Bill Gates' grip on UK media 'is slipping'

The latest chart of the UK's heftiest movers and shakers shows that a resurgent Apple has put Steve Jobs right behind Microsoft's top man
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Steve Jobs is threatening Bill Gates' position as the new media mogul with the greatest influence over the UK's media landscape.

This year's MediaGuardian 100 -- an authoritative guide to the most powerful players in Britain's media industry -- ranks Jobs at 13th, just one place behind the Microsoft supremo.

The Guardian credited the Apple chief executive with two recent achievements that the newspaper believes will help the company he created almost 30 years ago to dominate the online world. These are the creation of the iPod MP3 player, and the launch of the iTunes Music Store -- which allows Web users to legally download song tracks and albums from the Internet.

For Gates, though, the list suggests that his powers are waning, following Microsoft's stuttering efforts to achieve dominance in areas such as cable TV and gaming. The company recently sold its stake in Telewest for a loss of £1.58bn, while the Xbox still lags behind Sony's PlayStation2 despite racking up heavy losses in an attempt to improve take-up.

Twelfth place is a two-place drop on last year's 10th, which itself marked a decline from the heady days of 2001 when Gates was second only to Rupert Murdoch.

This year's list also saw BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland rise one place to 5th, on the back of the telco's improved financial position and the ongoing broadband boom.

Another new media player in the list, which was topped by BBC director general Greg Dyke, was Nikki Hemming. Hemming is the chief executive of Sharman Networks which owns controversial peer-to-peer file-trading service Kazaa, and the ongoing war between Sharman and the music industry looks set to define the legality of certain online businesses.

In addition, the 2003 MediaGuardian 100 included John Pluthero (66th, up from 71st in 2002), founder of Freeserve and now chief executive of Energis, and NTL chief executive Barclay Knapp (60th, down from 49th in 2002).

The Guardian also saw fit to recognise the growth in Web logging (usually referred to as "blogging") by awarding 94th place on the list to "a blogger", on the grounds that blogging has become "a unique news source for millions of Web users across the globe."

Third on the list was Lord Currie, the chairman of Ofcom, which will replace five existing regulators including Oftel and the Radiocommunications Agency. Lord Currie will soon be facing tricky issues such as the rollout of broadband, and the management of spectrum.

Membership of the MediaGuardian 100 was decided by a panel of eight media experts, including Lord Ali, broadcaster Mark Lawson and Emily Bell, editor-in-chief of Guardian Unlimited.

Read the full list here.

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