21/07/2014 Newsnight


With Kirsty Wark. Newsnight is on the ground in Donetsk. Plus, why are we still selling arms to Russia?; Gaza; an interview with Alex Salmond; how Netflix killed the middle-brow.

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bearing the bodies of the survivors of flight MH17 and the black box


will be handed to investigators. where Russian separatist are


creating chaos. The They are saying they are not terrorists, and


peaceful people are dying. We will hear from the Russianle garage all


sander Levadev. The Prime Minister says Europe must confront Vladimir


Putin. If he doesn't change his approach to Ukraine in this way,


then Europe and the west must fundamentally change our approach to


Russia. Despite his insistence that the UK has stopped selling weapons


to Russia, Newsnight have found some weapons are still for sale. We have


found that British arms dealers are licensed to sell to Russia.


Is our passion for on-demand TV killing the middle brow shows we


used to like. I almost pity him. The proms have come to Newsnight, we


begin our own special season. Good evening, the UN Security


Council has tonight unanimously adopted a resolution calling for


investigators to be given safe and unrestricted access to the site


where flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine. So, Russia voted in favour.


Will the separatist rebels, thought to be behind this shooting down of


the plane genuinely agree to a safe? Today the train carrying many of the


dead headed out, where they will be handed over to the Dutch shorts, and


there is still chaos and danger near the crash site and nearby Donetsk,


where there have been violent clashes today. We're there. It is


after midnight in Donetsk, a curfew is in force and a number of armed


men with guns have appeared at an impromptu checkpoint behind me. From


around the morning we saw heavy shelling inbetween the raily station


and the airport, between apparently u-- railway station and the airport.


Apparently between Ukrainian forces and the rebels. This carried on


throughout the day, I have been hearing the thumps of shells and


mortars into the evening. I have to say it has gone quiet a little bit


in the last few hours. This happened on day when lots of other things


were happening. We have just seen chaotic scenes of a hotel here in


Donetsk, with negotiations between Malaysian officials and the rebels


over possession of the black boxes, the flight data recorders from that


flight. They are, I understand, at the moment still in the possession


of the rebels, but negotiations were under way to hand them over. As you


said, the train carrying nearly all of the bodies from that flight now


finally on the move back towards Ukrainian-held territory. Again we


are not quite sure when it might get there. So a very, very busy day on


the day that the UN called for safe access to these experts and safe was


far from what it was. In the report that we have compiled for you today,


you will see some images that some viewers may find distressing.


It is four days since the crash, international experts have arrived,


and are investigating. But this is still warzone.


This morning at least one more civilian would fall victim to this


vicious conflict. We're on our way to the crash site when our driver


gets a panicked phone call. This is his 13-year-old daughter on the


phone and crying and saying the house has just been bombed. We head


back into town. Nervous rebels have sealed off the area around the


railway station. Suddenly shots ring out. There is some shooting going on


now. Not quite clear what's happening, but there is some very


agitated men on the road there. Some of them with guns. Around the back


of the station the rebels have taken up position. We can hear t faint


thud of mortars or shells landing, there is battle going on somewhere


between here and the airport, which is held by Government forces. He


says we are not terrorists dying but peaceful people dying. You can hear


more shelling going on now. Just around the corn certificate a block


of flats, several rockets have hitter, residents tell us,


shattering windows. Then we see the crater, the first victim, a woman,


she looks to be in her 40s or early 50s, she must have been crossing the


yard when the rocket struck. This is as are relation block, we don't know


where -- residential block, we don't know where the rockets or shells


came from, but these people are civilian, we can hear the shelling


going on periodically as we speak. Over the weekend emergency service


workers, under the direction of armed rebels, began collecting


bodies from the crash site in the fields east of Donetsk. In the


summer heat, they say, they had no choice, they couldn't wait for the


international inspectors to arrive. But the west has accused them of


tampering with the evidence. What exactly are they trying to hide


Barack Obama asked today. This 77-year-old woman saw the plane come


out of the sky. It narrowly missed obliterating her village when one of


the wings lands metres from her home. There was a huge explosion


when it fell, and she thought they were bombing them. She lived through


the Second World War, but she has never seen anything like this.


