Media in the Press 4.3.11

Fearghus Roulston, a postgraduate student of journalism at Edinburgh Napier University, picks out the media stories making it into today's press….

Media mogul, Rupert Murdoch's controversial takeover of BSkyB is dominating the media news today, with reports in all of Scotland's major papers. The Scotsman (page 10) devotes a page to the coverage, and claims an agreement “has moved closer after the government backed plans to spin off Sky News as part of the deal”.

Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt – who took advice from regulatory body, Ofcom, before coming to a decision – is quoted as saying: “Ofcom assure me that the undertakings that are being made do address the concerns they had over plurality…I think News Corporation have moved a long way.”

Murdoch's News Corp have yet to agree a price with the BSkyB investors, who, The Scotsman reports, are understood to be looking for 900p a share.

In the Scottish Daily Mail (page 4), Labour politicians are quoted attacking the Culture Secretary, branding his decision a “whitewash”. The Mail reports Ivan Lewis, Labour's culture spokesman, accusing the Government of being “cavalier” and “arrogant” in its handling of the bid.

The Scottish Daily Mail, on the same page, notes that “ministers backed down this week over plans to give themselves sweeping powers to abolish quangos such as Ofcom”, noting that this happened as the media communications watchdog was finalising its decision on Murdoch's takeover bid.

Labour justice spokesperson Christ Bryant is reported as saying: “Before the election David Cameron was muttering dark threats about the abolition of Ofcom, and now a reprieved Ofcom is accepting far too naively the platitudinous, unenforceable assurances from an organisation [News Corp] that has previously reneged on such promises.”

In other news, The Scotsman (page 3, Business Section) reports that the newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror is considering further acquisitions in regional media. The company, which owns the Daily Record and the Sunday Mail – as well as various regional newspapers, including the Scottish & Universal Newspapers group of Scottish local newspapers – is understood to be keen on expanding its portfolio.

This, it is hoped, will help arrest the company's tumbling share price. The Scotsman notes that the company's value dropped by £47 million yesterday, despite yesterday reporting a rise in operating profits during the last financial year.

The Scotsman also has news on the bid for a new digital channel to deliver local services across the UK (page 3, Business Section). As reported yesterday on, STV is supporting a bid by a company called Channel 6 to be handed the role of running the new channel. The chief executive of STV, Rob Woodward, is quoted as saying: “Our television heritage and local resources mean we are ideally placed to deliver expertise to Channel 6.”

Finally, The Scottish Sun (page 51) has yet more news on the BBC. It claims BBC staff have taken “a quarter of a century off sick in the past year – with stress”. The paper cites statistics showing that 211 staff members had taken 9028 days off, with stress-related issues in the past year. An anonymous insider is quoted as saying: “People feel under siege. They are constantly looking at ways to escape the axe.”

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