Media in the Press 24.1.11

FEARGHUS Roulston, a post-graduate Journalism student at Edinburgh Napier University, examines the media stories making the news today…

The Andy Coulson phone hacking controversy rumbles on, amidst widely-reported allegations that Gordon Brown and Tony Blair could have had messages intercepted while they were in Downing Street. The Herald (page 1) leads with the story, claiming a source close to former Prime Minister, Brown, has confirmed the Metropolitan Police have been contacted over his concerns.

Brown is understood to have been worried that his voicemail messages may have been hacked between 2005 and 2007. Although Blair’s lawyers are reported denying he has been in contact with the police, The Herald claim sources have admitted he also had concerns about the security of his phone during Andy Coulson’s stint as editor at the News of the World.

The two former politicians are the highest-profile figures to be thus far drawn into the scandal. Senior political figures are quoted, demanding that the allegations be fully investigated. The Scotsman (page 2) quotes Labour deputy leader, Harriet Harman, as saying: “Obviously the criminal law has got to be complied with and if it is broken then it should be investigated by the police and it should be enforced. Nobody is above the law, no newspaper editor, no journalist.”

The news follows last week’s developments, reported by this column, that several celebrities were bringing cases against the News of the World.

One of these celebrities is football pundit, Andy Gray, who has made his own news today with a spectacular ‘own goal’. Thinking his microphone was switched off, he was heard concurring with fellow commentator, Richard Keys, that a female official at a football match, Sian Massey, was unlikely to understand the offside rule.

The Scottish Daily Mail (page 3) quotes former Scotland striker Gray, saying: “Can you believe that? A female linesman. Women don’t know the offside rule.”

The two presenters also allegedly made disparaging remarks about West Ham executive, Karen Brady. The Mail quotes Brady’s response: “Leaving my own situation aside, it’s utterly unacceptable that a debate should be made about a female official’s ability based only on her sexuality.”

A spokesman for Sky Sports is quoted as passing on the duo’s apologies for the off-air incident.

Finally, as reported on allmediascotland, The Scottish Sun (page 2) reports that media experts have suggested a new Scottish digital channel should be funded by the licence fee. An expert panel tasked with looking into how to fund the Scottish Digital Network – a digital TV channel dedicated to Scottish content, and the main recommendation of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission of three years ago – feels using the £3.6 billion licence fee would be the fairest route. It is estimated it would cost £75 million a year to run the SDN. The paper quotes Blair Jenkins, the panel’s chair and also chair of the SBC, saying: “It now seems agreed across the political spectrum that the licence fee is to fund public service broadcasting in general and not just the BBC.”

The Scottish Digital Network story is widely reported elsewhere.

Other media stories:

* The Scottish Daily Express (page 9) reports that the new ‘Stig’, the driver on popular BBC TV show, Top Gear, could be a woman.

* The Daily Record (page 5) reports that former MSP, Tommy Sheridan, will be given a special escort from his perjury appeal on Wednesday to Barlinne jail, an unprecedented measure by the security firm, Reliance.