The Media in the Press 12.11.09

For some weeks, keen observers of the Scottish media scene will have been digesting the news that newspaper publishers, DC Thomson, Johnston Press and Newsquest are planning to bid for the right – and the public cash that will go with it – to run a television news pilot in Scotland, planned for next year – and extensively reported by allmediascotland, which today takes a peek at the media stories making it into the press….

Elsewhere on the site, allmediascotland blogger, Professor Brian McNair, explicitly asks what everyone has probably been thinking: How? Not how in practical, TV-making terms (though that is a consideration), but how as in How easily can the publishers set aside their rivalries?

That they are rivals is neatly illustrated in their respective takes on Johnston Press's interim financial results, issued yesterday morning.

Johnston Press publishes The Scotsman, whose business correspondent, Erikka Askeland, goes for the perfectly sound angle (indeed, the one allmediascotland goes for) that the prospects for advertising revenue have improved (page 1 of the paper's business supplement). 

Not quite for The Herald, published by Newsquest. Its page 31 report of the results – by Simon Bain (who pitches in elsewhere in the paper with a front page exclusive about the possible financial salvation of Rangers football club) – reports that Johnston Press paid its banks a staggering £15 million simply to refinance its debt, and that it is paying off its borrowing at 10 per cent, when not so long ago it was five per cent. The debt, adds The Herald, stands at £424 million.

Elsewhere, there are reports of BBC 2's Christmas scheduling (The Herald going for Jerry Hall appearing in a drama based on the Martin Amis novel, Money – page 5, The Scotsman opts for the return of cook, Delia Smith, to the Xmas TV roster after an absence of almost 20 years – page 3).

There's widespread teeing up of a sketch for the BBC charity event, Children in Need, that will star actors, Ken Stott and Alex Norton, respectively fictional detectives in STV dramas, Rebus and Taggart (page 3 of the Scottish Sun's TVbiz supplement, page 31 of the Daily Record, page 24 of The Scotsman, page 7 of the Scottish Daily Express, etc).

Talking of STV, the Scottish Daily Mail (page 13) reports 'anger' that the Glasgow-based broadcaster is showing documentaries all this week about the greatest Scots while ITV viewers elsewhere in the UK are getting to watch a new drama, Collision. On the same page, it picks up yesterday's Herald exclusive, that the top ten salaries at BBC Scotland add up to over a million pounds.

The Scottish Sun's columnist, John Smeaton, describes Greatest Scot as “some mince” and 'car crash” TV. The Scottish Daily Express's Hickey columnist says Collision versus Greatest Scot reminds him of when – very much tongue-in-cheek – he was STV Controller during the 1960s and he opted for a programme about vegetables in preference to the cop drama series, Z Cars.

Other media news:

* Warning, radio presenters! Never presume your microphone is switched off, BBC Radio Scotland guest presenter, Aggie MacKenzie, did and was caught, on air, saying something rude (Scottish Sun, page 3).

* Arts broadcaster, Melvyn Bragg, is to rejoin BBC2 – after 30 years away – as his ITV series, the South Bank Show, nears the end of its extensive run – The Herald, page 8. The Times. page 17.

* A 3-D film of The Queen's coronation is to be shown on Channel 4 next week – The Herald, page 9.