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Wembley and MeanFiddler play the Web tune

Pied pipers lead cash away from Net-crazy investors

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Ain't the Web great? Just mention it in terms of your current business and people will hurl money at you. This has been going on for some time as we all know, but it seems that every few months, another industry wakes up and figures it will have a go as well. This week, its the turn of the music industry. In much the same way as Blackadder managed to sucker the Prince Regent out of a postal order (see bottom), Wembley and MeanFiddler will rake it in by telling people what they want to hear - that live concerts will be broadcast over the Internet and people will pay oddles of cash for the priviledge of seeing it. The MeanFiddler event organiser reckons this is good for 2.8m (with which it will do pretty much as it pleases) and presumably WembleyTV will use it to build one of those bloody brands that everyone is going on about. No wanting to put a dampener on festivities, but very few people will want to watch concerts on the Net and next to no one will pay for it. But why? It's the bandwidth, stupid. Show me a man who will pay 3-15 to watch a stuttery, poor-quality concert on a tiny three-inch screen and I'll show you a fool. It will be years before this sort of thing is even partially viable. Not that either of these companies are actually planning to put concerts on the Web, but it won't do any harm to imply it. MeanFiddler will sell tickets and CDs online and try to get a few ads as well. Wembley will put all its efforts into pay-TV, and use digital advances to make a tidy packet. Both companies have got the backing and the names to pull it off as well, but then without the fantasy Web connection, would they have got as much coverage or interest in their plans? It seems pretty unlikely. Long live blinkered buzz-word thinking. ® Excerpt from Blackadder The Third: Nob and Bobility Synopsis Blackadder accepts a challenge to rescue a French nobleman from the revolutionaries. He pays a toff to pretend he saved him, but the toff is the Pimpernel himself. The Scarlet Pimpernel decides to embarrass Blackadder by exposing his lies, but Blackadder poisons him before he can tell the Prince. Prince: Roast my raisins! He's popped it! I say, Blackadder, do you think he really was the Scarlet Pimpernel? Blackadder: Well, judging from the ridiculous ostentatiousness of his death, I would say that he was. Prince: Well, then, that's a damn shame, because I wanted to give him this enormous postal order... Blackadder: Please, Sir, let me finish. I would say that he wasn't. You see, the Scarlet Pimpernel would never ever reveal his identity. That's his great secret. So, what you're actually looking for is someone who has, say, just been to France and rescued an aristocrat, but when asked "Are you the Scarlet Pimpernel?" he replies, "Absolutely not, Sir." Prince: But, wait a minute! Blackadder, you've just been to France, and you've rescued a French aristocrat... Oh, Blackadder! Are you the Scarlet Pimpernel? Blackadder: Absolutely not, Sir.

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