Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Turning ?

Media Guido speculates on BBC News boss James Harding's next move, noting that an extended process to succeed Lionel Barber as editor of the FT is underway.

It's a fairly thin construction, based on FT newsroom gossip. It misses one strengthening point - James speaks Japanese, and the FT is owned by the Nikkei.

After Trinity College Cambridge and a journalism course at City University, James got a Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation scholarship to learn Japanese at SOAS, with a short time with the Japan unit of the European Commission in Brussels, and a spell as speech writer for Koichi Kato, then Japan's chief cabinet secretary. James is now billed as a trustee of Daiwa.


The BBC Board's new complaints procedure is finally online - at 46 lovely pages.

I put just the Introduction (460 words) through an online readability test, and got a Flesch Reading Ease score of 42.27 (a score of between 30 and 50 is officially 'difficult to read'). Sentences that the tool suggested could be changed: "We are required by the BBC Charter to have a complaints framework that provides 'transparent, accessible, effective, timely and proportionate methods' of making sure that the BBC is meeting its obligations and fixing problems".

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Private Eye's research team

BBC Press Officers past and present will be amused/irritated to read the obituary of Paul Vickers, "Squarebasher" for Private Eye, in the current edition.

Paul also worked as a producer/reporter on Radios 4 and 5Live from 1997 to 2012.

"He .. kept us supplied with regular updates on the Birtian idiocies that were engulfing the corporation. He also provided unstinting aid to his fellow hacks, consulting the corporation's vast information resources whenever we needed help researching stories. Throughout the late1990s a regular cry would ring out in the office: 'Call Vickers !' He will be greatly missed."

Fruitless Vine

The Mirror tells us that the BBC has cancelled Crimewatch after 33 years - this despite added Jeremy Vine for the 2017 series.

The BBC spokesperson's comments were clearly drafted by Senior Communications Officer Tracey Pritchard, with tweaking from Ian Fletcher, formerly Head of Values, and now a possible candidate for Head of Purpose... the show has not so much been cancelled, but re-imagined.

“We believe the successful Crimewatch Roadshow format in daytime is the best fit for the brand going forward and we will increase the number of episodes to make two series a year.

"We are incredibly proud of Crimewatch and the great work it has done over the years and the work Crimewatch Roadshow will continue to do, and this move will also allow us to create room for new innovative programmes in peak time on BBC One.”

Connected to the toe bone

Hillary Clinton DID hurt her foot.

And she finally managed to meet up with Jane Garvey, who had read the book and everything, for a pre-record for today's Woman's Hour, after cancelling yesterday. 

Wags had worried that there was nothing wrong with her tootsies - she'd been drained by an 80 minute interview with James Naughtie ('Jim' to Hillary) in front of 3,000 (Hillary) fans at the Royal Festival Hall the previous night. It was a symbiotic conversation for two nearly-people who are taking solace and funding from the world of books in the twilight of their careers.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Call anytime

I'm sure he's run it past HR, Procurement and Fair Trading. BBC Director of Radio and Education James Purnell is leading on an initiative to create new, innovative BBC content for voice-controlled systems like Amazon Echo and Google Home. He ends his latest blog post with this encouragement..

"If you want to work with us, get in touch with me."

Career counselling

You have until 10th November to apply to be the next BBC Director of News and Current Affairs. The door is wide open to outsiders - "proven, high-quality editorial judgement" is essential, whilst "experience of radio, television and/or online/interactive services" is merely desirable.

The first round of interviews will be in the week starting 27th November, and everyone who makes it to that shortlist will have to give a presentation "setting out their approach to and priorities for the role."  I'd recommend a slide on "Balancing the Books"; after that, some wizard animated graphics on "leading teams through transformational change and ambiguity, strategically and operationally."  You're welcome.

The price of talent

They were gathered in a tent in Montpelier Gardens, Cheltenham on Sunday morning, paying £12 a head to hear Today presenters Justin Webb and Nick Robinson being grilled by Telegraph radio critic Gillian Reynolds. Also on stage, at this Times and Sunday Times event, additionally sponsored by investment managers Baillie Gifford, was Today Senior Producer Purvee Pattni.

Senior producer pay at the BBC is, on average, around £49k. Nick Robinson's BBC earnings are between £250,000 and £299,999. Justin Webb's BBC earnings are between £150,000 and £159,999.

Nick tried to explain the Robinson/Webb differential "There are other factors, largely because I was recruited from ITV where I was on a much higher salary than my BBC colleagues."

Good heavens. Nick says he got his first six-figure pay deal when he went for breakfast with the head of ITV News in 2002, to be offered the job of political editor. He returned as BBC Political Editor in 2005, when Helen Boaden was Director of News and Roger Mosey, a long-time champion of Robinson, was running TV News. He succeeded Andrew Marr - who is still on a BBC deal worth more than £400k - Marr was appointed in 2000 by Tony Hall when he was Director of News. 

Clearly Nick was able to negotiate an improvement to come back from ITV to Auntie as Political Editor - but should he have retained so much of it when moving to Today, a job many people would like to do, at the cost of internal differentials ?  This appointment to Radio 4, so long in Nick's stars, was made under Director of News James Harding; many presenter salaries in News have been set by his aide-de-camp, Keith Blackmore.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


"For the first time, Ofcom, an independent regulator, is working on behalf of audiences to ensure the BBC delivers for them".

Thus a puff by Ofcom's Content Group Director, Kevin Bakhurst, in the Saturday edition of the Telegraph. Kev, with all the broadcasting sagacity acquired in four years as Deputy Director General RTE, is in no doubt who's the boss in this relationship

"There is a safeguard to ensure that 90% of the shows during peak evening hours on BBC One must be new". 

Witchfinder Kevin doesn't note that last year, BBC One's peak-time schedule only had 5.7% given over to repeats.

"We'll keep listening to viewers and listeners to understand their priorities".

I'd like to see the full spreadsheet of licence-payers demanding an extra hour of news and current affairs on Radio 2 each week....


Piers Morgan shares his-almost-contemporaneous diary with Event Magazine, part of the Mail on Sunday.

On October 1, he went to a memorial party at the River Cafe, in honour of the late literary agent, Ed Victor, also attended by Stephen Fry, Nigella Lawson, Sophie Dahl and Alastair Campbell.

"Ed adored gossip too, so he’d have loved the moment when Mel Brooks shouted ‘You still in disgrace, Alan?’ at former BBC boss Alan Yentob, who resigned in 2015 over the Kids Company scandal. 

Yentob, standing next to me, led the raucous laughter." 

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