Saturday, November 18, 2017

Executive recruitment

In the absence of any real information, I fell to musing yesterday on the problems of attracting top quality candidates to pitch for BBC Director of News.

It ran like this. There is no longer a seat for this key function on the BBC's top board. This is despite News fulfilling most of the BBC's key purposes, and employing the vast majority of BBC staff (6596.6 equivalent full time continuing and fixed term employees in BBC News & Current Affairs  at 1st October. This does not include overseas recruits, agency, freelancer and casuals - or staff working for the burgeoning BBC Global News Ltd).

James Harding was out of work when Lord Hall tapped him up. To tap up, say, Lionel Barber at the FT, you might have to make some more promises - perhaps even hint at preparation to follow Lord Hall as DG. Lionel, spookily, has been musing on the future of journalism at the Society of Editors conference. And Kath Viner, at The Guardian has produced a long read on "A mission for journalism in a time of crisis". You'd be forgiven for thinking they could be preparing a presentation for a big interview.

You might try turning to former BBC News executives Roger Mosey, 59 or Mark Damazer, 62. The problem is that, if you bring any these savvy types in, they'd want to be assured they were ahead of James Purnell in any new pecking order. 

When do we want it ?


Some of this blog relies on big organisations' commitment to transparency.

There's been no publication of BBC Board minutes since June. There's been no publication of Ofcom Content Board minutes since March. BBC senior manager's expenses, once updated quarterly, are frozen in time at Quarter 4 2016/17.

There should be a new Chair of Ofcom by now.

Give us a break.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Streaming The Queen

Yanks starved of access to British culture by the scheduling policies of BBC Star Trek America may like to consider a switch to the streaming services of Britbox, which has just launched "Britmas".

Subscribers ($6.99 a month) will get near simultaneous re-broadcasts of The Queen's Christmas Message and Carols from King's. Other delights on offer in December include archive Christmas specials from The Office, Only Fools and Horses and Upstairs Downstairs. 


Jonty and the boys have had a meeting at the BBC, and someone noticed that the re-imagined Civilisation series (re-imagined by making it plural) hadn't got a 'partnership'. So now there's an invitation to all the UK's museums, galleries and libraries to take part in a Civilisations Festival, to run alongside transmission of the the new series in March next year.

But these are straightened times, and the partnership fund is £10k. And 100 institutions have already signed do the maths.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

I counted them all in......

As the Guardian predicted, the first of the new fortnightly reports by the BBC about bald numbers of complaints, demanded by Witchfinder Bakhurst of Ofcom, has been published. Two programmes got over 100 - Have I Got News For You and Strictly - but the BBC adds a sarky 'nota bene'....

NB: Figures include, but are not limited to, editorial complaints, and are not comparable with complaint figures published by Ofcom about other broadcasters (which are calculated on a different basis). The number of complaints received is not an indication of how serious an issue is.

Oldies but goldies

A week ago I wrote about how the BBC is considering new ways of accessing its back catalogue, currently with much of the good stuff assigned to UKTV, operated in 50/50 partnership with Scripps TV.

Now The Telegraph tells us that BBC Worldwide finance people are on the hunt for investors to help with a buy-out of the Scripps share. Scripps are currently being bought out by Discovery - and the BBC has first option on buying back its half of UKTV. Then, perhaps, follows the trickier implementation of paid-for-streaming via some yet-to-be-defined cousin of the iPlayer - a potentially dangerous thin-end-of-the-wedge towards a BBC-funded-just-by-subscription.

(Enough dashes - Ed)


Norwegian raider Christen Ager-Hanssen, bidding to wrest full control of Johnston Press, is still being tracked by the marvellously-named Kronofogdemyndigheten. This is the Swedish tax enforcement agency, and today they calculate that, with interest, Christen owes them some £1.6m from taxes unpaid over three years around the year 2000. Mr Ager-Hanssen has threatened to counter-sue for "incorrect handling of the case".

Winding down

BBC Director of News James Harding spent a night at The National Theatre courtesy of Radio 3's Free Thinking, reviewing the stage version of Network. He said he chortled all the way through, and thought Bryan 'Mad Men' Cranston would be a great booking as a newsreader.

He also confessed he'd never seen the original Sidney Lumet movie from 1976. Extraordinary.

Is this news ?

The Sun has been supplied with a range of snaps taken on the basement newsroom floor at Broadcasting House, which all feature employees asleep at their desks. They were reportedly taken by a colleague on nightshifts over the four years since 2013....and, at time of writing, feature as the online lead for the Sun's website.

If we'd had phone cameras earlier, who knows how many albums might have been filled during the last century ?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Without a hint of irony, Baroness Rona Fairhead of Yarm, former BBC chair and now Minister for Trade and Export Promotion, has announced funding for Public Service Broadcasting.

It's one of twelve popular music combos sharing the latest grants from a £2.4m fund to encourage music exports. Others include Ghostpoet, Zervas & Pepper and ROAM.

Public Service Broadcasting, currently on tour around Europe, specialise in instrumentals woven around themes from old public information films.

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