Sunday, January 20, 2013

Captain's Log

In the doldrums ahead of Lord Hall's formal arrival at the BBC, my sails have suddenly been filled to straining point by selected disclosures from The Diaries Of Lord Patten, Chairman of the BBC Trust, in response to an FOI query.

And I have to say, the weeks offered may not be typical, but they don't look like the diary of a hands-off light-touch regulator. I turned first to August 2012, and found an hour set aside for Controller BBC1 Danny Cohen; 45 minutes for Alan "I'm more involved in running the BBC than people think" Yentob; and an hour for the Radio Independents Group. There's a session with Mark Thompson - though the diary keeper spells his name wrong. There's a chat with Peter Bennett-Jones, chairman of Tiger Aspect and Comic Relief, a lunch with Trustee David Liddiment (in the Riding House Cafe); and a phone call with Stephen Lovegrove; one presumes it's the Lovegrove who is now Permanent Secretary at the Department of Energy and Climate Change - something has been redacted.

Back to January 18 2012, and Trustee Alison Hastings gets the good Lord up before 0930, for a visit to Radio 1's Chris Moyles, down the road at Yalding House. And it's a long day - finishing with a Trustee dinner at their favoured Durrants Hotel.  On 24 January, there's a session with former Birt-ist policy wonk turned Labour DCMS Secretary James Purnell, (once rumoured to fancy the role of BBC Chair).  A lunch with John Kampfner, then Chief Executive of the Index on Censorship, at Villandry comes later that week - as does a phone call with Lord Deben - John Selwyn Gummer (Is there a climate change thread here ?)

Then, joy of joys, we get the events around the appointment of George Entwistle in July. On interview day, there's a cryptic note: "Car bkd from home to interview venue. Please phone [S40] when 5 mins from destination so she can open garage door for you".  0900-1830 is booked out for grilling candidates, but spirits and energy levels are restored with another Trustee dinner at Durrants.

The next day media watcher Steve Hewlett gets the honour of a phone call at 1145, just ahead of the piazza photo-call with George Entwistle. At 1500, our chairman phones Colette Bowe, chairman of Ofcom. Then at 1700 there's a phone call "from Lord Birt" !

On 10th July, there's a 45 minute slot for Caroline Thomson - which oblique reports suggest did not go well.

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