Trendspotting #12

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The Independent Online
l Talkin' 'bout my Sainsbury's trolley

Life for the baby-boomer generation gets sadder. First one of them becomes Prime Minister, now a radio station targeted at them decides to use supermarket trolleys and petrol pump nozzles to attract their attention. Shopping and driving are the two most popular activities for the over-forties, according to research by the media-buying agency Rocket, which is buying space on the trolleys and nozzles for the Magic radio station group in Yorkshire. Once upon a time music of this generation was connected with drugs, peace and free love; now it's to Sainsbury's and filling up the Ford Galaxy.

l Did anyone read all about it?

Much has been made of the unprecedented support the Labour Party received at the election from the national press. But how much difference did newspapers actually make? A third of adults never read a newspaper. Of those that do, 22 per cent claim, in a study by Carat Insight, that they deliberately turn away from political news stories. In the popular press, this rises to nearly 30 per cent of readership. Of those left, three-quarters had decided their vote five weeks before the campaign started. According to Carat Insight, only 7 per cent of undecided voters were open to persuasion by political stories during the campaign. But of course it is the flexible voter who wins elections - which is why Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell had all those lunches with Tory editors.

l Television pictures move more

While newspapers are generally accorded lots of influence on voters, the Party Election Broadcast is often rated a boring turn-off. This is strange, if only because consumer goods advertisers put so much more stock in television advertising than newspapers - if you read a newspaper ad for more than three seconds you are abnormal. In fact, Carat Insight's research found that even if every newspaper backed the Conservatives and influenced those they could influence, it could turn over only 7 per cent of the electorate, where PEBs had the potential to persuade 10 per cent.

l No British films, please, they're too original

The UK's film industry is booming, right? Good for jobs, allows us to fight back against US cultural imperialism ... yet the battle is still being lost. Half of the 76 films made in the UK in 1995 are still awaiting theatrical release, according to Screen Finance. Of the 38 that have been released, a quarter were issued with fewer than 10 prints, meaning they're not being seen in too many places. And it's getting worse. Of the films made in 1994, 70 per cent managed to get distribution. It should be the other way around, because the number of cinema screens has increased from 2,003 in 1995 to 2,166 now. The trouble, of course, is that we are still not making enough distribution-friendly, Hollywood-style formula films.

l Digital TV - anyone got one?

Despite the hype about the imminent digital television revolution with its 200 channels of high-quality repeats, the cable and satellite industry's own anoraks don't believe we are actually ready for it. More than two- thirds of industry experts polled by Cable and Satellite Communications magazine believe that BSkyB was right to delay its launch of digital satellite television until next year at least. The reason is simple: there isn't actually anyone in Britain geared up for digital TV. But when it does come, almost 60 per cent of respondents believe that video on demand (VOD) will drive the service. Pity the digital terrestrial applicants - they haven't got enough capacity for VOD.

l A block too far for Blockbusters?

If VOD does take off it is bad news for the 29,000 people employed by the video rental business, which employs more people than the coal industry. The rental market was worth pounds 491m last year, but our sedentary nature means that we are probably willing to pay more than that to save us having to get in the car and drive to the video rental shop.

Paul McCann