Monday, October 16, 2017

Call anytime

I'm sure he's run it past HR, Procurement and Fair Trading. BBC Director of Radio and Education James Purnell is leading on an initiative to create new, innovative BBC content for voice-controlled systems like Amazon Echo and Google Home. He ends his latest blog post with this encouragement..

"If you want to work with us, get in touch with me."

Career counselling

You have until 10th November to apply to be the next BBC Director of News and Current Affairs. The door is wide open to outsiders - "proven, high-quality editorial judgement" is essential, whilst "experience of radio, television and/or online/interactive services" is merely desirable.

The first round of interviews will be in the week starting 27th November, and everyone who makes it to that shortlist will have to give a presentation "setting out their approach to and priorities for the role."  I'd recommend a slide on "Balancing the Books"; after that, some wizard animated graphics on "leading teams through transformational change and ambiguity, strategically and operationally."  You're welcome.

The price of talent

They were gathered in a tent in Montpelier Gardens, Cheltenham on Sunday morning, paying £12 a head to hear Today presenters Justin Webb and Nick Robinson being grilled by Telegraph radio critic Gillian Reynolds. Also on stage, at this Times and Sunday Times event, additionally sponsored by investment managers Baillie Gifford, was Today Senior Producer Purvee Pattni.

Senior producer pay at the BBC is, on average, around £49k. Nick Robinson's BBC earnings are between £250,000 and £299,999. Justin Webb's BBC earnings are between £150,000 and £159,999.

Nick tried to explain the Robinson/Webb differential "There are other factors, largely because I was recruited from ITV where I was on a much higher salary than my BBC colleagues."

Good heavens. Nick says he got his first six-figure pay deal when he went for breakfast with the head of ITV News in 2002, to be offered the job of political editor. He returned as BBC Political Editor in 2005, when Helen Boaden was Director of News and Roger Mosey, a long-time champion of Robinson, was running TV News. He succeeded Andrew Marr - who is still on a BBC deal worth more than £400k - Marr was appointed in 2000 by Tony Hall when he was Director of News. 

Clearly Nick was able to negotiate an improvement to come back from ITV to Auntie as Political Editor - but should he have retained so much of it when moving to Today, a job many people would like to do, at the cost of internal differentials ?  This appointment to Radio 4, so long in Nick's stars, was made under Director of News James Harding; many presenter salaries in News have been set by his aide-de-camp, Keith Blackmore.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


"For the first time, Ofcom, an independent regulator, is working on behalf of audiences to ensure the BBC delivers for them".

Thus a puff by Ofcom's Content Group Director, Kevin Bakhurst, in the Saturday edition of the Telegraph. Kev, with all the broadcasting sagacity acquired in four years as Deputy Director General RTE, is in no doubt who's the boss in this relationship

"There is a safeguard to ensure that 90% of the shows during peak evening hours on BBC One must be new". 

Witchfinder Kevin doesn't note that last year, BBC One's peak-time schedule only had 5.7% given over to repeats.

"We'll keep listening to viewers and listeners to understand their priorities".

I'd like to see the full spreadsheet of licence-payers demanding an extra hour of news and current affairs on Radio 2 each week....


Piers Morgan shares his-almost-contemporaneous diary with Event Magazine, part of the Mail on Sunday.

On October 1, he went to a memorial party at the River Cafe, in honour of the late literary agent, Ed Victor, also attended by Stephen Fry, Nigella Lawson, Sophie Dahl and Alastair Campbell.

"Ed adored gossip too, so he’d have loved the moment when Mel Brooks shouted ‘You still in disgrace, Alan?’ at former BBC boss Alan Yentob, who resigned in 2015 over the Kids Company scandal. 

Yentob, standing next to me, led the raucous laughter." 

Non runner ?

Peter Preston, in the Observer/Guardian notes that the departure of James Harding from the BBC reduces the field of internal candidates vying to succeed Lord Hall as Director-General, and guesses he went because he wouldn't win that race...

"Surely he knew he was out of the running. Surely, too, the sheer weight of admin was weighing him down. Harding, remember, left the top chair at the Times rather abruptly because Rupert Murdoch didn’t like his management style, including salary and headcount inflation (pure pot and kettle joy).

"Is he now being held responsible for the shambles of top pay and the toil and trouble involved in sorting it out? Does his new search for a “different kind of news” mean something smaller and more manageable, where he doesn’t have to spend long days smoothing over hurt feelings or playing company PR?"

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Reading out loud

The Today programme is advertising (internally) for producers.

Here's an extract from the job introduction.

"It is unique in it’s reach, its ambition, its range and its importance to BBC News and to the wider BBC are without parallel."

If that's the standard of punctuation required, no wonder the presenters occasionally stumble over scripts.

Friday, October 13, 2017

If you thought an honorarium was a small fee....

Diary date for Bob Shennan, BBC Director of Radio & Music.

"MUSEXPO 2018 will recognize BBC RADIO 1 and BBC RADIO 2 as the recipient of its “International Music Icon of the Year” award, being presented during a special awards luncheon event at the W HOTEL HOLLYWOOD on WEDNESDAY, MAY 2nd. As part of MUSEXPO 2018’s global honorarium of the 50-year milestone for BBC RADIO 1 and BBC RADIO 2, BBC RADIO Director BOB SHENNAN will be the subject of a keynote interview."

Tough guys

There's a willy-waving tendency at Ofcom, enjoying talking tough about its new BBC Operating Licence...

Thus in the main summary: "We have .... set new conditions for radio. Radio 2 will be required, for the first time, to air at least three hours of news and current affairs in peak time per week".

In detail: "We added the new requirement for three hours to be in peak time in the proposed condition as this is broadly in line with what the BBC already delivers in peak time on Radio 2, and so is aimed at securing the provision of this output at existing levels in peak time"

Elsewhere, the first draft of this licence required Auntie “to reduce the number of long-running series over time”, threatening Homes Under The Hammer, A Question of Sport, Casualty and many more. In the final version, Ofcom says there should be “a renewed focus on innovation and creative risk-taking through the commissioning and scheduling of new titles”, and that “the BBC should secure an appropriate balance of unique titles and long-running series”.

Girl About Town

Are fun times returning to the (D)DCMS ? Jack Blanchard in Politico has a scoop - Mail on Sunday Diary Editor Charlotte Griffiths is joining the department as a Special Advisor.

Charlotte left Leeds University in 2008 with a 2:1 in Political Science, and, perhaps more importantly, editorship of the Leeds Student. At the Mail, it's been all Lanson, Moet, chocolates, the occasional bottle of Corona, facials, hair-dos, Cannes, Glasto, polo, luxury hotels and spas.  So not much change in the year ahead, eh ?

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