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CHARLOTTE CHURCH CASE COULD BE THE ONLY PHONE HACKING LAWSUIT TO REACH COURT
With the criminal investigation into phone hacking moving along at the speed of a number 73 bus on the Euston Road in rush hour, and the government's Leveson Inquiry on the issue so widely defined it's likely to achieve nothing, many have been hoping one of the civil actions in relation to the scandal would actually get a full court hearing.
But with News International handing there lawyers a multi-million pound pot of cash to buy off the litigious phone hacked celebrities and members of the public one by one (before the newspaper firm had even got round to admitting phone hacking was rife at its former Sunday tabloid), it seemed increasingly likely that the circumstances around the hacking scandal would never be exposed in the civil courts.
Even those c'lebs who insisted they were suing on a point of principle eventually took News International's dirty cash. Perhaps believing that the criminal justice and political systems now had the scandal covered, since the whole thing blew up big time last July, and maybe nervous about the private lives they were trying so hard to protect being aired in court, not the mention the legal bills that would be run up in the short term, perhaps it's understandable that even the more angry celebrities would take the easy way out.
But while a string of outstanding celebrity lawsuits were settled this week, legal reps for Charlotte Church and her parents have so far stood fast, and while that might be hardline negotiating tactics for a bigger pay out, you get the sense the Church family just want to see News International in court.
It's unclear whether the damages any court hearing will deliver will exceed the sums of money the newspaper firm is paying out voluntarily - as some of those settlements have been in the hundreds of thousands, probably not - but a court hearing will likely further tarnish the reputation of News International and, more importantly, it's parent company News Corp, the Murdoch family which control it, and all the news organisations within that empire.
Certainly News International's lawyers, having no out of court settlement with the Church family, tried every argument they could this week to have a court hearing delayed, but judge Geoffrey Vos was having none of it, telling the defendants "we're ready for trial". Preliminary hearings should begin later this month.
Church is one of the surprisingly few music types to have been pulled into the phone hacking scandal, and to give evidence to the government's Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, launched after the long simmering hacking story finally blew up last July, resulting in the dramatic closure of the tabloid at the heart of the scandal.
Church's motivation to hit back at the tabloid press that first hailed her as a child star, and then relished in dishing the dirt on the Church family as her fame grew, is particularly admirable, her key concerns being a string of stories about her parents' private lives that had a devastating effect on her mother's mental health. The singer reckons no less than 33 such stories in the News Of The World were based on illegal newsgathering.
News International now has mere weeks to persuade the Church family to settle before the court proceedings begin. Assuming it does go to court, a story which has only involved the music community on the peripheries so far, will become very much a pop courts affair.
Church isn't the only phone hacked celebrity still negotiating with News International. A handful of the first batch of phone hacking lawsuits are also yet to be settled, but technical issues mean they aren't ready for court. Meanwhile a whole load of new lawsuits - 50 in recent weeks, including one from James Blunt - have been filed, as the Metropolitan Police slowly alert other individuals seemingly hacked by the News Of The World. Several hundred more people could as yet file legal proceedings.
The majority of those cases will likely be settled out of court, though the conclusion of the Church case - should it be heard in court - would become highly relevant. While high profile litigants are rumoured to have received pay offs of hundreds of thousands from News International - and it's likely that's the sort of sum being offered to Church - the majority of lawsuits are being settled for tens of thousands. But if Church was to get six figures from the courts, that could set a precedent that would potentially multiply the cost of settlements for NI by ten.
As we wait to see if the Church case is the one that finally brings this whole scandal to court, the Leveson Inquiry rumbles on with its all-star list of celebrities, editors and journalists giving evidence. CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke recently gave his take on the Inquiry so far on PR website esPResso at this URL: www.espressoprnews.com/article/in-focus-some-leveson-thoughts/
WARNER CEO CONFIRMS HIS COMPANY WILL OPPOSE EMI SALE
The newish Warner chief, put in place last year by newish owner Access Industries, confirmed statements made by his predecessor Edgar Bronfman Jr, who said, on his last day as Warner Music's Chairman last month, that the major would fight both Universal's latest expansion bid and Sony/ATV's plans to buy EMI Publishing "tooth and nail".
Warner, of course, also wanted to buy the EMI record labels but was outbid by its bigger rival. Both the Universal and Sony/ATV deals are subject to regulator approval in the US and Europe, and Warner will lobby with the independent sector against approval being given.
