The Word on the Street

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The Independent Culture
RATHER AS Kremlinologists once watched the line-up on Lenin's tomb for the May Day parades to establish who was on the up in the Soviet Politburo, so from small details can you see how power relationships change at the BBC. The corporation's efforts to secure Trevor McDonald for the Nine O'Clock News were led by Alan Yentob (right), the director of television, and Will Wyatt, chief executive of BBC Broadcast. Strange that they should be making these approaches and not Tony Hall, chief executive of BBC News. But then jostling for position, always a BBC manager's main hobby, is now likely to go into overdrive in the run-up to the appointment of a new Director General in the spring of 2000.

One crucial move in the great DG game starts this month with the selection process for a successor to Ron Neil, BBC Production's chief executive. Mr Hall may go for it to prove he can do more than news, otherwise Jana Bennett, director of production and Neil's deputy would have a clean run. David Docherty, deputy director of television, Mark Byford, director of regional policy and anyone else on the next rung down are likely to throw their hats into this CV-boosting ring.

THE JOSTLING for position at the BBC is nothing compared with what is going on at Associated Newspapers. Now that Channel One is no more Martin Dunn, former editor of the New York Post, is tipped to succeed Max Hastings at the Evening Standard, with Hastings kicked upstairs to look after the new Viscount, Jonathan Harmsworth. In the approaching musical chairs the Standard is seen as needing most help. John Steafel, the Mail's associate editor (news), may join Dunn as his deputy. As Paul Dacre becomes God- emperor of all he surveys Peter Wright is tipped to be effective editor of the Mail. Adding to the gossip has been the sight of Tessa Hilton, former Mirror Group and Express magazines editor, in the Associated building.

FOOTBALL FANS should not be fooled into thinking that Manchester United is Mr Murdoch's first direct foray into running a Premiership club. According to Chris Horrie's book Sick as a Parrot, about the battle between Robert Maxwell and Alan Sugar to own Tottenham, Sugar got involved only after a call from Murdoch - for whom Sugar's Amstrad made satellite dishes. Just as he was getting ready to tie up his Premiership deal Murdoch asked Sugar to "Stop the fat clown" getting Tottenham. It is interesting that Sugar is now planning to get out of football at a time that Murdoch no longer needs a point man within the Premier League.