Sunday 6 January 2019

Owen Bennett-Jones on rats-in-sacks BBC managers

Elsewhere, the BBC’s excessive funding has different manifestations. For an independent programme maker, selling a single TV documentary to the BBC can involve more than ten face to face meetings, dozens of conference calls and several hundred emails over a year or two. Many independents now pitch to the BBC last because, much as they would like to secure a BBC commission, they can’t find an individual person to take responsibility for making a decision and sticking to it. I recently made a series of ten podcasts on the murder of Benazir Bhutto called The Assassination. It took more than a year to get it commissioned, during which time many promises were made and broken, and my emails were routinely left unanswered. By the time the series was finally commissioned, my producer and I had just ten weeks before the first episode was broadcast. When the series briefly reached No. 1 in the UK podcast charts, there was frenzied activity, as all the managers who had even the slightest association with the project, including some who had been very unhelpful, tried to claim credit. I was copied into messages from a dozen managers all congratulating each other. 

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