Protocol Fail


When Gordon Brown came to Washington, he brought a thoughtful gift with him—a pen holder made from the timbers of the HMS Resolute to match the White House’s famous desk. Barack Obama, by contrast, got Brown a set of DVDs. And as if that gaffe wasn’t bad enough now we learn:

Alas, when the PM settled down to begin watching them the other night, he found there was a problem.

The films only worked in DVD players made in North America and the words “wrong region” came up on his screen. Although he mournfully had to put the popcorn away, he is unlikely to jeopardise the special relationship – or “special partnership”, as we are now supposed to call it – by registering a complaint.

In order to permit price discrimination between different markets, you see, DVDs and DVD players are region-restricted. Normally, a North American disk won’t play in a European player and vice versa. They do, however, make some “universal” DVD players that can play disks from all regions. Maybe the embassy in London can get one for the PM.

One assumes this won’t actually shatter the foundations of the US-British relationship, but still it’s a pretty sorry showing.