Thursday, December 1, 2022

Art online

Former BBC DG George Entwistle has taken a small further step back into the shallow end of public life, with a gig as Vice-chair of Art UK, where's he been Trustee since the charity was set up in 2016. 

Said George, "Art UK has become a vital part of the nation's digital infrastructure, making available online – free of charge – high quality images of every oil and acrylic painting in public ownership, the best of the nation's sculpture, and many more artworks besides."

Bless you

Bishop Rhodri Talfan Davies and his Suffragan Jason Horton stuck strictly to the message on the tablets in front of MPs on the Culture Select Committee, and should now be made to 'listen again' with coaches.  

The Bishop said there would be no significant change to his proposals to suck funding from local radio in England, despite being warned by some on the committee that such a position meant there was no 'meaningful consultation' on the cuts. Jace made the mistake of defending "We Are England", proudly recalling he'd personally turned it round, before Rhodri got the MPs message of 'shambles' and said 'mistakes were made'. 

Other MPs picked up on Rhodri's use of the word 'local' to mean whatever he wanted to mean, and noted that this was yet another session in which BBC executives promised 'more for less'. 

"Maybe with hindsight we should have talked DCMS through these proposals", said Rhodri, in a rare moment of contrition. He also revealed a metric - his ambition with Digital First is for his services to reach 50% of the communities they serve each week. No MP was smart enough to ask for the current weekly reach. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2022


The Witchfinders of Ofcom have brewed up a farrago of qualitative research and taken another poke at the BBC for failing viewers in the socio-economic classes C2 and DE. This failure in part is characterised first in viewing figures, and then over-amplified by Ofcom-sponsored market research into 'perceptions', Then Ofcom makes the emotive leap into calling C2DEs 'disenfranchised' by BBC programme makers.  

In quantitative figures, the BBC has a bigger share of DE viewers than ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. The big winner for DEs is 'other channels', at 33%. The average weekly reach of BBC tv channels to DE viewers is 68%, compared with 71% for ABs. 

Ofcom's own research, over 2017/18, produced a list of the top tv programmes amongst C2DE audiences. In first place, Blue Planet II, then Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas Special, One Love Manchester, and Strictly Come Dancing. Overall, the BBC took 14 of the top 20 places. 

I've written before how Ofcom loves 'perceptions'. They're interesting, but they shouldn't be put above eyeballs. 

Send me your stuff

Interesting to observe the detailed and targeted recruitment process the new custodians of BBC News values are using these days....

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

I'm sorry, we have to leave it there

Wasn't there a trail for the Radio 4 Today debate programme where Mishal Husain said it would give time and space for more thoughtful discussion, without the abrupt curtailments of the daily show ?


Radio is once again the victim, as BBC Northern Ireland follows the Rhodri Talfan Davies' template to move money to 'digital first'. 

Radio Foyle in Londonderry, which is largely an opt-out service from the mothership of Radio Ulster in Belfast, loses its Breakfast Show, running from 7am to 9am, currently presented by David Hunter and Elaine Magee; and all its own regional news bulletins.  Radio Ulster loses a weekly business and economics show, to the greater glory of 'online'.  The balance will eventually see 36 post closures, with all journalist jobs at Radio Foyle 'at risk'. 


Summat's up at AMC Networks, joint custodians of BBC America. Chief Executive Officer Christina Spade has stepped down from her role; she was appointed in August. AMC Networks Chairman James Dolan said: “We thank Christina for her contributions to the company in her CEO role and her earlier CFO role, and we wish her well in her future endeavors.” No news of a replacement at this stage. 

Outside broadcast

He's battling on. Piers Morgan Uncensored has been shifted in the TalkTV schedules from 8pm to 9pm, yet is still surrounded by adverts for charities, cremation plans and gold coins.  Last night he was live from Qatar at midnight their time, interviewing a sheik, and two men he described as 'the most famous men in football', Andy Gray and Richard Keys. And there was a bit of money spent on temporary set dressing. 

Mr Morgan has also been able to fit in a meal at Salt Bae's restaurant in Doha, where a plate of meatballs would cost you £30, and 200g of fillet steak £75.  

Real-time enterprise journalism

BBC News CEO Deborah Turness and her deputy Jonathan Munro now say they need an Associate Director, Editorial Impact. I've not spotted 'associate' in a News job title over 50 years of reasonably close observation, and therefore suspect it is meaningless puffery, of which there is much more in the full advert. 

The job seems to be to prime the pump of 'pre-planned' news, and make sure it is then liberally sprayed over the output until the audience turns, frothing at the mouth, to other outlets. 

The successful candidate will be an experienced journalist with excellent news judgement, production and leadership skills, able to optimise, amplify and distribute the very best of our content - from investigations and long form doc’s [sic] to real-time enterprise journalism and on-the-day scoops.

The superhero who gets the gig will be responsible for

Leadership of the Commissioning team to build on the success delivered to-date in optimising our journalism. To strengthen, deepen and refine our growing expertise in delivery of pre-planned/investigative editorial content across multiple outlets. 

Drive maximum optimisation of our journalism and distribution of  all our premium content through working in collaboration with our Story Teams, planning, programmes and platforms to guarantee delivery. 

Creation of a seamless solution to ensure our best news lines and outstanding live moments produced by our own programmes are urgently push-alerted and distributed to all internal outlets for re-use. To achieve this you will need to work with key partners to design the best solutions and systems. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

John's back

There will be some anxiety about the impending arrival of John Lucius McAndrew at the helm of BBC News programmes. 

John, 52 (Backwell Comprehensive, Somerset and Liverpool John Moores University) was born in Bristol and thus is naturally a Manchester United fan. From 2017 to August 2020, he was part of the team trying to start a NBC/Sky News global service; the strategy belonged to one Deborah Turness.  Presenters like the BBC's Matthew Price were hired. It was cancelled, with dozens of journalists out of work, and a half-built studio at Osterley left behind. Maybe John can follow through with some magic dust on the merger of BBC World and BBC News channels.... 

Other McAndrew successes include Sky News' The Pledge, a chat show launched in 2016, with panellists including Greg Dyke, Nick Ferrari, June Sarpong and Baroness Mone, among others. Later that year he left Sky and ended up at ITV producing The Agenda with Tom Bradby. Panellists included Emma Barnett, Nigel Farage and Michelle Dewberry. Then there was ITV's After the News, in 2017, featuring Nick Ferrari and Emma Barnett. 

More recently, people will remember his role as Director of News Programmes at GB News, the talent he hired, including Michelle Dewberry, and the technology he endorsed.  His cv says he was contracted for a year (spookily arriving in October 2020, just as Sir Robbie Gibb departed as editorial adviser) but, of course, he resigned a month after launch, in the row over Guto Harri taking the knee on air. 

There will be some who remember him from the start of his journalistic career - at BBC News Online in 1994, straight from university. He left in 2005, as Editor of The Daily Politics, which he launched with presenters Andrew Neil and Daisy Sampson.  

John married Daisy Sampson in 2008. His sister Kate is billed as Chief of Staff to the CEO, BBC News on Linkedin. 

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