Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Danny Boy

A double dishing for Danny Cohen from Lord Hall in front of MPs yesterday: almost sotto voce, the BBC DG had to repeat the admission that the TV tyro was involved in the creation of July's luvvie letter (“In our view, a diminished BBC would simply mean a diminished Britain”).

Lord Hall thought such activity was perfectly proper. I think this is wrong; when political parties work behind the scenes with celebs or business leaders or scientists to create "open letters", proper journalists rightly expose the connivance. This letter should have come on BBC-headed note-paper. If these luvvies organised it, where's the promised follow-up ? “During the course of the Charter, we will continue to make the case for a strong BBC at the centre of British life and will be vocal in making the case for the BBC as it approaches its centenary.”

Danny's ears will also have twitched when Lord Hall was asked about The Voice, the indie-produced talent show which is reported to have cost £22m over three years just for the format rights, purchased by Mr Cohen. "My ambition is that the next time we have a big entertainment format on the BBC, it will be made in-house. I hope we find a hit from our in-house stable. That's my aspiration."

That's all a bit traditional from Lord Hall, isn't it ? Hardly an "open BBC" line, but a pretty clear signal to Peter Salmon, new boss of most of the BBC's network tv production. Indies won't like the presumption that Saturday night shiny floor stuff has to go to BBC Television, soon to be BBC Studios. ITV, now owners of The Voice production company might make some noise if the BBC doesn't renew. And Danny won't have many excuses to travel to the States and the South of France for format sales shows.

Come back later for a second post on the DCMS select committtee....

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