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Channel 4 News: BSkyB deal explained, Jeremy Hunt grilled

March 3rd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Business

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt today cleared the way for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation to purchase the 61 per cent of BSkyB it does not already own, for around £8 billion. As part of the deal, Sky News will be spun off to an ‘independent’ company.

Here, Channel 4 News picks over the details of the deal and grills the culture secretary over the issue of media plurality, which many believe to be under threat.

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Telegraph: Sky News to be ‘hived off’ into independent trust

March 2nd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

The Telegraph has reported that it understands that it is to be proposed that Sky News is ‘hived off’ into an independent trust as part of News Corporation’s efforts to assure Ofcom that its bid for full ownership of BSkyB will not reduce media plurality.

In January culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that he had delayed his decision over whether to refer News Corporation’s BSkyB bid to the Competition Commission, as advised by Ofcom, in order to hear further “undertakings” from the company.

According to the Telegraph’s report the soon-to-be proposed independent trust would be funded by News Corp  in the long-term.

Essentially, the arrangement will see Mr Murdoch’s News Corporation cede control of Sky News.

Government sources said yesterday that Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, has not yet made his decision, as he is waiting to receive the submissions from the OFT and Ofcom.

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Let the expenses data war commence: Telegraph begins its document drip feed

Andy Dickinson from the Department of Journalism at UCLAN sums up today’s announcement in this tweet: ‘Telegraph to drip-publish MP expenses online’.

[Update #1: Editor of Telegraph.co.uk, Marcus Warren, responded like this: 'Drip-publish? The whole cabinet at once....that's a minor flood, I think']

Yes, let the data war commence. The Guardian yesterday released its ‘major crowdsourcing tool’ as reported by Journalism.co.uk at this link. As described by one of its developers, Simon Willison, on his own blog, the Guardian is ‘crowdsourcing the analysis of the 700,000+ scanned [official] MP expenses documents’. It’s the Guardian’s ‘first live Django-powered application’. It’s also the first time the news site has hosted something on Amazon EC2, he says. Within 90 minutes of launch, 1700 users had ‘audited’ its data, reported the editor of Guardian.co.uk, Janine Gibson.

The Telegraph was keeping mum, save a few teasing tweets from Telegraph.co.uk editor Marcus Warren. A version of its ‘uncensored’ data was coming, but they would not say what and how much.

Now we know a bit more. As well as printing its data in a print supplement with Saturday’s newspaper they will gradually release the information online. As yet, copies of claim forms have been published using Issuu software, underneath each cabinet member’s name. See David Miliband’s 2005-6 expenses here, for example. From the Telegraph’s announcement:

  • Complete records of expense claims made by every Cabinet minister have been published by The Telegraph for the first time.”
  • “In the coming weeks the expense claims of every MP, searchable by name and constituency, will be published on this website.”
  • “There will be weekly releases region by region and a full schedule will be published on Tuesday.”
  • “Tomorrow [Saturday], the Daily Telegraph will publish a comprehensive 68-page supplement setting out a summary of the claims of every sitting MP.”

Details of what’s included but not included in the official data at this link.  “Sensitive information, such as precise home addresses, phone numbers and bank account details, has been removed from the files by the Telegraph’s expenses investigation team,” the Telegraph reports.

So who is winning in the data wars? Here’s what Paul Bradshaw had to say earlier this morning:

“We may see more stories, we may see interesting mashups, and this will give The Guardian an edge over the newspaper that bought the unredacted data – The Telegraph. When – or if – they release their data online, you can only hope the two sets of data will be easy to merge.”

Update #2: Finally, Martin Belam’s post on open and closed journalism (published Thursday 18th) ended like this:

“I think the Telegraph’s bunkered attitude to their scoop, and their insistence that they alone determined what was ‘in the public interest’ from the documents is a marked contrast to the approach taken by The Guardian. The Telegraph are physically publishing a selection of their data on Saturday, but there is, as yet, no sign of it being made online in machine readable format.

“Both are news organisations passionately committed to what they do, and both have a strategy that they believe will deliver their digital future. As I say, I have a massive admiration for the scoop that The Telegraph pulled off, and I’m a strong believer in media plurality. As we endlessly debate ‘the future of news™’ I think both approaches have a role to play in our media landscape. I don’t expect this to be the last time we end up debating the pros and cons of the ‘closed’ and ‘open’ approaches to data driven journalism.”

It has provoked an interesting comment from Ian Douglas, the Telegraph’s head of digital production.

“I think you’re missing the fundamental difference in source material. No publisher would have released the completely unredacted scans for crowdsourced investigation, there was far too much on there that could never be considered as being in the public interest and could be damaging to private individuals (contact details of people who work for the MPs, for example, or suppliers). The Guardian, good as their project is, is working solely with government-approved information.”

“Perhaps you’ll change your mind when you see the cabinet expenses in full on the Telegraph website today [Friday], and other resources to come.”

Related Journalism.co.uk links:

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Jeremy Dear responds to regional media/BBC Local row

October 27th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism

Following coverage of last week’s comments by National Union of Journalists (NUJ) chief Jeremy Dear, about his bemusement with the regional press’ opposition to the BBC’s proposals to extend local video offerings online, the general secretary has responded, saying that there’s ‘room for everyone’ in the regional market.

“My point is that the local newspapers campaign is for their own vested interests – they don’t care about ensuring local people have a variety of sources of news, comment and entertainment. They want to be able to capture the market themselves. I fully support the newspapers’ expansion in to online media and I hope they capture a significant part of the audience – but it has to be done through quality content, with enough staff and resources to win ‘eyeballs’ not by stopping the licence fee payer being able to access BBC local services,” he writes in a blog post.

Dear adds that he has replied to a letter from Trinity Mirror’s director of corporate communications about his remarks, but is yet to receive a response:

“I simply asked him the question that if we believe in media plurality and we accept that commercial local TV and radio can exist alongside the BBC what is so different about online?”

Regional newspaper publishers have previously told Journalism.co.uk that ‘enough staff and resources to win “eyeballs”‘ would be a much easier prospect if a £68 million, five-year investment plan was available.

The final decision on the plans is fast approaching – it’s scheduled for February 25 2009 – and perhaps now is the time for the regional press to ask themselves what can be done if their opposition fails.

Is there potential for collaboration with the BBC online, and could this drive further innovation by regional titles online in response to the competition? Or will approval of the scheme lead to a reduction in online investment by the regional media?

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