Mostly eyewitnesses give us few firm clues about what actually happened.


Some say they saw fighter jets in the sky, just before the Boeing


crashed, imflying that perhaps the rare liner was brought down by the


Ukrainian air force. The Ukrainians say this is utter nonsense, the


country's head of counter intelligence told us he knew the


rebels had got their hands on a powerful Russian missile system,


known as Buk, three days before MH17 was shot down. The first information


that we got was July 14th, the first intelligence we possessed about the


BukM one missile launchers going directly to Ukraine, but we couldn't


confirm that information. From Russia? Yes. The terrorists when


they find out the remains of the plane and the bodies, the terrorists


tried to hide the Buk, all the Buk M 1s that were on the territory in


Ukraine. Early in the morning July 18, two Buk M1s trespass illegally


again on the Russian border going back to Russia. Two hours later at


4.00am one more missile launcher went to Russia. So to your knowledge


there are now at the moment in the hands of the rebels or the


there are now at the moment in the mercenaries as you call them, there


are no such missile systems in their are no such missile systems in their


hands? I can't tell they have none. We know three of them went back to


Russia. But they might have more? Probably, Russia provides weapons to


the rebels on the territory of Ukraine, it is no a Civil War. It is


not the rebels, these are mercenaries and terrorists. Are your


allies in the west doing enough to support Ukraine? Yes. There is


nothing more they can do? They can do more, but they support Ukraine,


definitely. In the field of intelligence you are getting the


support you need? To some extent. Not quite? Not quite. What more


would you like? More intelligence. If indeed pro-Russian rebels with


help from Moscow shot down MH17, then why? A possible answer is to be


found here in the small town not far from the crash site. Last week a


local rebel commander told me the Ukrainian air force bombed this


residential block. It was early in Ukrainian air force bombed this


the morning, people were at home, some maybe in the bathroom or having


their breakfast. 11 people died. TRANSLATION: The air force use


civilian aircraft as cover, it is their tactic, they have only just


stopped flying over the area, before the crash they did it all the time.


He says the rebels don't possess a missile capable of reaching such a


height, if they did he says... TRANSLATION: If we knew they weren't


civilian we would shoot them. The mystery of how MH17 dropped out of


the sky remains locked in claim and counter claim. The investigators now


begin their work in earnest, the stakes could hardly be higher.


I spoke a little earlier tonight to the Russian oligarch who owns the


independent Evening Standard newspapers and the Independent


Newspaper, as well as a newspaper in Russia. I asked him how dangerous he


considered the current situation to be? It has been compared already by


the media to the issues in 1914 that triggered the First World War. And


the Prime Minister of Russia compared it to the beginnings of the


80s, I think the beginning of the 80s both sides Russia and the west


contained each other. The last real war dated back to 1956 in Hungary.


If some of the estimates are right, then the loss of life, the


casualties in the Ukraine has already counted in thousands rather


than hundreds. What should happen next? I think for the time being


both sides should probably put aside mutual recriminations and think what


can be done to dissolve the situation. I doubt anybody in


Moscow, in Washington, Europe or the Ukraine would have any doubts that


the situation is so serious, it couldn't be more serious than it is.


So we probably are standing at the brink of more hostilities, but for


example if western sanctions really are transferred into sectoral and


technological break on technology transfer to Russia, and clearly


Russia is much more dependant on foreign technology than the Soviet


Union used to be. If Europe stopped over a period of say two years to


import Russian raw materials there will be a big price to pay for


Russia, but also for Europe, and also for the United States. But we


know that America has imposed tough sanctions, tomorrow European leaders


will meet and be asked to impose tough sanctions. Is it time for


tough sanctions on Russia, on Vladimir Putin? I would rather


suggest visa versa, for at least some period of time. Because the


more sanctions that are being put against Russia the more Russia would


probably defend itself in its own way. It is not a right solution.


