News Corporation chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch was yesterday (Tuesday) reported to be in merger talks with French-based pay-TV group Canal Plus.

MindShare is preparing a major piece of research into the effects of TV inflation. The agency refuses to comment.

A cross-party group of MPs is to hold a public meeting this week in Westminster, when they will condemn ITV’s refusal to broadcast on digital satellite.

BBC chairman Sir Christopher Bland this week defended daytime chat shows’ place in the BBC schedule in a speech to the Royal Television Society. However, he emphasised that any kind of faking in factual programming is unacceptable following the revelations of fake guests on ‘Vanessa’.

GE Magazines is launching Garden Inspirations next month, a spin-off from its title Inspirations for your Home.

IPC’s Eileen Melville has been appointed group advertisement sales director of the SouthBank Publishing Group. She was previously advertisement director of the Country & Leisure Group’s titles and replaces Georgina Crace, who was promoted to director of ad sales for the whole of IPC.

John Ayling & Associates has been appointed to handle the media planning and buying for craft supermarket chain HobbyCraft.

EMAP Radio will be the radio sponsor of the National Centre for Popular Music in Sheffield, which opens on March 1.

The Daily Star’s ad manager, Andy Whelan, is leaving to join The Scotsman as display sales director. Chris Marston, group head on Express Newspapers’ magazines, is being promoted to take his place.

Juan Plata, former board account director at CIA Medianetwork, has joined online auction service Icollector as its senior global communications director.

The Financial Times is launching a nationwide poster campaign created by Delaney Fletcher Bozell with media through BJK &E. The campaign breaks on Monday and uses the strapline: ‘And you thought we were covering business.’

The Guardian is sponsoring the Jackson Pollock exhibition, which opens at the Tate Gallery on March 11.

The BBC was the second most disparaged company of 1998 after Newcastle United, according to media tracking company Press Watch.

Mirror Group has entered into a strategic partnership with Zip2, a provider of Internet platform solutions for media companies.

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