media: The Word On The Street

ANYONE SEEKING clues to the priorities of Channel 4 under its new regime need only look at the scheduling and promotion of its disability series, Access All Areas. The first instalment, The Half Monty, aired last Thursday, was a light piece about dwarf strippers which gave a positive picture of disability.

It was heavily trailed and the channel's PR machine got it the coveted "pick of day" listing in all four broadsheets. It was broadcast at 8.30pm - one of Channel 4's best slots - which helped the show to a healthy 1.5m viewers.

Then consider the fourth and last in the series. It is a challenging and important film, about the education of a boy with Down's syndrome, which reflects none too well on our education system. It is being aired at midnight on a Monday - the worst night of the week for late-night viewing. Very brave.

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THE AUDITOR's report which last week cleared the Radio Authority of Newsnight's accusations of wrongdoing in awarding licences couldn't have come at a better time to rescue the regulator's image. Admittedly it has a member of staff still on police bail, but before the report it was starting to become a target of Kelvin MacKenzie's humour. At an industry function recently, he was introduced to someone from the authority and quipped, "Oh you're the bloke from Bung Towers".

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UNBELIEVABLY, THERE are even more sinister forces than the Daily Mail opposed to Channel 4's gay programming. Last week C4's offices in London's Victoria were picketed by some burly men opposed to the screening of Queer Nation. Holding placards describing the station as "Queer Scum", they handed out leaflets which identified them as members of International Third Position. The ITP was set up in the Eighties after a National Front split. It is run by a Colin Todd from Newcastle, who has convictions for violence, and Roberto Fiore, who was convicted in his absence of organising a terror group in Italy.

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THERE WAS an uncharacteristic slip-up at Associated Newspapers this weekend when the Mail on Sunday's supplement Night & Day failed to manage its vaunted relaunch in much of the country. A note on page two of the main paper apologised to readers in the North-west because they wouldn't get their television listings. Helpfully, the apology said they might get their Night & Day if they went back to the newsagent later in the day, and would definitely get it if they came in for it on Monday.

Perhaps this is an idea for the future. As Sunday papers get bigger, their printing and distribution nightmares could be alleviated by staggering sales of the paper right across the week.

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