Saturday, January 21, 2017


The awkward inauguration of Donald "Three Balls" Trump was occasionally slightly awkward for the BBC commentary team. Those on Twitter not previously exposed to the talents of Katty Kay, British-born anchor for BBC World News America had a very British Marmite reaction.

 "High-pitched constant yakking", "Katty Kay hasn't let anyone finish a sentence", "This BBC coverage is just an excuse for Katty Kay to reel off her Facebook friends list" sort of summarise the anti-brigade.

"Intelligent and superb", "simply extraordinary", and "worked her arse off today with the live coverage. Brilliant" cover the pro side.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Festina lente

Interesting that incoming BBC chairman Sir David Clementi told MPs at his appointment hearing that he thought BBC online delivery was important, and that he used the News and Weather apps.

After the announcement that the BBC was getting out of the online recipe business in May last year, there are still 11, 377 "delicious recipes to discover".  And the BBC News magazine pages are going as strong as ever, reinforced by content shared with the emerging Facebook monster, BBC Stories.

Still, George Osborne doesn't matter now....


Still no sign of BBC managers expenses from Quarter 2 2016/17. The BBC Trust managed to publish their six-monthly figures in December.

Good heavens, is there a big news event we've known about for some time happening this afternoon ?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fending them off

Still the "exclusives" come.

On Monday, Ken Bruce, not a man who normally embraces hyperbole, brings us a Radio 2 Eurovision 2017 Exclusive. He will play the six shortlisted tracks for the UK entry into the Eurovision Song Contest 2017, having battled his way into Western House under armed guard, and with earplugs to block the siren voices and kompromat offers from Heart, Kiss, Magic, Netflix, Breitbart, Lidl and Fortnum & Mason.  

These, folks, are the six discs EVERYBODY wants, and only Ken's got 'em.

SEO triumph

We now have an idea of how high the bar has been set for an "exclusive" by the BBC's first Media Editor, Amol Rajan - a three-minute plug on the Ten O'Clock BBC1 Bulletin for a new website, Westmonster, funded by Aaron Banks, and edited by Michael Heaver.

The site is hosted on, where the "Ultimate" wesbite hosting package is currently on special offer at £6.49 a month. Who knows how many thousands Aaron is paying for Michael's editorial efforts - or, indeed to first guest contributor, Nigel Farage ?

Mr Heaver has bought backlinks to an old website called Westmonster, launched in 2007, edited by Sadie Smith, which closed in 2008.

He's a former chair of the UKIP youth wing, Young Independence, served on Nigel Farage's press team until December, and likes Brylcreem, Chelsea FC, dance, trance and meditation. He went to Coleridge Community College, Cambridge, which he's described as ‘one of the country’s worst state schools’ at the time; was made Head Boy, picked up two GCSEs, and went on to do A Levels at the selective Hills Road Sixth Form College. With two As and a B, he went on to the University of East Anglia, wait for it, to study  European Politics.

His career has been promoted by the BBC before; he was selected as a "Young Panellist" at the age of 18 for "Question Time".

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Intent of interview not captured

Unnamed complainant 1 BBC News 0.

That's the emphatic scoreline from the BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee today, despite a last-ditch hearing on Thursday 12 January involving the BBC's Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg. It was all about this section of the BBC Six O'Clock News back in November 2015.

POLITICAL EDITOR Earlier today I asked the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn if he were the resident here at Number 10 whether or not he would be happy for British officers to pull the trigger in the event of a Paris style attack. 

JEREMY CORBYN I’m not happy with a shoot-to-kill policy in general. I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often be counter-productive. I think you have to have security that prevents people firing off weapons where you can. There are various degrees of doing things, as we know. But the idea you end up with a war on the streets is not a good thing.

The Trust's final verdict came after a leak of a draft decision earlier this month. It still reads: Finding: Upheld as breaches of accuracy and therefore as a breach of impartiality.

