Ed's Blog
Ed Hall
Sailor
A passionate and experienced offshore yacht racer, Ed completed his 6th Fastnet Race in 2017.

The Night Owl team was 12th to the Rock in the 2015 race, 10th in IRC2 in the 2011 Fastnet, and overall winner of the JOG Offshore Series in 2009.  

Both yachts Night Owl 1 and 2 have a great history, winning many races during the last few seasons, including Line Honours in the St. Peter Port race to Guernsey, Royal Thames Trophy in the St Malo Race, and the 2017 Warsash Spring Series. 

Ed is also an active RNLI crew member on the Thames Lifeboats and races other yachts and sails for pleasure too.
Business
Ed has been creating digital television and retail businesses since 1998. He has created multiple TV channels in news, film, sports and entertainment.  He also built and sold a group of TV shopping channels.

He has led on complex business projects in Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  He created the UK's first financial services televison channel, Simply Money, and also created the first non-Sky red button interactive service.  

He has served as a board member on professional industry bodies for television and retail businesses in Asia, Europe, and Australia.

In 2011 he created Comux, a new company that beat the BBC to win the contract to build the national broadcasting infrastructure for the new UK-wide local television network, reaching 13 million homes.

In 2017 Ed took on a role as interim CEO restructuring a national terrestrial broadcaster in Greece. 

To discuss new opportunities or for advice you can always get in touch with Ed through his office at Expert Media Partners.
Journalist
Ed spent ten years as a writer, journalist and broadcaster in print, on radio, and on television.

He wrote and presented a range of programmes for BBC Radio 5 Live in the series Ed Hall Investigates winning a Sony Radio Award for News and Current Affairs in 1998.  The BBC News website carries details of his expose of a secret world trade in genetically-modified pigs click here.

Other radio programmes written and presented by Ed Hall include The First 100 Days (of the Blair Government) for BBC Radio, and Encyclopaedia Historica for the BBC World Service.  

In 1991 and 1992 Ed produced programmes for Channel 4 Dispatches and Thames Television on drug smuggling at Heathrow Airport and British mercenaries fighting in the former Yugoslavia.  Ed's book, We Can't Even March Straight (Vintage), was published in 1995 and was a catalyst for the campaign to lift the ban on lesbians and gays serving in the British Armed Forces. 

As a writer Ed's work has appeared in a very diverse range of publications including the Independent, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Evening Standard, and not forgetting Independent Grocer.
Blog and Contact
Ed uses Facebook most of the time to express views about current issues and generate debate, but from time-to-time he writes here too.  

He is also active and opinionated on Twitter and a search for @hall_ed will find him.
sailor
businessman
writer
activist

Travelling Home For Christmas by Pippa Middleton

by Ed Hall on 12/12/12

Going home at Christmas can be enormous fun, particularly for your relatives.  If you let them know in advance that you are coming then they can make a plan.  If you live a long way away from your family then you can fly there, in fact using aeroplanes can help you get to many places faster than you realised, and flying can be great fun.

It's always best to get a ticket for a flight before you travel.  You can buy tickets at the airport, but Christmas can be a very busy time of year, so by buying a ticket in advance you can avoid the problems of queuing at the airport!  Tickets can actually be bought up to a year ahead, so why not buy one for next year and keep it in the freezer until you need it? 

If your family lives in a colder country, don't forget to pack something warm to wear: red and white can be very festive colours, although any autumnal pastels can light up a festive evening.  We always wear coats at my home when we go outside, you could think about doing that too. 

Many people forget that it is traditional to give presents at Christmas, well it is a very busy time of year.  Don't worry though, the clever people at the airports have already thought of this.  All over the world you will find that despite being airports, these buildings are also full of shops!  This is a time to be adventurous and look at what is available: don't just buy the sandy coloured Toblerone, you can buy the black one and the white one at the same time.  Just imagine how much fun that could be when you arrive at your home with not just one, but three Toblerones, all in different colours! 

Some manufacturers actually put Christmas logos and special wrapping on their stock at Christmas: just think how much time you could save if you buy presents that are already wrapped! 

Some people find Christmas very sad, particularly if they have recently lost a close relative or friend.  Why not find a photograph of the recently deceased, cut out the face of the person from the middle of the picture using a sharp pair of scissors, and mount it on a piece of cardboard with a Santa Claus hat on it?  In that way you can cheer you relative up by helping them to feel as though the dead person is actually there with you celebrating!  If it has been a particularly sad year you could make several and stand them together in the middle of the Christmas table.  Cotton wool placed around the pictures will help it look as though it has been snowing. 

It's wrong to kill animals on Christmas Day, that's why my in-laws always wait until Boxing Day.  For many families this can be a problem.  If you are torn between a fox hunt and a pheasant shoot what should you do?  Well the choice is yours! But make sure you wear the right clothes: nobody should shoot pheasants in hunting pinks, even if the colours are gorgeous. 

