Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fair selection

To paraphrase a weekend statement from the DCMS: "Politicians cannot, and indeed should not, determine either the content or scheduling of programmes."

Also opining this weekend, Simon Heffer in the Telegraph, asking if the BBC has a death wish. This has been triggered by the rumour that former Labour Cabinet Minister James Purnell is about to be appointed to run an output division in Lord Hall's new three-humped camel structure. "The BBC is already in the Tory party’s sights: appointing Mr Purnell would have it pulling the trigger – with catastrophic results for public service broadcasting."

Let's remind ourselves of Jimmy's broadcasting credentials. He spent his summer holidays down from Balliol working as a researcher for a rising young Labour politician Tony Blair. He was a Labour councillor in Islington from 1994 to 1998 - a task he did alongside working for John Birt on Charter Renewal (no conflict of interest there, it seems). He was special adviser to Tony Blair from 1997 to 2001, and a Labour MP from 2001 to 2010. I make that 16 years in politics.

Lord Hall brought him back not to make programmes, but to win Charter Renewal. It's a bit ripe for Lord Hall and Rona Fairhead to complain about the Government appointing placemen as non-executive directors on a new BBC Unitary Board, when this seems to be happening on the home side as well. For all his tweets about Nietzsche, Storyville and Radio 3, this man is not qualified to run a BBC programme-making division, whatever its daft name. If only anonymous job applications had started sooner...

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