The price of victory

Further to my Eurovision piece yesterday, BBC News has an article about the costs of hosting the contest. Funding changes now mean that the host broadcaster doesn’t have to pay the full cost, with over 50% or more being paid for by the EBU, but Estonia spent it’s entire tourism budget for 2002 – $26million – hosting the contest.

However, the best part of the story is RTE’s seeming denial that their repeated hosting of the contest in the 90s threatened to bankrupt them:

These are wonderful stories, and they’re apocryphal at this point, but for the most part they’re completely untrue

‘Apocryphal at this point‘? So, at what point will they not be apocryphal?
For the most part they’re completely untrue’? So what part of them is true?

Getting Worse Until Things Improve

The Financial Times reports today on Deutsche Telekom’s first quarter results. The expected fall in the domestic fixed-line business was compensated for by a 12 per cent rise in revenues on the part of T-Mobile. A big part of this increase is due to the fact that they added a record 1.2m net new mobile subscribers in the US. Also helpful was their strong UK showing where they are now challenging to take the number one slot.

The one blemish on the report card: Germany. The fixed line T-Com section saw a 6% decline in sales, whilst T-mobile was reported as showing a disappointing drop in margins, “ascribed to one-off effects, increased marketing spend and the feeble German economy”.

James Golob, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, said: “The mobile business accounts for nearly all of our medium-term earnings and sales growth forecasts – and, of that, half is related to the performance in the US.” The German mobile figures “raised concerns that the sudden drop in margins could represent a trend that could last for as long as the weakness in the German economy continues.””

Unfortunately, if I am right about the German economy, this means there could be a long, long wait ahead of us.

Europe unites in song…well, sort of

On Saturday night the people of Europe will come together. Gathered together around their television sets across the entire continent, they will jointly watch a broadcast from Istanbul that will highlight European culture, bring all the nations of the continent together in unity and show the vibrant, dynamic future of Europe.

Well, that’s the theory. In truth, the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest will be like most of its predecessors, a bizarre mix of musical styles and fashion senses coupled with the usual inter-country feuding and bizarre voting habits that we’ve all come to know and love over the years. After all, where else on world TV would you get to see Bosnian disco, Turkish Ska and a Ukrainian Shakira-wannabe all in the same broadcast?
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Something Is Worrying Me

Well clearly a lot of things are worrying me, many of them right now associated with the grizzly images of human suffering and degradation (both those which are intensely individual and those which are collective and for that seemingly more anonymous) which we cannot avoid contemplating day in day out. Against these images words seem powerless. All I am left with is silence.

So you will forgive me if in place of the big worries which we must all be feeling I share with you some seemingly more trivial ones. In this case the starting point would be an issue which has arisen about the state of the European biotechnology industry. Strange as it may seem, as well as struggling to get through the ‘hell’ that is today today, we could also usefully spare some time thinking about the ‘heaven’ of tomorrow: or what the future might be like when we eventually get there.
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More Than Meets The Eye

This may seem to be a story about goings-on in a far distant land, but then again some of the implications may arrive a lot nearer home than we may like to admit. Most of you will have noticed that in recent days the press has been full of material about a Japanese pensions scandal. Without getting bogged-down in the minutiae, the key point seems to be that various politicians haven’t exactly been paying their dues. Now where’s the big deal in this you might ask………. well the problem is that a not insignificant number of Japanese citzens already believed before the scandal broke that the fund wouldn’t live to see the day when current contributions could be recovered in the form of benefits.

Now they have simply discovered that many of those responsible for running the thing have also come to the same conclusion….
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