MEDIAFREAK

THE BITES THAT BITE

See you, Jimmy

Charles Lewington, the Conservatives' spin doctor, who has accused the BBC of being biased towards Labour, will doubtless have his conspiracy theory reinforced this week by a feature in the launch edition of Time In magazine.

Invited to engage in a bit of fun and compile a Fantasy TV schedule, the Beeb's programming boss, Alan Yentob, decided to include among his dream shows a prime-ministerial broadcast by the Right Hon Sir James Goldsmith MP. Yentob's explanation will have "Lord Charles" choking on his Hamlet cigar: "I could have put down John Major, but that would have been even more fantastic!"

Among other telly bosses who have agreed to take part are Channel 5's

programming supremo, Dawn Airey. Most of the highlights of her dream schedule - Brookside, Father Ted, Frasier and Crapston Villas - are real programmes aired by her old network, Channel 4. Which suggests that the adversarial Ms Airey was serious when she declared recently that she was planning to pay big bucks to lure hit shows away from established channels.

Ulsterman sees green

Jon Snow (below), anchorman of Channel 4 News, compered the 1997 One World Media Awards last week, a set of gongs given to journalists and telly folk who have highlighted humanitarian issues. Rightly anticipating an audience of progressive people who care about the state of the planet, Snow thought it would be appropriate to wear a bright green tie.

Little did he know that he would find himself interviewing Ireland's premier, John Bruton, on that evening's Channel 4 News. As soon as the interview ended, an Ulster loyalist called the newsdesk to complain about how the green-tied newsreader was obviously in cahoots with the Taoiseach.

Ingham backs Paddy

Maggie Brown, a freelance media pundit formerly of this parish, must have been somewhat aghast when she flicked through the latest issue of PR Week to peruse her regular weekly column in that journal. For staring out at her wasn't the customary mini portrait of herself but a mugshot of that old curmudgeon Bernard Ingham.

Readers drawn to this article by his pic and not her byline must have been equally shocked to find Margaret Thatcher's former Downing Street press haranguer putting forward a reasonable democratic case for Paddy Ashdown being included in a series of three live televised debates between the party leaders.

And that's a Facto

Can anyone tell the difference between Labour and the Conservatives at this early stage in the campaign? "Facto" can, apparently. This is the nickname Channel 5 News has given to the database and computer presentation system that will be helping its political correspondent Mark Easton to cut through the key points of policy in coming weeks. Sound like a fancy way of saying that C5 is going to bombard and bamboozle its viewers with gimmicky graphics just like every other new programme.

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