Sunday, October 22, 2017


I'm sure it's nothing much to worry about, but the latest minutes of the Ofcom board report a meeting between non-executive director Graham Mather and BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi.

Graham was once a Conservative MEP and remains President of the European Policy Forum, a think-tank chaired by Baron Tugendhat, a Tory peer, former MP and British member of the European Commission.

Pressing matters

One can expect the faux-outrage at Gunpowder's execution scenes to continue next week, along with demands for the full number of complaints submitted to the BBC. The Mail Online helpfully embeds clips and links so that you can get really worked up.

The pressing-to-death of Phil Mitchell's lawyer, actress Sian Webber, playing a fictional Lady Dibdale, despite all warnings, may have shocked an audience that was 43% over-65s. It was said to have been based on the trial of Margaret Clitherow, sainted by the Catholic Church. She died in 1586, under a sentence of "peine forte et dure", which in theory was designed just to extract a confession. Margaret was in her thirties, and may have been pregnant. The door was said to have been from her own home, and the weights were more likely stones than cast iron. Contemporary accounts say she died in 15 minutes - it felt much longer for Lady Dibdale on BBC1.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

We don't talk anymore ?

It was back in May when Mr Justice Mann suggested the lawyers in Sir Cliff v The BBC take a month off to see if they could resolve their differences out of court. And there's no sign yet of the expensive barristers on both sides getting their wigs back on.

What's occurring ?  Sir Cliff turned 77 last week. He's announced a tour of major venues in the UK, Ireland and Denmark at the end of next year. His Caribbean holiday home in Sugar Hill is on offer for £6m. His Portuguese vineyards, plus two villas, are still for sale at 5.5m Euros. He sold his Sunningdale flat, which was handily exposed to potential buyers by a BBC-rented helicopter on all news outlets, for £2.9m in 2016. He has a new compilation album, Stronger Thru The Years, coming out in November.

This might suggest someone very determined to prove a point gathering a fighting fund.

  • The current edition of Private Eye says that BBC Newsgathering boss Jonathan Munro, thought by some to be a leading candidate to succeed James Harding as Director of News, is the man who authorised the use of the helicopter to point live cameras into Sir Cliff's apartment as South Yorkshire Police moved in...

Friday, October 20, 2017

Transatlantic plans

Radio 5Live Controller Jonathan Wall has told Radio Today that the BBC is planning partnerships with American firms, to make its podcasts 'world-class'.

Celebrating six awards at the ARIAs, including best podcast, Mr Wall said he and Bob Shennan, Director of Radio and Music, had been to the States for meetings with podcast distributor Panoply and podcast maker and distributor Gimlet.

Panoply was formed from The Slate's audio operations, and now hosts podcasts from Vanity Fair, the Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed, Politico and MTV; it's owned by Graham Holdings, who have also put money into Gimlet. Gimlet claims seven million downloads per month, across 190 different countries.

I hope Bob has kept Tim Davie at BBC Worldwide across all this.

Welcome, guest

The chemistry of the Today programme is easily disturbed. CNN's Christiane Amanpour was given a go this morning. Her voice suggested the vocal chords of Sarah Montague and Lyse Doucet had been put in a blender and coached back to a life of false emphasis by Garry Richardson. In the other chair, Justin Webb responded by moving to his most-clipped Captain Peacock impression, gently elbowing Christiane into the pips at 0700, and pointedly describing her as a "guest presenter".

Meanwhile Today editor Sarah Sands writes in the comment columns of the i newspaper about how she is selflessly saving the UK from Isis by the introduction of a daily puzzle. And, as a non-campaigning BBC hack, she suggests tuition fees for mathematicians should come from the public purse.

Not singing along

As the gravity of the UK's radio awards operation has drifted north, so have the gongs. The ARIAs (Audio and Radio Industry Awards), successors to the SONY awards, were presented in a pop concert-setting in Leeds for the second time last night. No awards for Global Radio, owners of Heart, Capital, Classic, LBC and Smooth brands, which, under executive president and property developer Ashley Tabor, OBE, has decided not to play. No golds for Radio 2. Only one gold, in drama, which may be associated with the daddy of speech radio, The Home Service,  Radio 4. A gold for building materials supplier, Wickes. And six golds for Salford-head-quartered Radio 5 Live.

New Presenter: Andrew Flintoff (BBC Radio 5 live) 
New Show: Flintoff, Savage & the Ping Pong Guy (BBC Radio 5 live) 
News Coverage: London Bridge Attacks – (Stephen Nolan for BBC Radio 5 live) 
Speech Presenter Breakfast: Nicky Campbell and Rachel Burden (BBC Radio 5 live)
Speech Presenter – non Breakfast: Iain Lee (talkRADIO)
Sports Show of the Year: 5 Live Sport (BBC Radio 5 Live)
Music Presenter – Breakfast: The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show (Absolute Radio) 
Music Presenter – non breakfast: Annie Mac (BBC Radio 1) 
Specialist Music Show: Benji B (TBI Media/BBC Radio 1 & 1Xtra) 
Entertainment/Comedy: The Frank Skinner Show (Avalon TV/Absolute Radio) 
Factual Storytelling: The Enemy Within (Falling Tree Productions/BBC Radio 3)  
Fictional Storytelling: Life Lines (BBC Radio Drama London) 
Community Programme: The Manchester Bombing (Key 103) 
Online Radio Station: Worldwide FM 
Podcast: Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy (BBC Radio 5 live)
On-Air Promotion: The 6Music Festival in Glasgow (BBC Radio 6Music)
Branded Content or Partnership: The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show with Wickes (Absolute Radio) 
Marketing Campaign: BBC Radio 1Xtra Street Studio (BBC Radio 1Xtra) 
Coverage of an Event: Manchester’s Response to the Arena Attack (Key 103) 
Local Station of the Year: BBC Radio London
National Radio Station of the Year: BBC 1Xtra 
Team of the Year (voted for by Radio Academy members) Local Radio Day – UKRD Group
Individual of the Year (voted for by Radio Academy members) Tony Moorey, Group Content Director, Magic and Absolute Radio

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Split loyalties

Family McAndrew are conflicted - at least for a while. Daisy, one-time politics reporter and presenter for both the BBC and ITN, is now a swing-jock at TalkRADIO and occasional tv newspaper reviewer. Husband John McAndrew, ex-Sky News, is editor of the experimental ITV political chat-show "After The News".

Last night's After The News was watched by an average of 730k viewers, a 7.2% share, according to the overnight ratings - said to be the highest figure so far of this pilot run. Lord knows what the paper review on the News Channel scores. Maybe someone can help...

Nice little earners

The BBC spent £11.8m on consultants over the last three financial years - around 0.08% of its total income over the same period.

But there's fun to be had seeing who's in and out of favour year by year in terms of spend - and amusement that someone in Freedom of Information has adopted the Strictly phraseology 'in no particular order'. McKinsey seems to have dropped out...

The BBC wants me to say "We are obliged to use external organisations to audit our accounts. On occasion, just like any other organisation, we also use external companies for specialist services – this saves the BBC millions of pounds because it is cheaper than employing permanent, full-time staff to carry out work which would only last a short period.”

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".

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