The Media in the Press 13.11.09

The BBC's top executives have the Glasgow North-east by-election to thank for pushing their expenses from the top of the Scottish newspapers. That said, expenses probably still account for more column inches than any other story….

Third-year journalism student, David Livingston, from Stirling University, takes a look at the media stories making it into the pages of today’s Scottish press….

Perhaps sensing a kind of expenses fatigue amongst their readers, the Daily Record and the Scottish Sun pay relatively little heed to the latest revelations. The Record does note that Radio 1 controller Andy Parfitt claimed almost £500 in expenses for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief, but only on page 37.

The Scottish Sun also mentions Parfitt in a graphic, but prefers to tell us that BBC director-general, Mark Thompson, claimed £650 to stay at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. The Guardian also carries the tale. The Herald, meanwhile, runs with the Parfitt line.

A sidebar to that story has former head of the CBI, Lord Digby Jones, criticising the Beeb's business editor, Robert Peston, for supposedly making life tougher for British businesses. “I've got a soft spot for Robert Peston,” he says, “a swamp outside Birmingham.”

Then again, maybe it is because The Herald’s Phil Miller was reporting earlier this week, as a genuine, knock-out exclusive, that the top ten salaries at BBC Scotland added up to over a million pounds.

Not that The Herald ignores the story today. Indeed, the expenses make their way on to a front page sidebar and page five, with emphasis again on Parfitt.

But only the Daily Telegraph leads with the BBC.

It also goes on to dedicate all of page four with a chart featuring the pay of every one of the executives, as does The Times. In a below-the-fold front page story, The Guardian suggests that Thompson's salary “has become an uncomfortable political issue” and adds that he claimed 70p for a parking meter charge.

The Scottish Daily Mail hands over page 13 to ‘The Bloated Beeb’, a story with three by-lines and an attack on the kind of jobs the licence fee apparently funds. The Mail follows up in its editorial page (14): “The modern day BBC: self-indulgently frittering away millions of your pounds.”

The Scottish Daily Express takes a similar line, blasting the “£20m bonanza for BBC chiefs and their cronies” in half of page 11. Scottish readers learn that BBC Scotland chief, Ken MacQuarrie (paid £183,000) claimed a £23 breakfast on a trip to London.

In a page seven headline, The Independent states simply that ‘Forty-six BBC staff are paid more than the Prime Minister’.

Also exercising the minds of editorial staff across the country is the government review into which sporting events – the so-called ‘Crown Jewels’ – should be shown on terrestrial television, due to be published today. The indigenous Scottish papers frame the story by considering the impact on football, while the Scottish editions concentrate on the Ashes.

Gordon Smith, chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, makes his opposition clear to the suggestion that Scotland internationals should be screened on free-to-air television. In the sports pages of the Record, he says: “We would have no problem at all provided the free-to-air broadcaster paid the same money as a satellite broadcaster.”

He goes on to call for government to make up the potential shortfall. The Herald (page 5) quotes Smith as saying it would be “disastrous” for the Scottish game.

The Guardian devotes all of page nine to the question and features commentary from former England cricketer, Ashley Giles. Coverage is widespread elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Telegraph suggests that Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is taking revenge on Rupert Murdoch's empire by returning the Ashes to terrestrial television (page 5).

The Independent, going it alone in a piece by Andrew Grice, says that the BBC, ITV and SKY have proposed three televised debates between political party leaders, Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg at the next General Election. Grice says the move is “likely to break the deadlock over leaders' debates” (page 2).

The idea that there are still 2000 people in Scotland with a black and white television licence in an increasingly High Definition world receives varying levels of attention across the press. The Record pays scant consideration (page 31), as does the Sun (page 4). But the Mail devotes almost a whole page and accompanies it with a comment from columnist, John MacLeod (page 7), plus a black and white photograph of a family surrounding an undersized TV screen in an oversized box. The Scotsman follows suit on page 21. The figures were released to mark the 40th anniversary of the first colour transmission of BBC1.

The Record, Sun and Herald (page 11) all report on Question Time host David Dimbleby's trouble with his wife's bullock. Dimbleby failed to appear on the show for the first time in 15 years after he was injured and we all know by now that John Humphrys filled in. Just pick up any of today's papers and you will find it.

Sticking with television, the Daily Record front page lead is the news that Hardeep Sing Kohli will be replaced as Children in Need presenter by Nicky Campbell. Campbell will join Jackie Bird and Des Clarke. Changing channel, the Sun suggests that up to 100,000 viewers of STV are unhappy with the channel's decision to opt out of popular shows such as The Bill and are using digital television, such as stable-mate SKY, to see them (page 4),

Finally, the Record also reports that Channel 4 has dropped Aggie Mackenzie's How Clean is Your House programme (page 3). The Guardian focuses on replacements such as Plane Crash which will see two former US navy pilots parachute from a plane they have left on autopilot to crash into the desert.

Other media news:

* Guardian fined by Iraqi court for criticism of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (page 17). 

* Welsh reporter finally recognised for exposing Ukrainian famine – Guardian, page 18.

* Tom Watson MP criticises his fellow politicians for “bleating” about video games – Guardian, page 37.

* An interesting graphic in The Times (page 40), entitled, ‘Is Piracy Really Killing the Music Industry?’

* The Times notes on page 56 that Rupert Murdoch is seventh in a Forbes magazine power list. Perhaps, in light of recent events, he will not be happy that Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google sit in joint fifth.

* CNN presenter, Lou Dobbs, steps down – page 35, Independent.