The Media in the Press 28.4.10

Breaking news may have it that the SNP have lost their Court of Session case to have leader, Alex Salmond, appear in tomorrow's televised leaders' debate – involving Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg – on the BBC, but this morning's newspapers were not to know it….writes, second year Journalist student, Alex McConnell, at Strathclyde University.

Says The Times (page 7), the debate – the third of three – would have to be scrapped altogether were the SNP to succeed in preventing it being shown in Scotland – simply because TV signals do not stop at the Scotland-England border. The BBC's lawyer, Gerry Moynihan, is quoted saying that if the debate did not go ahead it would breach human rights legislation; “It is completely contrary to the public interest for such debates now to be scrapped or least the hearing of them in Scotland be scrapped.”

If not scrapped, then a fourth debate (again, since denied), involving the leaders of the main UK political parties, plus the SNP, with SNP deputy leader, Nicola Sturgeon, saying that the court action was to help secure “fairness and democracy” for Scots.

The Scottish Daily Mail (pages 1 and 6) also covers the story, siding with criticisms made by the SNP's rivals, including Labour’s Lord Foulkes who is quoted saying it would be a “democratic outrage” if the challenge resulted in the debate not being shown and David McLetchie, the Scottish Conservative's campaign manager, calling the SNP move “the most expensive stunt of the General Election campaign so far”.

In other news, The Scottish Daily Express (pages 1 and 7) takes a pop at the BBC for showing 530 days' worth of repeats in a year: ‘BBC’s 530 Days of Repeats in a Year: They Squander our Cash but Feed us Old Rubbish’.

New figures show that between 2008 and 2009 there were 12,724 hours of programme repeats, despite £3.49 billion pounds being raised from the annual license fee. That said a lot of the repeat hours were on BBC Three. In fact, 84 per cent of programming on BBC Three was found to comprise repeats.

Critics are quoted warning that the Corporation should not be spending taxpayer’s money on BBC Three and BBC Four, on output that is both old and available on other digital channels. 

BBC Three came under further scrutiny, partly on account of its annual £115 million budget but relatively meagre 10.6 million viewers per week, and alleged 'dumbing down' TV with shows such as Dog Borstal and Hotter Than my Daughter.

Meanwhile, The Herald (page 12) covers a BBC apology over the screening of an advert during the climax of Saturday night’s episode of Doctor Who. Over 5600 viewers complained that the ‘banner’ that popped up during the show spoiled the drama as the Doctor and his friends were being pursued by 'spooky, weeping angels'. The advert, featuring Graham Norton, was to promote the edition of Over The Rainbow that followed the sci-fi show and appeared just seconds before the cliff-hanger. The BBC has since said that this will not happen again and apologised to all Dr Who fans whose enjoyment was spoiled.

And finally – in the Daily Record (pages 1,4 and 5), football boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, has given his support to the Labour Party and warned that David Cameron can’t cut it as Prime Minister.

“It’s squeaky bum time for David Cameron,” pens writer, Alastair Campbell. 

Surely not the same Alastair……..