Many families drink at Christmas, I know we do!  But some relatives drink too much and behave in embarrassing ways.  The best thing to do in that situation is ignore them, or keep drinking yourself until you're more pissed than they are.  Try getting them to dress up in silly costumes, and then it's harder to take them seriously.  Anything with ermine or a crown should do it. 

Whatever you do, make sure you do go home for Christmas, I know I will!

Leveson Regulation Would Achieve What Exactly?

by Ed Hall on 12/07/12

How on earth can regulation by a single state prevent abuse by the press in a truly globally-connected world? The unconfirmed news about the suicide of the Royal prank nurse is very distressing, but fining British newspapers a million pounds, with or without State regulation, would do nothing to prevent that. If Australian DJs can conduct mis-fired pranks that circulate on-line and result in the untimely death of a wife and mother then I really don't see what Leveson is for. People criticised his lack of attention to the web and global news reporting, and sadly this afternoon it seems that they were right.

Dancing on Cars Won't Change the World, but Can Obama?

by Ed Hall on 11/07/12

The cheers could be heard across DC as the news networks finally summoned up the courage to fight the demons of recent election misfires and say what we all knew by then anyway: Obama had won.   The party that I attended was suddenly empty as people left at once shouting, 'Let's go the White House'.  And they did.  We followed, jumping into a cab and heading down to the square in front of the White House.

The District of Columbia takes elections very seriously, but as the Federal District has no elected representatives in Congress there is something special about an election where they do have a voice that counts.  The population here is overwhelmingly Democratic and so it was no surprise that over 90% voted for Obama, but what did surprise me was the sight that greeted us outside the White House.

I expected a crowd of people celebrating, but I did not anticipate the scale and noise and reckless enthusiasm that awaited us.   It was as though Obama had just won the FA Cup.  Car horns were blaring, cars with seven or eight occupants sitting out of the window were magnets for crowds of people screaming, whistling and waving Obama-Biden badges, scarves and hats.  Directly in front of the White House a procession pushed through the crowd led by cardboard cut-outs of the President and First Lady.  It received a rapturous welcome and the flashing of cameras and phones would have caused seizures in any epileptics in the crowd.  There was singing, there was hugging, and there were tears of joy.  I felt privileged to share some of that goodwill and love.

But as the dawn light breaks over Lafayette Square I'm wondering what all the fuss was really about.  The celebrations here last night were real enough, as were the young men dancing on the roof of their car, but has America changed at all in consequence of the most expensive election in the history of mankind?  Sadly, I'm not sure that it has.

Six billion dollars ago we had President Obama in the Oval Office, a Republican House and a Democratic Senate without a large enough majority for anything contentious to be passed.  This morning I have to wonder, what has changed?

America is still clearly a country that is divided in a way that the gentlemen scholars and generals in Philadelphia over two hundred years ago failed to visualise: a country that is so exactly split that it provides those famous checks and balances in such perfect harmony that almost nothing can happen.  And of course to change the Constitution requires such a scale of majority assent across the country as to be inconceivable in the current climate.  Congress can't even offer the District of Columbia a seat in Congress: good luck Puerto Rico.

The shining beacon of hope that came out of last night for me was the conciliatory tone of Obama's acceptance speech.  He stopped the rhetoric of change that was so captivating in 2008 and instead spoke of one nation, and working beyond the labels of red and blue that are so stark on the news channel maps.  Of course if he wants legislation for 'change' to pass through either House in Congress he needs to compromise, but I sensed a deeper desire.

Is this a moment to try with real vigour to seek common ground?  Elections are by their very nature polarising, but there are many areas on which the candidates and the people of America agree: starting with the deepest sense of national pride and public duty, words which sound quaint and almost pompous to British ears.  When Obama meets Romney in the next few days and weeks, as he said he would, I think he should be asking Romney to work for the American people by leading a commission into the policies that could attract bi-partisan support.  We know that they disagree on same-sex marriage, so that would not be up for debate, but could a group of politicians from both sides come together and effectively make two lists; the black list of areas on which we will never agree, and the white list of areas for potential compromise and debate?

Let's take Obamacare.  It is clear that many Americans do not think that the Federal government has the right to force an individual to buy health insurance, or that increasing taxes on the wealthy is the right way to pay for it.  Romney stood on a pledge to stop the programme, and he lost.  In four years time tens of millions of Americans will depend on Obamacare for their treatment, and paying health bills is the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the USA.  Can a Republican candidate hope to stand in 2016 on a manifesto pledge to withdraw that insurance? 

