Trendspotting #14

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The Independent Online
The BBC's final FA Cup ...

It is one of the BBC's strengths, and indeed one of its reasons to exist, that the nation chooses to turn to it for coverage of big national events. Saturday's FA Cup final was the last the BBC will screen live for at least four years and in all probability the last ever now that sports rights have become such a valuable commodity. The disservice this does the viewer is illustrated by the viewing figures for the last seven years that the BBC and ITV have broadcast the match at the same time. The average BBC rating for the game was 10 million compared with ITV's 5.2 million. Since 1938 the BBC on FA Cup day has been Britain's favourite button, but that means very little in the free market.

And it seems it is the BBC itself rather than its presenters that attract the viewers. Only 39 per cent of viewers tuning in say their decision was based on who the build-up and half-time guests were, according to a survey conducted last week by cable operator Telewest. It's just as well Jimmy Hill doesn't comment on the Scottish FA Cup final or the figure would be even lower.

Landslide results for Tory PR companies...

Nice to know that the PR professionals responsible for the Conservatives' dazzlingly successful election campaign won't find their reputation tarnished by being associated with failure. The recently ennobled Peter Gummer and Sir Tim Bell run the number one and number two PR agencies in the country respectively, according to the latest PR Week survey. Lord (nee Gummer) Chadlington's agency Shandwick increased its income by 8 per cent last year to pounds 24m while Sir Tim Bell's Lowe Bell Communications went up 12 per cent to pounds 21m. The latest income figures were released on May 2 which might just mean they weren't as unhappy that day as we'd like.

In contrast, Labour's favourite PR agency, Hobsbawm Macaulay, was 139 in the list of PR agencies, with an income of just under pounds 500,000. Still, that was growth of 44 per cent year on year and somehow you feel that things, to paraphrase D.Ream, can only get better for partners Julia Hobsbawm and Sarah Macaulay.

ITV, Channel 4 and ... no, it's not Channel 5

A new TV channel has been identified in the UK that no one had really noticed before. It gets the third highest viewing hours of a commercial channel after ITV and Channel 4. It sells ads and it has the advantage of being chosen by viewers rather than being simply passive couch potato fodder. The name of this channel is the video channel. Fully 7 per cent of viewing time is now devoted to pre-recorded videos, according to media buying agency Mediapolis. This is not good news for Channel 5 - Azad's Newsagents, Off-Licence and Video chain in Glasgow is a bigger media mogul and didn't cost pounds 300m to set up.

Yes, we all love everything advertisers do

Once upon a time it was only dictators, with their penchant for plebiscites, who looked for a 99 per cent yes vote. Now it is our media masters. ITV is touting a survey that shows 91 per cent of the population accepts the sponsorship of TV programmes by advertisers. Even sponsorship of children's programmes was found to be opposed by just 2 per cent - a handy finding for any upcoming discussions with the new Labour government about advertising to children.

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