The Media in the Press 18.1.10

Second-year journalism student, Aleksandra Jurczak, at Edinburgh Napier University, takes a look at the media stories making it into today’s newspapers….

Monday is media supplement day in The Guardian and its front page continues with last week’s story of Google announcing that it is pulling out of China because of government-sponsored hackers trying to obtain program codes and access the emails of political activists.

With China comprising 450 million TV sets and 300 million people online, the paper quotes Dan Serfaty, the chief executive and founder of Viadeo, the owner of, China’s largest social network, that the country’s online development will not be affected by Google’s withdrawal.

The Times (page 32) also refers to Chinese hackers who are believed to have conducted a ‘Trojan’ cyber attack on India’s government office.

In other news, The Herald and the Daily Record both report that BT has outlined plans to offer customers premium channels such as Sky Sports 1 in a bid to lower the cost of watching high-profile sporting events. A price cap might be imposed by broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, on the fee Sky can place on rival broadcasters for making its content available.

An investigation was opened by the regulator in March three years ago, following a complaint from Virgin, BT, Setanta and Top Up TV that the competition in the market was not effective.

Sky is considering legal action if a cap is applied, with its chief executive, Jeremy Darroch, claiming: “BT and Virgin Media do not deserve to be handed a reward at Sky’s expense for their repeated failure to invest.” (Daily Record (page 2), The Herald (page 8)).

Meanwhile, MediaGuardian (page 3) reports on Channel 4’s winning the bid to broadcast the London Paralympics that have been separated from the Olympics coverage. Channel 4 had beat BBC to the rights earlier this month as its executives saw an opportunity to reconnect with the channel’s sporting past and its core remit. The broadcaster is said to be planning ‘event television’ broadcast live around the clock, alternative to Reality TV shows like Big Brother.

The Met Office risks losing its lucrative deal to provide weather forecasts to the BBC after the Corporation decided to put the contract out for tender for what is believed to be the first time since 1923. Says The Guardian, some botched predictions – including last week failing to predict heavy snow in the south-east – are believed to be behind the decision. Yesterday, the Sunday Times reported that the contract expires in April and that the broadcaster has begun talks with a possible alternative – Metra, the national forecaster for New Zealand.

The BBC is declining to comment on why the contract is being put out to tender, or whether it is considering other forecasters. A spokesperson for the Met Office is quoted saying: “We hope we can continue the successful relationship”. The Guardian (page 5).

The Skiff Reader, a touchscreen, e-reader device released by the Hearst Corporation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week is being hailed as the possible savour of the newspaper industry.

Gil Fuchsberg, a former journalist and now a new media deal-maker, is quoted saying that the time is right for magazines and newspapers to move on to so-called s-readers. Industry analysts suggest that five million e-readers have been sold worldwide since 2004 when the world’s e-reader was launched by Sony – MediaGuardian (page 6).

And finally, Brits are said to be spending online over £500 million on virtual goods such as web pictures on social networks and weapons for games. The industry is set to be worth £3 billion this year. Gaming expert, Stuart Miles, is reported claiming that people are happy to buy non-existent goods as they do not perceive them to be virtual anymore since they allow players to advance further. Web payment system, PayPal, is considering creating a digital currency to allow people to buy virtual products – the Scottish Sun (page 32).