Pestowire: Cometh the hour, cometh the man with lyrical cadences

The deification of BBC business editor Robert Peston proceeds apace. The blogosphere and the national press seem united in their admiration for the BBC’s business editor.

Likewise Mark Thompson. The BBC’s director-general singled out Peston for personal praise in an email sent around the Corporation this week.

Elsewhere, the Indy found itself suggesting that Peston has become the journalist on whom Britons rely for explanations of the current crisis. (Myself, I rather like The Indy’s battle-hardened Jeremy Warner, but that’s another story. . .)

At the Guardian, Penny Anderson shares her conviction that Peston possesses a contacts book that “must make his contemporaries weep scalding tears of pointless envy”.

Indeed, Anderson sounds rather beguiled by this “amazing” and “astonishing” man. This has something to do with the “lyrical cadences” which suggest that Peston might “break into song at any moment (probably something from Oklahoma)”.

Meanwhile, Broadcast quotes BBC economics and business unit editor Jeremy Hillman on Peston’s exclusive prediction — on 17 September — that Lloyds TSB was about to make a rescue bid for HBOS:

“as he spoke live we could immediately see the markets move and HBOS shares start to climb”.

As it happens, readers of FT Alphaville weren’t too pleased with that exclusive. The suspicion was that a government source leaked the news to Peston in an effort to stabilize the markets at the start of what promised to be a catastrophic day.

The intention might have been benign, but laws about the handling of price-sensitive information insist that it must be released simultaneously to all market participants — through the Regulatory News Service.

Under any other circumstances, a banker leaking the news of the Lloyds-HBOS deal to Peston would have risked prosecution.

To put it mildly, City traders didn’t enjoy being cut out of the loop. In the wake of Peston’s exclusive, Alphaville has taken to poking fun at the BBC business editor (and his blog, which has been christened Pestowire).

Here, for example, is what Murphy and Hume had to say yesterday about Sky’s effort to stand up a story suggesting that the Lloyds-HBOS deal is doomed:

PM: they are in competition with Pestowire

PM: a domestic newsservice focused primarily on the UK banking sector.

PM: biggest shareholder HM Treasury

PM: reports on Pestowire can be up to 4hrs ahead of official statements from the UK banking industry

PM: its v impressive

PM: Pestowire is broadcast from a bedroom in Muswell Hill, using an ISDN line

PM: Contact the BBC for more details

NH: just checked Pestowire

NH: nothing on the terms being renegotiated – yet…..

Just in case the underlying critique wasn’t totally clear, Murphy and Hume returned to the fray this morning, describing Pestowire as “the government’s official news service”. . .

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