Friday 13 September 2013

Birds of a Feather



Ah, so BBC Head of Strategy James Purnell's warning against the government's plan to allow the National Audit Office unfettered access to the BBC's accounts (in the wake of the latest scandal over excessive pay-offs) has now received the strong support of his former cabinet colleague, Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour Party:
"[Culture Secretary Maria Miller] is suggesting a lessening of the BBC's ability to set the terms of reference for what the NAO does … and let the NAO set the agenda.
"It is important to think through the principles of this. I'm on the sceptical side but it depends how it was done and whether there are proper safeguards. I don't think we should do a Dangerous Dogs Act on the BBC, rush to do something everyone agrees is good but doesn't really work.
"This is a difficult time for the BBC, and change does need to happen. When it comes to governance we mustn't reach for a quick-fix answer on this issue, accountability at the BBC is a thorny and complex issue."
Again, as with Mr Purnell, Harriet Harman doesn't exactly seem to have a clear argument as to why Mrs Miller is wrong. It all seems to amount to: The BBC's independence is important, things are just too "thorny and complex", we mustn't rush into things, the Dangerous Dogs Act, blah, blah. 

Why is letting the National Audit Office access the BBC's accounts at a time of its rather than the BBC's choosing a risk to the corporation's editorial independence? 

And what is it with BBC types and politicians being so resistant to having outside watchdogs interfering in their already-proven-to-be-dodgy financial affairs? 

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