Saturday, October 19, 2019

Further scanning

BBC Newsgathering boss Jonathan Munro picked up a couple of two-centre flights in the latest expenses disclosures - South Korea and Japan, for £2837.02, and New York and Washington for  £2574.22. Director of News Fran Unsworth made the same New York/Washington flight for the same price. Group Managing Director Bob Shennan took in Washington, Austin and Chicago for £1359.82.

Sky scanner

Foreign travel doesn't feature quite as much in the latest release of expenses from BBC senior managers. 

Controller Radio 3 Alan Davey visited Tokyo, to watch the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in a series of concerts called the BBC Proms Japan. Flight £1747.72. Head of News Output Gavin Allen flew to Boston for £1120.22. BBC World Service group director Jamie Angus went to Rio for £2295.32.

No flight details for leader comedy man Shane Allen, but he did claim for 4 nights in the 4-star Shangri-La Hotel, Santa Monica for £922.16.  Chief (data) Architect Jayton Aythora headed to San Francisco for £1355.58, plus three nights in the 4-star Hotel Spero for a tasty £1140. 

Kieran Clifton, Director of Distribution, flew to Austin, Texas for £2455.22, and spent £1419.80 on six nights in a hotel.   Steerage for Controller Radio 1 Ben Cooper, knees tucked up all the way to LA for just £781.69. BBC2 boss Patrick Holland spent £1048.26 on four nights at the Beverly Hills Plaza. Alison Kirkham, Factual Commissioner, flew to Washington for £1829.52

DG Lord Hall flew to Tel Aviv for £1478.72, accompanied by Director of Nations and Regions Ken MacQuarrie, and spent 3 nights in the Hotel Rothschild at £816.09; slightly pricier was a stay in Davos - six nights in the Bergotal Schatzalp, at £2328.59.

More later, when my eyes recover...

What matters...

The Mail calls it a Day of Destiny; the FT 'High Noon'; the Today programme wheels out James Naughtie for his thoughts from Westminster.

BBC1, the channel that brings the nation together in times of crisis, sticks with Pointless Celebrities from 1750 to 1840.  BBC2 offers a Newsnight special from 1750 to 1830.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Mixed up

I'm sure the commissioning process is entirely transparent.

Popular music combo Little Mix will be presenting a new Saturday night show for BBC1 next year, "The Search", in which they hunt for a support act for the UK leg of their 2020 tour. The seven part series will be made by Modest TV, formed in 2016 by the Little Mix management company, Modest Management. Their executive producer will be their Chief Creative Officer Andrea Hamilton, whose cv includes Strictly and The Voice.

Modest Management are essentially record industry veterans Harry Magee and Richard Griffiths, who came together in 2003, and broke through with One Direction in 2010. They also manage Niall Horan, Olly Murs, Rak-Su, Katherine Jenkins, Diana Vickers and Paul Potts.


A three-strong live Brexitcast last night on BBC1, with fourth Buck's Fizz member Chris Mason allowed the night off to prepare for presentation of Any Questions ? on Radio 4. 

Brussels-based Adam Fleming gave us a look round the Justus Lipsius building, where the atrium base houses up to 600 hacks, and the Balcony of Fame, where the big presenters play....

Morning meeting

All very breathless and exciting on the BBC1 bulletins at 6 and 10 last night, but today they must do better on some facts about the differences between this deal and the May deal. It is not enough to have one graphic about moving 'cars' from GB to NI, and then on to the Irish Republic. It is not enough to point people to the website.

Let's do a piece on the 'all-Ireland regulatory zone', the restrictions on changing VAT in NI; the composition of the committee who will set levels of financial support to NI farmers; the 'points of entry', that will be supervised by UK and EU officials; the definition of 'cross community support' required for the system to continue, and more.

After that, you can have your normal breathless pieces on trying to guess how the vote will go. Thank you.

Thursday, October 17, 2019


Radio 4's You and Yours, from the advanced BBC technology hub that is MediaCityUK, Salford, suffered crossed wires yesterday. For 1 minute 40 seconds - an inordinately long time to stop this sort of fault - a live microphone from someone perhaps preparing to read a news bulletin bled across the dulcet tones of Winifred Robinson. Includes fruity language about temperature.

Full story ?

"BBC Sounds is growing. We now have over two and a half million weekly users, up around 50% since July, with listeners having come across from iPlayer Radio, which we closed last week."  BBC Director of Radio & Education James Purnell today.

Do you dislike partial discloures ? I very much hope the BBC Board will be provided with a fuller analysis of, for example, the numbers that HAVEN'T come across from iPlayer Radio; the full costs of marketing BBC Sounds so far; and the future of the BBC's offer to radio listeners around the world.

Taxi !

The BBC has reinvented its taxi contract. The previous deal was with 'One Transport', who've now re-branded themselves "Gett Business Solutions" - and won another go, which should turnover close to £11m a year for the next seven years.

Gett, an upmarket taxi hailing app, took over many of London's black cabs in 2016, buying out Mountview. They've promised to introduce Addison Lee drivers to the new BBC deal.

Virtual hits reality

"After that project though, the VR Hub will be wrapping up its commissioning and production work..."

Thus the BBC's Zillah Watson (Nottingham High School, BA Law University College, Oxford and qualified barrister) announces a pretty firm pause in making new BBC material for those funny headsets. Zillah is billed as Commissioning Editor for Virtual Reality & Head of BBC VR Hub, a Research and Development job she's held for two and a half years.

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