Until recently the sanctions were more lip service, which is putting a


threat and expecting that Russia would accommodate anybody. I think


it is the wrong approach. Both sides, for some time, until they


really understand that they have failed to find a solution and


compromise should really put the sanctions and mutual threats and


recriminations and other hostile actions on the side, on the shelf.


Doesn't Vladimir Putin have to understand that the actions that he


has taken in eastern Ukraine are unacceptable and surely the only


reason you are saying that sanctions don't work and aren't visible is


that you are a -- advisable is that you are a wealthy businessman who


still has interests in Russia? Let's put it this way, if you carry on


discussions in such a way that Vladimir Putin is responsible for


all of that I don't think we can reach any solution at all. So we


should probably both sides should accept a completely different


attitude. At least for some time the terms should be made. Probably the


Kremlin should appoint somebody very influential, but non-hawkish to try


to deal with it and Europe and the United States should also try to


accommodate Russia the way Russia would like to be seen in the process


of negotiations, rather than cornering it. Because the more both


sides come up with anomosities the less chances we have -- anomosities


the less solutions there will be. Are you saying that we could


sleepwalk into war, is that what you are saying, there is a possibility?


Of the more building up into much more serious conflict? Yeah, yeah,


yeah. If we are right that both sides the separatist and the


Ukrainian army and the civilians have lost 10,000 lives, it is war


already. If it goes further on I wonder if that can be stopped by


anybody of becoming a bigger conflict. Under certain


circumstance, I mean I wouldn't probably exclude any events being


evolved. For example certain troops crossing certain borders, why not,


it is possible, it depends what is going to happen, this is what


happened before and this is what it led to, to millions of lives being


lost without any reason. Addressing the Commons today ahead


of tomorrow's meeting of European leaders, David Cameron said Russia


cannot expect access to European markets and capital while it fuels a


conflict in Ukraine, and called for future military sales to Russia from


any country in Europe to stop. The PM said that we have already stopped


such sales from Britain, but, Newsnight has learned that almost


300 licenses remain in place permitting the sales of item,


including sniper rifles and body armour. The Government says those


exports are OK because the weapons are not for military use. But


crickets say controls must be tight -- critics say controls must be


tightened up. Not since the Cold War have relations between Russia and


the west been so strained. The problem for the west is this man,


President Putin. Long before the outrage of the downing of flight


MH17, the UK had prided itself in leading international condemnation


of Mr Putin's Russia. In March the UK announced a ban on any exports of


UK equipment to Moscow. The UK with immediate effect will suspend all


application licenses and procession of licenses for direct export to


Russia for military and dual use items destined for units of the


Russian Armed Forces or other state agencies, which could be or are


being deployed against Ukraine. It sounds watertight. But Newsnight has


discovered this list. It details how Britain is still exporting equipment


worth ?132 million, that in the wrong hands could be used for


military purposes. Newsnight can reveal 34 witnesses worth nearly ?40


million were suspended or revoked, but another 297 licenses are still


life. This is for so called dual use equipment that could have a military


or commercial purpose. The list refers to Assault Rifles, body


armour and sniper rifles. So, could this end up in their hands? No. The


UK Government says this end up in their hands? No. The


solely for business use. There is one license that stands out, it


includes, among other things... Components or air-launched rockets,


components or air-to-air missile, components for surface-to-air


missile, components for aircraft canons, components orator paedos. It


might sound like a line from a novel, but the Government insists


this material is not that use, it is meant for the repairs to the


Brazilian Navy. Confused? You won't be alone. MPs are too. In the light


of what Mr Putin and Russia have been doing it seems extraordinary we


should going on selling to them these things. It is time to stop all


licenses for military equipment or dual use equipment to Russia. Once


you make that equipment available you have absolutely no control over


what it is used, or where it goes, and for all we know, some of that


what it is used, or where it goes, equipment might have finished up in


the hands of the dissidents or might do so in future. Last week's


Farnborough Air Show was a show base for weapons manufacturers, but


Newsnight understands a Parliamentary Committee will raise


