Sunday 12 July 2015

"It never fails to turn a bit of a rumpus into an existential crisis"

And sticking with The Sunday Times for one last post...

Stephen Robinson's review of Getting Out Alive by former BBC News boss Roger Mosey begins with a revealing story:
There is a good anecdote in Roger Mosey’s memoir of a BBC career when he and senior colleagues are gathering at Heathrow for a business-class junket to America. In a scene straight out of W1A (the BBC’s satire of its beyond-parody institutional absurdities), they spot a sinister pair lurking near the check-in, reviewing photographs of the BBC hierarchy. They assume they are Daily Mail reporters out to expose the BBC’s profligacy with licence-payers’ money. 
Once on board, the junketers hold a crisis meeting. They decide that when they land they must leave the airport separately to deprive any photographer of a shot showing the size of the freebie party. Alas, it turns out that the pair at Heathrow are not from the Mail, but London representatives of one of the companies they are visiting in America, doing basic research. 
This trivial incident illustrates the theme that emerges most strongly from Mosey’s engaging memoir Getting out Alive...The BBC is so top-heavy with redundant layers of management that it never fails to turn a bit of a rumpus into an existential crisis. 

And here's Rod Liddle on the subject of BBC bias [with the odd added comment from yours truly]:
Which brings us to news and current affairs, which all the executives are agreed is one of the things the BBC does best. And there is still some truth to this assertion. Every so often, on the News at Ten there will be a package from the BBC’s China editor, Carrie Gracie, and it will tell you something you didn’t know about China. It will be intelligent, hugely well informed and beautifully presented. [Ed: I have to say that I very much agree with him about Carrie Gracie's reports from China. Every one I've heard or seen has been excellent]. And there are several similarly competent foreign affairs specialists left at the corporation — a diminishing number, especially now that the Beeb has started using indigenous journalists, who are often not quite at home with the English language. 
News and current affairs has long been the powerhouse of the BBC, the thing that enables it to argue a certain uniqueness, the breadth and depth of its coverage. But the obvious political bias becomes more apparent with every year that passes and there is not the slightest inclination among BBC execs that this is a problem or something they should address. It simply does not exist, end of story. 
They are given succour in this delusion by leftist journalists such as Charlotte Higgins (of The Guardian, natch), who, in her new book on the corporation, suggests, idiotically, that the BBC is biased to the right. It does not matter how many former DGs or departed executives — such as the excellent Roger Mosey — hold up their hands and say, yep, we got immigration wrong, or we were wide of the mark on Euroscepticism and Thatcher and welfare reform, for the BBC it is always a case that there may have been bias in the past, but it is gone now, definitely, no need to worry any more. [Ed: Yep, that's exactly what they say. That was then, this is now, and everything's OK again].
The bias matters partly because it is egregious and increasing rather than diminishing. And also because the BBC is now up against its traditional enemy — a Conservative party with a parliamentary majority and a right-wing culture secretary in John Whittingdale. [Ed: Hmm? Well, we'll see about that!]


  1. Regarding the comments that 'The BBC used to be institutionally left-biased, but now we're not....', time and again I have posed the following point and question....

    "In order to change such institutional bias, you must have introduced a huge, long-term and company-wide change programme, with all sorts of seminars, training courses, personal and professional counselling, etc., etc., (you know, the sorts of things the BBC was demanding from the police re it's 'institutional racism'....).

    So where's the evidence that you can point us to which can demonstrate that you have done this, and that it has clearly worked ?

    Answer has there been none.

  2. Rod is 100% right except for one little detail: the leaders of the Conservative party aren't very right-wing at all, love the BBC, wouldn't dream of destroying it, and are only doing all this stuff to pressure the BBC into giving them favorable coverage. So far, it's working. We've seen the obvious collusion on the 'DAESH' nonsense, the BBC pretending to be devastated by the enormous budget cuts forced on them and Cameron and Osborne can claim to have been tough on the BBC at last, when in fact in the long run it will either be a wash or a net profit (the top brass didn't bother to calm the natives, of course, because letting them rant and rave on air kept the charade going), and not very robust coverage of the recent anti-austerity protests.

    The place won't change until there is a massive purge of personnel, and I don't mean just the layers of pointless management.


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