The Media in the Press 27.4.10

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….

The SNP is today lodging papers at Edinburgh Court of Session in an effort to include its leader, Alex Salmond, in the final TV leaders’ debate, currently involving only the leaders of the Labour, Tory and Lib Dems parties – several of this morning’s newspapers report.

The Nationalists raised £50,000 in just over 24 hours to fund a legal bid challenging the BBC’s decision to exclude the First Minister from this Thursday’s debate.

And the party has demanded Mr Salmond be given a platform in this week’s contest or a fourth debate involving the SNP leader, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg be held prior to theMay 6 vote.

Writes an ardent Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister, in today’s Scottish Daily Express (page 12): “The first two of these contests, on ITV and Sky, have totally dominated the campaign… And for Scotland not to be included in them is a democratic disgrace.”

The SNP’s second in command continues: “The only acceptable, fair and democratic solution is for Scotland to be properly represented and for the SNP to be given its rightful place in the BBC debate this Thursday.”

Under the headline, ‘£50,000 Raised by SNP for Court Bid’, the Herald’s Michael Settle writes (on page 6): “The SNP today begins a last-ditch court battle to get Alex Salmond on TV in Thursday night’s 'make or break' leaders debate, after raising £50,000 in just over a day to fund the action.”

Turning to the tabloids and The Scottish Sun’s front-page reads, ‘Nats get £50k for TV Fight’, while the Daily Record (page 6) says: “The SNP have won financial support for their proposed legal challenge against the BBC for excluding them from the televised leaders’ debate.”

Taking a different tack, the Scottish Daily Mail (page 6) turns its attention to the costs incurred by the SNP’s legal action. “License fee-payers will pick up a legal bill running into thousands of pounds to fight Alex Salmond’s bid to derail the final leaders’ TV debate,” reports the Mail’s Scottish political reporter, Andrew Picken.

However, Magnus Linklater is less than impressed with the Beeb’s decision not to include Mr Salmond, opining in today’s Times (page 11): “It should remember that it is more than just the English Broadcasting Corporation.”

Fellow Times columnist, Hugo Rifkind (page 22), opts for a more scathing assessment of the SNP leader, instead. Writes Rifkind: “Can I apologise, as a Scot, for Alex Salmond? I don’t think he has a clue how annoying he is, with his attempts to muscle the Scottish Nationalists in on the next leaders’ debate.”

On the topic of televised debates in general, Record (page 13) columnist, John McKie, says they “have been a triumph of style over any sort of substance”, suggesting they be sentenced to the scrapheap as an one-time only event.

Meanwhile, broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, has been busy, featuring in both The Scottish Sun (page 11) and The Scotsman (page 3) for its decision to rap the BBC. Reports Rhiannon Edward in today’s Scotsman: “The producers of the BBC soap, EastEnders, have been criticised by watchdog Ofcom after a woman received obscene phone calls when her mobile number was accidentally broadcast.”

Sky News has, however, been cleared of breaching broadcasting rules after Peter Andre broke down in tears during a live interview with Kay Burley, reports The Scotsman (page 16), The Herald (page 4), and the Daily Record (page 10). The interview, which resulted in 881 complaints from viewers, was “persistent and probing” but not “bullying and intimidating”, the regulator concluded.

Other media stories:

* Media organisations are preparing to challenge a ban on reporting a hearing at which four politicians caught up in the MPs' expenses row will argue they are protected by parliamentary privilege – The Times (page 4).

* The BBC has apologised after 5583 viewers complained about an interruption to Saturday’s installment of Doctor Who -Scottish Daily Mail (page 21), The Daily Telegraph (page 2).

* Conservative leader David Cameron says he is “probably the most pro-BBC Conservative leader there’s ever been” – The Herald (page 7).

* Labour has turned to the director of TV series 24, Stephen Hopkins, to spearhead the party’s new election broadcast – The Guardian (pages 1-2).

* ITV plans to broadcast a football skills show featuring some of the world’s top talent – The Herald (page 8).