Friday, 13 September 2013

Friends in high places



It looks as if he wagons are being drawn around the BBC, following the Public Affairs Committee debacle last Monday. 

Among those firing their pistols at the approaching native Americans is the BBC's Head of Strategy, former New Labour minister James Purnell. He's trying to fend off (Conservative) Culture Secretary Maria Miller's attempts to give the National Audit Office full access to the BBC's accounts, and he's receiving the backing of senior Labour Party figures like Harriet Harman.  

Now calls for Ofcom to either regulate the BBC in place of the BBC Trust or to become the custodian of the licence fee are being resisted by, of all people, Ed Richards, head of Ofcom (a former advisor to both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown). He says Ofcom shouldn't get involved with the governance of the BBC.

By one of those remarkable coincidences which seem to arise a lot these days...and I read nothing into it, of course...Mr Richards is a friend of James Purnell's (according to the Mail and the Guardian) and collaborated with him on Labour 1992 election manifesto. They spent years playing football together too. 

In one of those other fascinating coincidences, Ofcom was actually the brainchild of James Purnell and, just to make your head spin a little more, Mr Richards used to be Controller of Corporate Strategy at the BBC. 

Which all goes to show that it's a very small world. 

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