Sunday, July 22, 2018

Integrate your world

It's not Syncopatico, quite, but the BBC is having another go at an-overarching computer system - to be called Sequence - 'an exciting pan-BBC business change and technology programme, expected to run for the next three years'.

Apparently the programme will 'design and deliver standardised ways of working and sustainable, scalable technologies'. Anyone who thought the new Terms and Conditions had already been 'designed' must be wrong-headed.

Here's just some of the things this rival to Deep Blue will do (with my parentheses):

Resource Scheduling: day-to-day operationally critical planning for content and support (rotas)

Time Management: application of new employee Terms and Conditions; management of Leave & Absence; calculation and automation of additional payments; management of TOIL; automation of cost recoveries (turning the rotas into days and hours worked, and posting it to salaries)

Capacity Planning: mid to long term strategic resource planning (working out when you've got gaps coming up in the rotas)

Management Information: richer, trusted, centralised data to inform strategic decisions (working out who's taking too much time off sick)

Three years simply not long enough, eh ?

A Syncopatico reminder, containg bad words.

Clay feet

In the modern, competitive BBC, it seems ratings are no longer a guide to re-commissioning. The first series of the Great Pottery Showdown on BBC2 averaged 2.4m viewers over six episodes. The second, ending in March last year, averaged 3.4m viewers over eight episodes, topping the BBC2 ratings, ahead of Top Gear, for its final two shows.

At the end of last week, the BBC let Love Productions know that there wouldn't be a third series. A BBC spokesperson told the Daily Mirror.  "Whilst we are proud of The Great Pottery Throw Down and very grateful to everyone involved in the two series, we sometimes have to take difficult decisions in order to make room for new shows."  Love Productions also made The Great British Bake-Off; the pottery show was first commissioned back in 2015 by Kim Shillinglaw and Maxine Watson, both now departed the BBC.

The Great British Sewing Bee, another Love Productions creation, will return to BBC2 in 2019, with comedian Joe Lycett replacing Claudia Winkleman as host. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Consultant on board

The BBC Board went to Belfast in March, and discussed future strategy for News. Also present for that item was Jean-Paul Petranca (King's School, Chester and Balliol), Managing Director of the London branch of the Boston Consulting Group. Jean-Paul was last spotted by The Mail at the elbow of Director of Radio & Education, James Purnell.

Here's the statement of the problem Jean-Paul is working on: The Board noted that although BBC News was the largest news organisation in the UK, ahead of competition on TV & Radio and online, consumption was dropping among some segments of the audience, particularly the young and lower income households. Notably, within 16-24s, time spent with BBC Radio and TV news had dropped by approximately 20% compared to 2013, whereas online consumption was flat. This was in line with market trends across the industry. However, given the BBC’s mission and public purposes, and its strategic priority to reinvent BBC services for a new generation, there was a need to re-consider how BBC News could do more to reach those audiences currently underserved by the BBC, including those on lower incomes, the young, and audiences outside of London and the South East.

Then and now

From the minutes of the BBC Board meeting held on 26th April...

3.3 The BBC had concluded giving evidence in the Cliff Richard trial. Directors were clear that an important issue was at stake and one that it was right to defend robustly.

Mmmm. Let's see if that position holds. Here's the advice on appeals from the Government's website. 

Check you have a good case 

You usually only get one chance to appeal, and in almost all cases you must ask for the judge’s permission to appeal against their decision. The judge will only let you appeal if you have a real chance of success or there’s another very strong reason why the appeal should be heard. You must explain why the decision was wrong or unfair – for instance there was a serious mistake or the court didn’t follow the right steps.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Two doors of separation

BBC News sleb-spotting, Great Titchfield St: Nick Robinson taking posh coffee in Gitane, Orla Guerin similar in Kaffeine....

Carriage wars

If you were to say there's more going on than meets the eye in the flare-up between UKTV and Virgin Media, then I wouldn't demur.

From Sunday, customers of Virgin Media could see ten broadcast channels from UKTV - W, Dave, Gold, Alibi, Drama, Yesterday, Eden, Really, Good Food, Home - disappear from their electronic programme guide. UKTV says Virgin is trying to pay less for the channels. Virgin Media says the UKTV side (50% owned by BBC Studios, nee Worldwide) is cutting on-demand access to programmes in the BBC archive.

Both could be true. But in the background, the BBC is trying to establish an alternative to Netflix with ITV and C4, and probably needs to hang on to more good stuff than it used to 'give away' through UKTV.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Moving forward

The BBC needs an extra pair of hands for eight months, to work on internal communications for the "Terms and Conditions Review".

The successful candidate will be "Experienced in refreshing and updating existing intranet or web sites, including knowledge of Content Management Systems (preferably Immediacy and Wordpress), Photoshop or similar picture manipulating software".

The owners of the software that drives the Immediacy Content Management System stopped supporting it in 2010. Eight years ago.

What next ?

Sarah Jones (Sutton High School and Lincoln College, Oxford) will be leading the BBC conclave in Broadcasting House, working out the pros and cons of appealing against Mr Justice Mann's judgement in the case brought by Sir Cliff Richard.  The BBC, with a team led by Gavin Millar, QC of Matrix Chambers, took a bullish line throughout the proceedings, even when South Yorkshire Police decided to cave in and settle.

Sarah (seen here at the elbow of Director of News Fran Unsworth) is styled Group General Counsel. She earns £255k p.a. from Auntie, and £503 a day when sitting as a Deputy District Judge on the South-Eastern Circuit.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Appealing ?

Sir George Anthony Mann - better known in court as Mr Justice Mann - has made it very difficult for the BBC to appeal against the decision he's handed down against them (and South Yorkshire Police) in the case brought by Sir Cliff Richard.

The BBC's Director of News, Fran Unsworth, says the judgement, in what was a civil case, 'effectively makes it unlawful that anyone under investigation can be named, unless the police do so'. 

I think the judge is being more ring-savvy than that. He explicitly says he is not making new case law, but applying a balance between Section 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (incorporated into UK law) which talks about privacy rights, and Section 10, which protects freedom of expression, whether or not founded on public interest. In the case of Sir Cliff, he found there was no public interest in knowing it was Sir Cliff's flat that was being searched, except to 'gossip-mongers'.  He's not making publication of the names of those under investigation 'unlawful'; his decision means that hacks wishing to name individuals will have to produce a public interest defence, if they get sued.

In his full judgement, he found that the BBC asserted it was in the public interest to name him, but didn't really make a strong case to support it, or tie the decision to name Sir Cliff back to their own editorial guidelines.

His judgement makes several references to precedents in Gulati v MGN, when a certain Mr Justice Mann awarded punitive damages to a number of celebrities whose phones had been hacked at the behest of Mirror Group papers. Among the celebs - Alan Yentob. 


Those who thought Mr Justice Mann called it wrong (so far)

Tony Gallagher (Editor of The Sun)
The Society of Editors
The BBC's 'legendary' World Affairs Editor John Simpson
The Guardian
The Guardian's Roy Greenslade
The Voice of The Mirror
The Telegraph

Those who think Mr Justice Mann might be right or wrong

Roger Mosey, Master of Selwyn College, and former BBC Editorial Director
Alan Rusbridger, Principal of Lady Margaret Hall and former Guardian editor

Those who think Mr Justice Mann is right

Richard Bacon, recovering TV presenter
Steve Richards, former BBC Political Correspondent
Former BBC Chairman Lord Patten
LBC's Iain Dale
Janet Street-Porter
Peter Hitchens

More updates as we get them....

Other people who read this.......