Thursday, December 7, 2017


Some 3,000 BBC News staff are contemplating a future under two new bosses in the New Year. Big chief James Harding, out of the door this month, announced that his Controller English Regions, David Holdsworth, has also decided to call it a day in the service of the Corporation.

David, born in Bradford, came to the BBC via local papers and commercial radio, before joining Auntie in 1985 for the launch of Radio Shropshire, moving to Hereford & Worcester for their kick-off in 1989.

He rose to run tv and radio operations in the North West, East and West Midlands, before succeeding Andy Griffee in 2008 as Controller - running 45% of BBC News staff. Since then, BBC Local Radio reach has fallen from 20% to 15%. Telly is different - whilst absolute numbers may have fallen, the 6.30pm regional bulletins on BBC1 often top Auntie's overnight figures (as they did yesterday), and more tune in for the extended bulletin after the 10pm.

David's balance sheet on local radio is difficult to assess - it was slowly deprived of funding until Lord Hall said enough is enough this year. He doggedly implemented more women presenters at breakfast, but it made little difference to figures, and there was never a sign of a big idea to sort out a future for the service. Elsewhere, David tried his best with hyper-local services, but came up against a government more interested in the very average commercial offerings we have on Channel 8.

He's had a dull old couple of years being bullied by local paper moguls over funding reporters and giving them free video. After 33 years of solid service, time for a break.

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