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

MEDIA NEWS

Regulation, regulation, regulation

In a letter sent to The Telegraph, the bosses of BBC, Sky, ITV and Channel 4 have jointly expressed the ‘urgent need’ for an independent watchdog to regulate Facebook, Google and Twitter. They call for independent oversight, similar to which they are subject to, in order to help stop the spread of fake news and protect children, explaining: ‘This is not about censoring the internet, it is about making the most popular internet platforms safer, by ensuring there is accountability and transparency.’ The letter comes at a time when there is widespread commercial concern among domestic broadcasters that international giants such as Google and Facebook are competing for audiences and advertising at an unfair advantage.

Heralding a new paper

Scotland’s Sunday Herald has published its last edition and is to be replaced by the new Herald on Sunday. The Sunday Herald was the first newspaper to back Scottish independence in the 2014 referendum and enjoyed a 35% year-on-year increase in circulation during the second half of 2014. This was, however, short lived with circulation figures falling again after the referendum. The last edition featured a souvenir cover and included an article penned by Nicola Sturgeon in which she celebrated the paper for adding a ‘distinctive voice to Scotland’s national life’. The new paper, Herald on Sunday, is to maintain a neutral stance towards the independence debate.

All change

The BBC marked the end of Parliament’s recess with a new political discussion programme as Politics Live replaces the long-running Daily Politics. Jo Coburn, previously of Daily Politics, will now host the new show four days a week, while Andrew Neil, her former co-host, will host an extended edition once a week centred around PMQs. The first episode received some backlash as it featured Emily Thornberry and Amber Rudd alongside Laura Kuenssberg, Anushka Asthana and Camilla Tominey in an all-female panel. The editor, Rob Burley, rejected claims it was a stunt saying the all-female panel was simply the result of booking the best guests available and that he had ‘zero shame’. Meanwhile, the BBC’s principal political programmes no longer have their own Twitter feeds. The Andrew Marr Show, Daily Politics (now Politics Live), and Westminster Hour have seen their Twitter accounts condensed into a single BBC Politics account, @BBCPolitics.

Locked up

Two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were sentenced on Monday to seven years in jail for breaking a colonial-era law on state secrets after their arrest in December. They were investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya men by state security forces at the time. The ruling has been met with outrage by the international community and is viewed as a serious infringement on press freedom with condemnations from the UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet and the UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Securely in top spot

The BBC has announced that Bodyguard is the most successful British TV drama in a decade. 6.8 million members of the public tuned in to watch the first episode, and that figure was then increased by 50% thanks to iPlayer, time-shifted viewings or recordings. The Bodyguard was particularly strong with the notoriously ‘hard-to-reach’ 16-34-year-olds, drawing in 1.2 million viewers from this sector alone.

CONVERSATION OF THE WEEK

MEDIA MOVES

Sky News has announced that Kay Burley, who was named Broadcast Journalist of the Year by the London Press Club, will host a new show covering ‘quirky offbeat’ stories. The move is reportedly an attempt to give the network ‘more personality’.

Dan Bloom has been appointed Online Political Editor at The Daily Mirror.

Andrew Gregory is joining The Sunday Times as Health Editor. He leaves The Mirror after 12 years at the paper.

David Crow is moving to London to become the Financial Times’ Banking Editor. He currently writes for the FT as a US Business Correspondent.

Immediate Media has bought the BBC Good Food brand making it the UK’s largest food media publisher. Immediate purchased the brand, including the bbcgoodfood.com domain, magazine and live event rights, from BBC Studios, the commercial arm of the broadcaster.

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