Although Warner is now in private ownership, Cooper is still briefing City types on the music firm's financial performance for complicated bond-type reasons. He revealed that the major's revenues for the final quarter of 2011 were pretty much on par with the same period in 2010, which is considered good going in the context of the modern record industry. Core operating costs were down, though an increase in interest costs since the Access acquisition and the £3 million Warner spent unsuccessfully bidding for EMI meant overall losses were up.
Digital revenues being up 17% helped Warner slightly increase its revenues year on year but, Cooper said, he feared for the future of the emerging digital music sector if Universal gets the EMI labels and Sony/ATV the EMI music publishing catalogues, making the two biggest music companies in the world even bigger. According to CBS News, Cooper said that would "significantly impair" Warner's ability to compete, and would harm "consumers, industry employees, recording artists, songwriters ... and our emerging digital services".
It's expected that Universal and Sony/ATV's EMI bids will get the hardest time from European regulators, and the bidders' filings on that side are expected to be submitted imminently. It will be interesting to see what form Warner's opposition takes as the regulators go through the motions.
FOLK AWARDS PRESENTED
Coming up, winners. But first Radio 2 boss Bob Shennan with some words: "Folk music is enjoying a fantastic resurgence in popularity in the UK with a vibrant and varied scene. Tonight's event proves once again how important it is for Radio 2 to schedule our annual Folk Awards as well as our weekly folk show, and I'd like to congratulate all of the winners".
Folk Singer Of The Year: June Tabor
Best Album: June Tabor & Oysterband - Ragged Kingdom
Horizon Award: Lucy Ward
JACK WHITE PRODUCES NEW TOM JONES SINGLE
Produced by White himself, and featuring a brand new version of Jones' 2002 song 'Jezebel', the package will also include a big, brash and brassy cover of Howlin Wolf's blues standard 'Evil'. The latter also co-stars assorted members of The Raconteurs and My Morning Jacket, don't you know.
'Jezebel/Evil' is the latest product of Third Man's 'Blues Series', which last year issued a bizarre collaboration between US TV pundit Stephen Colbert and Insane Clown Posse.
BATTLES LIST REMIXERS FOR SECOND REMIX EP
Out on twelve-inch vinyl via Warp on 21 Feb, the remix roster on 'Dross Glop 2' will feature contributions from hip hop producer The Alchemist ('Futura'), rap collective Shabazz Palaces ('White Electric'), and British electro type Kode9 ('Africastle').
Stream Shabazz Palaces' immaculately good 'White Electric' redo here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwAHvNjrMUs
RICHARD HAWLEY TO LAUNCH SPACE ROCK LP
Says he: "I wanted to get away from the orchestration of my previous records and make a live album with two guitars, bass, drums and rocket noises".
She Brings The Sunlight
KINDNESS ANNOUNCE SINGLE, LIVE DATES
The band will pay a flying visit to London's XOYO on 21 Mar, before playing Manchester's Soup Kitchen the following day.
If you haven't yet done so, cast your eyes towards the brand new 'Gee Up' video here:
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
DEER SHED, Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, North Yorkshite, 20-22 Jul: Deer Shed will this year house acts including Villagers, Cherry Ghost, Dutch Uncles, Beth Jeans Houghton And The Hooves Of Destiny and Treetop Flyers, with organisers promising to unveil further performers very soon. www.deerhshedfestival.com
LAST JUBILEE FESTIVAL, Bath Race Course, Bath, Somerset, 2-4 Jun: Held as the punk antithesis to the Queen's forthcoming Diamond Jubilee, this anarchic celebration of the 1977 Silver soiree has on its existing bill Buzzcocks, The Damned, Eddie And The Hot Rods, The Stranglers' Hugh Cornwell, and ex Sex Pistol Glen Matlock. The Selecter, Anti-Nowhere League, The Vibrators, Bad Manners and The Lurkers are also amongst those announced. www.lastjubilee.co.uk
NOVA FESTIVAL, Bignor Park, Pulborough, West Sussex, 5-8 Jul: Ghostpoet, Tune-Yards, Crazy P, Norman Jay and Jono McCleery are amongst the artists so far confirmed for the musical portion of this multi-arts fest, which has been created by some of the original Big Chill founders, including Katrina Larkin. Nova's inaugural programme will also feature lots of creative goings-on thanks to partnerships with The Roundhouse, Battersea Arts Centre and photographer Rankin's collective The Hunger. www.novafestival.co.uk
FOCUS ON PUBLISHING AT NEXT CITY SHOWCASE APPLE STORE EVENT
GORILLAZ DETAIL CONVERSE COLLABORATION
It's a partnership with Andre 3000 and LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy entitled 'DoYaThing', and is presented as part of Converse's running 'Three Artists. One Song' collaborations series, which has acts of diverse genres commune on one-off tracks.