fresh concerns about the trade this Wednesday. Their report will urge


ministers to explain, in detail, why Britain is selling military


equipment to Russia, which is on a Foreign Office list of human rights


abusers. We are relying on trust really? We are relying on trust and


trust with dictators, we are relying on Government that is abuse human


rights on a daily basis, not the sort of Government West should be


doing business with. The Government insist it has never exported


missiles or missile parts to the Russian military, and has suspended


all licenses for equipment that could be used against the Ukraine.


It says the UK aims to operate one of the most robust arms control


systems in the world. Joining me now a Russian specialist and fellow at


St Anthony's College, and from Washington a former permanent


representative to NATO. We're also joined by our economics


correspondent, who has been looking at the economicisms available for


hitting Putin where it hurts. First of all, what could Europe agree to


do tomorrow that will hit Russia tomorrow. They could copy US


sanctions, they have banned several large important Russian companies


from getting loans in the US. It has an impact and on the perceived


investment in Russia. The US is different to the UK in terms of


business ties and direct trade, it is more integrated into the Russian


economy. Europe has the potential to inflict a lot more economic pain on


Russia, but the other side of that it is more painful for Europe to


take these sorts of steps. But one investor I was talking to today said


many people have the risks wrong. They are perreceiving the risks that


Europe puts in place tough sanctions and Russia responds and it hits the


European economy. He says the bigger risk is Europe doesn't put the


sanctions in, and Russia thinks it has immunity to carry on behaving


the way it is. Without sanctions there would be no break on Putin's


behaviour? Sanctions are actually resorted to when you don't know what


else to do. We are at that point now. How to leverage Putin to


deliver on what he said this morning he would do, hold him to his word.


He said he would make sure there was a tough investigation and he said he


would bring the separatist to the table. So sanctions, but carefully


calibrated sanctions might be the way to make it credible as a threat


to make him do what he says he will do. Would you accept that the


American sanctions put in place quickly might be something that


means they actually voted at the UN Security Council for full


investigation. It might be those sanctions are working already?


Difficult to say. I think they had an interest in showing that they are


co-operative in terms of international organisations and


international law. So we want to hold them to their own words really.


Do you take Duncan's analysis that it is actually tougher in a way for


Europe to impose sanctions the same way that America does, because it is


going to hit Europe where it won't hit America? Well I take his


analysis in both piece which, is yes there is going to be a greater


impact on Europe than there is on the United States from the same set


of sanction, but also that the impact of Europe on not doing that


is also greater than putting in place the sanctions. I think that we


have had six months now of Russia fermenting in the Ukraine, they have


seen the arms and others across the border and if not provide them


directly there are lots of reports of Russian Intelligence Services


being in Ukraine already. Putin is not paying attention to our doing


nothing. It is important to step forward with tougher sanctions to


give the Russians a reason to try to negotiate back from that again. But,


of course, for example take Ross Rosnef, 20% is owned by BP, there is


a feeling that Europe will not move in the direction that America wants


it to move, what is the impact of that? Putin has disregarded the


western pleas to stop supporting the violence, he has sent signals to


cool temperatures saying we will co-operate with the investigation,


we don't have full control over these rebels, we will do our part.


In the hopes that Tuesday's meeting of the EU foreign ministers blows


past without any significant steps. And meanwhile he will then see that


the west is not serious about putting in place any measure that is


will hit Russia and therefore continue on the lines of


destablising Ukraine and trying to cement Russian influence over these


territories. As he has been doing already. We kind of take Crimea as


just a matter of fact now, we don't even think about the fact that


Crimea might be an infringement on a sovereign state. Isn't there a


danger if we don't back up the American sanctions that Putin will


feel he can stay in eastern Ukraine? The danger is if sanctions become a


strategy of themselves without being hooked into a programme, a road map


if you want, of a political kind they will not be effective. You


think he wants way out? He wants a way out a political solution to the


problem, and he wants to do it around the table with him at the


table as well as Ukraine and the EU. Thank you very much indeed.


