MEDIAFREAK

THE BITES THAT BITE

Poacher or gamekeeper?

The 25th anniversary of the West Highland Free Press is a fine time for reflecting upon the political evolution of its high-profile founder. Brian Wilson, MP has always been proud of producing a local paper with "a radical, socialist editorial purpose" - ie making life hell for absentee landlords in the far north.

But in recent years he has become a Blairite, given to mocking "saloon bar revolutionaries" in his Glasgow Herald column. As head of New Labour's rebuttal unit, he is also now working closely with Peter Mandelson on the party's general election campaign.

So has the Highland poacher turned gamekeeper? Certainly not, insists Torcuil Crichton, a former Free Press reporter, who writes in the special 25th anniversary edition of the Free Press: "What I find reassuring about the prospect of Labour gaining office is that Brian's agenda and the newspaper's - on land, on the language and on the people - will remain much the same as the paper started off with."

Has anyone told Tony yet?

A quiet pint with Paxo

Tony Hall, chief executive of BBC's news directorate, was spied last week having a drink with Jeremy Paxman. Just a friendly pint, a chance to reminisce about their time together as Beeb trainees? Surely it had nothing to do with Paxo's recent outbursts in the New Statesman, where he revealed his frustration at being kept in David Dimbleby's shadow and told the nation about his non-relationship with his (and Tony Hall's) boss, John Birt.

Go north, young woman

Juliet Morris, who presents BBC Breakfast News Extra, obviously has a bright future ahead of her - she is one of the few on the BBC payroll who doesn't get nosebleeds at the prospect of working north of the M25. The weekly news magazine Here and Now faces a staff exodus as it prepares to relocate from London to new studios in Manchester, but Juliet clearly has no problem with succeeding Sue Lawley as the programme's anchor. She's heard of phones, faxes, shuttle flights...

Battle of the bog

A legal battle is looming in adland - over loo roll. In a TV campaign which breaks next Monday, customers who buy Nouvelle Quilted toilet tissue and find it's not soft enough will be offered a free pack of ... Andrex.

Andrex's owner, Kimberly-Clark, is threatening legal action. Its household marketing director Ben Anderson told Marketing magazine: "This is confusing to customers and potentially damaging to the Andrex brand."

But Sue Harrison, of HHCL and Partners, told Media+: "We are simply guaranteeing customers softness from a recycled product. This is good news for Andrex, confirming their number one slot." Andrex has a 22 per cent share of the toilet tissue market. Nouvelle is out to improve upon its 3 per cent share by investing pounds 3m in the forthcoming campaignn

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