Media: The Word on the Street

Monday 21 June 1999 23:02

IT IS surprising that the BBC's star newsreaders Peter Sissons and Michael Buerk have not yet presented a news bulletin from Kosovo. Jon Snow has been there for Channel 4 News and James Naughtie delivered some memorable reports for the Radio 4 Today programme. Both Sissons and Buerk have apparently turned down the chance for the identical pragmatic reason. They were out of contract and while negotiating their new ones were not covered by Beeb insurance.

THE SUN presented its story about Boyzone star Stephen Gately's coming out as a positive cuddly thing it had done to help the lad out. The next day it had a photograph of some female fans holding the previous days' copy of The Sun. These female fans were in fact members of Channel 5's press office. They were marched by the channel's chief press officer Paul Leather into the street to pretend to adore The Sun. There is now more chance that one day The Sun might write about a Channel 5 programme. Not much chance, but more chance.

THE SUNDAY Times has already removed the definite article from its Culture section. Having thus acknowledged that its take on the arts and media is not necessarily unique, it could be about to retrench further. We hear that editor John Witherow is thinking of merging the weekly books supplement into the Culture section. If he goes ahead, it will be farewell to the only separate books section produced by a national newspaper (The Times Literary Supplement is a rather different animal). Perhaps the publishers who advocate separate books supplements have been less than generous in coming up with the advertising revenue.

DOES ANYONE else spot a gap in the logic of the BBC governors? The governors are reported as rejecting Alan Yentob as the next director general because he is too "disorganised". One governor is quoted as saying: "The man can't finish a sentence." Another, also anonymously, adds: "You cannot have someone in charge of a huge organisation who cannot stay focused on one idea long enough to say what's on his mind." But Mr Yentob is the corporation's director of television. Can one really do that job without being able to focus on an idea... or are the governors talking nonsense?

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