Saturday, 23 February 2013

The BBC's problems are digital

I must have written before about Edward, a stalwart for many years of a Sunday lunchtime pint gathering at the old local, familiar in eternal heavy green cord trousers and with no firm views on anything but football. He wasn't really a friend of any of us, but was always there, as much a part of Sunday lunchtime as the bar fitments. We'd always known Edward worked for the BBC but after an initial enquiry that revealed his job didn't bring him into contact with anyone famous, everyone lost interest in what he did. Right up to the time he was made redundant. 

It was one of the wives, doing the toy recycling thing that wives do, that let us know. Edward hadn't mentioned it. Once we knew, the full male support thing swung into action. Right. What was his actual job? And that was the problem. I can't recall the precise title, but it was something unknown to the rest of the world outside the BBC - say 'Deputy Head of Strategic Iteration'. It was a function unknown to other broadcasters, the media, electronics, broadcast engineering, or any industry known to man. Chiefly, it involved attending meetings at which he was not expected to contribute anything, but just ensure that his department was represented. It must have been a bit like his attendance at our Sunday lunchtime sessions; perhaps he passed a few comments as he gathered his papers on the state of the Premier League. Well, we utterly failed to assist him in his job search and rumour has it they left for the country where he intended to train as a blacksmith.

Certainly the evidence released yesterday supports the view that the BBC is stuffed full of Edwards. ‘I don’t know what they do. I mean, they talk to each other, I suppose, as all these bloody people do.’ said Paxman, referring to the 'Editorial Policy Department'. He continued 'There is a raft of appointments now that have been made of people who are clearly not the most creative. They seemed to spend an awful lot of time having meetings with one another...They do a lot of talking to each other.’

And this, it seems, is how much of the £3.6bn a year TV tax is spent - on an organisation 'more bloated with managers than China' in Fatty Pang's words. And this is the heart of the BBC's problem - it is utterly inwardly focused, a bureaucratic behemoth existing entirely for its own benefit, big enough to be able to ignore popular opinion. In other words, its problems are digital - and the digit in question is the middle finger raised to the British public.


Barnacle Bill said...

I fully agree with you Raedwald on the Beeb's arrogance.
I caught an edition of Radio Four's Feedback the other day. Where they were discussing the closure of the Archer's forum/thingy.
I just could believe the conceitedness of the editor in refusing to answer one of the listeners was asking.
After all she was in fact his employer!
About a decade ago I would have said the Beeb should stay state funded.
Now I think it is only fit to be flogged off to the highest bidder and let them have the hassle of pruning it.

Scrobs... said...

I can't also believe why a journalist is able to go on strike.

Any full blooded journo surely does the opposite, and anyway, what would they do if a huge 9-11 story broke the day their pathetic little quartermasters decided they mustn't cross the picket line.

I like it when the beeb news readers go on strike, as we don't have to see the silly Reed woman and aging Turnbull cluttering up the space.

Anonymous said...

Paxman: ‘I don’t know what they do. I mean, they talk to each other, I suppose, as all these bloody people do.’

And there is an exemplar of the problem at the BBC.

Raewald: "Once we knew, the full male support thing swung into action "

Some male support thing, not nearly as good as the female support thing, which thing, seemed to have much better intelligence in the first instance.

G. Tingey said...

Don't just pick on the Beeb for this.
THIS is the Brit failing - far too many "managers" and not enough people actually doing anything useful ....
And, actually, the tories are even worse than Liebour for this, because they don't trust the workforce, they might all be communists, you know.
Yes, it's shite & I've been underneath it, & it isn't funny.

Anonymous said...

Or, you could be talking about the NHS, any Metropolitan council you care to name and all large quangos, Brussels too, the UN and Obama's administration - who are fascinated by 'Common purpose'.

Anonymous said...

Good article, but sadly, no surprise. I have worked for a council on a fixed term 6 month contract. When they asked me to stay-on I refused. I went back to working at MacDonalds instead. No it was not the money, it was the fact that these council indoctrinated people did my flipping head-in with their petty internal politics. The sheer waste, the abuse of power and the fact that they were more interested in screwing the system/people was simply jaw dropping.

This was in the early 90's when the last Conservative government was in power. They had a thing going called 'Compulsory Competitive Tendering' (CCT). It scared the S*** out of the lazy gits ! It meant, for those who may not know, that work previously done by council employees could now be put out to tender to private companies.

I have been an advocate of small government ever since.

English Pensioner said...

If one looks at the difference reported into day's paper that private management made to Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridge, one just wonders what similar management would do if it took over the BBC. I have no preference as to whether an institution is privately or state run, all I want is the best possible service/value for my money and it is clear that the BBC is not providing this.

Blue Eyes said...

Paxman turns out to be a relatively good guy. I wondered why he had vanished from NN around the time the Savile news broke.

The bit of the public sector I have some experience with operates on exactly the same lines, except it never every makes anyone redundant.

Bill Quango MP said...

The BBc employs some 20-25,000 people.
Channel 5 employs 200.

Now, channel 5 isn't up to much, but it probably has under 1% of the resources of the BBC.

BBC I player has 11 cookery and nature programs out of 12 of its top shows.

I would think that's something Channel 5 could do if it had just 10% of the budget.

Anonymous said...

BBC? Is that our new credit rating?

Coney Island

Budgie said...

Good one, Raedwald. The BBC is not alone of course, it is common to all state monopolies. But at least the BBC could be sold off.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Parkinson's law, Pournelle's Iron Law, etc etc.

But there's something else protecting the bbc - a sort of deranged national religion.

There were two articles in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph, both lamenting the ghastly state of the bbc and the nhs, with reference to Stafford, Savile, and all the things we know about. BOTH articles ended up with "but of course we wouldn't want either of these wonderful institutions to disappear" or words to that effect.

Why not, for God's sake? The bbc is biassed, extravagant, self-centred, arrogant, too big, too expensive, etc etc. The nhs delivers far worse results than the health services of any other first-world nation, and occasionally kills thousands of people. But we can't imagine anything better than either of them? We should just continue with them, regardless of cost or damage?

What is wrong with people?

hovis said...

WY - it snot just occasionally that the NHS kills thousands. It's just occaisionally that it is blindingly obvious and unavoidable to acknowledge.