Saturday, January 19, 2019

Charlotte's web

For those of you who have found the latest Fortunately podcast, now available less exclusively on BBC Sounds (and more easily through the superior iPlayer Radio app, and internationally by visiting the BBC Sounds website) you'll here a brief 'explanation' of the strategy from a woman identified only as Charlotte. This is Charlotte Lock, Launch Director of BBC Sounds, who claimed making this podcast available only on BBC Sounds was an 'experiment', to drive subscribers to BBC Sounds so that the BBC can pick up more data on them, and make their lives even lovelier.

I'm delighted to say that Fi's ears pricked up at this, and although they all ended up joshing about identifying eligible wealthly heterosexual males, I suspect this isn't the only conversation Fi and Jane have had with their bosses about this cack-handed strategy. I wonder if they know Charlotte's on £183,500 p.a. Alan Davey, the Controller of Radio 3, is on £171k; Jonathan Wall, running Radio 5Live is on £147,841; and Mary Hockaday, Controller, World Service English is on £168,800.

Shell like

The end of January is barely in sight,and the slow, deep thinkers at Tortoise have already announced the topics of their think-ins for February - motherhood, #MeToo and what it means to be British.

There's a sensation of the centre pages of a broadsheet here, and Tortoise is also releasing to open reading some articles, by staffers and starry freelances, just as The Times and Telegraph selectively lift their paywalls.

If you're feeling left out from this concerned, supra-academic approach to hackery, take a look at this video of a practice 'think-in' and assess how much fun you'd have in taking part.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Podded off

The latest Midas survey from the radio audience figure research team RAJAR shows a slight drop in podcast listening, quarter on quarter. 6.9 million people a week used a podcast in the Autumn, 13% of the population; 6.5m a week tried a podcast in Winter, 12% of the population. I'm sure it's a blip.

The Winter survey shows that 22% of those asked said they listened all podcasts they downloaded; 38% listened to 'most of them'. And then, 67% said they listened to complete podcasts, with 22% saying they stayed with 'most of them'.

Where next ?

Janine Gibson, once courted by Mark Thompson for the NYT, is leaving Buzzfeed UK after three years' at the helm as Editor-in-Chief.

Mmmm. Does BBC News still have a vacancy for a Digital Director ?

Thursday, January 17, 2019


In February 2013, Anne Bulford Superwoman arrived from Channel 4 to take over two jobs at the BBC - Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer. It seemed a bargain - her new salary of £395k rather than Zarin Patel and Caroline Thomson, earning £337k and £328k respectively (discount the redundancy payments, if you would).

Five full financial years later she's announced her departure as Deputy DG, looking to set up a portfolio of non-executive roles - she heads to her sixtieth birthday in September. She's kept Lord Hall on the straight and increasingly narrow, stripping millions out of business plans quietly and firmly - and, it has to be said, with a minimum of disruption. But the road ahead looks likely to dwindle further, from a bridleway to a footpath, if the Over-75s Licence Fee consultation ends badly - and it's probably time for someone with a new set of iron-tipped walking sticks and satnav to lead rambler Lord Hall in the right direction. 

Is there room for re-invention of the role ?  Could the nuts and bolts of the operation be left to Anne's No 2, Glyn Isherwood, and the Deputy DG responsibility passed to another executive ? That's a possibility, with Lord Hall set on hanging in there til the centenary of 2022, and will keep me amused for weeks.

Meanwhile, thanks to Ms Bulford for providing this blog with a good number of posts over the years. My favourite - from a Public Accounts Committee of 2015

Margaret Hodge: "You're avoiding the question"
Anne Bulford "Not yet..."

Premier Out

BBC Studios CEO Tim Davie has told his team that he won't be using his commercial brain and muscular legs in the service of the Premier League after all.

This comes three weeks after Susan Dinnage did a volte-face on the top job, and the recruitment process of November, where Davie was apparently runner-up, was revisited.

BBC Sport informs us that Mr Davie "has now decided he is happy at the BBC."

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

England re-invented

They're calling it the biggest change to the structure of BBC England in 50 years. And if in doubt about reinvention, why not restructure ?

There are currently ten head of regions and a head of digital. These posts will close. There will be six new senior editorial roles - a Head of News, a Head of TV Commissioning, and four regional leads covering the North, the Midlands, the East and South East and the West and South West. Chris Burns, who was announced last year as the Head of Audio and Digital, will continue to lead local radio. It means the number of senior managers will reduce from eleven to eight. (And the redundancy money comes from a central pot).

Totting up

Some figures from last night's Meaningless Vote coverage

BBC News: 4.9m (31.1%)
ITV News at Ten: 1.7m (11.4%)
Newsnight: 0.86m (8.3%)
Politics Live Special (BBC2, 7pm): 1.88m (9.4%)
Channel 4 News: 0.80m (4.0%)


Big news days are not without internal tensions at the BBC.

The BBC News Channel simulcast the BBC2 Politics Live special with Andrew Neil, occasionally adding its own 'Breaking News' boxes. Neil, picking up editor Rob Burley's questions off his screen, had most fun pulling the wings off Matt Hancock. 

Newsnight had a complex intro, and failed to line up the right sounds. Then Emily Maitlis appeared, dressed as an extra from Blade Runner 2049, and ran through Matt Hancock again.   All back again for another predictable vote tonight.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Carrie on

Carrie Gracie returned to BBC News yesterday, after six months off. Not an entirely glitch-free resumption of the saddle of presentation, for those of who you haven't heard it already...

Other people who read this.......