Media: The Word On The Street

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The Independent Culture
THE INTERVIEWS have taken place, and the personal manifestos have been read. But just so that the BBC governors have all the information to hand, we are happy to oblige with some of the past statements that candidates may have left off their application forms.

In 1994, Greg Dyke said: "In many ways it is difficult to feel much sympathy for the BBC over this [losing sports] because it, as much as anyone, helped build Sky Sports by assisting it in a quite disgraceful way to get the Premier League contract."

In 1996, David Elstein declared: "The BBC's response to the growing cost of sports rights has largely ignored its viewers' preferences. Instead, it has concentrated on a misleading parliamentary campaign to impoverish sport in its own interests."

And in 1996, Andrew Neil referred to pre-BSkyB television as a "cosy cartel - a classic duopoly run for the benefit of those who worked in the BBC and ITV rather than the viewers who paid their salaries and financed their programmes, which too often were made to satisfy the producers interests rather than meet what viewers wanted to see".

That may not go down too well with BBC chairman Sir Christopher Bland, who after all, formed a part of that "cosy cartel".

MAGAZINE PUBLISHER Felix Dennis, owner of Dennis Publishing, predicts a gloomy future for magazines. He says that the threat of the Internet has made him contemplate selling off his whole company. And in suitably Sixties-style, he turned on delegates at last week's PPA conference and declared: "We are in the business of killing trees."

He must have mixed feelings then about new magazines launched in the post-Internet period - magazines such as The Week, helped on its way by a fairy godfather funder and majority shareholder, or majority tree-killer, one Felix Dennis.

AND YOU thought producers actually talked to presenters through those earpieces. Not, it seems, on ITV Sport, judging from some of the meaningful exchanges during last Saturday's cup final coverage. First there was presenter Bob Wilson to studio guest Terry Venables: "Have you run into any interesting people, Terry?" "Only the woman who gave me the sandwiches." Then Bob swiftly turned to studio guest John Barnes: "John, one always meets so many people at Wembley. Who have you bumped into?" "Nobody," he replied, "because you gave me a nice private room to have lunch in."

RUPERT MURDOCH'S daughter Elisabeth wrote to The Guardian last week complaining that the BBC continues to understate the extent to which Sky news is being knocked off cable channels by the licence-fee funded News 24. The "unfair competition" meant, said Liz, that around half-a-million cable subscribers had had Sky news removed - more than The Guardian's entire circulation. The Guardian duly published the letter except - for reasons of space, no doubt - that last bit.