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For the record 02/02/2009

"The digital network... is as essential to our future prosperity in the 21st century as roads, bridges, trains and electricity were in the 20th century," Gordon Brown, following Thursday's launch of Lord Carter's report Digital Britain

It's a Bun fight

In spite of Rebekah Wade's admirable commitment to journalism in her Cudlipp Lecture last Tuesday, 'The Sun' is facing rebellion in the provinces. On Wednesday in Birmingham, many of the most famous local news agencies in Britain, including Mercury of Liverpool, Ferrari of Kent, Caters of Birmingham and Cassidy & Leigh of Surrey, will gather at the Crown Plaza hotel to decide the National Association of Press Agencies' response to News International's plan to cut its payment rates. These cuts apply to all NI titles but are most dramatic for 'The Sun', which wants to reduce payments for small pictures from £58 to a measly £30 and for larger ones from £70 to £50. Agencies complain that the 'Sun' rates are "way below" those of more cash-strapped rivals. Some agency bosses will stop offering pictures to Britain's biggest-selling daily altogether.

Nice one, Jimmy

Hats off to the TV producer Norma Percy, whose latest doc 'Iran and the West' goes out on BBC2 on Saturday at 9pm. Having been given the runaround in her attempts to interview Jimmy Carter, the former US President, who was in the White House at the time of the Khomeini revolution and subsequent US hostage crisis, Percy noticed that Carter was due to attend last year's Hay Festival. She managed to snag the seat next to the ex-President and made a fresh pitch, saying that she'd come to Atlanta any time. "What about today?" asked Carter. "But it'll take time to organise," said Percy. "Well, you've got four hours," she was told and given her slot later that same day.

Birt of fortune

Lord (John) Birt is outed in Friday's London Evening Standard as the highest-claiming peer, pocketing an average £296.83 in expenses for each of the 72 days he attended the House of Lords in 12 months. Still, his reputation is secure after Matthew Macfadyen's portrayal of the young Birt as a hip young thing in 'Frost/Nixon'.