Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hay Hay

It hasn't happened for some time. Type "Yentob" into the 2016 Hay Festival Programme and there are no returns. However, Auntie maybe growing another one. BBC4 Editor Cassian Harrison takes to the stage as interviewer in two not-for-broadcast sessions.

Also in the BBC Tent for the first time,Radio 4's The World At One. Or at least, The World As Seen Through The Eyes of a Middle Class Literary Festival. Now to Aleppo...

Clean sweep

I was thinking of adding "and that just leaves Katie Taylor of the original four creatives chosen by Peter Salmon to start BBC Studios", to yesterday's post about the departure of Natalie Humphreys.

I turned my eyes momentarily from the information highway to a little light broadcast content - and lo, there was Katie gone, too. Dare I say anything about the Salmon-appointed Development boss, Dan Pattison ?

Katie (Francis Holland and School of Life) was to be in charge of Entertainment at Studios, but had blotted her copybook by not being quite in charge of the new Top Gear when asked to keep an eye on it. Then Matt Le Blanc burned rubber round the Cenotaph, and Katie was replaced as minder by one of her team, Clare Pizey.

Taste-maker Katie came to the BBC with Graham Norton, and has enjoyed Eurovision with him. She helped select Blue, Englebert Humperdinck and Bonnie Tyler for the contest - and could be found lurking on message boards opining about songs when perhaps she should have been doing more productive work. (A 2012 BBC sponsored course at the London Business School should have told her that.) Tumble and The Getaway Car are a couple of her more recent commissions.

Meanwhile, expect a few memos to be winging around BBC HR and Finance this morning, checking that Studios boss Mark Axeman Linsey hasn't yet spent all the restructuring money set aside for starting Studios. The first four will have cost a minimum total of £600,000.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Rhodri Talfan Davies took up the role of Director BBC Cymru Wales in September 2011.

BBC Cymru Wales' weekly reach for television output in English was 1m in 2010/11; in 2014
/15, it had fallen to 900k.

BBC Cymru Wales' programming in Welsh for S4C reached 191k a week in 2010/11; in 2014/15, it was down to 131k.

Radio Wales' weekly reach was 468k in 2010/11. It was down to 418k in 2014/15; the most recent RAJAR puts it at 409k.

Radio Cymru's weekly reach was 150k in 2010/11; by 2014/15 it had fallen to 119k; the most recent RAJAR puts it at 108k.

Still, Rhodri's got them a nice new headquarters.


I am so off the boil. The Radio Times says that not only has Lord Hall sounded out Michael Jackson as the first Director of Content, he has tapped up and been ignored by Tim Hincks, who, until March, was President of Shiny Enema.

Now, says Radio Times' Ben Dowell, he has turned to the Taffia, lighting upon Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director of BBC Cymru Wales (so good they named it twice). How did that happen ? Was there an ad I missed ?

Ow !

Do we detect sharp elbows at work at the not-yet-commercial-but-already-behaving-a-bit-rufty-tufty BBC Studios ?

Mark Freeland left the day before launch. Natalie Humphrys at least gave it five days. The pair were in at the start of the concept, but have both departed.  Not even Natalie's skill set (she has a PhD from York thanks to a thesis on Symbiotic Bacteria and Aphid Reproduction) enabled a meeting of minds with new Studios boss Mark Linsey (Performing Arts, Leicester Polytechnic).


BBC commercial subsidiary BBC Studios and Post Production Ltd has been trading as BBC Studioworks since 7th April. They told the staff on Tuesday.  Broadcast has the new logo. 
Here's another version, on a holding website. Almost as if it's a bit of a surprise, eh ?

Not that Michael Jackson

A few shivers running through management ranks at the BBC this morning, as The Guardian suggests that Lord Hall has approached Alan Yentob's mentee, Michael Jackson, to be Auntie's first Director of Content.

Happily, The Guardian says talks have stalled. Michael joined the BBC at Alan's behest to start The Late Show. He was, for a time, a lodger in Al's Notting Hill mansion, and one of his companies, set up with American wife Rachel Horovitz, used Al's address.

Michael is currently part of the team re-imagining Civilisation for Lord Hall, largely by adding an 'S'.

Got the hump ?

For readers half expecting a new BBC structure this week, there may be a delay.

Lord Hall's new organogram, from the fading music hall duo McKinsey & Purnell, seems to have been sent for sandpapering.

A number of influential voices have now said it's silly.

Ed Williams, former BBC PR strategist and Mark Thompson-minder, notes that clustering BBC1 and Radio 1/2 could make it easier for Whittingdale to cut them from public service broadcasring altogether.
Meanwhile we are promised some hints on future direction from BBC News boss James Harding. I make that 997 days since he first started.


AMC Networks, who have operational control of BBC America, will be bringing out first quarter 2016 results this Friday.

CEO Josh Sapan earned a mere $17.6m last year, down from $40m a year ago - but that included a $25m stock option loyalty deal. Ed Carroll, COO, took home $7.7m, up from $5.6m. Chairman Charles Dolan was rewarded with $2.6m, up from $2.3m. AMC shares currently stand at $64, down from a July 2015 peak of $85.  Nielsen estimates that BBC America lost 1 million subscribers last year, down to 86.5m.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Whilst the BBC goes collectively nuts about Leicester City FC, another club is celebrating a first go at Europe.

MBi Llandudno FC secured a Europa League entry, by virtue of their third place in the Dafabet Welsh Premier League. The place became theirs after league leaders The New Saints (formerly TNS) won the Welsh Cup - and the club house celebrations in Llandudno were at least as rowdy as those in Leicester.

Llandudno regularly attract crowds of over 700 to the Maesdu Stadium, with top price seats or standing at £8,

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