Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Still standing

A very patient performance today by BBC DG Lord Hall and Anne Bulford this afternoon in front of Ol' Ma Hodges' Tax Dodgers Hanging Jury, otherwise known as the Public Accounts Select Committee.

Ma was left on her own by other members of the committee when she said it was "shocking" that Television Centre had been sold to property developers who were prepared to channel funding through Luxembourg companies. The BBC should have known, she ranted, and stopped it. Hall, Bulford and Trustee Nick Prettejohn (pronounced Pret-john, we now know) stood their ground, saying it was legal, commercially sound, not unusual and produced the best return.

The BBC side was also patient when Ma Hodge demanded to know more about the BBC's lurch from freehold to leasehold property. The real answer is that successive governments have never allowed the BBC to stock up enough capital to buy and build new freeholds, so PFI-type deals are the only way Auntie can renew its building stock. And in terms of building disposals, the BBC can teach the Government a trick or two. It's all in the BBC's 2020 Property Vision, a document sponsored by Lord Hall when he was still in the BBC last time round in 1998. He's the man to get the toilets flushing again.

Best moment: Ma Hodge to Anne Bulford "You're avoiding the question"
                       Anne Bulford "Not yet..."

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