Hard Copy

Volume control

All is quiet on the Channel 5 front, and with good reason. So much backstabbing, badmouthing and general mischief-making have been in evidence that the Independent Television Commission has apparently made it clear that the bidders ought to cool it. The ITC wants to make its decision on awarding the licence, now expected in October, in serene silence.

Tied to the chair

Can it be that Piers Morgan's departure from the News of the World and his move to the editor's chair at the Daily Mirror have given News International a fright? According to stories now making the rounds, News International's boss, Rupert Murdoch, has insisted that senior editorial management sign new contracts that include onerous "slave clauses", making it hard for high-flyers to jump ship. But that comes as news to Phil Hall, Mr Morgan's successor at the News of the World. "I certainly haven't been asked to sign a new contract," he says. "And I suppose I would have been the obvious person to ask."

Blurred edges

Bit of a coup for Radio 1 last Thursday in persuading Blur to perform live and exclusive at a secret London venue (the BBC's own Radio Theatre). More than 200 fans eagerly waited for Damon and the boys, Adidas trainers tapping to the PA sound of "Roll With It" by, er, Oasis. Away from it all

Tense days at the Observer, where the jury is still out on the most radical redesign in its recent history. And where was Andrew Jaspan, the paper's editor and the man responsible for the overhaul, last week? Slaving late at night over ways to improve what many in the industry are calling a travesty? No. He was on his hols.

Unfriendly reception

Filming for BBC 2's pounds 7m epic drama series Our Friends in the North is nearing completion. Starring Christopher Ecclestone (Hearts and Minds, Cracker) and Malcolm McDowell, it follows four Geordie friends through three decades of local, national and international politics. The production has been 18 months in the making, with 160 speaking parts, 3,000 extras, 4,000 costumes and 110 locations. Actually make that 111.

Last week, the crew was due to film a riot sequence on the Garth estate in Sunderland. However, as cameras were about to turn, local police said they could not guarantee anyone's safety. Cue move to a friendlier location in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Janet's new ball game

It was a little over two weeks ago that Janet Street-Porter, md of Live TV, stuck her rambling boots into Britain's TV execs. "They are M people," she spat - middle-class, middle-brow, mediocre and, worst of all, male. She must have been thrilled then to find that in her absence last week, Live TV had secured secondary rights to the Rugby League World Cup. Or maybe that was the work of another M person - one Kelvin Mackenzie. Street- Porter is said to be "incandescent"; some of her appointees don't expect to hang on too long either.

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