The Trust decided the problem was that Laura's question as phrased in the broadcast version was not the same as the question actually put in the full interview which read "But if you were Prime Minister, would you be happy to order people - police or military - to shoot to kill on Britain’s streets?".

News wouldn't lie down, saying they'd published the whole transcript online and that News at Six report had “captured both the intent of the interview and the political obfuscations that emerged”. The Trustees said they accepted this was the BBC’s genuinely held view but did not agree. "The Committee believed that the formulation in the report did not reflect a conflation of two questions and two answers but rather presented Mr Corbyn’s answer to a specific question about "shoot to kill" as an answer to a different question which he had not in fact been asked."

The News side added all sorts of info to back their case that Laura had it right; that the head of political newsgathering had sat in on the interview, and "recalled that Labour’s Director of Communications, Seamus Milne, who was also there, realised Mr Corbyn’s answers would cause him political trouble".

The Trustees were having none of it, and, in a mirror of Laura's persistent question, repeat their view of inaccuracy several times in the 11 page finding. Try this....

"Trustees noted that Mr Corbyn was not, as the programme item suggested, asked whether he would support “British officers” (which, Trustees judged, the audience would probably understand to mean "police officers") “pulling the trigger”, in the event of a “Paris-style” attack (which, Trustees judged, the audience would probably understand to mean terrorists in the act of killing or threatening to kill civilians)."

1530 update: BBC News has said it "notes" the Trust's decision. This from Head cheeky boy James Harding....

“While we respect the Trust and the people who work there, we disagree with this finding.

“Laura is an outstanding journalist and political editor with the utmost integrity and professionalism. BBC News reported on the leader of the opposition in the same way it would any other politician.” 

“It is striking that the trust itself said there was ‘no evidence of bias’. Indeed, it also said the news report was ‘compiled in good faith’.

 “The process is now concluded and BBC News formally notes the Trust’s finding.”


So Sir Dave and Lord Tone can officially talk today.

The way Sir David Clementi bigged up News in front of the MPs of the Culture Select Committee yesterday will have left James Harding's ears burning, and guaranteed the Director of News a seat on the new, unitary BBC Board. With Anne Bulford making three, there's a real problem with the fourth BBC management seat - Charlotte Moore, Director of (tv) Content and Sport or James Purnell, Director of Radio and Education ?

I think, given Sir Dave's stated continuing interest in sport, and the fact that the only radio show he mentioned was Today, Charlotte's top of his list. James hasn't tweeted since Christmas Eve - is this a resolution, or just keeping his head down ?

Sir David also talked to MPs about the need for at least one non-executive with serious editorial/journalistic background. By Friday, he will know whether or not existing Trustees Richard Ayre (once deputy to Tony Hall at News) and Mark Damazer (once Assistant to Tony Hall at News) fancy a spell on the new Board. Or maybe Roger Mosey (Master of Selwyn College Cambridge, and once Head of TV News under Tony Hall) can synchronise Arsenal home games with board meetings ?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Not tapped up

It was Clementi who thought that Clementi would make a good chair of the BBC.

Sir David Clementi told the Culture Select Committee that he decided to apply for the job created by his report only two weeks before the November closing date; it was his idea; he called the Permanent Secretary at the DCMS, Sue Owen "and she neither encouraged or discouraged me".

In a rather hunched, arms-folded-close-to-stomach performance, lanky, affable David also turned out to be rather literal, taking opening questions without much obvious humour. He told the MPs he would be looking for a minimum of one non-exec with a strong editorial/journalistic background. He endorsed Director of News James Harding's continued commitment to "reality checks", saying accuracy was at least equally as important as impartiality; the BBC ought to be a place of record, where people "can go to distinguish the difference between fact and fiction."

Sir David revealed he spends Friday night with Graham Norton on BBC1.

Catch up

Last night's BBC News in screengrabs.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Comb over

If you notice a slight buzzing sound in BBC tv programmes from late 2017, it's down to the developers who have set up a bee colony on the roof of Studio TC1.

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