Barack Obama has sent his Secretary of State, John Kerry, to Egypt


tonight to try to achieve the UN Security Council call for an


immediate cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Today's


violence brought the number of Palestinians killed to more than 500


according to Palestinian official, but Israel has said that seven of


its soldiers have been killed in the past 24 hours, bringing the number


of Israeli military dead to 25, along with two Israeli civilians who


have also died since the ground invasion. A few moments ago I spoke


to our international correspondent in Gaza City.


Today across the Gaza strip was a day pretty much like every other day


since the military escalation began two weeks ago. Despite what Israel


has strategic objective, it wants the rockets fired into Israel and


destroy the infrastructure of Hamas, but today civilians are paying a


heavy price. We went today to a hospital not targeted at a time of


war, doctors were killed and patients killed in their bed when


tank shells slammed right into the intensive care unit at one of the


main hospitals. A building collapsed in central Gaza tonight, at least 11


people are dead. That is why there are urgent calls for a cease-fire.


Every would-be mediator you could imagine is in the region. Ban


Ki-Moon, Secretary of State, John Kerry has arrived in Cairo. Look


across this region and what a troubled region t all the crises,


all the taut lines go through Gaza such that when Secretary Kerry sits


down to do his work, such that when Secretary Kerry sits


take some time, he first has to establish who is doing what?


take some time, he first has to about all the mediators from Doha to


Istanbul, to Cairo to Washington, none of them have the sway to bring


this crisis to an end, who has the most power and who is talking to


who? It is a very complicated situation, and all the while the


military situation gets worse and so does the humanitarian crisis year.


-- here. What are both sides of the conflict. This film contains some


distressing it images. Amid the rubble and ever-mounting death toll


that is the Gaza conflict, a small snapshot of life endured by its


inhabitants. The boy in the green T-shirt has been shot in the hand by


a sniper. They discuss how to save them, but then more shots and he


dies. The dead toll amongst Gaza's population has been horrific, over


500 in recent days. Mostly civilians. If anything casualties


have intensified there since Israeli forces advanced into Gaza on


Thursday. And yet still Hamas militants keep firing their rockets


at Israel, targeting civilian, ignoring calls for a cease-fire.


This one was intercepted by an Israeli missile, but over 2,000 have


been launched so far. TRANSLATION: We can't go back to the silent death


of the blockade, Gaza has decided to end the blockade by its blood and


courage, this unjust siege must be lifted. And Israel too is taking


casualties, not as many, with 27 to date, all but two of them soldiers.


Enough to shock the small country, but so far this military operation


appears to have the nation's support. Calls by world leaders for


it to stop are not being heeded. The violence must stop, it must stop


now. All sides must provide the necessary space to aid the victims


and wounded. Gaza is one of the most densely populated pieces of land in


the world, almost two million people crammed into 140 square miles. Hence


the very high rate of casualties amongst civilian, it is largely


blockaded from the outside world. Within the teeming back streets,


Hamas still has thousands of rockets, some of them capable of


reaching as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. What is upsetting the


Israelis are the tunnels, some of them are used for storing weapons,


others for tunnelling under the border, to allow Palestinian


militants to raid inside Israel. We understand with tens of tunnels that


are possibly there, and with the 16 that we have already found, it can


take some time. We have the patience to deal with it, we have the man


power to deal with it. We have the expertise to deal with it. We have


exploded and detonated five of those tunnels today. Israeli troops are


locating more of Hamas's secret tunnels every day now. They set


charges and blow them up. This is what they came into Gaza to do, at a


heavy cost for both sides. But unless Israel plans on permanently


reoccupying Gaza, the militants may just dig new ones when the Israelis


leave. There is a mounting flurry of diplomatic shuttling between


capitals to get the fighting stopped. It now has to be our focus


and the focus of the international community to bring about a


cease-fire that ends the fighting, and that can stop the deaths of


innocent civilians. The US Secretary of State has been lending his


weight, so far with limited effec Neither side yet feels it has


achieved its objectives. Hamas rejected the cease-fire proposal


from Egypt last week, it is pushing for a permanent lifting of the


blockade from Gaza. But Hamas is a relatively weakened, isolated force,


it has lost a lot of friends and allies around the region, notably


Syria and the previous Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. So now it will


