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Motoring Devil's Work The Lily White Boys On the Beat Mr. Dooley Mahatma Gandhi Congested Magistrate? Courts Dissent Derek Hoddinott Kenneth MacGo wan Andor Gomme John Long David Dimbleby Joseph Needham P. Levy, W. K. Holmes Daphne Slee Dr. S. C. Dyke Ian Le Maistre J. P. Eddy Mervyn Jones
FAIR COMMENT SIR.—It is regrettable that Bernard Levin, in last Week's Spectator, should set himself up to reverse the decision of the Press Council when he is only in Possession of part of the evidence on which its judgment was passed.
Under the circumstances it is not surprising that he does not agree with the Council's findings.
Mr. Levin states that I should have been very well aware that Mr. Black was a considerable advertiser in The Stage. What is Mr. Levin's idea of 'considerable'? Mr. Black's advertising was occasional and on a modest scale, averaging about £50 a year. Does Mr. Levin really think that Mr. Black could exert such pressure nn the strength of this expenditure, even were we inclined to yield to it? No, Mr. Black's threat, made in the heat of the moment, was a hollow one, as he frankly admitted to the Press Council. Of course, Mr. Levin did not know this and it clearly shows that a Phone call, such as the one I received at my printers nn Wednesday, does not ensure fair comment. My story does not make such good copy as the one wir. Levin has constructed from the report and not from the evidence. 1 had been placed in a false posi- tion, but the Press Council found it quite conceivable that I acted sincerely in reinstating Mr. Bergman as Soon as 1 was made owner of the full facts.
, If Mr. Levin really wanted to find the truth he could have looked at my paper to see whether my policy Was as he suggested. If he had done so he would have seen that his charge, that I am a disgrace to my pro- fession and would rather sack a contributor than criticise an advertiser, just does not stand up.
Outspoken comment is an outstanding feature of Television Today, and I suggest that 95 per cent, of the entertainment world knows it I could show him dozens of cases where my criticism has extended to advertisers including TV contractors.
As to Mr. Levin's final jibe, 1 do not suggest that We were overgenerous to Mr. Bergman. However, "I staggered at the gross inaccuracy of the figures 4"ted• What Mr. Levin describes as 'average' weekly raYment for Mr. Bergman's articles was, in fact, the °west Payment made for any one week, for a con- tribution of a comparatively few lines. I could quote another week on which he received twelve times this amount. Mr. Bergman only contributed to five issues in the period under discussion and his average pay- 'Tient was four times the figure mentioned.—Yours faithfully,
Editor. Television Today 19-21 Tavistock Street, London, WC2
[Bernard Levin writes: `Mr. Hoddinott, not sur- Prisingly, ignores my main charge. He writes as if I accused him of dismissing Mr. Bergman because of advertiser's pressure, whereas what I was at pains to point out was that, even if advertising had nothing to do with it, he must have very odd ideas of the duties of an Editor if he dimisses a critic not because he had overstepped the limit of fair criticism, but because—as he admitted to Mr. Bergman—the dismis- sal was "to restore better relations with the particular contractor." (It should be remembered that Mr. Berg- man's articles in The Stage and Television Today were certainly not prejudiced and unfavourable; they were, in fact, as my quotations from them indicated, the very reverse.) I do, incidentally, read Television Today, and if outspoken comment is an outstanding feature of it I can only say that it doesn't stand out very far. As for the question of the fees paid to Mr. Bergman, I am sorry to have got them wrong; Mr. Bergman, it appears, was paid at the princely rate of 18s. 8d. per week. (An error in my article which Mr. Hoddinott has missed, by the way, was mine, not Mr. Bergman's; This Wonderful World is not a BBC programme, but an STV one.) Incidentally, Mr. Hod- dinott did not "reinstate" Mr. Bergman; he offered to reinstate him, after he knew that the Press Council were investigating the matter; but Mr. Bergman understandably refused reinstatement.
'Finally, Mr. Hoddinott should address himself to this question : if he is so convinced of the soundness of his position and of his "vindication" by the Press Council, why has he refused to allow any mention of the case to appear in his paper?'—Editor, Spectator.]