Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Still wrong

If you're fed up with recipe stuff, look away now.

At the risk of finally ending my already-precarious position on a couple of Christmas lists, the BBC has been intellectually craven over cookery, and the Culture Secretary majestically disingenuous.

Yesterday we were told that the BBC would freeze its already-quietly-culled archive of 11,161 recipes; type out recipes for new shows (my guess around 600 a year) then put them through some sort of digital mincer after 30 days; and that the exercise would help save £15m a year. Today, we're told the 11,000 recipes will be moved to a new address; maybe we can presume the new recipes will end up at the same home ?

Yesterday John Whittingdale told gleeful commercial radio types that he was not responsible for the BBC culling "soft" content from its websites; the BBC must have bowed to pressure from newspapers. It is true that the words "recipe", "cookery" and "cooking" do not appear in the Charter White Paper. ("Bake" appears in "The Great British Bake-Off", lauded for being distinctive.) But it was Chancellor George Osborne, school-chum of BBC News Director James Harding, who articulated the threat of the BBC's imperial recipe ambitions to the beleagured British press. “If you’ve got a website that’s got features and cooking recipes, effectively the BBC website becomes the national newspaper as well as the national broadcaster.”

The analysis of the problem is wrong, on both the Government and the BBC's parts. In 1966, an examination of a week's schedules for BBC1 and BBC2 produces 25 minutes of cookery, in the shape of Zena Skinner's Bon Appetit, on a Sunday morning. In 1976, an scan of the same week across the two channels gives us The Goode Kitchen, 15 minutes with Shirley Goode. In 2016, over the past seven days, we've had 5 and half hours of cookery across BBC1 and 16 hours 45 minutes on BBC2. Yes, many are repeats and cheap schedule-fillers - but it's way out of kilter. Focus the broadcasting first, and the website can follow.

1 comment:

  1. During the 1960s Zena also did cookery on Town & Around - the first London regional opt out from AP


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