This week's media round-up sees Chris Boffey examine Fleet Street's media strategy ahead of the Scottish independence referendum; the launch of Ipso and the beginning of a new era in press regulation; Viacom upsetting BSkyB and Channel 4 ahead of its Channel 5 takeover later this month; a 23-country-wide report from Ericsson on TV consumption; and the latest developments in criminal phone-hacking cases.
Fleet Street and indyref
This week’s media coverage is unsurprisingly dominated by the Scottish independence referendum which takes place on 18 September. A Sunday Times-commissioned YouGov poll put Yes ahead for the first time throughout the campaign, and the news has led to a Westminster assault in order to save the union. However, according to former Observer and Sunday Telegraph news editor Chris Boffey – a one-time adviser to the Labour government – the Better Together strategy of “demonising” SNP leader Alex Salmond has played right into the hands of the Scottish nationalists.
Boffey predicts the indyref hysteria in the UK will continue to ramp up ahead of the big vote, and with the world’s media getting ready to make their trips to Scotland, we can expect major international media eyes on the UK over the next fortnight.
Hello Ipso, goodbye PCC
It’s been another big week for press regulation with the launch of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso). Replacing the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), Ipso has the backing of the country’s main national publishers.
That’s all except the Guardian and the Independent. Following a meeting of the Scott Trust, the Guardian – whose journalist Nick Davies broke the story of the phone-hacking scandal which ultimately led to the unravelling of the illegal culture – has decided to stay out of Ipso for now and regulate internally.
Independent managing director Andrew Mullins, on the other hand, told The Drum that there aren’t any issues that can’t be worked out between the Independent and Ipso, but said talks are still ongoing. It’s a ‘not yet’ from the Independent. The Financial Times declared in April that it would go its own way on press regulation.
Meanwhile, press reform campaign group Hacked Off branded Ipso a "sham" and hand-delivered a letter to the organisation signed by victims of press intrustion who say it does not meet Leveson standards.
For many, the press regulation conversation has descended into such argument and detail that even a general knowledge of what’s going on and who’s who has become a chore to keep on top of. For a bit more of a breakdown, The Drum’s James Doleman took a look at the Ipso story in a more digestible form.
Viacom upsets BSkyB and Channel 4
As Viacom prepares to finalise its takeover of Channel 5 later this month, the company confirmed that the channel’s sales business will be retained in-house. The news is a blow for BskyB – which already handles sales for other Viacom channels such as Comedy Central – and Channel 4, which was also expected to make a bid.
The news comes amid a curious decision by Omnicom recently to pull all of its media spend – that’s £30m worth – from Channel 5 for the remainder of the year and divert instead to ITV. According to the Telegraph’s sources, the move came as a result of Channel 5 trying to push up its revenues before the sale by Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell. However, sources close to Channel 5 say the broadcaster is furious at the decision – apparently made without consultation – and it was bad management at Omnicom and over commitment to ITV which forced the agency into the move.
The decision means that brands such as McDonald’s, Boots, Hasbro and Warner Bros have lost advertising slots on Channel 5, which is growing audience share. The Drum understands an internal email went around Channel 5 last week congratulating staff on overtaking Channel 4’s audience share for the first time.
TV streaming catches up with linear viewing
Last week saw the release of Ericsson’s Consumer Lab TV Media report, which gathered some juicy stats from a survey of 23,000 people in 23 countries. It found that TV streaming has caught up with linear TV viewing significantly with 75 per cent of consumers now watching streamed content several times a week next to 77 per cent watching scheduled broadcast TV several times a week.
For marketers, attitudes towards advertising did not bode well with more than half of respondesnts saying removing adverts from their content was “very important”. Nearly 30 per cent say they wanted rid of them all together, while many at least wanted an opt in or out choice.
Phone-hacking prosecutions go on
If you thought the trial of Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks and co marked the end of the phone-hacking prosecutions, you were wrong. It may not prompt the media frenzy of Coulson and Brooks but there is more to come in the courts. This week saw former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis and ex-features editor Jules Stenson in court for a hearing, at which they were told to expect to stand trial next June over phone-hacking.