Thursday, October 27, 2016


Firm figures for talk radio in general in the first-post-Brexit RAJAR figures. LBC across the UK is up 22% in weekly reach year-on-year, to 1.8m. New kid TalkRADIO was up from 224k to 304k on the quarter. Radio 4 was up 4% year-on-year to 11.2m.

Radio 5Live was essentially stable, but TalkSPORT is down below 3m for the first time in three years.

The Asian Network will be pleased with a 12% rise, year on year, to 662k. 6Music leads the digital advance, up 7% to 2.3m.

In BBC Local Radio, RAJAR fluctuations are notorious - but there does seem to be an upturn at Radio Lancashire, and a downturn at Radio Norfolk. Radio Cymru is down 3% year on year; Radio Wales down 11%, and Radio Scotland down 5%.

Amongst the big pop players, Radio 1's Nick Grimshaw is down year on year, from 5.78m to 5.25m. Chris Evans is also off the top, down from 9.42m to 9.06m.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Aye aye

The preferred candidate for the first Chair of the BBC Board will be selected by a panel led by Public Appointments Assessor Sir Peter Spencer, KCB.

Sir Peter followed father Harry into the Royal Navy, leaving Brighton and Hove High School for the Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth at just 17. From the Navy, he took an engineering degree at Queen's College, Cambridge from 1967-70.  His ships included HMS Abdiel, Torquay and Bristol. His appointments included Controller of the Navy, Second Sea Lord and Commander in Chief Naval Home Command. He "initiated fundamental re-design of Navy’s personnel management system to enhance operational capability of all front line units and improve retention of key skill groups. This included major improvements in quality and efficiency of Royal Naval training, and simplified personnel processes".

He was appointed KCB in June 2001. He and his wife Lisa live in Beckington, Somerset - not far from The Forester's.  He lists interests as music, books, theatre and cinema and sport, especially sailing, cricket and rugby.


ITV's two-week experiment moving Tom Bradby's salary-boosting The Agenda to 8pm hasn't worked. Last week it scored 803,000 viewers in the overnight ratings; last night, even with added Paxman, it only moved to 875,000.

Samurai wanted

The ad for the first Chair of the BBC Board gives us details of the "skills mix" sought by Lord Hall for his non-executive directors.
  • experience in a leadership and/or oversight role within an organisation of significant scale and complexity; 
  • a leadership role in public policy development and implementation, including in relation to regulatory environments and/or economics; 
  • experience in a global organisation working across multiple countries and markets, in the media or related disciplines;
  • experience in the technology, digital media or telecoms sectors; 
  • demonstrable leadership in the creative, arts and/or cultural arenas; 
  • senior experience in commissioning or production of media content – either in television, radio, news or online;
  • experience in commercial and/or operational management, with a particular focus on strategy development, audit or risk; 
  • editorial responsibility at a senior level, including running editorial operations and/or maintaining standards; 
  • and management of marketing, audience engagement or customer relationships at a senior, preferably board, level.
That's nine skillsets against ten vacancies, so it would be a good idea for Chair applicants to claim one of them. 

If you'd like a chat about the job, contact Kit Bingham (Balliol, Oxford) at Odgers Berndtson. Kit is son of the late Lord Bingham of Cornhill, once nominated as the Greatest Living Englishman alongside Sir David Attenborough.  If Kit's too intimidating, try his colleague Simon McDonald (Great Yarmouth Grammar and University of Sussex).  

Cliff hanger

The BBC has had twenty days to think about the civil case laid in Chancery against them and the South Yorkshire Police, over the coverage of the police raid on the singer's home back in August 2014.

Sir Cliff's legal team have not been rebuffed by the BBC's assertion that they've done nothing wrong, a view supported, entertainingly, by Keith Vaz's Home Affairs Committee. Yesterday the BBC line remained unchanged: “We’ve said previously we are very sorry that Sir Cliff has suffered distress but we have a duty to report on matters of public interest and we stand by our journalism.”

The 26-page catch-all claim, seen by The Sun, talks about unlawful conduct, breaches of editorial guidelines, data protection and more. It's hard to see how either side can back down, so now it's down to witness lists and preparation - and more PR by both sides.

For a made-up take on what might have happened, read my post from September 2014.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Jack's Mac

As the UK winter arrives, we usually expect our BBC News bulletins to be peppered with logos from Berghaus and The North Face. Business editor Simon Jack, made to stand pointlessly at Heathrow at ten last night, went against trend, but Twitter wasn't entirely sure it was a good look....

Some have wondered if the late Ted Lune, of Army Game fame, has left a clothing line still in manufacture. Ted had a variety act with ever-extending arms in a similar mac. Ted was a foil to many other comedians - a typical exchange:

'Are you putting it about that I'm barmy?'
'Why? Do you need any help?'


Fearne Cotton may have been dropped from Children In Need's big night - but she's still in emerging-Director of Radio Bob Shennan's thoughts. Normally Zoe Ball deps for Ken Bruce when half-term comes; this week Fearne takes the chair.

Elsewhere in the R2 schedules, Penny Smith covers Vanessa Feltz' early show, as Vanessa covers for Jeremy Vine. Mark Goodier has covered two days for Chris Evans, who is back tomorrow.

Monday, October 24, 2016

North of the border

A reader suggested that, if I was less than satisfied with the schedules of BBC America, I might take a look at BBC Canada.

Today's listings include two editions of "Holmes on Homes", in which Toronto-based home improvement contractor Mike Holmes rescues Ontario homeowners from renovations gone wrong; three episodes of "Income & Property" in which couples try home renovations with help from Toronto-based estate agent Scott McGillivray; six episodes of "A Town And Country Murder", made by UK based indie Flame TV; four editions of "Border Security - Australia", and two showings of compilation show Top Gear A-Z.

Appeal ?

The first official sighting of the new Sky News glass box shows it in use very conservatively. The backdrop is John-Lewis-Oxford-Street meets HMP Slade. The presenters are clearly taking a break from a game of pinball doubles. The sound is church hall.


3pm today sees Culture Secretary Karen Bradley's first outing in front of the DCMS Select Committee.

Students of body language will be closely observing signals from the new chair, Conservative Damian Collins, never far from Matt Hancock's side during the Conservative Party Conference. Ambitious Matt has ended up in the Ed Vaizey No 2 role in Karen's team.

There are some interesting alliances in the Select Committee, with at least three in this photo campaigning hard and successfully to see Rona Fairhead leave the BBC.

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