Come on BBC, give the English-speaking world a break
To point a camera at your failed bosses as they squabble before a Commons Committee is an unsettling job, but that's what BBC journalists have been obliged to do this week.
A “toxic mix of cowards and control freaks” is how one national newspaper commentator described BBC executives. Bilderberger Marcus Agius, who steered Barclays Bank into the worst excesses of the multibillion-pound - and still unpunished - LIBOR fraud, was put in charge of setting top BBC staff salaries. Executive pay spiraled up and an inexplicable 2million quid was paid in voluntary sweeteners to outgoing executives, causing this week's latest toe-curling parliamentary wriggle-fest.
Another shameful waste of public money by BBC bosses is good news for a certain Mr. Rupert Murdoch, the media baron whose family somehow dodged jail in last year’s phone hacking scandal. Every bad day for the state owned BBC is more money in his and his Tory-supporting shareholders’ pockets. Is this why the present Tory government seems to have set the BBC on 'self destruct’?
So to the fix. Despite what all the national commentators say
it's not the 'system of governance’ that’s the problem. An
incremental succession of ‘yes men’ political appointments
has been causing a once great institution to ossify. It’s an old
fashioned 'new broom’ that's needed. All these Tory, big
business, City of London vested interests have got to go.
The corporation's foundering 'flagship’ current affairs
program, Newsnight, exemplifies the wider decline. The show’s
three top journalists have found the BBC air too poisonous to
breathe over the past two years and headed for the lifeboats.
Political Correspondent Michael Crick left after Newsnight bosses hinted they wanted to edge him out. His interviews with cabinet ministers were also being systematically 'wiped’ by other staff to 'save hard disk space’.
Social Affairs journalist Liz MacKean scooped the biggest story of 2012: Jimmy Savile child abuse. It was unforgivably spiked by Newsnight editor Peter Rippon and Liz has 'taken early retirement’.
Economics editor Paul Mason has moved on too. He helped the
nation understand, if not actually deal with, the 2008 financial
crisis and is widely admired across the profession. All three
have turned up like marooned shipmates on the 'other
side’, ITN’s world-beating Treasure Island, Channel 4 News.
Meanwhile, stifled by BBC carbon monoxide, Newsnight has become a
rudderless parody of its former incarnations. Its credibility
fragmenting, precious airtime is stuffed with stories that don’t
The same old establishment guests either fail to take the public’s interests to heart or simply have no real experience of the subject in hand. Amazingly, anchor Jeremy Paxman has doggedly kept his head while all around are losing theirs.
So, now for the simple fix
Rather than dwell on the minutiae of the BBCs slow, painful
demise I’ll set out my five-minute 'back of the envelope’ plan.
What the BBC needs is for an honest politician to take the steam
cleaner to the entire board room.
Every member of the BBC Trust, with the possible exception of a financial guru should be a former broadcaster that has gained the respect of the viewers and listeners through hard graft.
In a lean, lithe BBC, every manager could, even if it's just a day each month, be doing some broadcasting, even helping out in the lighting gallery or making tea. That would do more than any phony restructuring to bring respect and trust back into the corporation.
But the key changes must take place at the apex from which all success or failure permeates. Current BBC Chairman Chris Patten is a failed Tory party chairman. Humiliated by the British public at the 1992 General Election, he lost the formerly-safe seat of Bath.
He has a disgusting stack of investments and outside interests round his Albatross neck including advising Bridgepoint, investors in 17 private healthcare firms. And we are supposed to trust his BBC to report fairly on the privatization of the National Health Service, from which he personally stands to gain?
MI5 and the military have a malignant presence with Daphne Park from MI6 helping Margaret Thatcher decapitate a corporation critical of her policies in 1986. Within the last decade Bilderberger Pauline Neville-Jones was running private arms research company QinetiQ, These jumpy military types have no place controlling broadcasters.
So here's the shortlist
Dame Joan Bakewell fronted BBC's award-winning documentary and
discussion series 'The Heart of the Matter’,
compassionately tackling the ethical issues of our time.
Investigative journalist Roger Cook fronted Britain's most popular current affairs show ever. His weekly journalistic stings were canceled after a series of brutal ‘News of the World’ Murdoch libels. The Cook Report uncovered satanic abuse rings, nuclear arms dealers and foresaw the 9/11 attacks, bringing in audiences over 10 million.
In 1997 veteran BBC journalist Martin Bell decided to stand as an
independent MP, successfully unseating sleazy Tory politician
Neil Hamilton, and won.
BBC News Anchor for a decade Peter Sissons has been highly critical of the Corporation in retirement regularly challenging the BBC's pro-establishment bias.
Former commissioner of great BBC programs turned writer and editor Janet Street-Porter has always been independent-minded and outspoken about establishment interference in British media.
Writer and Jonathan Meades is one of the true heavyweights of British broadcasting and will not suffer a fool for a moment. Always articulate and outspoken he scratches away the surface of whatever he touches to get at the cold hard truth.
Veteran Channel 4 News Anchor Jon Snow has built Channel 4 News’ reputation on asking the difficult questions of top politicians. They are invariably afraid to appear on the day of a big story, well aware that he will tear them to shreds.
Richard Madeley, along with his wife Judy Finnigan, warmed the
hearts of the nation with their forthright and staunchly grounded
daytime TV chat show Richard and Judy.
The principle is clear: this should be where great broadcasters go to flirt with retirement. Only allow someone onto the BBC board who has earned genuine professional and public respect for their work if you want the corporation to start ‘Informing, Educating and Entertaining’ again.
With shrivel-hearted cronies out of the way and trusted
broadcasters back in charge, the sparkle of pizzazz, instead of
the present stale air, will begin to percolate down through the
corporation again. Reinvigorating the cultural life of the
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.