Wednesday, March 03, 2010

BBC cuts

Lots of others are saying the things that need to be said about the proposed BBC cuts and I'm a bit too busy to do one of my normal rants. Jon Worth has said things I'd agree with, but then so have dozens of others.

Here are my two observations - ones that I've not seen elsewhere:

1. The BBC needs a Wartime Consigliere at the moment. It shows how it has allowed itself to be strategically outmaneuvered that it has a drip like Sir Michael Lyons instead. Michael Grade would be parking his tanks on a few lawns at the moment, but Lyons is a disgrace and he needs to be moved on quickly. Don't suppose this will happen tho...

2. Mark Thompson and everyone who work in is outer office will probably be earning more in five years time working for one of the BBC's commercial rivals. There is no longer a caste of people who identify the BBC's survival with their own. Quite the reverse. If the BBC were led by less ambitious / careerist people, paradoxically, it would probably be better led than it is.

The BBC has caught this bug about highly paid management from the extortionate car-crash that is modern management. History may teach us that it probably shouldn't apply to the BBC even if it works elsewhere.

4 comments:

Jon Worth said...

Thanks for the link! :-)

I think your second point adds neatly to the points I raise. We see everything - management included - through the spectrum of the market. This even penetrates into the highest echelons of UK civil service where private sector management style and remuneration is thought of as good, and anything else is not.

How would we manage to build a cadre of better not for profit high managers I wonder? Better economic democracy, with less emphasis on the salaries of those at the top, might have a positive impact - even onto organisations like the BBC?

Alan in Belfast said...

Personally, I think you underestimate the Trust's chairman.

Graham Majin said...

The BBC is the neighbour at the end or your garden with a giant leylandii. He smiles at you and is a nice enough bloke. But the problem is his tree. It’s too big. It greedily sucks in nutrients from the soil and blocks out the sunlight. It’s an impressive tree by any standards, but it casts a massive shadow.
BBC Cuts - Is Lightly Trimming the BBC's Publicly Funded Tree What Licence Fee Payers Really Want?
More on my blog: http://bit.ly/9Tb3NX

Paulie said...

Graham,

I guess you're talking from the point of view of another potential broadcaster are you?

Surely it makes sense, instead, to look at it from the point of view of the public interest. Here's what the public see:

PSBs actually make programmes, spend money and are accountable.

Commercial channels *make* money but don't recycle it as actual content and they're accountable to no-one, not even their shareholders in reality (the condition of modern capitalism).

There is the old 'tragedy of the commons' problem. No-one makes programmes because they hope someone else will make them and dump it on their market below cost-price s that they can re-use it.

In most of the world where there isn't a big PSB (remember, the BBC invests more in original content than the rest of the EU put together) this 'dumping' role is fulfilled by the BBC, so at least the Dave channel has something made in the UK to screen. Elsewhere, this role is merrily fulfilled by the US content production companies with their large coherent internal market that makes original production worthwhile.

Reduce the BBC and the commercial sector won't step in and start making programmes. They will just find that a reduced competitor creates a gap that they can step into to make more profits.

If you doubt that this is the case, look and see how local newspaper markets have performed. Is it possible to make a profit making newspapers? Yes. Do newpaper owners hire journalists and do it? No. They boil down their existing titles, milk the brand value, reduce the journalistic content and start closing titles when they find (surprise surprise) that they don't have the infrastructure left to develop their business.

If I were you, I'd start asking for politicians to start regulating BSkyB the way that they *should* be regulated (and the way that broadcasters are regulated everywhere else in the EU).