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The most powerful new media people in the UK

You'll never guess who comes top

The Guardian today has knocked out what it believes to be a list of the 100 most powerful people in the UK's media.

We won't run through the whole list - you can see it here if you want to know more. Instead, we'll just concentrate on new media folk.

Apart from the number one. Which is, of course, Rupert Murdoch, who seems to own half the world's media and terrify the other half into following his lead.

No, the first new media bod - at number two, no less - is our old friend Bill Gates. You know, the bloke from Microsoft. This seems a little exaggerated to us. Powerful he undoubtedly is, and able to move millions of pounds about according to his whim, but direct influence? We'd reckon him further down at five or six.

Next up is, unsurprisingly, Steve Case the chairman and CEO of AOL-Time Warner (in the online version of the list top AOL exec Gerald Levin is ranked along with him) who comes in at fourth most powerful person in the UK media. It's a little depressing that only one British person (Head of the BBC, Greg Dyke) makes it into the top four, but there you go.

According to the Guardian, Steve only takes a £280,000 salary. But then share options are going to help him out just a little. With what seems to be quickly becoming a stranglehold over commercial online material, this position is warranted. And then of course there's the takeover talks with top magazine publisher IPC.

You have to wait until number 23, Tom Glocer, for the next new media man. Tom is the chief exec of Reuters. With the increasing obsession for news to the second, inevitably boosted by the Net's speed, Reuters is onto a winner. It, and the Press Association, have become more than just the first port of call for news - they have often become the full story as Web sites try to pump out the news as it happens. Powerful indeed.

Just one below that, at 24, comes Sir Christopher Bland - the new chairman of BT. Despite BT being in dire straits, it still has a very important role to play in new media. If only it stops being so bloody obstructive. Sir Bland has made his overpowering influence on BT's decisions known in the past few months. If he wants it, it happens; if he doesn't, it doesn't.

Below him (25) comes Terry Leahy - the chief exec of Tesco. Bit of a funny choice this one. Yes, Tesco is building its own online brand, but how much real power does he have over the media? Not convinced.

Adam Singer, Telewest's chief exec, makes it to 32. A good choice. What we have here is a major player in the digital TV and cable markets. Now, if only people would buy the sets.

Chris Gent makes it to 43. The Vodafone top man could be here just thanks to his salary. Mobile companies do have an increasing influence on media, although it won't be realised until they get 3G networks working and two people bother to buy a phone.

Big drop to 70 until we come across head of Freeserve John Pluthero. Not quite what it was, Freeserve, but it is still the UK's biggest ISP so it does have a say in what goes on. For how long? All depends on John. Perhaps he'd like to actually say something useful once in a while.

And then we reach our last new media top 100 person: Ashley Highfield, the director of new media at the BBC. Ashley recently poked his head into the wider media by talking about the BBC charging for Web content in the future. It was little more than a ploy to open up discussions on how the BBC will be funded in the future, but gives a strong indication that Ashley is hoping to make himself a big name. The BBC site is undoubtedly the best in Britain, so there's no reason why he shouldn't pull it off.

And that's it. But what about the rest?

Well, having had a read through, we agree with nearly all the people, although not necessarily the placings. Also, apart from the inclusion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown at number nine, there are surprisingly few politicians. Mario Monti, the EU competition commissioner, is a rare exception at 30 - although with his recent determined approach, including the raid on the UK mobile operators, perhaps he should be higher.

Mobile phone execs are also largely excluded, except Chris Gent of Vodafone (see above). The editor-in-chief of the Economist Bill Emmott and editor of the Sunday Times John Witherow may both be somewhat annoyed at their 72 and 69 placings respectively. Although we suppose the list is meant to measure direct rather than indirect power.

And as much as we like Richard Curtis - the writer of most of the good British comedy in the last two decades and films like Four Weddings, Notting Hill etc - is he really the tenth most powerful person in the media? No way. ®

Related Link

The Guardian's top 100 list

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