Geldof group lines up pundits to plug Scotland

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The Independent Online

Ten Alps Communications, the media group backed by the musician and aid campaigner Bob Geldof, announced plans yesterday to recruit a raft of Scottish political pundits in a major expansion of its commentator agency.

Know Comment, its business that supplies the media with commentators on political and academic subjects, has seen revenues grow tenfold this year. It was set up by Jo Phillips, the one-time spin doctor to the former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, in 1999. Its clients include the former transport minister Steve Norris, the prominent gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, The Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai Brown, and Charlie Whelan, the former press adviser to Gordon Brown.

"Since devolution, people seem to have forgotten about Scotland. There are some very good commentators and academics with very interesting stories in Scotland, but they never get any coverage because most media is focused on Westminster," Ms Phillips said.

Ten Alps was founded by Alex Connock in 1999 from part of the television production company Planet 24, and received backing from Mr Geldof, one of Planet 24's founders. The rest of the group, which listed on the AIM in 2001 after a reverse takeover of Osprey Communications, has been hit by a downturn in the advertising and corporate events markets.

Pre-tax profits fell to £79,000 from £477,000 in the year ended March after goodwill write-offs and a £200,000 downturn in its events division. But results at Know Comment provided some cheer, contributing to an increase in cashflow of 31 per cent to £3.3m. This was despite the purchase of Brook Lapping, the TV production firm behind the recent BBC2 three-part series Fall of Milosevic.

Brian Walden, who presented the political talk show, Weekend World, in the 1970s, chairs the group.