The reality is that Obamacare has much that is good about it, and much that is flawed.  The provision of universal access to affordable healthcare should be a principle that both parties support, but where they can disagree is about about the methods and delivery.  A Romney-led commission (a man who introduced his own version as a state governor) could be asked not to abolish the system, but to make recommendations on how it could be improved to meet the concerns of half the American people.

I find much of Paul Ryan's common sense approach to taxation appealing, but he is a divisive figure.  The post election news is going to be filled with drama about the renewal of the Federal budget, and there is the remote prospect of an Inauguration during a Federal shutdown.  Could Ryan be the man to make proposals on how both parties could agree to the spending cuts that are so obviously needed?  That might be a pipe dream too far, but if there was ever a moment to seek compromise and agreement it is now.

The likely reality of course is that nothing will change.  Talk of compromise will fill the air, but a newly polarised and energised Capitol Hill will block and parry every move and thrust from a Democratic White House.  I hope I'm wrong, but despite the singing last night in front of the White House, I think the next four years are more likely to show us that, in answer to the prayers I heard last night for hope and change, the answer will come ringing back, 'No We Can't'.

The Dave v. Boris Show. A Fake Debate?

by Ed Hall on 10/14/12

Of course the Conservative Party Conference has brought the Dave v. Boris drama to head.  An outsider could even be forgiven for assuming that November was likely to see a Tory Party leadership election as well as the poll to choose a new US President.  Of course that isn't the case, and we won't be having a series of Conservative leadership debates in which we can watch the candidates stumble and fall - although I bet they'd get some decent audience figures if Boris's cracking speech was anything to go by.

I supported David Cameron's election campaign to become Leader financially and with my shoe leather, and I also stalked the streets of Hackney and Earl's Court leafleting and knocking-up for Boris.  Now whilst that that may mean that I suffer from some form of split personality, I think it could actually mean that I like both of them.

Boris is a cracking Mayor of London, and although I think his island airport plan is as dotty as his public speaking, he will continue to get my vote.  (We already have an airport with Tube trains, real trains, buses, three motorways and even canals.  The Thames estuary has geese.  You choose the site for a new runway.)  Nevertheless he has kept a string of campaign promises and for that alone deserves Londoner's support.

David has managed to keep a grip on our Government, make a decent start to scything the horrendous deficit left by the Two Eds, and done that when we don't actually have a majority in the Commons.  He's even managed to swerve a few curve-balls and policy bouncers without becoming a YouTube and iTunes laughing stock, unlike his beleagured deputy.  I want to see him after the next election in Office AND in Power.  That's why I'll be out again supporting him next time around.

Of course you can't agree with all of the people all of the time, but despite the rhetoric of Grub Street, I think you really can be Dave's man, and Boris's too.  The simple truth is that half the Boris v. Dave drama is a result of the shock felt by many people under 40 in discovering a Tory politician that they actually like; that truth, for many of my Leftish friends, feels like the beginning of the end.

Leave behind those GCSEs: now it's all about you.

by Ed Hall on 09/22/12

My niece has just finished her GCSEs and is heading back to school, but now she is a sixth-former, making vital decisions about her A Levels.  It's made me think about those major shifts in our lives and how quickly we forget the huge decisions we had to make when we were younger.  Somehow we replace them in our memories with later decisions that we always assume were more important, and ignore the scale and impact of decisions we made back then.

There is currently a generation of young people making important decisions about their lives, and doing so on the back of a set of exams which have lost credibility in both their structure and content, and now even in their grading.  

If a young person got a B in English GCSE, or a C in History, or a D in Maths, what subjects should they study now at A level? 

The awful reality for those of us from earlier generations is that the certainty about the rights and wrongs of those decisions has changed.  I think it was relatively easy to advise a teenager twenty-five years ago.  The final exam structure of O and A Levels was the same, the ability of a child to deal with the stress of exams had become clear, and teaching was a relatively simple affair that allowed frequent interaction in a way that enabled a teacher to identify a free-thinking child versus a 'challenged' one, a bored child versus a lazy one.  

The modular GCSE exams means that for probably the only time in their lives, this generation of children have been coached and given multiple attempts to pass.  Each section of learning was absorbed briefly and then forgotten, and the papers are full of stories about parents helping with project work.    

So I was wondering whether there any lessons from my era that are worth sharing with young people struggling with their decisions today?  It's all too tempting to just to criticise and say that academic rigour has gone, but the simple truth is that my niece will never be able to do O Levels so is a pretty fatuous observation.  She did GCSEs with modules and multiple retakes.  That was the system we gave them, and our views about it are irrelevant to the people who have gone through it.  

For this generation their next major exams will require them to learn, understand and retain information properly, and to be able to make intelligent and informed comment many months after they learned it.  For many, this will be a new experience: they have not been prepared for this.

