Media News and Media Moves – January 27th 2020
Welcome to Lexington’s weekly round-up of media news and the latest moves in journalism.
Social Media Online Harms
The ICO, the independent authority that upholds information rights in the public interest, has on Tuesday published the final Age Appropriate Design Code, detailing a set of 15 standards that online services should meet to protect children’s privacy. The code will require digital services to automatically provide children with a built-in baseline of data protection, privacy settings, and minimised data gathering and profiling. Social media firms like Facebook and Google will be legally required to protect children from harmful content under the first ever code to police the internet. The Government-backed rules will bar tech giants from serving children content that is “detrimental to their physical or mental health or well-being”.
The code will be enforced by fines of potentially billions of pounds, designed to safeguard children’s privacy, curb addictive features and restrict the use of personal information for commercial ends. The code is due to be passed by Parliament by this summer after which firms will have a year’s grace to prepare for it, and is anticipated to be followed by duty of care laws giving a regular powers to bring criminal sanctions.
Victoria Derbyshire’s Bafta-winning BBC 2 show will be axed as part of a cost-cutting drive. The Guardian revealed the decision was announced to staff “out of the blue” on Wednesday, but that management had been unable to give them a date for the final broadcast, nor offer clear details of possible redundancies. The presenter tweeted that she first learned about the decision to cut her programme in Wednesday’s edition of The Times, and that she was “absolutely devastated” at the revelation and “unbelievably proud” of the team breaking tonnes of original stories and attracting a working class, young, diverse audience that BBC radio and TV news programmes don’t reach.
New Year, New Editor
The Sunday Times has appointed Emma Tucker, the current deputy editor of The Times, as its first female editor in more than a century. The first (and previous) female editor of The Sunday Times was Rachel Beer, who held the post between 1893 and 1901. Tucker will replace Martin Ivens.
The Sunday Times reported a circulation of 648,812 in December, including 50,808 bulk copies, a 9% year-on-year fall.
Looking after your own
Boris Johnson is set to appoint a Daily Mail Westminster Lobby journalist as his new political press secretary. Jack Doyle will be working alongside the Prime Minister’s civil service spokesman James Slack, also a former hack at the tabloid, reports Politico. That means Johnson’s two main spokespeople are also the two men who spent most of the last decade writing Paul Dacre’s leader columns in the Mail. Doyle has been lined up as the first key appointment ahead of a cabinet reshuffle after the UK leaves the EU on January 31.
Dominic Cummings think tank called for ‘end of BBC in current form’
Boris Johnson may like journalists, but Dominic Cummings doesn’t. This week the Guardian revealed that in 2004, Cummings’ think tank, the New Frontiers Foundation, called for the “end of the BBC in its current form”. Boris Johnson’s most senior adviser suggested “rightwingers” should work to undermine the credibility of the broadcaster, branding it the “mortal enemy” of the Conservative Party. Cummings called for a campaign to target the BBC and create a Fox News equivalent that would not be constrained by impartiality rules.
The think tank also suggested an end to the ban on TV political advertising to allow politicians to speak directly to the public in ad breaks during Coronation Street, for example, and the “development of the web networks scrutinising the BBC and providing information to commercial rivals with an interest in undermining the BBC’s credibility”. Opposition MPs said on Tuesday that the views of Cummings’s think tank would fuel suspicions that Johnson’s administration is gearing up to overhaul the BBC.
DMGT investigated by Ofcom
Culture Secretary Baroness Morgan has issued a Public Interest Intervention Notice (“PIIN”) over the Daily Mail General Trust’s acquisition of the ‘i’ newspaper. Nicky Morgan has asked Ofcom to report by 13 March on any public interest concerns around the papers being all owned by the same billionaires. Rules state that there should be ‘sufficient plurality of views in newspapers in each market for newspapers in the United Kingdom’. Ofcom has published a guidance note setting out the process and timetable for preparing the report on the public interest considerations set out by the Secretary of State.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
The nation’s favourite chart-topping political podcast, Brexitcast, announce the launch of Newscast coming soon…
NEWSCAST coming soon! #Brexitcast was originally #Electioncast so our lovely listeners are used to a bit of change. We’ll still talk about Brexit of course and lots more besides. And we’ll still be on @BBCOne on Thursday nights. The gang take up the story… pic.twitter.com/5Al96CRxih
— Dino Sofos (@dinosofos) January 24, 2020
Benjamin Kentish has now started as a Westminster Correspondent for LBC. He was previously a Political Correspondent for The Independent. LBC is due to open its new Westminster studio imminently. The radio station has increasingly drawn in more listeners in recent years, with Nick Ferrari’s breakfast show reaching an average 1.3 million people each day.
Natalie Powell is now a TV Reporter with Reuters TV, based in London.
Roula Khalaf and Patrick Jenkins have both started as the Financial Times’ Editor and Deputy Editor respectively.
Eleanor Halls has been appointed Assistant Culture Editor at The Daily Telegraph, following the recent departure of Alice Vincent. Eleanor will be overseeing music, film, TV and related topics for the title.
Harry Wise has joined Mail Online as a Reporter for This is Money, writing mainly about company results and also covering think tank reports and financial stories with a political angle.
Alexandra Pollard has been appointed Deputy Culture Editor at The Independent.