The Media in the Press 2.2.10

Second-year Journalism student, Alan Robertson, of Strathclyde University, takes a look at the media stories making it into the pages of today’s papers.

Fewer Scots are satisfied with the way Scottish news is reported in UK-wide news programmes, a survey on attitudes to broadcasting has found.

Research commissioned by the Scottish Government revealed that, last year, less than half of viewers – 44 per cent – were either fairly satisfied or very satisfied with London broadcasters' take on TV news, down from 49 per cent the year before.

Dissatisfaction with London-based news bulletins has, however, failed to foster enthusiasm for a 'Scottish Six' hour-long news programme, as support fell from 53 per cent in 2008 to 49 per cent last year.

Today’s Herald (page 2) features the figures under the headline, ‘Most Scots Unhappy with TV News’, while the Daily Telegraph (page 9) opts for a slightly different tack: ‘Most Scots do not Want Separate TV News, says Study’.

Support for a new Scottish digital television channel – a recommendation of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission when it published its findings in September 2008 – has also grown, with 75 per cent of viewers attracted to the idea. Attitudes towards the main broadcasters, meanwhile, remain mixed with BBC One and BBC Two witnessing an increase in viewer satisfaction (by five per cent, to 58 per cent) compared with a decline for ITV. STV’s decision to opt out of a series of south of the border programmes has been identified as a possible source of viewer discontent.

Shifting focus from the broadsheet to the middle-market, the Scottish Daily Express (page 5) and The Scottish Sun (page 15) hone in on the football-related finding that eight out of ten people want Scotland’s international matches to be shown for free, on a current terrestrial channel. “There continues to be overwhelming support in favour of the Scottish team’s competitive fixtures being shown free,” says the Scottish Government's Culture Minister, Fiona Hyslop.

In other media news, the BBC has faced intense criticism for what has been described as a “frivolous and scientifically inaccurate” documentary on the fishing industry, The Scotsman (page 20) reports. 'Britain’s Really Disgusting Food: Fish' has been condemned by fishing organisations amid fears that demand for fish could dwindle as a result. James Wood, the head of marketing communications for the Seafish Industry Authority, said the BBC had ignored the facts “in favour of cheap sensationalism”.

The public service broadcaster hits the headlines in The Times (page 14) also after a BBC presenter sued the Corporation for age discrimination. Miriam O’Reilly was one of four women dropped from rural affairs programme, Countryfile, in November 2008 as part of a revamp that saw younger faces take up presenting duties. “I think ageism is endemic at the BBC, and women have been reluctant to speak out, because they have their careers to think about,” O’Reilly told The Times. A BBC spokesman dismissed the suggestion as “absolutely nonsense”.

Elsewhere, the radio industry is considering a 'scrappage' scheme – similar to the auto industry’s – to persuade listeners to upgrade to digital, says The Independent (page 37) and The Guardian (page 9). If implemented, the scheme could mean a 20 per cent discount for consumers on new digital sets and boost the prospect of a swift switch-over from analogue to digital.

After having spoken to three mobile phone companies – Orange, O2 and Vodafone – The Guardian is back on the trail of the News of the World, which last year was at the centre of claims that a private investigator, working on its behalf, along with a reporter, had hacked into the mobile phone voicemail accounts of various prominent people. Says The Guardian, the number of accounts involved was more than a 100, not the “only a handful”, according to a police investigation.

And finally, viewing figures for Virgin Media’s video-on=demand service rose 50 per cent last year as requests for programming rocketed to 750 million, The Independent (page 37) reports. Cindy Rose, a Virgin Media executive director, said the cable company had “helped redefine the viewing habits of millions of people by freeing them from the TV schedule”.

Other media stories:

* ITV is under pressure to sack Dancing On Ice judge, Jason Gardiner, after broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, received a number of complaints over comments made by the Aussie on last week’s show – Daily Record (page 3, 8).

* Channel 4 has commissioned a new game show that sees contestants start with £1 million but lose money if they answer incorrectly as the programme progresses – The Herald (page 5), The Scotsman (page 14).

* The future of Reader’s Digest is under threat due to a massive £125 million pension deficit – Scottish Daily Mail (page 5), The Daily Telegraph (Business, page 2).