I did badly in my O Levels.  I was still learning how to learn, interested in other things, and struggling with personal dramas after the loss of my father.  I did lots of O Levels, and passed them, but almost all with B grades.  I knew I could have done better, but then I realised that many of my teachers thought I had fulfilled my potential with those grades.  The truth was that only I could see into my head and know that the truth was that I could have delivered so much more.  I knew that I had glossed over homework, that I had relied on an ability to absorb information to make it easy for me to recite what was required without further thought or research.  I wrote essays about books I hadn't read, and memorised dates and facts with ease.  I didn't actually study.

To this day I can still read in my head the section of an O Level geography text book, 'The Laki Fissure Eruption of 1783/4 when 15 vents along a 25 kilometre axis ejected 15 cubic kilometres of lava, and its associated ash killed 75% of Iceland's sheep.'

It was on the left hand page of the book under a black and white photograph. (After writing that I just Googled the event and apparently our textbook overstated the damage to the Icelandic sheep population, but I'm sure that's what it said).

I relied on a trick memory to pass my O Levels, and fortunately for me it worked, just.   But A Levels are a different beast.  The recent GCSE exams were about doing what you were told, when you were told to do it, but A Levels require more than that. 

So, whilst trying to avoid being pompous or patronising, what useful words of wisdom can we impart?  

Well, first of all, you can leave your GCSE results behind you.  Your teachers may have one view about you now based on the way you responded to that rigid spoon-fed form of education, but they may be wrong.  You may have been lazy, you may have been in love for the first time, or maybe you were coping with a thousand other personal issues.  Perhaps you just weren't interested in the subjects, the teachers or the school.  Frankly it doesn't matter, because now you have a chance to start all over again.

In years to come employers, universities or friends will be interested in what you did from now on.  If you do well in the next couple of years, nobody is even going to ask about your GCSEs again.  

After about 25 years of age nobody even puts their GCSE results on their CV.  Did your school tell you that?  Employers will always ask about your A Levels.

So what are the secrets to A Level success?  I think there are three.  Others may disagree.

1. Take control
2. Fill the holes
3. Become an expert

So first of all, take control.  This is your education: your parents and family have paid for it, and you will be paying for it in tax bills for the rest of your life.  Get everything you want from it.  Ask for help, ask for extra help, ask for anything you think you need to help you succeed.  Now is the time to stop being mute and letting the system just roll past you.  Nobody is ever going to teach you again in the same way. If you don't understand something, ask your teachers to explain it again.  Don't ever be afraid of looking stupid: take control and ask for all the help you need.  I would bet good money that when you say that you don't understand something half the class will silently be saying thank you.  If you are falling behind, or bored because it's easy, or have changed your mind about the subject you are studying then it's up to you to do something about it.  It's time to take control.

Then you need to fill the holes.  You probably know what you are rubbish at.  Is it as simple as spelling or grammar, or do you find numbers harder (as I did)?   You have two years now to use the school to help fill in the gaps that the GCSE years have left you with.  Did you study a language but not really learn enough vocabulary to be useful?  Is your essay writing dreadful and confused?  Do you keep writing 'too' when you meant 'to', or find reading poetry difficult?  Whatever you struggled with over the last few years you can fix.  Make a list. Talk to your teachers or tutors.  Tell them that you struggle with X or Y (particularly if you are studying Maths!) and ask them to help.   Don't wait and let your first employer be the one to tell you that you are not literate.

Become an expert in your subjects.  Don't rely on text books or photocopied handouts from school.  This is the age of the internet.  Whatever your subjects, it's time to start reading and researching and surfing sites that are relevant to it.  Find websites and books about Psychology, or Maths, or French Literature or Physics.  You now have two years to read blogs, to join in online discussions, read biographies and novels and even download academic papers on the subjects you have chosen.  It's all free, you just need to start Googling your subject; why not find out which celebrities studied it, or find out what the current trending arguments and debates about PE or Metallurgy are?  Make sure you start reading a newspaper, on real paper or online.  You will be amazed how often there are stories in the news relevant to almost every subject.  You will start to become a more knowledgeable rounded person, and that will show through easily when you start writing long essays.

This has ended up being a longer and more thoughtful blog than I originally intended.  Writing it reminded me of the older boy at my school who, when I started studying politics and economics, said to me that I had to start reading The Times every day, and use the text books as reference books to make sense of the news.  It was great advice, and in my A Level exams I was writing about things I had read that morning.  I got an A as a consequence, and so can you.

If you follow those three steps then you can have the pleasure that will last for the rest of your life of making that phone call to the school in the summer holidays to get your results.  

A miserable old schoolmaster that I had never got on with answered the phone, 'Ah, Hall,' he said, flicking through the papers in front of him.  

His tone changed to one of surprise, 'Oh, you seem to have done rather well!'  

It still makes me smile today.