Friday, April 29, 2016

Commercial pressure

If this turns out to be the birthday of BBC Studios, I'll get my grump out of the way before the party.

I've no objection, within bounds, to the BBC re-organising the way it groups various departments. But the stated trajectory of BBC Studios is, within a year or so, to be a commercial subsidiary. For me, this will lead inevitably if slowly, to a small core of directly-employed 'talent' - big ideas strategists, directors and showrunners, at pay levels set away from Freedom of Information rules - and the gradual casualisation of the rest of the workforce, hired on fixed term contracts once commissions are assured.

People inside and outside the BBC fought hard to end the culture of repeated three-month-to-one-year contracts for those trying to make the break in tv production, compelling lazy and mean managers to convert them to 'staff' jobs after two years' worth of end-to-end contracts. Short-term contracts help avoid the payment of all sorts of employee benefits available to staff.  You don't have to 'manage' people on short-term contracts - just tell them there's no more work, whether there is or not.

This way of working discriminates against those without private or family support; it's much harder to build a career, and much harder acquire training, other than on-the-job. I suspect it'll work against diversity on many levels, though would love to be proved wrong.

It will also stop one of the great assets that the BBC has - the ability to develop and nurture its own talent through moving around various departments, right across the old divisions of News, Radio and Television, around the UK and sometimes abroad. This was the system that brought you Mark Thompson, Alan Yentob, Jana Bennett, Peter Salmon, Lorraine Heggessey, John Lloyd, Stuart Prebble, Alasdair Milne, John Drummond and many more. Not all rounded human beings, I grant you, but not a bad record.

1 comment:

  1. BBC Studios must have launched - as I saw its logo on the end of 'Points of View' this Sunday, even though it was shot in an NBH office rather than a studio.


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