As previously reported, Gorillaz's audiovisual Sound System associates will also appear live at London's Converse-supported 100 Club on 15 Feb. And lest we forget, Gorillaz have designed a range of four new Converse All Star sneakers, which is essentially the point of this entire venture.
'DoYaThing' will be available for free download at www.converse.com as of 23 Feb.
MAROON 5 MAN STARTS LABEL, SIGNS GLEE STAR
'Glee' actor and pop star Matthew Morrison has been named as 222's inaugural signing, and will release his second solo album through the new label in the spring.
Says Levine, who has named the label after his 222 clothing line and a numbered tattoo on his arm: "Starting my own label has been a long-time goal of mine, and I am thrilled to be at the point in my career where it is finally happening. Great things are in store for [Matthew] with this release".
Morrison also partakes in the label love-in: "Adam and I share the same vision as we begin working on my record together". How sweet.
MU CALLS FOR CONSITENCY ON AIRLINE'S INSTRUMENT CARRIAGE RULES
This is an area the MU has been lobbying on for sometime, many musicians finding rules regarding taking instruments on flights - which currently vary from airline to airline - confusing and frustrating, and sometimes prohibitively expensive, with additional fees, where they are charged, sometimes only apparent when the musician arrives at the airport.
The confusion often covers both putting instruments in the hold and taking them on board as hand luggage (and for some musicians with instruments of high financial or emotional value, the prospect of having them stored in the hold is not especially attractive).
The MU agreed standards on the issue with the Department Of Transport in 2006 that would apply to flights under the UK jurisdiction, but those standards were merely guidelines, so many airlines still operate their own rules on this matter, some more consistently than others. In the US new laws force standards across the airline industry.
Calling for something similar in the UK, MU General Secretary John Smith told CMU: "We call on the UK government to consider introducing a similar act regarding instruments on planes as has just been passed in the US. Such a policy would make a huge difference to the lives of musicians, who often face a lottery when they fly with an instrument".
He stressed the biggest issue - over and above any fees musicians have to pay for the transit of their instruments - was the inconsistency on rules and fees.
He continued: "The main problem is the inconsistency between airports and airline staff. You might be allowed to take your instrument into the cabin with you at no extra cost, but then be charged an extortionate fee to put it into the hold on your return flight. This is particularly unfair given that most airlines allow sports equipment, such as skis, to travel for free. For a working musician, the fee can mean the difference between a concert or gig making or losing money - and that's without even counting the potential cost of a damaged instrument".
GOOGLE PLANNING DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT DEVICE
It would put the web giant more directly in competition with Apple, a once friendly rival of Google which has become a head-on competitor as both firms place more importance on their respective smartphone operating systems.
Amazon too, of course, is stepping up its efforts in the entertainment hardware space, so the launch of a Google device would escalate the battle between the three big players in online content, as well as pitching the web firm against more traditional entertainment device makers, many of which are now using Google's Android operating system.
It's thought a prototype of the device is already in production, and assumed that if and when it goes to market Google would hand the job over to Motorola, which it acquired last year but which has so far operated autonomously from its new owners.
Elsewhere in Google news, Broadcast reports that YouTube, which has been pumping its own money into original content for the first time in the last year via content partnership deals with media, brands and celebrities, is looking to launch 20 UK-specific channels, with £10 million set aside to make that happen.
Q APPOINTS NEW EDITOR
Harrison briefly edited Q in 2000, and was involved with the title, along with Smash Hits and Mixmag, in his role as Editorial Director at the music mags' then publisher EMAP Performance from 2000-2002. He is also the former editor of Select, and has written over the years for the likes of Rolling Stone, The Observer, GQ and The Guardian, where he coined the phrase "landfill indie". Which is nice. He joins Q from The Word.
