Media: The Word on the Street

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The Independent Culture
IS THAT the sound of more new media bubbles bursting? Talk Radio has a Web radio service running on the Internet by the name of talksport.net. It is run by one Ashley MacKenzie, son of the station's owner Kelvin, and it is much more than a simple re-broadcast of the main station. Instead, real audio programming is created just for the Web. To find out how it was doing, some audience research was conducted, and the results are just in. They show that in one 24-hour period a whopping 11 people listened to the Web station. Of them, no one listened for more than 90 seconds, according to the research. "It is some kind of a record," says an insider. "Talksport.net is a station with more staff than listeners."

REMEMBER THAT photograph of Michael Portillo at Cambridge that was widely used after his "I was once gay" admission? There stood Portillo next to another begowned member of Peterhouse, the Cambridge college that many papers, including the Daily Mail and The Mirror, advertised as something of a "gay hothouse". The implication about the man in the pic with Miguel was clear. The photograph has now been pulled by the UK's picture agencies - and not just because of legal worries. Simon Marquis, the other man in the photograph and Portillo's best man, is rigorously heterosexual. He is also managing director of Zenith Media, the buying agency which controls a larger chunk of press advertising money than any other company in the country. Marquis would obviously never put his personal pique before the interests of his advertising clients, but he is still the last man in the country the tabloids would want to accuse of homosexual "hothousing".

DIVERSITY AND choice have been the watchwords of modern broadcasting. Greater competition was supposed to bring us the benefits of niche programming for everyone, a thousand flowers would bloom and all that nasty limited choice caused by regulation and technical lack would be history. So the latest consolidated Barb rating figures make interesting reading. For the week ending 12 September, ITV's top 10 ratings are made up of just two programmes: Coronation Street and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? On BBC 1, thanks to Bianca's drawn-out departure, the entire top 10 is made up of episodes of EastEnders and Neighbours. Competition for ratings, don't ya love it?

IN A letter to Press Gazette this week, Sarah Thane, the Independent Television Commission's director of programmes, rebuffs complaints that the ITC has been silent on the ratings haemorrhage of news viewers from ITV since the ITC let it move News at Ten. She also points out that rather than relying on the anecdotal evidence of those complaining about the death of News at Ten, the ITC conducted lots of public-opinion research before allowing the news to move. What she omits to mention is that most of the research showed the public to be opposed to the change.

POOR OLD Heat magazine. First it struggles to reach target sales, then it loses an editor and has a redesign. Now it's caught in a battle between its distributors, Frontline, and the country's biggest newsagent chain, WH Smith. As a result, Smith's has dropped the magazine for the last two weeks, making it unlikely that the entertainment weekly will be able to push its sales from a disappointing 60,000 to the 100,000 it needs.

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