Anorak News | Richard Desmond’s Health Lottery Drives Prudes Up Walls And Undermines His Editors

Richard Desmond’s Health Lottery Drives Prudes Up Walls And Undermines His Editors

by | 3rd, October 2011

RICHARD Desmond’s Health Lottery is on the cover of Richard Desmond’s Daily Star and Daily Express. In both places the wonder is illustrated by a photo of a smiling Simon Cowell:

Cowell’s health lotto frenzy – He snaps up 5,000 tickets – Daily Star

Why I’m backing the New Health Lottery – Daily Express

The Express’s Giles Sheldrick is on message:

SIMON Cowell has a knack for spotting a winner and last night The X Factor creator backed The Health Lottery to transform the lives of millions of people across the country.

Says Cowell:

“I thought it was one of those great ideas that can make a real difference and to show my support I’ve bought 5,000 Health Lottery tickets. Raising £50million in the first year is going to help a huge amount of people and if my numbers come up I will put the money back into the charity.”

The Star’s Nigel Pauly is impressed:

Simon, whose TV talent shows have brought the world chart- toppers Leona Lewis, 26, Susan Boyle, 50, and JLS, is famous for his acid-tongued put-downs of hapless wannabes. But he had nothing but praise for Britain’s newest lottery game.

Five grand for all that publicity and halo polishing is not a shabby investment.

Between them the two titles have featured the Health Lottery in six stories in the past 24 hours. But, oddly, there’s been barely a peep about it in any other news organs.

One paper that has covered the enws is the Herald:

Scottish charities will snub Desmond’s lottery cash, say voluntary group chiefs

John Downie is head of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, which represents charitable groups around the country. He said: “People think charities will take money from every source, but often they want to look at funders to see if their values align with their own. A lot of organisations won’t take money on moral grounds.”

He also questioned why so little of the money was going to charities and added: “People are also questioning, given his background, whether this is purely business-motivated or whether it is altruistic?”

Dr Mairead Tagg is a psychologist who works with Glasgow East Women’s Aid, which provides training and assistance to voluntary groups. She is one of Scotland’s most respected experts on domestic abuse and has strong links with most Scottish women’s charities, many of which work to benefit public health.

She said: “I think of all the women’s organisations I know, I can’t see any that would take his money. It is a poisoned chalice.”

Pointing out that porn was linked to the abuse of women, she added: “If Richard Branson’s alternative lottery wasn’t considered good enough, then this guy’s certainly isn’t.”

Does the charity vet every donor for signs of porn or immorality?

The BBC spots this:

The launch of the Health Lottery by Richard Desmond is making waves. Press Gazette reports that “an irate journalism academic is complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority over yesterday’s Daily Express front page story, which carried the headline: ‘New Lottery to make Britain Better’. It says: “Philip Cowan, a senior lecturer in journalism at the University of Hertfordshire, believes the stories may break the ASA code, which states: ‘Marketers and publishers must make clear that advertorials are marketing communications; for example, by heading them ‘advertisement feature’.”

The prof adds:

“My other concern is the misleading way Northern & Shell is referred to in the article. It says: ‘The Health Lottery is backed by Northern & Shell, which owns the Daily Express and Channel 5.’ The lottery is not ‘backed’ by Richard Desmond, it is owned by him. I am not aware of any other shareholders.”

The Grocer, features some details today’s Express and Star’s front-page stories omit to mention:

The game will cost £1 to play and 20p in every ticket will be put towards supporting local health-related good causes. Tickets can be sold through epay, PayPoint and Payzone terminals and retailers will receive a 5% commission on sales and 1% on prize payouts.

That said, does any of it matter? Demond has a good record in backing charities. His lottery is licensed by the Gambiing Commission. It is all above board. The Government takes his money and redistributes it. If people want to spend their money on the Health Lottery, they will. If more people spend money that goes to good causes, what harm in grandstanding? If some charities are prudish about where the money comes from, their snub will free up the cash for others who see only the end result.

The odd parts are that Walls have not got in contact over the Health Lottery’s logo, and that Desmond’s news organs appear hamstrung. You may recalls what the Express‘s sports columnist John Dillon wrote in 2007 on the matter of football club owners who want to get involved:

“Will the infatuation of the man with the money escalate until he wants to pick the team? And, maybe, buy himself a centre-forward… These are the critical questions about patience and the influence of new owners in the dressing room facing all Premier League clubs.

“It takes belief in a good manager, who is given patience and left alone to do his job.”

Does Desmond believe in his editors..?


Posted: 3rd, October 2011 | In: Money Comment | TrackBack | Permalink