Democracy asserted on the future of the BBC

OurBeeb is a campaign to assert the need for the new Director General of the BBC, when appointed, to be accountable to the people – who, after all, directly fund the organisation through the licence fees virtually everyone pays.

OurBeeb is calling for the BBC to appoint the new Director General openly and transparently, with major senior media figures like Stephen Fry and Phillip Pullman already in support of this.

The campaign believes that it would be profoundly damaging for the BBC, in the continuing upheavals and revelations from the Savile child abuse trajectory, to try to appoint the new DG in the traditional clique-driven, behind-closed-doors, smoke-and-mirrors fashion.

It is calling for all those who are candidates for the post to publish a short outline of how they individually see the BBC being led out of this crisis, taken forwards to new strengthsĀ  – and to be upfront with us all about the principles and values that lie behind their personal vision for it.

The departed George Entwhistle has been described by many as ‘a decent guy’ – but you have only to look at and listen to him to see clearly an appointment for the box-tickers and not for the robust creative leadership of which the BBC has been starved for too long. And he had a eye to the main chance – as in the rich financial arrangements he himself approved for his departure.

The Chair of the BBC Trust who appointed Entwhistle, Chris Patten, was also a poor appointment, this time by the government. Never living up to his puff in performance when an active politician, he has been an obviously disengaged bluffer, taking the money and the kudos of his position but offering no vigorous muscle to the role. Complacent doesn’t come close.

We need much better in both of these positions.

The BBC IS OurBeeb. It has a history of supporting the people and the country in difficult times – but it has a troubled recent history, under the morally and financially disastrous Blair regime.

It has never recovered from the weak leadership that saw it collapse under the illegitimate but vicious onslaught of Alastair Campbell over its reporting of the matters around the still inadequately explained death of Dr David Kelly. in the midst of the then government’s cooked up allegations of Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.

We have since seen a bizarre reversal of right, where an organisation doing what it should always do, covering such matters fearlessly, gave way in apologetic disarray that remains the case to this day, against the force of a dishonest regime whose prime movers continue to coin money and credit in the public eye.

Since then the BBC has been lightweight, fearful, ceding authority to Sky News which is the now the station of choice for anyone with a interest in news – formerly the unchallenged province of the BBC.

But the BBC does matter and it does have to be directly hard wired to the people who directly fund it – and not solely left to the representation through governments that has let us down as well over recent years.

The OurBeeb calls are sensible and level-headed, not a charge to the barricades.

The petition is here at for everyone in support of this position to sign.

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6 Responses to Democracy asserted on the future of the BBC

  1. The assertion that an organ of the Murdoch empire is the “station of choice for anyone with a [sic] interest in news” is a bizarre one. The BBC, for all its faults, retains its crown as the world’s greatest broadcaster. The coverage of its own problems tells you all you need to know – when Murdoch is in trouble, how much coverage does it get in the media he owns?

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    • Sky News 24 hour viewing figures have, I think, overtaken the BBC’s 24 hour news channel and I believe it is fresher than the BBC’s which has become stale. That comes from the BBC having a “corporate” view on the news.

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  2. Surely a rather jaundiced view of the BBC – I’m not sure that the Director General at the time of the WMD / Dr Kelly scandal, Greg Dyke, was guilty of weak leadership – he was criticised for unquestioning support of Andrew Gilligan, but this was in the face of clearly underhand behaviour by the government, backed up by the contentious findings of the Hutton enquiry.
    Although Chris Patten seems to have presided over the appointment of someone who clearly didn’t have what it takes to run the BBC, he’s surely not the damp squib that you suggest, and could yet prove to be the right person to lead the Trust in ensuring that the new DG is the right person.
    And are you sure that Sky News is now the station of choice for anyone with an interest in news?
    As an aside, does anyone remember the look on Blair’s face when told of the death of Dr Kelly? Every national politician should have a copy of that photo hanging in their office.

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    • Greg Dyke was a first class leader and would have stood up to the government, given the chance and the support from the Trust he would have needed.
      But the Chair of the BBC Trust at the time, Gavin Davies, was far too close to the government and could not defend the BBC as it needed to be defended.
      He resigned – over what he saw his personal failure to keep the BBC on side over the reporting of the ‘sexing up’ of the reality of the WMD situation, not, as he should have done, in protest at the government’s treatment of the BBC and in defence of the rightness of and necessity for its investigations.
      This was a craven collapse and left Dyke with nowhere to go.
      Dyke was always just what the BBC needed, an irreverent, confident, creative outsider with a good brain – no forelock tugger.
      But the First Minister is showing his out-of touchness in touting to have Dyke brought back as the new DG now.
      It’s almost nine years on from the discredited Hutton report, Both Dyke and the BBC have changed. The chemistry is different.
      The big lesson in life is that things moves on. If you try to go back, it’s all out of synch. You’re not going back to what you left. And it’s not getting back the you that left.

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  3. If it wasn’t for his age – and the fact that he wouldn’t want the job – I’d recommend David Attenborough….!
    He might think about replacing Patten though – just to make his point…

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