Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dear BBC - I'm typing as fast as I can....

I was going to call this blog "DouBBCle Standards" when I started it yesterday, but the BBC faux pas are coming at us so fast I've had to re-name it and ..... type as fast as I can to get it on today! 

Firstly, I ask "How MANY  acts of (alleged) bullying does it take for the BBC to act on them?"

‘Thirty’ ... or ‘Several’ ??


(The Independent 24 January 2014)

Rod McKenzie: “complaints by more than THIRTY current and former members of staff. A dossier of statements from 17 serving and former members of the BBC’s Newsbeat, describes a “climate of paranoia and fear” in which they worked under an editor who has been moved following a year-long inquiry into bullying and harassment across the BBC.Rod McKenzie has been given a final written warning and moved to another role outside of the BBC network news following complaints by more than THIRTY current and former members of staff. 

Throughout the disciplinary process Mr McKenzie has disputed the claims against him, and has since pointed out that some of the claims were not upheld. Statements seen by this newspaper detail alarming levels of distress experienced by young BBC journalists who are required to produce news for Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s audience of 16-29 year old listeners.”


BBC News website 5 March 2014

Mark Lawson:  BBC arts presenter “is to leave Radio 4's ‘Front Row’ after 16 years, it has been announced. ‘For personal reasons I shall be taking a break from live daily radio journalism’ he said in a statement.  The broadcaster's departure follows allegations of bullying among SEVERAL staff in the BBC Radio Arts Unit.” 

I know nothing more than is stated/alleged, but I do wonder how many MORE than THIRTY it might take for the BBC to actually SACK someone? I also wonder if Mark Lawson is maybe 'ticked-off' that he only had 'several' but is treated this way?

But all of this pales into insignificance compared to that heard on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, as aptly recorded and visualised on YouTube:

Anyone who has actually worked in radio might find the official BBC statement rather too 'fantastic' to believe.

"There was a technical mistake where sound effects being prepared in another studio for an unrelated item were accidentally broadcast over the news bulletin"

Given that sound fx have not been broadcast over their news in living memory, do they truly think anyone believes this given that the fx matched perfectly the dialogue of the Pistorius story? Of course I'm sure no one thinks it was rowdy young journalists larking around in the next studio as the bulletin went out, not realising it had an 'open mic'?

If the sound fx were being made for an 'unrelated item' the BBC would have said what it WAS for? Unless they work a VERY long way ahead for making sound fx for Halloween.... I have no idea what 'unrelated item' they would fit...

So, BBC Coventry /Warwickshire, is it for Halloween?

Of course there is the fact that now rather than being one of the worst-performing BBC Local stations, at least people know it exists.  Now where was it as regards 'average hours per listener' in the official Rajar audience figures in September 2013? 

You find it!

Sorry, that was naughty; BBC Coventry /Warwickshire had just 8.6 hours so did not even get into the 'top 20', and an equally poor 15% weekly reach. 

This leads me to ask WHY the BBC continue with very brittle, speech-led local breakfast programming when it clearly does not work in many areas? 

There is also the factor that 'Lord' Tony, the BBC DG wants '50% female co-presenters on BBC local radio breakfast shows by this autumn', as widely reported last year. At a time the BBC needs severe financial stringency they are responding to feminist pressure groups and promoting inexperienced  or newly trained (in a hurry) staff onto what should be their main show of the day. 

(In MY 40 years radio experience
 good broadcasters are never 'trained' they are born...)

All the above is purely to be SEEN to be politically correct to the feminists!

The only glimmer of hope in this awful management/ politically correct mess is that the BBC Local stations are showing some signs of change by employing REAL broadcasters such as James Whale on BBC Essex. With 40 years experience, he cut his 'radio teeth' in the north-east for decades and was also very successful on London's LBC. Similarly, ex-commercial radio dj's are used on weekends or late nights on some stations. But they would be far better (mature) candidates for the breakfast shows, or the afternoon show on BBC Coventry /Warwickshire!

Instead, BBC Local radio blunders on blindly with 'university type' staff, several decades younger and out of touch with their ageing audience, playing music often issued before they went to school.

SOLUTION: just close down the FIVE least successful BBC Local radio stations, and put the next lowest 5 'on notice'. It will save building rental, reduce pension and wage costs.

And of course, get some MATURE presenters and journalists.

If I can't convince the BBC, just dig out the report John Myers did on BBC Local radio. You paid for it, so READ it !

Postscript: I was delighted when 2 hours after I posted this it was 'favourited' on Twitter by BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine, and I had a supportive email from a BBC Local Radio editor - thank you.

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