Friday, May 22, 2015

Cam Cam

With the BBC looking for political friends wherever it can find them, there may be something in the appointment of Camilla Cavendish to ruminate on policy at No 10. Camilla overlapped with David Cameron at Brasenose College, Oxford, and also left with a 1st in PPE. She's writing her last column for the Sunday Times this weekend.

Camilla was at Putney High School alongside Sophie Raworth. She's been praised for recent performances on Question Time, and has featured more and more on Newsnight. She's a Trustee of Frank Field's Early Years Foundation charity - and, blow me down, so is Lord Hall of Birkenhead.

Cam's husband, Huw Van Steenis (PPE at Trinity Oxford, a year after Camilla) is Managing Director of Morgan Stanley UK. Morgan Stanley is a major sponsor of the Royal Opera House. The ROH Chairman is Simon Robey, formerly of Morgan Stanley, who had a funny feeling the BBC might come calling for Tony.

Camilla's previous jobs have included work for McKinsey, where Suzanne Heywood (wife of Sir Jeremy) is still a director. Lady Heywood remains a trustee of the Royal Opera House, and is still doing odds and ends for the BBC.

On Twitter, Camilla follows no less than nine BBC presenters or correspondents, just one from Sky News, and none from ITV.

On the bench

FOI Factoid Of The Day: The BBC says that 60% of its staff graded as Senior Managers (238) are currently paid at a discount to the marketplace greater than the targets Auntie has set itself.

They've been benchmarked against the median of salaries for similar jobs in "public sector organisations with commercial sector activities".  SM1 staff can expect a discount of 30 to 50%, and SM2 a discount of 20 to 30%.

All good. However 12 managers are on a par with the benchmark for their jobs, and 47 are discounted, but not by enough to meet the target.

A rose is still a rose

As night seems to follow day, the BBC has renamed "Appraisals" as "Performance Development Reviews" - and the National Union of Journalists has put the matter into dispute, with a recommendation to members to politely decline offers to participate.  Personal Displays of Rejection ?

A succession of HR Directors has wrestled with this issue since 1995, with the unions arguing that there's no real transparency around how individual pay levels are set, and whether or not people should be rated as a result of a "review" over a tepid flat white once a year.

Helpfully, former HR Director Lucy Adams had a Damascene conversion shortly after exit from Auntie, describing them as a waste of time.

New boss Valerie Hughes D'Aeth certainly believed in appraisals when she was at construction giant Amey, as her slide from 2012 shows.

"Certain of completion and calibration" is her first problem at the BBC; capturing the details on SAP (which the BBC has re-branded Project Smart) is the second.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A question of scale

Alan Yentob, who told the Mirror-hacking civil court that he felt "violated on a truly massive scale" by their actions, has been awarded £85,000 in damages. This puts him in seventh place in cash terms of the eight claimants, just above former flight attendant Lauren Alcorn - the Sunday Mirror revealed her affair with Rio Ferdinand as a result of intercepting messages.

The judgement says Alan's phone was hacked twice a day for seven years - but no stories were published about him.

Abroad, now

Meanwhile, internationally, BBC World Service in English (radio) has had a very good year. Audiences up 25%, recording its highest ever weekly reach at 52m. (The last time I can find that figure separated out is 2012, when it stood at 44m). The biggest growth has come in the USA and Africa, but it's even up a tad in the UK - 4% year on year.

Global audience figures are entertainingly constructed, and the BBC has decided to move from what it called the "Global Audience Estimate", which covered BBC World Service (in English and all its languages, including tv spin-offs); BBC World, the tv channel;; and BBC Media Action, to the new "Global Audience Measure" which sounds more scientific, but probably isn't. This adds to the bundle "the majority of BBC Worldwide’s BBC-branded direct to consumer services, where measurable and obtainable."  That seems to mean ad-carrying web content, like BBC Autos, BBC Capital, BBC Travel, BBC Future and BBC Culture, and the various BBC-brand-only satellite and cable channels - like BBC Earth, BBC First, BBC Brit, BBC Knowledge and BBC America.

The new GAM - standing at 308m - also counts Facebook and YouTube reach for the services. It includes 25m for the Worldwide output - which doesn't seem huge.

Remember, the target set by Lord Hall is for all this to reach 500m by 2020.


