The Media in the Press 2.3.10

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…

Since a draft of the BBC’s strategic review results were leaked last week, all of the papers have been discussing just exactly where the axe would fall. Now we know…

The BBC plans to cut £100 million a year from overhead costs, close BBC 6 Music and Asian Network, and halve web output by 2013 – the director general, Mark Thompson, revealed today.

Spending on foreign shows, such as Mad Men and Heroes, will be reduced, while investment in sports rights will also be capped.

Under the proposals, the DG expects an extra £600 million a year to be made available for re-investment in 'high quality programming'.

Says Thompson in today’s Guardian: “The proposed changes we are announcing today are not a piece of politics – they are rooted in a clear vision of what the BBC exists to do.”

The Corporation’s chief adds that the broadcaster “should concentrate more than ever on being a creator of quality” and become “much clearer about its own limits within public space”.

The Guardian’s front-page, meanwhile, features the BBC’s former director general, Greg Dyke, and his view of the current incumbent. Says Dyke: “It is a good job, and Mark [Thompson] earns more than twice what I earned when I was doing it. The staff are whingeing. Mark is doing some great things, but he is not taking them with him.”

Elsewhere, the Daily Telegraph (page 1) runs with the headline, ‘BBC Bows to Calls for More Quality TV’.

“Union leaders have warned of possible strike action as a result of the proposed cuts. Bectu, the broadcasting union, and the NUJ have accused the corporation of bowing to political and commercial pressure in its plans,” writes Neil Midgley.

Keeping with the Corporation, and the Scottish Daily Mail (page 7) reports that it is set to “ban baffling job titles because of fears the public have no idea what many people working in the posts actually do”.

In other BBC-related news, daytime television presenter, Kristian Digby, was found dead at his flat yesterday.

‘Mystery of TV Host, 32 Found Dead in his Home,’ says the Scottish Daily Express (page 21) after police sources said the To But Or Not To Buy presenter’s death was “unexplained”. See also the Daily Record (page 6), Scottish Daily Mail (page 6), The Scottish Sun (page 19), and The Scotsman (page 5).

Says a BBC spokesperson, in several of today’s papers: “Kristian was a much-loved and talented presenter for BBC Daytime. He brought a real sense of energy and warmth to all the shows he presented for us and will be sorely missed.”

The Press Complaints Commission is meanwhile facing fierce criticism for its handling of phone-hacking allegations against the News of the World, says the Guardian (page 8). A report, commissioned by the International Federation of Journalists, said the press watchdog was “too mild-mannered” in its inquiry and “in need of urgent reform to enhance the reputation of British journalism”.

Moving to the international pages of today’s press and there are a few media stories of significant interest…

British journalist Paul Martin, 55, who has been held in Gaza for two weeks without charge is set to face a further fortnight in detention, The Guardian (page 23) reports.

And Afghanistan has taken the decision to ban live reports of Taliban attacks in a move that has been wholly condemned by Afghan journalism and rights groups. Says Saeed Ansari, spokesman for the National Directorate of Security spy agency, in both The Scotsman (page 25) and The Independent (page 25): “Live coverage does not benefit the government, but benefits the enemies of Afghanistan.”

Other media stories:

* An MP has accused the BBC of not providing opportunities for young talent with “ordinary backgrounds” – The Scotsman (page 21).

* Radio 2 breakfast presenter, Chris Evans, has been criticised for taking a holiday six weeks into his new show – Daily Record (page 27).

* Pearson, the group that publishes the Financial Times and Penguin books, expects profits to increase in 2010 as shares in the group reached an eight-year high – The Times (page 43), The Daily Telegraph (Business, page 8).

* Thirteen Chinese newspapers made a joint appeal for social reforms yesterday in a move that has been described as a “rare and major event” for China’s domestic media – The Guardian (page 23).

* Internet news has overtaken printed papers for US readers, research carried out by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press has revealed – The Independent (page 45).

* Obituary of journalist and author, Mervyn Jones, who died aged 87 – The Times (page 62).