Tuesday, August 2, 2016


There are some other bits in the Culture Select Committee's latest blast of grapeshot at the BBC.

The papers have taken the Committee's steer that publishing the names of BBC staff and talent who get paid more than the Prime Minister is, in some unexplained way, helpful scrutiny. They also believe talent working for indies providing programmes to Auntie should be subject to the same transparency; I'd like to see them make that work.

The MPs are more supportive of Lord Hall on the arcane matter of the composition of the new Unitary Board..

A board of twelve comprising five government-nominated non-executives (the Chair and four representatives of the nations), together with three non-executive and four executive Board members appointed by the BBC would give a better balance.

The Director General indicated his support for the idea that the Board should collectively choose a Senior Independent Director from amongst its number. We agree, and believe this arrangement would be superior to the Government also nominating a Deputy Chair. 

On using the National Audit Office to scrutinise the BBC accounts, they are less helpful...

While we understand the need for BBC Worldwide—and, in due course, BBC Studios—to operate on a commercial basis, the inescapable facts are that the products they are selling have been created from licence fee funds, paid for by the public, and that the public are, therefore, entitled to hold all parts of the BBC to account for what their money has funded. 

On using the licence fee to pay for reporters who will supply copy to both the BBC and local papers, there are real doubts.

We are unconvinced that the Local Public Sector Reporting Service can be made to work in such a way that it neither subsidises companies that are profitable, nor benefits those that have cut back on local journalism while their competitors have chosen to continue to cover court hearings and local council meetings, but look forward to detailed future proposals.

The MPs back MG Alba's call for more spending on new Gaelic programmes for BBC Alba, up to the 10 hours a week of fresh product they say is afforded to S4C.

John Nicholson, MP, is a self-proclaimed broadcasting expert who has learned little about news production since 2005, if he understood much at all before that. He is behind the Committee's call for a full 'Scottish Six' -  'a news programme anchored in Scotland, with a running order of Scottish, UK and international stories based on news merit, drawing on all the BBC’s facilities and broadcast from Scotland.'

If he spent some time in the 6 O'Clock gallery, he would see that it is simply the busiest tv bulletin there is, with live injects, late packages, and breaking news. 'News merit' is often partially sidelined because of technical issues. Synchronising live injects to different running orders in London and Glasgow is impossible - unless you build a complete parallel operation, which makes no sense in terms of cost-per-viewer. Maybe some sums would help John see this.

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