Announcing his appointment, Q's Publishing Director Rimi Atwal said: "Andrew's proven track record in magazine craft, coupled with his instinctive understanding of Q's eclectic audience and his long-standing passion for music, makes him the ideal choice as editor at an exciting stage of product development".
Harrison added: "I'm thrilled to be taking on the editorship of the world's greatest music magazine, and I'm looking forward to building on its unrivalled heritage of quality and character. Q is the gold standard of music journalism, and I'll be working hard with the team to burnish that reputation in the months to come".
Rees departure took many by surprise, he having been with the Bauer (previously EMAP) since 1991, working his way through the ranks at Kerrang! before becoming Q editor in 2002. Though that he is being replaced by an external appointment suggests Rees' exit has been anticipated for sometime internally.
WATCH THE THRONE VIDEO PREMIERES, THOUGH NOT IN SHOREDITCH
Though this was the somewhat limp culmination of an afternoon's worth of hype and speculation stemming from this cryptic image - http://s13.postimage.org/55qir0vif/map.jpg - which circulated online and seemed to indicate that something 'Watch The Throne' related was taking place in the Shoreditch locale (actually, CMU HQ is in the middle of that photo, making us wonder if we'd accidentally invited Kanye and Jay round for tea and then forgotten to buy any biscuits).
As people speculated online as to what the cryptic message might mean, one of the more ironic rumours, as initiated by The Quietus, included that Kanye was set to perform at Chariots, the gay men's spa across the road from Shoreditch Station. Chariots then began trending on Twitter. Silly Twitter.
After all that, the station side screening was always going to be a bit of an anti-climax. All the more so given the video actually premiered online before the open-air preview began. And talking of said video being on YouTube, without any further fuss - bar a warning that it contains potentially hazardous flashing lights - here's the promo in question.
CMU BEEF OF THE WEEK #97: BLACK SABBATH V BLACK SABBATH
Maybe we should skip back a bit. Last year the original line-up of Black Sabbath announced that they were getting back together. It's not the first time they've done so, but previously they've only played live. This time, they announced, they would be recording a new album, the first featuring the original line-up for 33 years. Suddenly the get together was elevated above previous reunions, and had a much better PR angle.
When it was announced that Tony Iommi had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, the band insisted the reunion would go ahead, adding that they would shift recording sessions from LA to the UK, where Iommi was receiving treatment. And though the possibility of touring was now uncertain, they remained adamant that they would play their headline set at Download Festival as planned.
Which made Ward's statement all the more surprising. As far as anyone on the outside was concerned, the reunion was a done deal. But throughout all of this, Bill Ward was not even contracted to join in.
"At this time", he wrote last week, "I would love nothing more than to be able to proceed with the Black Sabbath album and tour. However, I am unable to continue unless a 'signable' contract is drawn up; a contract that reflects some dignity and respect toward me as an original member of the band ... Several days ago, after nearly a year of trying to negotiate, another 'unsignable' contract was handed to me".
Clearly this is not the sort of statement anyone puts out without thought. It was, presumably, an attempt to force the band's (or their management's) hand in the contract negotiations. Though it was a move that failed. The next day, the rest of the band issued their own statement, saying: "We were saddened to hear yesterday via Facebook that Bill declined publicly to participate in our current Black Sabbath plans. We have no choice but to continue recording without him although our door is always open".
Now, had they read Ward's statement properly, they would have seen that he had far from "declined publicly to participate" in the reunion. In fact, he said: "I am packed and ready to leave the US for England. More importantly, I definitely want to play on the album, and I definitely want to tour with Black Sabbath".
He also added, to defuse the obvious accusation, that he was not "holding out for a 'big piece' of the action (money) like some kind of blackmail deal", just that he felt he was not being given proper recognition for his role in the band.
Indeed, without Ward, the whole 'first album for 33 years' thing was kind of out of the window. It may be that the "door is always open", but will Ward want to take part now that the rest of the band have called his bluff? Is the reunion worth its salt without him? Clearly the rest of the band see him as an expendable member of the line-up, though many fans disagree.
What harm this will ultimately do the reunion, whether or not Ward rejoins, remains to be seen. If nothing else, such inter-band bickering highlights that they might not be doing the reunion thing just for the joy of being four old mates back together again, or just for the fans, but rather what's in the fans' wallets.
Whatever, most shockingly of all, yesterday afternoon Bill Ward's personal Facebook page was removed from the list of pages 'liked' by the official Black Sabbath page. Oh, the humanity.