Sunday 6 September 2020

The BBC, its formula and white van man


There are other intriguing things in that Sarah Sands interview. Talking about 'the laser focus of the Today programme on government', she says: 

“There’s a formula: there’s a crisis and the government is both the problem and the answer.”

That, of course, applies to programmes like Newsnight too.  

She continues:

“But a lot of people’s lives take place outside the state. And there’s also an element of not always being on the side of those just trying to earn a living.”

This is a long-standing, justified criticism of the BBC - that it's a public sector institution with a public sector mindset, and little feel for the private sector or those (the majority of the country) who work in the private sector - but the next paragraph gives it an added bite: 

She was mildly scolded by her superiors recently for focusing too much on the economic costs of the coronavirus, rather than the consequences of easing lockdown. “I thought, ‘Oh, that’s interesting for someone who has never had to be in the private sector.’ I think if you know your job is safe, you have a different view. I had an admiration, quite unfashionable at the BBC, for white van man, someone just trying to meet the bills.”

So her BBC superiors told her off for "focusing too much on the economic costs of the coronavirus". That's a very telling revelation, isn't it? It's something critics of the BBC should take note of.

(Update: Peter Hitchens has taken notice, calling it a "devastating revelation from Sarah Sands...clearly showing self-censorship in the Corporation").

And "admiration" for "white van man, someone just trying to meet the bills" is "quite unfashionable" at the BBC. (I will now think of the corporation as being stuffed to the rafters with Emily Thornberries.) The BBC isn't speaking to the nation if it disregards white van man, and the private sector in general. It's speaking to itself, and those like it. 

With his commercial background, it will be interesting to see what steps (if any) the new DG Tim Davie takes to remedy this and finally break the inward-looking groupthink here. because it appears to be so deeply ingrained as to appear very, very hard to change. 

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