Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sand dancing

If the Radio Times and Private Eye have got it right, soon (keep next Wednesday clear) a new BBC Structure will be unveiled by DG Lord Hall, produced in McKinsey's Genetic Engineering Laboratories.

Once the dry ice, swirling spotlights and fanfares from the Cornet Section of the BBC Strategy Cadet Force have died down, there will come a loud collective raspberry. This will be different to the applause that greeted Lord Hall on his return to Auntie, when he said let's not be daft, and renamed "Vision" as Television, and "Audio" as Radio.

For we are told that programme makers are to be put in three new humps "Inform", "Educate" and "Entertain", This was first leaked as an idea that might organise the BBC by genre rather than platform, with many and various guesses about which departments would end up in which hump. Cassandra here said it wouldn't work. It's now whispered that the latest shuffling of the post-it notes ends up with all tv ('cept Studios) in Entertain, and all radio in Educate.

Worse than that, we are being softened up for the anointment of a trio to ride each hump. The Wilson, Keppel and Betty de Nos Jours are apparently to be James Harding (Inform), Charlotte Moore (Entertain) and, wait for it, photoshop specialist and leader of the Cadet Force, cheeky James Purnell (Educate).

If true, then we're in a right mess. Purnell lays claim to have co-produced one documentary in his career, about Birmingham gangs shot mostly in 2011,
in which Saintly Jim attempts conflict resolution with the help of old political chums.

The rest of his creativity is evidenced in Powerpoints. With the break-up of Digital from his Strategy and Digital Division, Jim is now left with 'just' 50-plus strategists, marketing and press to run; hardly a justification for a £295k salary. And he hasn't even yet banked Charter Renewal.

If he ends up, without competition, 'owning' BBC Radio (which will slowly evanesce in to just commissioning and indies, under, yes, James Purnell's inspiring mantra of Compete and Compare) in a new structure which actually does diddly-squat to deliver cross-platform working, then someone's making a major misjudgement.

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