Fifa vice-president Jack Warner branded the BBC “unpatriotic” for deciding to screen an investigation into the football governing body so close to the vote on 3 December which would decide the host of the 2018 World Cup.

Regardless of what the sports and football world might think of Mr Warner, we have to question the thinking and rational for not just the BBC’s Panorama programme, which was screened last night, but the Sunday Times expose a few weeks back.  These two media outlets claimed that their investigations were in the ‘public interest’, but the timing of their broadcast couldn’t have been anything other than fatal.  Unpatriotic, as Mr Warner said might not be that wide of the mark.

Since news broke of what these two outlets were doing the Football Association has been scrambling to still be in with a chance to host the 2018 World Cup.  It’s pushed forward its power players to rally the nation into showing strength in unity.  England’s World Cup 2018 bid international president David Dein called for the nation and by default the media, to get behind the bid.  Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince William will both be in Zurich on Thursday supporting the bid.  But this might just be the public face for a bid that is actually intended to change Fifa rather than secure the World Cup.

I am not for one minute arguing for investigative journalism to be gagged.  Nor am I condoning the culture of favour that exists within Fifa, an organisation that promotes Fair Play on the pitch, but ignores it in the boardroom.  Let’s be honest, are these investigations really in the public interest, this being common well-being?  Such a claim is more of a catch-all.

There are three sides to every story – two sides and the truth.

The big question is about the communications expertise that exists within England’s bid.  Did England’s bid team have the necessary power to work with the media?  Was it able to influence the timing of such and much needed investigation?  Could the media’s work help in England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup?  Or did England just know that it didn’t stand a chance, which is why it embarked on a campaign to reform Fifa.

We will be anticipating with anguish the results of Fifa’s Executive Committee’s vote on Thursday.  The bid’s Facebook page has support from people from over 170 countries!


Gordon Brown with head in hands after "bigoted woman" gaffe.

Last week Prime Minister Gordon Brown said about the election during the #leadersdebate that, “if it was all about style and PR, count me out.” The fact is that after his walkabout meeting with Rochdale pensioner Gillian Duffy it is PR, or lack of it, that highlights that he is stumbling along the election stump.

The chance encounter with Gillian Duffy was a meeting that Labour insiders were hoping for – a meeting with real and ordinary voters. The problem arose not during the robust questioning by Duffy, which in my opinion turned out positive, but how he perceived the meeting went. It was comments that he made in his car and which were picked up by a live microphone that might have derailed the Labour Party’s efforts during this general election.

Media channels and the online community on Twitter wasted no time in making the most out of the comments from a lady who at the end of his meeting with Brown described herself as a life-long Labour voter that would vote for the Prime Minister. After she heard the comments, he decision changed.

While PR gaffes like this do happen, in such situations they can be critical. It would be interesting to see how Gordon’s spin-doctors try to turn this around. I say this as Lord Mandelson is on the BBC News Channel giving his view on the event as part of a “damage limitation” exercise.

Of course, you can judge for yourself how he fared up and until he got in his car on the Channel 4 footage below.

UPDATE: News reaches us that after his BBC Radio 2 interview with Jeremy Vine, Brown jumped in the car and returned to Rochdale to apologise to Gillian Duffy.  We should remember that after learning how Gillian had been described by the Prime Minister she said to journalists that she did not want to see or meet him again.  That decision though has been taken away from her as Brown has been at her house for over 30 minutes.

The BBC launched its much-anticipated ‘Democracy Live’ online service on Friday. Offering ‘live and video on demand video coverage of the UK’s national political institutions and the European Parliament’, the site brings politics to the public. Giving people insight into government and how our elected representatives and institutions work.

It was two years ago when the corporation’s Director General Mark Thompson gave a speech at Westminster on trust, politics and broadcasting where he outlined his view on how the BBC could help make politics more relevant to every citizen in this country.

At the time Thomson said, “We want to take our coverage of Westminster, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the European Parliament, as well as local councils up and down the land and turn them into the most engaging, the most creative multimedia portal for democracy in the world, using BBC Parliament and our other television, networks, radio, the web and mobile. Since then MPs and news outlets have come under more scrutiny than ever before.

In his speech Thompson added, “Direct access to information about your MP or representative: how they vote, what they stand for, how you can contact them. Survival guides and in-depth analysis of current debates and current legislation. Easy ways, for anyone who wants to, to plug into and take part in the debate. And all of it available to every secondary school in the UK as part of a strengthened commitment by BBC Learning to supporting citizenship and modern media literacy.”

I understand that the BBC has invested between £1-£1.5 million on Democracy Live, with the most significant cost being the 11 members of staff focused on the site.

Up and until the launch accessing such information and real-time feeds were available through either the Parliament site or through paid-for services such as those offered by companies such as DeHavilland.

What will make Democracy Live work is the use of speech-to-text recognition software offered by Blinkx. It is understood that Blinkx will the use both the phonetic and text transcripts to create transcripts and meta-tags that can be added to each video.  Blinkx also has a speech to text success rate of over 80 per cent, which is expected to increase as the site and video services beds in.

I also gather that the beta’s of the site that were presented to politicians during conference season were well received.

So, politics through the BBC, scrutiny of politicians and their decision-making though the BBC.