Sunday 8 January 2017

We have to talk about Ofcom

As Alan at Biased BBC notes, even the Guardian - in the shape of its former long-term editor Peter Preston - sees that there's potentially a huge problem with Ofcom. 

And the problem is, to quote Alan paraphrasing Peter Preston, that Ofcom is "jampacked to the gills with BBC types".

And, as you'll know, this very ex-BBC-stuffed Ofcom is about to take over from the BBC Trust as the BBC's main watchdog.

And that isn't encouraging. 

Here's PP, being somewhat mocking (at the expense of the Mail and the Sun) but making a serious point:
So it’s instructive to play Dacre of the Mail or Gallagher of the Sun, and imagine what they might say when a BBC dust-up lands at Ofcom’s door. 
Hear a screech of brakes turn into screams. For what is this monster, as the scales drop from tabloid eyes? Its supreme chair, the monarch of the top board, is a former director of BBC policy planning. The subsidiary content board that will handle the vast bulk of BBC regulation is currently chaired by Nick Pollard, a former BBC (and almost everything else) hand recalled to the colours to report on the corporation’s Jimmy Savile coverage. 
Those who sit alongside him include a former BBC news and current affairs (Wales); a former BBC head of news and current affairs (Northern Ireland); a former BBC controller of public policy; a couple of experienced BBC freelance broadcasters – and now, recruited to run the content-board show, a former deputy boss of the BBC newsroom and editor of News 24..... 
You can feel the Mail’s ancestral rage rising already. Think quango bloat. Think supposed supreme court prejudice squared. And if, perchance, the next row is yet another Brexit bomb, then note that Sharon White, Ofcom’s chief executive, is the wife of Robert Chote, the head of the Office for Budget Responsibility whose forecasts of post-EU financial hardship so outraged mighty media Leavers. What’s more, Sharon was a top Treasury mandarin whisked over to Ofcom on George Osborne’s watch – and just look who sits there at her boardroom side: Graham Mather, chairman of the European Policy Forum. Cue nest-of-elite-vipers diatribe.
Well, yes. And understandably so.

Now, where have we heard this before (without all of the Guardian writer's self-distancing flummery)?

From David Keighley at News-watch, who led the way with this story, digging deep into Ofcom's regulatory team and finding strong connections to the BBC among 10 of the 13 'independent' Ofcom Content Board members. 

His findings caused something of a flurry. Maybe Peter Preston caught onto that flurry.

The incestuous-seeming connections between the nation's licence-fee-funded main broadcaster and its soon-to-be regulator doesn't bode well, does it? The present BBC Trust is less stuffed with former BBC insiders than this incoming Ofcom board. 


  1. BBC Trust replaced by an even more bent, unaccountable state steamroller?

    Shocked, I tell you. Shocked.

  2. I just want to place on record I don't trust Preston one inch. This is the guy, remember, who argued during the EU Referendum campaign that the BBC's coverage should be MORE biased towards the Remain side. He found the attempts at "balance" tiresome (well we know from analyses done here, this balance was no more than formal, and in all other respects the bias was already heavily in Remain's favour).

    What was Preston's argument? Well, because all the great and the good from archbishops to economists were on the Remain side, it made no sense to maintain a fiction of balance. Of course, we haven't heard whether that is still Preston's view since the Haldane Confession that the "expert economists" got it completely wrong about the economic effects of a Brexit vote.

    Preston, he argue with forked tongue, probably in order with his policy of "all power to the producers" - knowing they are reliably lefty and Guardian reading types. It's the Loach effect. If you hire Loach to make your film, you don't have to worry it's going to be an advert for the virtues of conservative nationalism (unless it's about Ireland, but that's different and doesn't count on Planet BBC).


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