Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Why, Jimmy ?

The BBC News beast is still struggling to work out why that nice James Harding is leaving them in the New Year. His glass box at the north-west corner of new Broadcasting House has been under-occupied since the summer holidays. Who has he been meeting, to give him the confidence he can set up a new media venture that will allow him to re-acquaint himself with his own opinions ?  And that might pay him close to his present £340k, with plenty of foreign travel opportunities ?

The word 'liberal' has been used; one commenter predicts "a Europhile digital broadsheet version of The Canary".

James is well networked, with chums ranging from Elizabeth Murdoch, through Sarah Vine, David Aaronovitch, Ed Vaizey, George Osborne, Nick Denton, Jez Butterworth, Emma Freud through to the BBC's favourite headhunter, Dom Loehnis. Father-in-law Sir Mark Weinberg could provide some good financial contacts.

Things that may be left in James' well-stacked in-tray: The court proceedings brought by Sir Cliff Richard; presenter pay - 27 of the original 40 BBC grumpy women are on Harding's books, many of them with salaries agreed via his lieutenant brought from The Times, Keith Blackmore; what do to about cuts - his hand was stayed by Lord Hall when he tried to strangle the BBC News channel, and he's short of ideas on BBC Local Radio; big brands Newsnight and Panorama are still struggling to attract audiences commensurate with their budgets. But he's played a long game over finances, and been bailed out by wads of dosh from the Foreign Office, sequestering substantial sums for his central newsgathering operation.

Meanwhile, there remains the presenting career to develop. Sunday night saw a care-free James chewing the fat at JW3 in North London with Oslo-playwright JT Rogers.

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