A little bit of knowledge… 

25 September 2003 tbs.pm/827

The BBC Loses a Bit of Its Luster

Thanks to regular contributor Joseph Gallant for pointing this piece of, er, journalism out. He says “I found this story on the New York Times website, giving an American view of the BBC losing some of it’s “luster”.” He’s right to sound sceptical.

The journo here has evidently done a trawl of the internet in order to find quotes, but is in no position to asses the validity of them (such is the curse of modern journalism and the writer cannot be blamed for her failings).

“Called in to anchor the BBC’s coverage

of the death of the Queen Mother last year, the broadcaster

Peter Sissons made a simple choice that set off a

complicated furor. Instead of the traditional black necktie

traditionally worn by BBC presenters at times of national

mourning, he wore maroon.”

This is illustrated with a still provided by, it seems, ITN – indicating is age. No one now – with any real knowledge – accepts the original criticism of the BBC’s coverage of the aftermath of HMQM’s death. Indeed, the BBC couldn’t do right here – too louche and it would be damned. Too formal and it would be damned. And by the same people each time – those British journalists who prostitute themselves by writing for their proprietors, wherever in the world they are, rather than for their readers.

“The BBC is supposed to stand between the two political

parties, but how can you have an impartial organization if

the perception is that it’s to the left of the Labo[ur]r

Party?” asked John Whittingdale, a Conservative member of

Parliament and the party’s spokesman on culture and media


This man, previously unheard of, and, evidently, a halfwit, can be discarded immediately. Even the British press, the majority of who are anti-BBC for commercial reasons, have ignored him. We can forgive the Americans for not knowing better.

But I’m strangely attracted by his suggestion that the BBC should be the mouthpiece of the Liberal Democrats. Or didn’t he mean that? Indeed, did he think of a single word he was to say before he engaged his mouth?

“An increasing number of people do not watch or listen to

the BBC, yet they’re being taxed heavily to pay for it,”

said Jon Snow, who anchors the influential 7 o’clock news

on Channel 4, a rival, commercial broadcaster. “It’s

ludicrous to charge someone who lives in a tenement block

in Glasgow £116 for something that they won’t use.”

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear. Jon, Jon, Jon. We expect better of you. Were it not for the BBC, C4 would not exist. You know this. Were it not for the high quality of BBC News – and the awful, awful rubbish that passes for news on ITV, five and Sky – Channel Four would have no reason to continue with C4 News as it stands. Indeed, it has already made in-roads, cutting the programme, and Jon’s important face time, down to 30 mins, including the adverts, a day. A bulletin on Saturday hardly makes up for the loss of 5×20 minutes, plus the prestige. Unbiased news and giving Mr Campbell free reign don’t often go hand in hand.

“The BBC is no longer relied on in the way it was,” said

Gerald Kaufman, the Labo[u]r member of Parliament who, as

chairman of the Commons committee on culture and the media,

has emerged as one of the BBC’s most vocal opponents. “It’s

placed itself in a situation where its word isn’t accepted

automatically anymore. It’s gone from being an institution

to just another broadcaster, and a shoddy one at that.”

Gerald Kaufman is a man who really should know better. Why throw away a lifetime of political nous in order to become “that Labour guy who hated the BBC”? But perhaps that’s all a washed-up ex-nobody can hope for.

In the United States and Europe people who

listen to the service’s “Newshour” program say that

interviewers like Judy Swallow and Lise Ducette also seem

markedly more contentious than their predecessors.

Name four of them, Sarah. Or did this just sound good in your head?

John Lloyd, the editor of the Weekend magazine at The

Financial Times, said that the BBC was misguidedly taking

its reporting cues from Britain’s cutthroat newspapers.

Ah, an impartial observer at last! No, my mistake.

“The BBC suffers from a massive deference deficit,” he

said. “It doesn’t have a great deal of respect for

institutions, but very few British journalists do. The

accusations of irreverence and lack of respect used to be

made more often against the commercial broadcasters than

against the BBC. Until recently the BBC was accused of

being very stuffy indeed.”

That “he” being Tim Luckhurst, a disguntled(?) ex-employee.

Well, that settles it. The BBC was stuffy – Not Good – but now it isn’t – also Not Good.

How much are these journalists paid for this type of tripe? Because it seems to be a good business to be in.

I’m sure I could set my mind to producing drivel like this quite easily. Anyone want to offer me £30k a year?

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