Magazine article Marketing

Street-Fighting Woman

Magazine article Marketing

Street-Fighting Woman

Article excerpt

Janet Street-Porter, managing director of Mirror Group's new cable channel Live TV, isn't happy with the way the photo-session is going: the backdrop is boring, the camera too close and the photographer is attempting one of those up-the-nose shots which Street-Porter fears will make for yet another unflattering press picture.

What's more, she suffers from a bad back after a car accident years ago and the small-framed chair she's sitting on is causing considerable discomfort: "This is the chair I keep in my office for people I want to get rid of quickly," she says.

Don't I know it: this is the chair I've been sitting on for my 45-minute interview in Street-Porter's temporary office on the 29th floor of Canary Wharf Tower.

"We should go down to the Live studios, we'd get a much better picture down there," commands Street-Porter, in the assertive tones that have made her as powerful a personality in front of the camera as she is behind it.

Eventually, the flustered photographer relents and Street-Porter happily overruns the allotted ten-minute photo-shoot: anything for a good picture. We shouldn't be surprised at her directorial control. After all, Street-Porter, has carved out one of the most successful careers in British broadcasting and is used to getting just what she wants.

Over the last 20 years, she's gained a well-deserved reputation as one of the country's strongest television-makers across a range of programming, from Network 7 (BAFTA-winner for originality) through to BBC2's modern-day opera The Vampyr (winner of a prestigious Prix Italia award) and scores of mainstream productions for all four terrestrial channels.

As head of youth programming at the corporation, she was responsible for the Def II format and developed a raft of successful programmes to pull in younger audiences, including the Rough Guides series, Reportage and Rapido. After a year she was also put in charge of entertainment features and oversaw the production of ratings-boosters like The Full Wax, Masterchef Red Dwarf and The Travel Show.

New boss David Montgomery hopes she can work the same magic for Mirror Group's Live TV, Britain's first live cable channel which launches in ten day's time.

Live's celebrity-driven rolling format will cut from outside events to the studio in Canary Wharf, in programming 'blocks' offering distinct output for different times of day: "If it's big and it's happening, we'll be there," says Street-Porter, who describes it as "the factual equivalent of MTV".

Coca-Cola, NatWest and McDonald's are among the 40 blue-chip advertisers reported to have given it the thumbs-up.

Street-Porter has a two-year contract, an undisclosed salary. ("I'm not telling you that") and a free hand to make the new station a success. She wields [pounds]30m-worth of funding, a 200-strong team, a state-of-the-art studio and three outside broadcast units.

Yet she has also gained a reputation as a belligerent and egocentric woman, who believes she is always right. If a recent article in The Sunday Times is to be believed, Street-Porter should enjoy life in the Live TV hot seat while she can. Last month, the paper reported that Street-Porter, David Montgomery and former Sun editor Kelvin McKenzie, now managing director of Mirror Television, were already at each others' throats. The trio of mega-egos was heading for an almighty bust-up: Street-Porter's days at Live TV were numbered, the paper claimed. …

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