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Google founders trump Gates in U.K. media elite

Larry Page and Sergie Brin join a newspaper's top 100 power list, while the Microsoft chairman slips off.

Larry Page and Sergie Brin have joined the MediaGuardian's 100, while Steve Jobs has slipped and Bill Gates has plunged off.

The ever-lengthening shadow of Google has now fallen over the United Kingdom's media sector, according to this year's MediaGuardian 100, which also found that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have both lost influence over the last year.

Google co-founders Page and Brin have been jointly ranked 20th in this list--an authoritative guide to the most powerful players in Britain's media industry that is published each year by The Guardian newspaper.

This makes the duo the most important figures on the British new-media landscape, at least in the eyes of the jury who draw up the list, thanks to the dominance of their search engine.

"Google is (an) incredibly powerful tool," one member of the MediaGuardian100 panel said. "They influence what news we see and how we see it, and are taking on Bill Gates in the battle for power over the world's PCs."

Gates didn't even make the list, a snub that marks the end of a three-year slide for the Microsoft chairman. In 2001, he was ranked second only to Rupert Murdoch. From this pinnacle, he dropped to 10th in 2002, slipping another two places to 12th in 2003.

Steve Jobs, Apple Computer CEO, fared better than Gates. His ranking of 29th was a drop on last year's 13th position, with the MediaGuardian 100 jury mainly impressed by the success of the iPod and iTunes.

Sir Christopher Bland, BT chairman, who was ranked sixth in 2002 and fifth last year, has followed Gates into the abyss.

In general, the IT industry fared badly in this year's rankings, perhaps a sign that technology isn't playing the major role in the media world that had been predicted during the dot-com boom.

The only other new-media figure to make the top 100 was Ashley Highfield, who directs the BBC's online activities.

Others mentioned in dispatches included Ben Verwaayen, BT's chief executive; Terry Semel, chief executive of Yahoo; Meg Whitman, chief executive of eBay; Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of; and Eric Abensur, U.K. chief executive of Wanadoo.

The Guardian also maintained its long-time affection for the Web logging community by squeezing Belle de Jour into its reckoning. Belle de Jour's "Diary of a London call girl" drove some sections of the media mad with curiosity earlier this year.

The top 100 was headed by Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp. He was followed by Michael Grade, Lord Currie and Sir Peter Birt, respectively the chairmen of the BBC, Ofcom and ITV, and culture secretary Tessa Jowell.

Graeme Wearden of ZDNet UK reported from London.