Welcome to Lexington’s weekly round-up of media news and the latest moves in journalism.


Just 5 more minutes mum!

Half of 10-year-olds own their own smartphone now, according to the latest report from Ofcom. Children and parents: media use and attitudes found that a quarter of 5-15-year olds do not watch live broadcast TV at all and viewing of video-on-demand has doubled over the last five years. Newer social media platforms such as TikTok and Twitch are gaining popularity too. TikTok, a video-sharing social networking site, is used by 13% of 12- to 15-year olds – up from 8% in 2018. While Twitch, a live streaming platform for online gamers, is used by 5%. Girl gamers are also on the increase – almost half of girls aged 5-15 now play games online – up from 39% in 2018.

YouTube remains a firm favourite, albeit there appears to be a shift in the types of vloggers that appeal most to children. Local, small-scale relatable people with a shared interest are increasingly popular alongside high profile or ‘celebrity’ influencers. Children are also becoming more socially conscious online and are more likely to support organisations or causes than ever before by sharing or commenting on posts.

Children are becoming savvier in some aspects of their media use; compared to 2018 children are more likely to be aware of vlogger endorsement. However, the majority of children still don’t understand how search engines like Google work or have the ability to recognise advertising on these sites.


Hitting the right notes

The BBC’s flagship radio news show, the Today programme, gained 500,000 extra listeners in the final quarter of 2019, official figures revealed on Thursday, likely aided by public interest in the election campaign. The Guardian reported that Today’s audience had risen to a whopping 7.2 million people a week by the end of last year.

That’s despite a ministerial boycott of the show since the election. It’s notable that even the traditionally BBC-sceptic Daily Mail is now criticizing Downing Street’s boycott, which has continued through a terrorist attack in London, a global virus emergency and a seismic long-term infrastructure decision on Huawei.

Commercial beneficiaries of changing listener habits include talk radio station LBC, which now reaches 2.7 million listeners a week and Absolute Radio, which has grown the audience its network of stations playing different music from every decade from the 1960s to the 2000s.

This comes the same week as the classical music station BBC Radio 3 has recorded its joint highest audience share since records began, as listeners weary of politics take refuge in Brahms and Bach. The BBC station reached 2.13 million listeners a week in the last quarter, up 16% on the same period for the previous year.


Axe the Reading Tax

Tory MP for Delyn, Rob Roberts has last week delivered a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid ahead of the March Budget reveal, asking him to remove VAT from electronic publications to make reading materials more accessible. The campaign is calling for the removal of the 20% VAT on all digital publications including e-books and audiobooks, arguing that the system requires modernising since when previous legislation was proposed, e-readers did not exist. 18 other MPs from across the House including DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight added their names in support.

Subject to status, over-18s only, terms and conditions apply…

The bewildering lists of caveats delivered by fast-speaking voiceover artists at the end of radio adverts will soon be a thing of the past after regulators ruled them unnecessary. Radiocentre, the body that represents commercial stations, welcomed the news that the Financial Conduct Authority is to update guidance that ensures financial promotions for motors brands on radio are clear, fair and not misleading.  In some cases, the terms and conditions (T&Cs) at the end of commercials can take nearly as long as the ad itself, as companies pursue a belt-and-braces approach to compliance.

Lengthy T&Cs are estimated to cost the UK’s commercial radio industry £120 million a year in lost revenue, as they discourage some firms from advertising on radio at all.



The Private Eye podcast, Page 94, is back. The podcast, which has been on hiatus since July last year, is hosted by QI scriptwriter Andrew Hunter Murray. This month, journalists Richard Brooks and Nick Wallis reveal the extraordinary twenty-year scandal that has been dogging the Post Office.


Tony Gallagher appointed Deputy Editor of The Times.

Ben Chu has resumed his position as Economics Editor at The Independent.

Kaya Burgess, Health and Religious Affairs Correspondent, is on parental leave from The Times for three months.

Victoria Newton has been appointed Editor-in-Chief at The Sun, succeeding Tony Gallagher.

The i paper has hired Madeleine Cuff as an Environment Reporter.

Bloomberg News has appointed Suzi Ring as a Healthcare Reporter.

Harriet Sinclair has joined The Independent as an Assistant News Editor.

David Schultz has been appointed Audio Producer for Bloomberg. David will be hosting and producing podcasts on the environment, tax, government and law.

Gordon Thomson is now Editor of the Daily Mail’s Mail+ Briefings website. He was previously Editor of the Mail on Sunday’s Event magazine.

Robbie Mann has joined The Sun as a Digital News Reporter.

Ben Woods is to leave The Sunday Times at the end of this week. Ben will be going freelance before starting a new job. He is currently a Business Correspondent covering Tech, Media and Telecoms.

Jack Richardson started this week as a Reporter at CityAM. He will be covering transport, infrastructure, aviation, automotive, government procurement and outsourcing.

Darryl Murphy has been appointed Westminster News Editor at Channel 4.