Media in the Press 7.3.11

Claudie Qumsieh, a postgraduate student of Journalism at Edinburgh Napier University, casts her eyes on the media stories making it into today's press….

BBC Scotland is facing criticism for a reported £5.24 million expenses bill in 2009/10, on top of £6.6 million the previous financial year, which – calculates The Herald – means an average £9485 for every one of its 1250 employees. And the paper (page 4) quotes David Watt, executive director of the Institute of Directors Scotland, as saying: “This seems extraordinarily high. The BBC is having a salaries review and, by the sounds if it, it needs to be conducting one for its expenses as well. The licence-fee payer is ultimately footing the bill for these costs.”

Assistant director of CBI Scotland, David Lonsdale, is also quoted, saying: “At a time when private business is tightening its belt and people are losing their jobs, the need for restraint on staff expense has never been more vital. These figures seem very high and I would seriously doubt if many private firms would be able to support expenses on this scale.”

A BBC spokesperson is quoted, saying: “While expenses are common across all major organisations, we have a rigorous policy and we are careful to ensure value for money.”

The Scottish Daily Express (page 16) reports Scottish Tory spokesperson and former head of news and current affairs at Grampian TV, Ted Brocklebank MSP, as saying: “On the face of it, these figures are still too high. One wonders if they are taking seriously enough the cuts all public bodies are having to face”.

The Scotsman (page 18) also covers the story.

Meanwhile, the daytime schedule of BBC2 could face the axe under a management proposal to have it comprise, instead, of a live feed from the station's rolling news channel, BBC News. The Scottish Daily Mail headline (page 24) reads: 'Here is the news – all afternoon on BBC2'. Programmes that air before 7pm could be scrapped, including Flog It!, To Buy or Not to Buy and Diagnosis Murder.

Governing body, the BBC Trust, is expected to decide on the idea in the summer. In its last report, the BBC Trust found that the BBC’s daytime schedule was “lacking in quality”. A BBC spokesperson is quoted saying the proposal “is an option discussed and one of many possibilities”.

Following last week's widely-reported news that News Corp has been given permission by the UK Government to takeover BSkyB, there appears to be a few hurdles still requiring to be overcome. As reported in The Scotsman (page 36), institutional investor, Fidelity, has demanded that News Corp pay an extra £3 billion to take full ownership of Sky. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for a alliance of media groups opposed to the takeover – including Trinity Mirror, the Telegraph Media Group, BT, Associated Newspapers and the Guardian Media Group – is quoted, saying: “Smoke and mirrors will not protect media plurality in the UK from the overweening influence of News Corporation.”

Meanwhile, Media Guardian looks back at the career of News Corp's boss, Rupert Murdoch. “The media mogul is poised to sign his biggest deal to date as he celebrates his 80th birthday,” writes Dan Sabbagh. 

And finally, BBC Radio 4’s Shipping Forecast is to be read by former Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott. As reported in The Herald (page 3), the guest appearance was arranged after Prescott joked on Twitter about staying in the studio after an interview to do the Shipping Forecast. When Alice Arnold, one of the forecast’s presenters, saw the Tweet she approached Prescott. He agreed to do it only for Comic Relief. The shipping forecast is notoriously difficult to read and requires careful annunciation. The Scottish Daily Mail (page 28) describes Lord Prescott as “well known for his mangling of English”. As reported in the Herald, Prescott “often struggled with pronunciation. At one stage civil servants were advised to make sentences 'punchy and easily spoken aloud' when drafting answers for him in the Commons”.

Prescott will be the first person other than a BBC continuity announcer to read the 'late ships' report. Hopefully, it will be plain sailing for the former ship’s steward who, it is understood, once remarked upon landing after a rough flight: “It's great to be back on terra cotta.”

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