TALK OF THE TRADE
Tuesday 21 February 1995
Is it time for live television coverage of British courts? The sobering clips of the O J Simpson trial, so far removed from tightly scripted screen fiction, is raising the issue once again.
All the clips shown worldwide, and the weekly programme screened in Britain by BBC2, are supplied by a remote control camera operated by Court TV, a specialist American cable channel.
Steven Brill, Court TV's founder and part-owner, has been in London calling on top lawyers and the Law Society in a bid to set up an experiment to bring live court coverage here.
A sleek graduate of Yale Law School, Brill dreamt up the 24-hour service three-and-a-half years ago, building on the string of 300 journalists he already employed on his magazine, The American Lawyer (co-founded with funds from Associated Newspapers), and a string of regionalised law newspapers.
He says: "The Simpson case is probably the worst thing for cameras in court." By this, he means that while Court TV's wall-to-wall coverage relays it straight, "the rest of the reporting has been so sleazy".
Ruling the roost
Continued growth in the sales of National Magazine's Good Housekeeping to 518,000 a month in the latest ABCs (June to December 1994) - the highest in its 53-year history, is contributing to the downward plod of the two old supermarket check-out magazines, Family Circle and Living, both owned by IPC.
Family Circle and Living were purchased six years ago from International Thomson for pounds 30 million - just before they lost their privileged positions. Since then, they have lost a combined 56,000 copies annually. IPC has not experienced the Good Housekeeping magic touch with its two middle- class home magazines: Homes & Gardens has stood still, while Ideal Home has shed 38,000 readers to a low of 215,000 copies year on year.
Compensation has come with Homes & Ideas, the title launched in 1993 as a lookalike to National Magazine's House Beautiful, subject of a recently settled legal tussle, which has hit 285,000 copies.
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