Media: The Word On The Street

PHIL HILTON, editor of Later, the new IPC men's magazine which launches tomorrow, is reflecting ruefully but philosophically on some prime empty billboards which should have been carrying ads for his magazine. Poster company TDI decided yesterday it was unhappy with an ad saying "Get the coke for Jamie's party" with boxes to tick - one saying two litres, the other saying two grammes. "It was just making a joke, a pun" says Hilton. "We were using the drug to symbolise the conflict between the hedonism of youth and the responsibility of growing up." No doubt he will be just as philosophical when the poster companies see his next symbolic conflict, an ad saying: "Grass - mow it or smoke it?"

TWO MORE Belgrade correspondents of British newspapers have been expelled from Yugoslavia. The Financial Times's Guy Dinmore and The Guardian's Chris Bird have both been ordered to leave. Their exit follows that of Tom Walker, based in Belgrade for The Times for the past two years and married to a Serb, who had his multiple-entry visa cancelled last Wednesday. Dinmore, an FT stringer, sent an e-mail to the paper's foreign desk on Sunday saying he had been told to go. The Guardian correspondent had already left Belgrade early yesterday. "There was no reason given for Chris Bird's expulsion, but perhaps it is no coincidence that he was expelled the day after the Serbian TV station was bombed," said Ed Pilkington, the Guardian's Foreign Editor.

DAVID MONTGOMERY's desire to buy the Express titles is not just causing panic among his former employees who thought they had escaped. Sub-editors on the Express approaching or past middle age fear the arrival of the man who kept a curious picture on his wall at Mirror Group Newspapers when he was chief executive, and would lead visitors over to it. The picture was of the Daily Mirror subs desk with a youthful Mongomery on it. He had moved onwards and upwards, he would explain, but the other unfortunates were still subbing away, lacking his entrepreunerial spark. Express subs should brush up on their business plans.

JON PLOWMAN, head of comedy entertainment at the BBC and producer of The Vicar of Dibley, is evidently stung by criticisms of BBC sitcoms over the last week - criticisms attributed to the director general among others. At the Montreux Festival this weekend, Plowman was heard rubbishing his European competitors. "They're all about big sight gags which are widely signalled right the way through. European sitcoms make Terry and June look like an evening with Patrick Marber."

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