Back Issues 17.03.06

MARCH 1981

Rupert sends a stinging missive

Rupert Murdoch wrote a stinging letter to Press Gazette in response to a speech by Simon Jenkins, which the magazine had reported the previous week. Murdoch blasted the speech as "both malicious and wildly inaccurate". He took Jenkins to task for misquoting News International and News Corps turnover figures. He concluded: "Mr Jenkins should check the facts on which he bases his damaging and ridiculous conclusions." Luckily for Jenkins, Murdoch did not hold a grudge against him. He was appointed editor of The Times in 1990.

Something for the weekend

A new free paper called The Weekender was launched in London by a team of ex-Evening News journalists. It was edited by Robin Esser and had an initial distribution of 500,000 via car parks, garages, Tube and mainline stations. Some of the big names signed up by the new weekly were: Anne de Courcy, women’s interest; Felix Barker, theatre; Patrick Stoddart, TV; Sue Baker, motoring; Reg Gutteridge, boxing; and William Hall, films. Esser said: "There has probably never been a time in recent Fleet Street history when one editor could assemble such a galaxy of talent."

Tiny takes over The Observer

In a shock for Fleet Street, it was announced that Tiny Rowland’s Lonrho was to take over The Observer from US owner Atlantic Richfield. It followed 15 months of secret negotiations. The sale was announced simultaneously in London and the US by Lonrho and Atlantic Richfield. Lonrho said it planned to use The Observer as a base to launch a new London paper to rival the Standard. Rowland expressed full faith in Observer editor Donald Trelford and said with Rupert Murdoch having taken charge at The Sunday Times, he would have a tough task ahead. "I like competition and so does Mr Murdoch, I am sure."

Snow takes top TV prize

Jon Snow, the current RTS journalist of the year, was a winner for ITN 25 years ago. Then he was RTS reporter of the year for a trio of stories, including reports from Afghanistan and Iran, and on the rescue of 23 passengers and crew from the Al Tanin, trapped in the Shatt al Arab during the Iran-Iraq war. Press Gazette said it was on the latter story that Snow donned a frogman’s suit to swim out to the ship with Iraqi commanders to bring the Britons safely ashore.

‘Opportunistic and totally inadequate’

Associated Newspapers’ attempt to take over the Bristol Evening Post Ltd was described as "opportunist and totally inadequate" by BEP chairman Andrew Breach. Associated’s bid valued BEP at £7.76 million, but before the takeover could go ahead, AN had to seek permission to rescind an earlier agreement that it would not attempt to acquire more shares in the Bristol company. Local MP Tony Benn said the BEP should not be sold without the consent of the staff. "Without their work, the Evening Post would not exist. They cannot be sold off to a new owner like a lot of cattle that go with a farm." Associated eventually took control of BEP and it became part of its Northcliffe regional newspaper arm.

Wilson set to launch Sunday Standard

The Sunday Standard, edited by Charles Wilson, was about to launch in Scotland with a £250,000 promotional budget. The Standard, published by Outram, was planning for an April launch.

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