Media in the Press 25.1.11

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

Most front pages are dominated by the sexist remarks made about assistant referee, Sian Massey, as reported in yesterday’s allmediascotland, which led to former Scotland striker, Andy Gray, and presenter, Richard Keys, being dropped from the Sky Sports coverage of last night’s Premier League match between Bolton and Chelsea. Vice-chair of West Ham United, Karren Brady, suggests in today’s Scottish Sun (page 4) that Gray and Keys’ “better get down there and tell her the offside rule” comment was equivalent to saying “go and put the kettle on” and that their remarks “reveal an underlying sexism in football”.

The Scottish Daily Express (page 3) speculates that “the future of top TV football presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys was in the balance last night after they were kicked off air by Sky Sports bosses”. Whilst calling Andy Gray a ‘sexist’ in the headline, The Scottish Daily Mail (page 6) uses a picture of Ms Massey dancing on a night out under which they publish comments from supporters of the pundits, one of whom says: “Get a grip. Football is for the boys. Get over it girls.” In what was not the first and won’t be the last football pun, the Daily Record front page simply says, ‘Fool Time’.

Whilst sport is making the headlines, the BBC has announced it will cut 360 jobs including sports and entertainment. The BBC is reducing the budget for its websites, by 25 per cent by 2013-14. The Scotsman reports (page 7) that 70 journalism positions will go, 24 in sport and 90 in BBC Vision.

BBC director-general, Mark Thompson, is quoted, saying: “BBC Online is a huge success but our vast portfolio of websites means we sometimes fall short of expectation. A refocusing on our editorial priorities, a commitment to the highest quality standards and a more streamlined and collegiate way of working will help us transform BBC Online for the future”.

The Scotsman also quotes the president of the NUJ, Pete Murray, who works for BBC Scotland – as saying: “This is a process of ‘self harm’. BBC management say they have to make these cuts… but this is counter-intuitive when so many viewers are saying they like the websites.”

The Daily Record (page 9), meanwhile, quotes the NUJ’s general-secretary, Jeremy Dear, saying: “It makes no sense to cut back the BBC website as increasing numbers of people rely on the internet. The NUJ will not stand idly by.”

The Scottish Daily Mail (page 25) says “the BBC will hit minority sport fans hard… saying it will virtually pull out of covering sports that it does not own the rights to”.

Remaining with the BBC, the memoirs of former newsreader, Peter Sissons, show, according to Scottish Daily Mail’s Richard Littlejohn (page 17) that the BBC is “pro-Europe, anti-American, pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel, pro-Labour, anti-Tory”. In extracts from the memoirs (page 28), Sissons describes the BBC’s “unchallengeable PC culture” and its role as a “propaganda machine for climate change zealots”.

Sissons criticises the BBC for not giving air time to climate change sceptics and for assuming that the scientific claims of climate change are correct without question. Sissons describes writing a note to himself asking, “What has happeneded to the journalism? The BBC has lost it”. He describes how the Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, “reacted as if I’d physically molested her” when he had “good naturedly” pointed out that “we were having a particularily cold winter while carbon emissions were powering ahead”. Sissons goes on to quote a climate change sceptic who praised his journalism when he interviewed Lucas who was “virtually apoplectic and demanding to know how the BBC could be making such comments”.

The Scottish Daily Mail (page 11) claims a row between STV and ITV “could lead to Scots viewers missing out on hit shows including The X Factor and Coronation Street”. It follows the publication yesterday of a report by a panel of media experts into how best fund the creation of the Scottish Digital Network, a hoped-for digital TV channel dedicated to Scottish content.

The panel – led by Blair Jenkins, a former head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland and also a former director of broadcasting at STV – rejected the possible option of advertising, which, it believes, would result in “a more crowded marketplace [that] could hit STV’s viewing figures and lead to a fall in advertising revenue. That could affect its ability to pay for ITV’s hit shows, which also include Dancing on Ice, I’m a Celebrity… Get me Out of Here! and This Morning”.

Elsewhere, talent show, The X Factor, is said to be under investigation by broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, for possible possible contravention of product placement rules. Says The Scotsman (page 16), the concerns were raised after host, Dermot O’Leary, told viewers they could download singles by Michael Buble and Diana Vickers. The Herald (page 11) meanwhile focuses on a performance by Cheryl Cole which used flashing lights where Ofcom found “the brightness frequency and screen areas exceeded the intensity limits” and added they were “concerned” with the explanation that this was due to equipment needing re-calibration. Channel TV, which complies the show for ITV, is quoted saying it “deeply regret[s] any upset or harm caused to viewers”.

Moving on, the phone hacking scandal continues, with The Herald’s political editor, Michael Settle, reporting (page 3) that there is to be an expanded review, as 16 more alleged victims plan to sue. He writes: “At Westminster, Downing Street played down the significance of David Cameron attending a dinner over Christmas with James Murdoch of News Corp, which own the News of The World at the centre of the hacking scandal, and whch is seeking to get UK Government approval for a takeover of Sky TV.”

Settle goes on to say: “Following the resignation of Andy Coulson, Mr Cameron’s communications chief [and editor of the News of the World when the allegations were said to have been committed] and the revelation that former Prime Minister Gordon Brown complained about the possible hacking of his phone, the PM’s spokesman was asked if Mr Cameron feared his mobile had also been tapped. He said it was a matter for the police.” The Scotsman (page 10) also examines the possibility that David Cameron could be a victim of phone hacking, but his spokesman was “not aware of any contact” with police.

And finally, Richard Kay of Scottish Daily Mail (page 37) notes that Dragon’s Den investor, James Caan, who quit the show three weeks ago, is reportedly being sued for defamation by one of the show’s previous contestants. Sharon Wright, who signed up to a deal with Caan and Duncan Banantyne, is said to have suffered a nervous breakdown after the contract was terminated. Her lawyer did not give details over precisely what Caan is alleged to have said.