Very pleased to see Vic Viner, beachmaster, still going strong at 98, in set-up films for today's little boats Channel crossing from Ramsgate. Vic is the sole Navy survivor from the Dunkirk operation - and happens to be grandfather to Kath Viner, next editor-in-chief of The Guardian.

Platform changes

Uncomfortable times for Radio 1 and Radio 5Live, with both stations seeking to emphasise their success in connecting with audiences in new ways - as their traditional, raw reach headcount falls.

Radio 1 lost 734k listeners year-on-year in the latest RAJAR figures, covering January, February and March 2015. The total weekly reach, at 9,699k, is at its lowest point since 2004, when Chris Moyles, self-styled network saviour, was begining to rebuild the breakfast audience.

Radio 5 lost 417k listeners year-on-year, in the first full quarter of its daytime schedule changes. The station lost Victoria Derbyshire, Shelagh Fogarty and Richard Bacon, and dispersed Peter Allen (and Adrian Chiles) around the schedule in October. LBC across the UK improved by 128k over the same period, and TalkSport put on 50k. Controller Jonathan Wall will be mightily relieved that Radio 5 Live Sports Extra reached 522k more listeners, thanks mainly to the cricket World Cup. No such consolation for Ben Cooper, with Radio 1Xtra falling by 263k year-on-year.

The runaway success story of this quarter is Radio 4 Extra, which has added 508k listeners year on year, to eclipse Radio 6 Music as the UK's largest 'digital-only' station.  These new listeners may be grazing - average hours per listener fell to 5.8 from 6.3. 4 Extra has an annual programme budget of £4.1m, now largely spent on repeat rights with the April cancellation of The 4 O'Clock Show, the Children's Hour de nos jours. 6 Music has £7.9m.

In other news, Simon Bates' arrival at Radio Devon has added another 5,000 listeners to the station year-on-year.

For more scholarly analysis of the figures, try Matt Deegan and Adam Bowie.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cambuslang rules

Today's FOI factoid reveals the number of newspapers purchased over the last financial year by BBC Scotland.

260 for the pro-independence National and 52 for the pro-independence Sunday Herald. At the top of the table, the Herald backed the union in the referendum, but pressed for more devolution. The Herald is part of the Herald and Times Group, itself a part of Newsquest Media Group, in turn owned by Gannett UK Ltd, part of  Gannett Company Inc, the largest newspaper publisher in the States measured by total daily circulation.

Corden off

With the Long Farewell to the Late Show with David Letterman (due to end tonight) full of A-list guests, it's no surprise it's been doing well in the ratings in recent days.

Monday's show, featuring Tom Hanks, was up 37% from last week in number of households viewing, and 78% from a year ago.

It's benefited the Late Late Show with James Corden, which follows Letterman. Corden climbed 21% compared to last week and 55% from the show’s performance a year ago. It was, in fact, Corden’s best showing since his debut.

We'll have to wait and see what happens when Stephen Colbert takes the Letterman chair. Here's a sample of his style at a commencement speech in North Carolina, also on Monday. Watch and learn, Mark Thompson.


BBC HR - the gift that keeps giving. "Appraisals" are being replaced by "Performance Development Reviews". A techie has questioned this on jargon grounds (I might have also raised printer ink as an issue) but has received short shift from Kate Sloggett, Head of People Development, in the virtual columns of the BBC's online organ, Ariel.

"We've changed the name to reflect the fact that these conversations shouldn't be just about one person 'appraising' the other's performance. A Performance Development Review should provide an opportunity to discuss a person's role and career in a honest conversation. We want staff to focus on their ideas and ambitions for development and how they might want to get on in their career as well as receiving feedback on their work over the past year."

No HR slouch our Kate (also known as Katie):  Here's what might pass for her self-penned PDR:

Accomplished generalist HR practitioner with specialist areas of expertise in organisation development (OD), change, talent and HR transformation; including HR capability. Expertise in leading the delivery of a wide range of HR solutions, both within organisations, internationally and across JV / partnership employment models. Commercial and highly credible when working at senior levels within and external to the organisation. Katie has a track record of identifying opportunities and creating solutions or change programmes that contribute to organisation success. Having benefitted from an operational leadership role, Katie brings commercial HR alongside a sound understanding of organisational value chains.

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