be looking a way out of this conflict. The Egyptians are not in a


strong position to mediate with Hamas because they are seen as part


of the problem rather than part of the solution. The Qataris have a


potential and the Turk have a potential. But the elephant in the


room is Iran, who is supplying Hamas with the arms. This is the worst


bout of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militants of Hamas


in five years. Even if and when a cease-fire is agreed, it will only


be just that, a cease-fire. Not a lasting peace deal. That prospect


now seems further away than ever. Now we can speak to the Deputy


Speaker in the Knesset, and a member of Israel's Labour Party. He's in


Jerusalem. Here in the studio with me is the Israeli author and


academic. First of all, the history of the conflict between Israel and


Hamas is that nobody wins. Yet you and it appears the majority of the


Israeli people back the ground invasion? It is not natural in the


Israeli opposition of the Labour Party to support, to give back


support to Prime Minister Netenyahu, but we are supporting him on the


ground invasion to Gaza on this whole operation, because Israel came


to a point when we don't have a choice. We have a brutal, very, very


bad terror organisation that we have to deal with, that shooting


thousands of rockets on women and children on the south of Israel and


to Tel Aviv and even north of Tel Aviv, and the Israelis deserve to


have blue skies free of rockets as any other country in the world. This


is why we in the Labour Party, the entire Knesset members, I think,


support the Prime Minister, support the IDF, our soldiers, they were


killed just night, that going in on an mission to save the lives of the


Israeli people, because this is the reality we are having, this is the


reality we are having since the establishment of Israel. We are


living on our sword with no other chance. If I may a one thing. I just


want to bring in our guest here. It is understandable, surely, for


Israelis that they want to remove the threat, they want to remove the


threat apart from anything else of the tunnels that seem to pop up in


kibbutz, and the middle of people's gardens, complete insecurity? This


is not understandable to me. Because the conflict between Israel and the


Palestinians is at its core a political conflict. There is no


military solution to this conflict. So no amount of military force by


Israel is going to resolve the conflict. The Israelis tried again


and again, it has launched a full scale assault on Gaza in 2008/09,


then there was another round of violence in 2012 which ended with a


cease-fire. And there is another round of violence. So both sides


accuse the other of initiating the violence. The chain of action and


reaction is endless. But the underlying calls, the context for


the violence is Israeli colonialism and the Israeli occupation of


Palestinian territories. So do you see any merit in saying there is an


occupation that has to be ended now, that is the only way to end this


conflict? By the way I agree that an all-military solution will not bring


an end to Hamas. We have to combine both military and diplomatic steps


in order to fight with Hamas. But you talked about these tunnel, I'm


asking you, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of invested in Gaza by


