Thursday, December 14, 2017


Trends are often more interesting than snapshots.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Follow the money

Here's an interesting piece from BBC Media Editor Amol Rajan, on his first year in post, in which he confesses that the creation of tv news is more complicated than he thought.

He makes no mention of his many and varied presenter roles - R4's Media Show, Start The Week, The One Show, depping for Simon Mayo on R2, guest judging on Masterchef, and culminating in a Celebrity Antiques Road Trip pitted against Grace Dent. It's a miracle he fits any Media Editing in.

So what does 2018 hold for Amol, 34 ?  Is this piece part of his pitch to succeed James Harding, by which he might expect to earn over £300k ?  Or will he take the presenter route to increased dosh ?

Going postal

Another old Post Office building in London is going 'meedja'. Turner Broadcasting, which includes CNN, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, TCM plans to move offices from Great Marlborough Street to 160 Old Street, a development by Great Portland Estates near the happening 'Silicon Roundabout' and the hipsters of Shoreditch. 

The move is set to include Time Warner staff based at Great Marlborough Street, and is planned for 2019. Of course, with the AT&T takeover still up in the air, the CNN staff may not, perhaps, join the others on the journey east.....


A new Freedom of Information response from the BBC shows the number of licence fee cancellations (by either party) is slowly falling, while the number of licence fees in force is slowly growing.

             Licences cancelled     Licences in force
2016/17     788,605                      25,826,118

2015/16    817,509                      25,558,189

2014/15    875,169                      25,507,726

2013/14    945,751                      25,419,296

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Quiero una fría bien muerta

And so, as we speak, selected BBC hacks are saying farewell to their leader, James Harding, with a Mexican wave down Great Portland Street, W1.

The conversations will be entertaining; many, nervous about a future under someone a little more bothered by budgets, will be saying "Take me with you" - even though there are few with any real clue as to Mr Harding's next venture. More may become clear next week.

Meanwhile candidates to succeed him are rehearsing their vision guff, and calculating their chances of success against a series of aligned rotating wheels balancing insider/outsider/safe pair of hands/wild card/diversity/no knowledge of broadcasting/ I edited a student newspaper.  Anything is possible in the next few days....


Deepjoy. The founder of Kids Company, Camila Batmanghelidjh, is trying to call the Insolvency Service's bluff over disqualification as a de facto director of the collapsed charity.

She's being advised by James Nicholl, a partner at Gunnercooke LLP (a self-described 'challenger' law firm). He's issued a statement saying that "If ever there were a modern-day witch trial then this is it. Ms Batmanghelidjh is a powerful and charismatic woman who challenged the establishment.

"She repeatedly pointed out to government departments that destitute children were being failed. For 20 years she tirelessly raised money for these children. Now government is trying to silence her by trashing her reputation with trumped up allegations."

Mr Nicholls' claims the Insolvency Service "has decided to make maximum publicity out of seeking to disqualify the well-meaning and generally competent trustees of an amazing charity".

The eight 'official' directors of the charity, including BBC presenter and editor Alan Yentob, have been given until next Wednesday to accept a slightly reduced ban, or face court proceedings brought by the Insolvency Service. They are being advised by Bates Wells Braithwaite.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Vacuous Piffle

Tim Davie's groovy BBC Worldwide/Studios is looking for a 'VP Insights'. The advertisement gives no insight as to the full title - VP is either Vice President, Visiting Professor, Veterinary Pathologist or Vine Pruner. Maybe the clue is in the job description (not attached). The blurb says:

"This fantastic role within the global Insights team ensures that all of the digital ways that BBC Worldwide connects with consumers use insight as they are conceived of, designed and then optimised day-to-day. From content consumption channels through to email, social media, short form video and other digital channels by which consumers discover, engage with or consume our content. Including the use of insight in strategy, product development, programming, marketing and building / optimising relationships with individual consumers throughout."

I'm hoping there's a reader who can parse this for us.

It's a jungle out there

There'll be discreet whoops of joy in the BBC1 scheduling office this morning. An average of 11.12m watched the Strictly semi-final; 10.36m watched the finale of Blue Planet II; and tagging an elephant and Attenborough on to the sequence scored 4.88m.  And so, the ITV's take on the natural world, I'm a Celebrity, finished its 2017 season with an average of 9.22m, down from 10.5m last year.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Big field

Peter Preston in the Observer/Guardian floats some more names as contenders to succeed James Harding as BBC Director of News.

He offers Fran Unsworth, Mr Harding's long-serving/suffering No 2; languid Kamal Ahmed, currently BBC Economics Editor; Nick Robinson, self-effacing Today presenter; and Jessica Cecil,  fixer for successive Director-Generals, and most recently deliverer of the BBC Microbit.

Earlier this week, Buzzfeed backed Fran Unsworth, with added spin from former BBC comms chief Ed Williams, now with Edelman; Jonathan "Chopper" Munro, the newsgathering chief who authorised the Cliff Richard helicopter; Paul Royall, editor of the Six and Ten O'Clock News on BBC1; and James Purnell (really ?)

Interviews, subject to white hell, are set for this week.


There's been a dump of three sets of minutes from the panjandrums of Ofcom Content Board. I've filleted the bits relevant to imposing targets on the BBC, which ended up in marvellous micro-decisions such as requiring an extra hour a week of news and current affairs from Radio 2.


Members gave their initial views in response to Ofcom’s proposed BBC performance measures and the draft BBC Operating licence, published on 29 March 2017 in the consultation document "Holding the BBC to account for the delivery of its mission and public purposes".
Members then formed three groups to discuss the BBC’s public purposes as set out in the Charter and Agreement and mirrored in the draft Operating Licence, as follows:
provide impartial news and support learning;
provide creative, high quality and distinctive output and reflect and serve all UK communities in the Nations and regions;
support the creative economy and reflect the UK to the world.
In a plenary session members then provided feedback on and discussed the issues raised in the group discussions.


Ofcom colleagues joined the meeting and members had received a paper to update them on Ofcom’s BBC competition programme workplan. It was NOTED that under the new Charter, the BBC was required to consider the competitive impact (it may be positive, it may be harmful) of its activities in the wider media market. [Witheld from published minutes.]

Issues discussed included the need for transparency by the BBC; the impact of the BBC’s online news on other online news sites; BBC Studios and how it would operate; local TV and BBC funding (a matter for the NAO); and Ofcom’s approach to competition, which would be based on guidance rather than a policy of halting services.


Members were updated on and discussed issues including:
• Stakeholder engagement since the recent publication of Ocom’s consultation on the BBC’s new operating licence;
• The strategy set out by the BBC in its own Annual Plan, published in early July;
• The key messages from stakeholder responses received so far; and
• Spend and production in the Nations and regions and how Ofcom should achieve the right balance of operating licence requirements in these areas

More as we get it.....

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