Media: The Word On The Street

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The Independent Culture
GUARDIAN EDITOR Alan Rusbridger was scathing about the term "dumbing down" when he gave the recent Cobden lecture at Manchester Metropolitan University. Rusbridger said the phrase was an attempt at plausibility by those "who are unaware of being the old elite, or who have difficulty understanding a different new world in which high culture and so-called low culture meet... I think `dumbing down' is a dumb term to describe something far more complex at work in society today. It should be banned." Heaven knows what Mr Rusbridger must think of the staff of his own paper, which last Saturday had a big headline referring to "the dumbing down of television". No doubt he would know exactly what to call them: "an old elite who have difficulty understanding a new world".


THE TIMES'S opposition to Greg Dyke's bid to become BBC Director General has so far provided little indication of who exactly the paper would like to see benefit. The anti-Dyke campaign emanates, we hear, directly from editor Peter Stothard's office. Could it be that Tony Hall, chief executive of BBC News, is the paper's intended beneficiary? Hall was at university with Stothard. "Not so," says a Times source, "they are not exactly mates." Perhaps there is a clue in the flattering coverage given in The Times last week to a restructuring of BBC production by Matthew Bannister. Bannister is doubling the number of creative types at the top of his BBC fiefdom and, according to The Times, banishing the Birtist cult of management. In fact, Bannister and Birt remain philosophically close. But Mr Stothard has found his favourite, it seems.


BRA ADVERTISING is about to return to TV after a six-year gap. In the 1960s, the ad men's "lift and separate" slogan took a functional approach. In the 1990s the bra went sexy, with Trevor Beattie's "Hello boys" Wonderbra poster campaign. Mr Beattie, executive creative director of TBWA GGT Simons Palmer, has decided that the bra is funny. His pounds 5m Pretty Polly ads will be a humorous history of the bra. A comment on our times, or on Mr Beattie's evolving attitude to lingerie?