Israel withdrawn from Gaza. 00,000 tonnes of cement was used to build


the tunnels instead of building schools and hospitals and buildings


for affordable housing in Gaza in order to make Gaza the next Brighton


Beach or Monaco, order to make Gaza the next Brighton


organisation does not want peace with Israel. There is no equivalence


in death, every death is a tragedy. But if you look at this, there is


more, But if you look at this, there is


authorities, there is more than 500 Palestinians killed, each death


regrettable, the same way that each death of an Israeli soldier and


civilians are regrettable. If the head of the UN says there has been


atrocities, atrocious action does anybody actually listen to Ban


Ki-Moon? You know this claim is making me furious, because it is


like Israel has to apologise that we don't have as many casualties like


the Palestinians, or like Hamas that uses civilians as human shields. In


the Middle East, in the crazy zoo of the neighbourhood. Of the Middle


East if you are not strong, if Israel is not strong we would not


exist. Do you accept that? No I don't. Israel is the


fourth-strongest military power in the world. The Palestinians are a


negligible threat. They don't pose any threat to Israel's basic


security. What is fundamental to this conflict is the asymmetry of


power between the two sides. So the Palestinians are the weak party, the


vulnerable party, and the trouble with Israel is that it has so much


military power and it uses this all the time. Ever since Israel, ever


since the occupation began in 1967 Israel has shunned meaningful


negotiations with the Palestinians. But if Hamas wants to obliterate


Israel, what is Israel to do, if that is Hamas's stated aim, what on


earth is Israel to do? Hamas has a terrible charter but it has a group


of pragmatic military, pragmatic political leaders who have been


moving towards moderation all the time. Is it possible that actually


Israel will have to talk to Hamas, Hamas says it doesn't want to talk


to Israel, do you think Israel should try to talk to Hamas? Yes,


Israel will happily talk to Hamas if they will make a shift and do what


the choice was two decades ago, that a military solution is not the


solution. Israel not like Hamas or the Palestinians, proved before that


when they have partners for peace and are reminded that both Egypt and


Jordan were much worse of enemies to Israel than Hamas or the


Palestinians, so we are talking to them and giving away territories and


we are giving away natural infrastructure, resources, water and


if Israel doesn't have something, if natural resources water and


territory, which we gave only in order to have peace, so Hamas has to


do what others do, and to say we are not fighting and making these


struggles through terror, we are talking with the other side and if


they will want to make a dialogue with us we will be more than happy


to get to the two-state solution, that is the only solution for us. We


could continue this debate for loaning time, thank you very much


for joining us tonight. Who hasn't heard of Kevin Spay's


series of House of Cards, it is a revolution in the broadcasting world


changing how TV is consumed and commissioned. Companies like Amazon


and Netflix offer TV on demand, no scheduler to tell us what to watch


and when to watch it. Because this TV is consumed via the Internet,


they are able to harness huge amount of data to tailor content to us.


This new way is it just about technology?


This is how TV used to work. The A-team have been moved to 6.00,


quick schedule an episode of Blankity Blank. TV schedules were


planned with military air, commissioners would decide what we


would watch and controllers when we got to watch it. But now streaming


services like Netflix and Amazon instant video allow viewers to be


their own channel controllers. Behind the scenes TV is changing


fast, both in the way it is consumed and the way it is commissioned. It


gets me to bounce out of day every day to realise I'm at the centre of


a revolution, how people are consuming their entertainment at


home. Content is still king of TV land, that hasn't changed. House of


Cards would be landmark television in any age, but there shall we say,


a new Chief Whip in town, driving us towards that content. I almost pity


him, he didn't choose to be put on my planet. Leading this revolution


is Netflix, based here in Calafornia. They started renting out


DVDs through the post and now streaming shows to 50 million


customers in more than 40 countries. We were given rare access to their


development team. We have a few minutes and that's it. People will


give the produce and they have to choose or they will leave. There is


positive spin on the challenges faced, the problem isn't people


finding too much that they want to watch, or anything, it is a


particular challenge in the UK where the Netflix catalogue is thinner


than in the US. Nevertheless, it is his job to make sure that every


subscriber finds something that grabs them within a few minutes of


looking. When you have internet TV, you basically have a direct


relationship with the use e you don't throw something -- user, you


don't throw something out to the airways and you leave it out there


and hope that journals at home, you know what they watched and what time


they watched it, the velocity they went from one episode to the next,


or if it is a film did they watch the whole thing or punt on it after


five minutes. We know what you say you like and what you actually like.


