The Media in the Press 8.3.10

Second-year Journalism student, Kane Mumford, at Edinburgh Napier University, takes a look at the media stories making it into today's newspapers…

Broadcasting regulation issues dominate again today, with the BBC and Sky featuring prominently. The front page of Media Guardian is dedicated to regulators, Ofcom’s upcoming decision on the future of Sky’s near monopoly on sports and films. Matthew Horsman and Paul Fleming analyse the possible outcomes of the Pay TV Review, due for publication later this month. They write: “It could allow several competitors to challenge Sky in the £4bn pay-TV market, leading to lower consumer prices for Premier League football.”

They continue: “Ofcom is in effect forcing Sky to wholesale its key sport and movie channels to rival operators at a regulated price…it should allow competitors such as BT and internet service provider Talk Talk to build their own pay-TV businesses.”

Meanwhile, last week's tale – alleging the Scottish Government has been influencing STV programming via sponsorship – rumbles on. Victoria Mitchell, in The Scotsman, reports a demand for transparency following claims by the Labour MP for Glenrothes, Lindsay Roy, of a “secret meeting” between the SNP and BBC. 

Mitchell's report says “documents published at the weekend show…Mike Russell requested his officials to arrange a private meeting between himself and the controller of BBC Scotland”. A BBC spokesperson said that the meeting was considered “normal business” and a spokesperson for Russell called the suggestions “laughable and ludicrous”.

Moving on, and yesterday, on the Andrew Marr Show, on BBC One, Sir Bob Geldof was at his most vociferous, denying claims made on the BBC World Service that money raised by Band Aid during the mid-1980s ended up being used to buy weapons instead of food. And today, Sam Jones on page 5 of the Guardian, continues the tale under the headline: 'BBC Holds Firm Over Ethiopia Famine Funds Report'. Geldof appeared via satellite link on yesterday’s show to dismiss the claims as “preposterous”, challenging the BBC to “produce one shred of evidence, one iota”.

Jones' report says the BBC “stand[s] by the story” and quotes an excerpt from the blog of the World Service’s news and current affairs editor, saying “[there was] compelling evidence that some of the famine relief donations were diverted by a powerful rebel group to buy weapons”. Geldof is expected to take his complaint to Ofcom by next week.

In other news, the Daily Telegraph has Richard Eden writing about a supposed “jostling among television presenters over who will present a ‘landmark’ documentary planned to mark the Duke of Edinburgh’s birthday next year” – but Sir Trevor McDonald is apparently out of luck. It follows a documentary done previously by Sir Trevor about the Duke.

Says Eden: “Prince Philip, who is, of course, known for his bluntness, is understood to have found Sir Trevor 'too sycophantic'. The 'fly-on-the-wall' [previous] documentary, The Duke: A Portrait of Prince Philip, which was broadcast in 2008, was mocked by some television critics for its ‘fawning tone’.” According to the report, hopefuls include Alan Titchmarsh and Gyles Brandreth.

Other media stories:

* Freddie Johnston, the last remaining family member to sit on the board at Johnston Press will have his retirement announced this week, leaving the board without a Johnston family member for the first time to in its 243 year history – The Times, page 34, Business.

* The founder of Granada Television was recognised by MI5 as a card-carrying communist agent. A recently-released file from 1936 says Sidney Bernstein provided funding to Czech-German 'agitator', Otto Katz. This did not stop him from going on to get a knighthood later in life – The Times, page 13, Jack Malvern.