness and accuracy

° l-‘ollowang the lead from America. the (iovcrnment may also opt to hay c y chips. censoring y tolciicc. bad language and sex scenes. tilted to all new


Scanner covers all aspects of media and technology. Address comments and queries to mediaList

S'l'l .-\l\"l l’:\'l'liRS( ).\'

Donny O’Rourke: dissenting voice would be ready for the new technology. Both were happy to comply with the new Broadcasting Standards (‘ouncil It remains to be seen how the bill will affect the ordinary y iewer at home.

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