Thursday, May 25, 2017

Clearance bargain

The BBC has confirmed that the BBC Store archive download and streaming service will cease operating on 1st November.

It was all there in the Terms And Conditions...

"We cannot guarantee that you will be able to stream or re-download Content that’s in your BBC Store account forever. Where our right to make content available has expired, you will no longer be able to stream or download that content from your BBC Store account. We’ll try not to take down expired content without first notifying you that it is due to expire, so that you have the opportunity to download and playback the content through the Store Downloader."

The BBC is being more generous than that: it can apparently afford to refund customers on purchases made (were there that few ?), or offer them Amazon vouchers to the value of 10% more than they've spent.

Only 128 million to go

The BBC's international news and entertainment services are reaching 372m a week, up 7% from 348m last year. A rise of 25m for each subsequent year would see the DG's target of 500m by 2022 achieved.

On the news side of the house - World Service, World News (TV) and news on - the figures are up 8%. Within that, the language services are up 9%, and World Service English is up 14% - helped by syndication, streaming and podcasts. We're told that BBC radio listening in the States rose by 12% over the year, taking weekly reach to 14.6m. We never get told a reach figure for BBC World News in the USA.

The top ten markets for the BBC’s international news services are Nigeria (36m), USA (34m), India (28m), Bangladesh (16m), Egypt (15m), Pakistan (13m), Iran (13m), Tanzania (10m), Indonesia (7.6m), and Canada (7.5m).


Now that HR has taking over what used to be BBC training - grandly named The Academy - they're recruiting in their own inimitable style. They need a Content Producer, Learning Design.

Responsibilities include to "work closely with Subject Matter Experts, project team and digital content team to design intuitive, responsive learning experiences using a variety of tools and content formats across multiple platforms" and to "design and structure blocks of learning content to optimise learner engagement and retention through creative organisation and sequencing of content that takes into account different learning styles and is accessible to a wide variety of learners".

There's another job coming soon - to help HR write plain English.

Mothership of listen

Here's an entertaining reverse ferret, worthy of David Nobbs' fictional creation, Sunshine Desserts.

BBC Radio 1's watchwords under Controller Ben Cooper have been 'listen, watch, share', pointing to growing stats for the station's YouTube and Facebook videos as the radio audience has declined.

He's told Music Week  “We need to work harder at the traditional ‘listen’ part of our strategy. We have spent a lot of time on air pushing our audiences to watch and share and, actually, it’s time for the watch and the share part of our strategy to now push back to the mothership of listen.”

Ben got the top job in October 2011. Since then, Radio 1's weekly reach has fallen by around 2.7m, to 9.1m - a drop of just over 19%. Over the same period, Radio 2 grew from 14.3m to 15.0m, and Radio 4 from 10.5m to 11.1m.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


I was out by a mile on ITV's plans for their Southbank redevelopment. I guessed at 100 luxury flats over some 22 storeys. They actually want to build to 38 storeys, producing up to 270 flats. The environmental proposal to Lambeth Council is at pains to point out the number of proposed towers in the area, some already approved, so they might get away with it.

Just below the surface

You get the feeling that former BBC executive Helen Boaden is close to telling some gripping tales about her time with Auntie. This week came a gentle probing by Jane Garvey at The Groucho Club, and then Trevor Dann tried a post-interview interview for the Radio Today podcast.

Some insights - she still worries that radio and radio audiences are at risk from a management more focussed on tv and online: "It's my great fear...that they'll do something daft". She confirmed that there had been plans to redistribute network radio into new divisions [see various three-humped Camel diagrams]: "I opposed it, but it wasn't me alone. I think Tim Davie said something similar".

She managed not to mention Director of Radio & Education & Odds & Ends, James Purnell: "I have confidence in Bob [Shennan] and the Controllers".

Meanwhile, Jane Garvey risked a pop at Bob, or at least his former fiefdom, Radio 2: "Radio 2 doesn't look or sound much like the Britain I know".

Summer relief

The summer will bring new tests for Sarah Sands, now tweeting away at the helm of the Today programme on Radio 4.

Despite having a generous home team of presenters - Humphrys, Robinson, Webb, Montague and Husain - and only 12 shifts a week to fill, they'll all want time off once the election is over, and then we'll see who Sarah tries out. Will she stand by Matthew Price, the programme's "Chief Correspondent", or will there be baptisms for new female voices ? And has she unlocked the Big Leather Book of Today Programme Promises - promises made by executives above Today Editor level, to senior News hacks looking for a nice earner when they come off the road ? Anna Ford, Ed Stourton and Justin Webb all arrived as surprises of varying scale to the incumbent Today Editors.

Nick Robinson had his eye on programme presenting from 2002, and he formally got the gig in November 2015. Who's currently on manoeuvres heading in a similar direction ?


Whilst BBC kebab-nauts wait for the new incarnation of the original Efes on Great Titchfield Street, Efes 2, up Great Portland Street, has already been transformed - into Kibele. No longer just Turkish, but Anatolian cuisine (though apparently that still alows the inevitable moussaka and mixed grill) and attracting celebs of the calibre of Michelle Heaton and Jenni Falconer.

Kibele - or Cybele - was the Phrygian mother goddess of the BC period, and her cult spread to Athens and Rome. Phrygia's most famous King ? Midas.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


The 'Andrew Neil Interviews', in which our hunched hero attempts to skewer those who seek to lead the UK, was watched by an average of 2.9m (17.1% share) last night.

His knee-to-knee discussion with Theresa May may have sent One Show regulars scuttling for other channels - after all, they've already seen Mrs May held to account, haven't they ?


Former BBC Director of News, Radio and England, Helen Boaden was guest of the Media Society at the Groucho Club in London last night, lightly grilled by Jane Garvey.

The event was entitled "Goodbye to all that", the title of Robert Graves bitter-sweet autobiography, regret the changing of old orders. From tweets, we gather Helen thought the BBC Trust, led by Lord Patten, should have chosen Caroline Thomson as Director General in succession to Mark Thompson, rather than George Entwistle. And that she'd been offered $4 p.a. to join CNN.  More, and I expect there was more good stuff, as we get it...

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