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Beeb gets heavy

THE BBC's insistence that it will broadcast a repudiation of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission's Panorama 'Babies on Benefit' ruling has raised eyebrows at other watchdogs. Two members of the Press Complaints Commission said it seemed to them to be an abuse of power. Geoff Mulgan, director of the Demos think-tank, said his instinct was that both the corporation and the National Council for One Parent Families, which brought the complaint, were at fault, but that the BBC 'clearly doesn't seem to believe people have a right to question them'.

The Broadcasting Standards Council, which is likely to merge with the BCC next year, says it tends not to entertain complaints from lobby groups. However, it allowed the British Herpetological Society to lodge a complaint alleging cruelty to snakes - so it can hardly complain.

Search for critical eye

THE Press Complaints Commission's hunt for a new chairman is accelerating in the run up to its next meeting on 26 September. Pressbof, the industry body that funds the complaints machinery, last week met headhunters who have produced a list of about 12 names, but no obvious candidate.

Battle for readers

MEANWHILE, the newspaper industry casts around for ways of building circulation. The London Evening Standard is considering a 9.30am edition next month; Express Newspapers is launching a low-interest-rate credit card for readers; and Emma Soames, editor of the new-look Telegraph Saturday magazine, says readers want 'touchy-feelie' features.

Currying favour

LAST week I found myself eating an Indian meal at the Grosvenor House Hotel while watching GMTV hand over a pounds 500,000 cheque for a hospital in India for earthquake victims. There to witness the well-timed good works of ITV's problem child were the top two executives of the Independent Television Commission. Tomorrow the ITC will decide whether GMTV, whose ratings are on the rise, has sufficiently improved its output to comply with its concerns. All the signs are that GMTV is home and dry.