We in theed your grant is a violent reveining thriller fan. To process


the data coming from the audience, Netflix needs to gather similar


information about the show or film. How violent, romantic, funny is it,


are there guns or drugs in it, is the ending happy or sat? Male


nudity, female nudity, sex, drugs, drinking, smoking. This is the fun


stuff. Greg reckons he has pretty much the best job in the world. He's


one of 40 Netflix taggers, he watches the show and fills in dozens


of data fields about it. Have you watched Newsnight, we have squirm


factors! Tagging is not a cricket. I'm not reviewing any of these. Also


it is not even about referring good movies or bad to you, you might love


bad movies, we will try to match those to you. It is about getting


you movies you like. There is no subjectivity there. Like you know,


if I hate a movie there is nothing I can do to keep it away from you. If


it sounds like your cup of tea, Netflix is now advertising for the


first tagger in the UK. No truesers flying through the air? No. The


English language doesn't travel across them water so smoothly. I


blame Oscar Wilde, if you take a tag like "witty", that is used in the US


differently than in the UK. The UK you guys just have a higher barks I


blame that on Shakespeare, it is a different use of the word, so


someone with those kinds of sensitivites on how you are tagging


and labelling titles from a language perspective and having the


perspective of someone who is a Brit, that is important to us. It is


all three of you, come here, give me a kiss... . It is not just Netflix


changing the way TV is made, there are plenty of other companies too.


We are at the paramount lot in Hollywood, where they have been


making generations of TV programmes. I think it is safe to say nothing


quite like this. This is Josh I was telling you about, single and


gorgeous. This is Transparent, a comedy family drama produced by


Amazon instant video, the pilot was one of ten shows Amazon offered to


subscribers who were then asked to pick what they wanted to see more


of, Transparent was a clear winner. This was crowdsourced commissioning,


the creator, Jill Soloway has a string of writing credits, including


Six Feet Under, she says this way of creating TV is a big improvement. We


have so little of the typical network interference you would


normally see. Normally there would be 15-20 people on the set giving


notes on every performance and really giving notes that are related


to their fear of what might not work. I think in the old way people


would come up with ideas, and the television networks would then take


those ideas and bring them to people who sold toilet paper and asked the


people who sold toilet paper if they would like to put their toilet paper


commercials on to this content. They were making content that they hoped


big brands would want to align themselves with. I need to talk to


you about something, there is a big change going on. But shows like


Transparent are different in another way too. Dealing as it does with the


struggles of transgender man coming out to his family, it isn't to


everyone's taste, but the on-demand model gives it permission to be


hated by most people, as long as some people really love it. In the


past channel executives would pursue a mass audience, aiming for a show


that lots of people thought was quite good. Today that's useless, in


an on-demand environment, no-one will demand that show, that show


will go to zero. So you have to look to the passionate audience that


usually comes from an artist with a vision. For some one who is like


that, you know, it is hard for me to tell them how to create a better


expression of their vision. We are still in the very early days of this


TV revolution, but it is clear already where it is going. The TV


companies will gather and harness as much data as we're comfortable with,


in order to tailor content to us. Society in the long run, not this


particular year, maybe not next year, but generation over


generation, society will get more comfortable with sharing more


information at a certain place because that is where t world is


going. The world is going towards the information is out there then it


can be leveraged to make a better and better experience for people to


put the right content in front of them at the right time. Your TV is


no longer an idiot box, it is getting smarter all the time. As


ever, with the tantalising temptations of the information age,


there is a Faustian element to the bargain, revealing more information


about ourselves, supply more data, in return for more of the TV we want


to watch. That is just about it for tonight. Proms fans will know that


we are on day four of 58 and we are getting in on the act too. Every


Friday until September we will be bringing you a different preview


here on Newsnight. And to throw ahead to our special proms season,


here is Alison Ballsom, performing the trumpet concerto with piano




In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Kirsty Wark.

Newsnight is on the ground in Donetsk. Plus, why are we still selling arms to Russia?; Gaza; an interview with Alex Salmond; how Netflix killed the middle-brow; and the Proms.