Media: The Word On The Street

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The Independent Culture
ONE DAY on the discard pile and already a tasty job proposition for Charlie Whelan, Gordon Brown's erstwhile leg spinner now in the market for "an appropriate opportunity". The DTI is looking for a new Head of News. "You will have considerable experience of handling the media," the ad begins hopefully, "have a clear, strong, written style and the ability to use it effectively (and) will be able to demonstrate a strong news sense." Sounds promising. "You will be able to command the respect and confidence of Ministers, senior officials and media contacts," it continues. So what's the catch, apart from having to sweep up after his old foe Peter Mandelson? Ah yes, the salary - a miserly pounds 63,490 which, for Mr Whelan, would represent around a pounds 15,000 pay cut.

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A NEW broom on the sixth floor of Saatchi & Saatchi's Charlotte Street offices in London. Or, to be more precise, a new mallet - happily wielded by the agency's international chairman Alan Bishop. The object of Bishop's hammerings is a wall erected by Maurice Saatchi. "He didn't like mixing with the underclass when he was here last," says an agency spokesexecutive, "so he blocked off his corner of the building." Bishop confirms that his handiwork marks the first recorded example of an adman "empire destroying".

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CHANNEL 5's robust response to charges that there is far too much sex in its output? A gritty, ground-breaking current affairs series called Porn Flakes.

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LIKE A dose of gastric flu, that wallopingly pricey TV ad from New Millennium Experience Company was hard to miss over the Christmas break. And, like the said lurgy, it brought on similar feelings of nausea. The NMEC's media buyers secured what looked like a choice ad break for the commercial on Sunday evening - during a riveting Channel 4 documentary about the dawn of the new millennium. One of the programme's chief conclusions? That the new millennium in fact dawned four years ago and that the beano down on that barren stretch of Greenwich wasteland makes about as much sense as celebrating the October Revolution in March.

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LIKE SPROUTS, sausage meat and Emva Cream, seasonal versions of regular programmes are a staple of Christmas (and frankly about as appetising). This year we had Christmases from Hell, Christmas with the Clampers and umpteen yuletide editions of everything from Coronation Street to the weather. One rather surprising omission from the canon was a glimpse of how the season was being celebrated at the Lakeside shopping centre in Thurrock, made famous by the acclaimed BBC 1 docu-soap Lakesiders. The production company Hart Ryan was desperate to film it, the BBC keen to screen it, the shopping centre every bit as anxious to feature in it. So why no show? Over to Walt Disney for an outpouring of seasonal goodwill.

The company had sponsored the Lakeside's Christmas decorations and was not prepared to have even one drop of wax from Mickey Mouse's ear in shot. "It's brand management gone bonkers," says a company source.

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