The Media in the Press

After a long lay-off, Media in the Press is back, with Matthew Nelson at the helm, casting his eyes over today's newspapers for media stories…

A former 'psychic agony aunt' for the Scottish News of the World warned Tommy Sheridan four years ago that he was under 24/7 surveillance, reports The Herald (page 9).

Writes reporter Alison Campsie: “Sheridan told the High Court in Glasgow that Yasmin Urquhart, known in her column as Ruth the Truth, tipped off the former MSP that he was being watched, and that Rupert Murdoch and editor, Bob Bird, knew of the operation.”

The court heard yesterday that Urquhart – who formerly wrote an agony aunt column for the Scottish News of the World offering psychic advice – sent a series of emails to Sheridan a month before mounting a defamation action against the paper was to be heard, four years ago.

Sheridan is currently in court facing a charge of perjury during his case against the paper, following the publication of stories about his private life.

During Sheridan’s cross-examination of Bird – the editor of the Sunday tabloid – the accused read out extracts from Urquhart’s emails. The Herald quotes from one as saying: “Hi Tommy, I have information about the case the News of the World has on you. I just don’t know how to get it to you without myself coming under suspicion.”

Another is reported as saying: “I would want to meet but I know you have 24/7 surveillance as ordered by Rupert Murdoch with Bob Bird’s assistance. I will see what I can do.”

But Bird cast doubt over Urquhart’s supposed omniscience. He is quoted saying: “As a psychic she did make a lot of predictions that did not come to be true.”  

Today’s Daily Record (page 5) also picks up the story with the headline ‘Psychic Agony Aunt Tips Off Tommy on 24/7 Surveillance’. The Scottish Sun (page 39) continues its trial coverage with the headline, ‘My Tip-Off From Ruth the Truth’.

Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch's son, James, is also the subject of column inches. Murdoch Jnr has apparently threatened to halt further investment in the UK if the government blocks News Corp’s bid to take full control of BSkyB, as reported in the Scottish Daily Mail (page 85). The move hit a stumbling block when Business Secretary, Vince Cable, ordered broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, to examine the deal under media plurality deals.

Murdoch is quoted, saying: “The government needs to assess the benefits of having a digital TV business that is a world leader centred in the UK marketplace, which all of the things that brings, versus potentially jeopardising an £8bn investment in the UK with a prolonged kind of plurality process.”

Staying with the Mail (page 59) and columnist Esther Rantzen has taken a swipe at Nick Ross – presenter of popular BBC show Crimewatch – after he claimed that older female presenters shouldn’t complain if they get the sack for being past their sell-by date.

Writes Rantzen: “We all need role models on the screen, and we have them. Except old women. Only if we are seen and heard will old people be respected in a society that properly celebrates the role we play. You need us.”

Elsewhere, celebrity nutritionist Gillian McKeith – now starring in the popular reality TV show I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! – has ruffled a few feathers at ITV. Perth-born McKeith has angered bosses by using the popular show’s logo to promote health products on her website. The Mail (page 27) picks up the story with the headline ‘Your’e a celebrity, but get that free ad out of there!’.

Writes Paul Revoir: “The reality show’s logo was plastered across the corner of the promotion, together with ITV’s official publicity picture of Miss McKeith in a jungle hat. But the advert was met with fury by ITV chiefs who ordered the dietician’s representatives to remove it immediately.”

Meanwhile, the Record (page 40) reports that BBC Scotland risked offending a number of football supporters on Tuesday night. Writes Charlie Gall: “Fans watching Scotland’s friendly with the Faroes were bewildered when the home team’s badge appeared – with the Celtic FC badge.”

A Rangers fan – who spotted the error – is quoted, saying: “I couldn’t believe my eyes when the Celtic badge appeared in the top corner of the screen. In no time, there were fans discussing it on the FollowFollow message board. But I’m sure most folk could see the funny side.”

And finally, Prince William looks set to make his big screen debut – there are plans to show the recently engaged royal’s wedding day on a giant BBC screen in Edinburgh, reports The Herald (page 4).

An Edinburgh City Council spokeswoman is quoted, saying: “The wedding will almost certainly be shown on the BBC screen in festival square. Without a date and until details are finalised, we can’t comment on any other plans yet.”