Sunday 11 November 2012

The BBC is starring in its own farce (again)

The current situation at the BBC would be laughable were it not for the fact that they have potentially ruined the rest of someone's life by falsely naming and shaming them as a paedophile.  Of course it also matters that our money is paying for this mess.

I had a conversation with a regional BBC journalist earlier this year about how the BBC's bloated centre was not dealt with sufficiently in the cuts and that instead they focused too much on cutting back local broadcasting.  In my view, that bloated centre is as more the cause of what has happened over the last few weeks as the failings of the now resigned Director General who has been in his job for just 54 days.  It is clear that the DG did not have his finger on the pulse - but that is because of the nature and culture of the modern BBC, something he would not have been able to change during his short tenure.

Change has become inevitable, but I hope it is focused specifically on Newsnight as much as it is on the BBC in general.  We need to move beyond the current ethos that dominates National political interviewing.  Constant interruptions and rude and brusque questioning puts the ego of interviewers ahead of the views of politicians.  In my view the best interviewers allow politicians to have their say so people are able to judge and challenge both them and the organisations they represent.  Of course some depth of knowledge from interviewers is important, but the very fact that the BBC is funded by the licence fee means that it, above all, needs to make sure it is listening to and reflecting the opinions of its viewers.  The world of social media has made that easier now than ever before - it allows a step change, with political programming able to act as an intermediary between the public and politicians rather than simply controlling and setting the agenda. 

The current disaster provides huge opportunity for the BBC; they need to change and learn, but also to seize the opportunity and make its political programming much more viewer focused.

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