Saturday 10th November 2012
I know what you're doing BBC. Just when it looks like there might be a chance of me actually getting something on to your network you decide to self-destruct to ensure that such a thing can never happen. It might seem an extreme course of action to avoid showing six half-hour sitcoms, but if that's what it takes they're prepared to destroy the mother ship. By concentrating on the fate of the BBC and the mistakes made by journalists, the media seem to be missing what is really important in this story: the consequences it might have for an as yet uncommissioned sitcom. Why are people so selfish and obsessed with the wrong things?
Kudos to George Entwistle for resigning though. Although unlucky to start his job just as this shitstorm was brewing, I think he's been out of his depth. But he has managed to make all the politicians and editors and media moguls at the heart of other terrible fuck ups look like the self-preservation society that they are. Any chance of Murdoch resigning? Or Jeremy Hunt? Even Andrew Mitchell had to be dragged out screaming after weeks of trying to pass the buck.
It made me want to get a job at the BBC just so that I could resign in support of him. But every time I get a BBC gig they end up sacking me before I can make such an honourable gesture. Maybe next time.
But my (and a few other people's) suggestion to get out of this would have been to follow Rupert Murdoch's example and have Newsnight shut down, only then, a few days later to bring out a show in the same timeslot called Nightnews with the same staff and basic format.
I can't shake the feeling that the BBC are being outmanoeuvred in this game of chess between them on one side and the Tories and Murdoch on the other. And I am not sure honour will help them win this one. Which is a shame. Because in a sense all this should make us appreciate the BBC even more. Did Sky news interview Murdoch about phone hacking in the way that the Today programme savaged Entwistle? Would David Cameron step down if one of the members of his government made a similar mistake?
If we have to investigate anything in the media let it be the dodgy connections and collusions and texts going on between News International and the government. But maybe we should be concentrating on finding out what was really going on in those children's homes.
Let's make sure we don't lose sight of how amazing the BBC is. I have lots of reasons to be annoyed and confused and cross about their management structure and their compliance department and the way they've sometimes treated me, but like all of you I have an awful lot to thank them for too. We need the BBC to be there and to be independent and it's still largely fucking wonderful. I think it's healthy that there is commercial competition and I am happy for Sky to exist (I have worked for them in the past and would do again).
But it costs about the same to pay for a year of HD channels on Sky as it does for the licence fee for the whole of the BBC output. That HD payment doesn't get you anything extra, just allows you to see it in slightly sharper focus.
I hope the BBC's sense of honour and its willingness to bend over backwards and then be anally violated in dealing with criticism (let's face it the second Newsnight mistake came about because people had criticised them for exercising caution with allegations from one of Savile's victims and so they had decided to not be accused of the same thing with the allegations against another public figure) will not result in it being weakened or side-lined. We need you BBC. Come out fighting.
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