Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

In the Air

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

In the Air

Article excerpt

. SPECULATION that Tory backbencher John Whittingdale will succeed Gerald Kaufman as chairman of the Commons culture committee is not going down well at the Beeb. The corporation would prefer a less combative candidate, such as Labour MP and ex-BBC man Chris Bryant.

Whittingdale is a vehement critic of the Beeb, not least its licence fee.

At a time when the BBC is gearing up for charter renewal, Westminster could scarcely choose a spikier character for the influential post. Whittingdale, a former shadow culture secretary, could hold the job for the next two parliaments - almost a decade. Sources expect Whittingdale's appointment to be approved next week.

. ANXIOUS times for Observer editor Roger Alton (left), who is waiting to see who will volunteer for redundancy by the deadline at the end of this week. The management, which needs to axe 15 staff on the loss-making paper, was forced to improve its initial redundancy package after protests from the NUJ. The new offer, which was accepted last Friday, means staff will get a minimum of six months' pay. In a sign of what may be to come, the terms will also apply to anyone who is involuntarily made redundant.

"A handful have expressed interest," says our source, "but I wouldn't say there's a rush for the exit." Alton, who's been in the chair since 1998, is the second-longest serving Sunday national newspaper editor. What odds on Alton beating Donald Trelford's 18-year stint?

. WORD on the vacant deputy editorship of The Daily Telegraph is that managing editor Sue Ryan is radiating confidence - to the chagrin of some rival executives.

Ryan, who has recently been wheeling Bill Deedes round the Second World War battlefields of Europe, was once the boss of editor Martin Newland.

Perhaps the headhunters hired to look for an external candidate won't be earning their fee after all. …

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