Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cultural promotion

Tread carefully, dear BBC, however beleaguered you may feel.

This morning's ten-minute interview with David Hockney in Los Angeles on Today was billed on the programme website and on Twitter as "exclusive". One cannot be certain that Hockney has or has not turned down all other interviews, if indeed they have been sought, or has agreed in writing to some period of media purdah, but, lo, there is a BBC-commissioned, co-funded documentary about his work coming to British cinemas next week, and to BBC2 in the New Year.

Later in the same programme came a patsy interview with BBC tv drama boss Ben Stephenson, on his latest commissions. Ben's sentences spatter the odd verb into a rotating palette of nouns and adjectives - "love" "licence fee" "creative" "risk" "ambitious" "incredible".  As Fraser Nelson noted, it's unlikely that ITV or Sky might expect the same treatment for one of their launches.  Ben. like James Naughtie, is just back from a week on the US West Coast, and mentioned, en passant, Anglo-American collaborations - but strangely not Intruders. There's more stuff in the same vein in the Hollywood Reporter.

Elsewhere, the Culture Secretary Sajid Javid has tried to close the door on a cabal of Tories who want scrapping the licence fee to be a manifesto pledge, calling for a kangaroo review to push Auntie to subscription funding. He's said "I have been clear that no options should be 'off the table' - but that the right time to consider these questions is as part of the charter review. The government has said that the charter review will not be starting in advance of the election in 2015,"

The latest Conservative to call for an end to the licence fee is Crawley MP Henry Smith. His seat has previously swung between Labour and Tory control, but UKIP "won" most votes in the Euro-elections.

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