Media in the Press 3.3.11

Post-graduate Journalism student, Patrick McPartlin, from Edinburgh Napier University, takes a look at the media stories making it into the papers today…

The Daily Record (page 2) runs with the story that Rupert Murdoch's proposed takeover of media company, BSkyB, has been approved by Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, despite media regulator, Ofcom's concerns about the takeover.

As part of the deal, Murdoch's News Corp group is planning to sell the Sky News channel in its bid to increase its 39 per cent ownership share in BSkyB. More than 150,000 people have signed a petition opposing the proposed takeover, and a spokesperson for Hunt is quoted, saying: “The Culture Secretary has not yet made a decision.” Meanwhile, Shari Low reports in her column (page 13) that product placement is now allowed on television, with the advertised products reflecting the image of the show or stars.

Meanwhile, the finance section of the Scottish Daily Mail reports (page 66) that ITV is set to rejoin the Footsie Index, after its profits trebled in the last year, with pre-tax earnings reaching £321 million in 2010 compared to £108 million in 2009. This news comes in the wake of relatively new boss, Adam Crozier, reporting that the broadcaster's debt had been reduced to £188 million, from £610 million.

The Scottish Daily Mail also reports on Murdoch's offer to sell Sky News in the hopes of taking over BSkyB, (page 66) adding that Jeremy Hunt may make a decision on the takeover bid at some point today. An alliance of media groups – including BT, Guardian Media Group, Associated Newspapers, Trinity Mirror, Northcliffe Media and Telegraph Media Group – has opposed the takeover, with a spokesperson quoted, saying: “If the purported remedy leaves Sky News dependent on News Corporation for its money, that will not be true independence.”

Ruth Sutherland, associate City editor with the Scottish Daily Mail, offers (on page 67) an opinion on the seeming success of the recently-appointed ITV bosses, Crozier and Archie Norman, who replaced Michael Grade barely six months ago. Says Sutherland, the pair have to recognise that ITV needs great programmes and that they need to “stop the rot” at the studio division where profits dropped £10 million to £81 million, despite the success of shows such as Downton Abbey.

The Scottish Sun (page 60) adds in its tuppence-worth to the discussion about ITV, reporting that Crozier is set to spend almost £12 million in the search for new shows to help maintain the broadcaster's improved ratings. Mr Crozier is quoted, saying: “We need to find the next big idea and we'll be looking in the UK, the US – all over.”

And finally, The Herald's business section (pp. 27-28) reports on the continuing discussions between STV and ITV, with the latter claiming that STV has admitted to owing them £37 million, as part of a liability claim over the cancellation of shows such as The Bill and Doc Martin. However, ITV is said to owe STV money, meaning the two broadcasters look odds-on to thrash out a deal to square the outstanding amounts.

STV chief executive, Rob Woodward, was quoted last week saying that he would welcome an “amicable” settlement before the case reaches court in May.