The Lord Hall of Birkenhead, a member of the Upper House of the UK Parliament and – oddly enough – director general of the BBC, is in the papers this week with an article entitled; “Britain’s people, not politicians, own the BBC”. The piece tells us what ‘the people’ have been saying about the BBC and warns the government that his analysis of ‘the people’ want had better be reflected in the forthcoming white paper which will lay out the future of the BBC’s funding.
I especially like the bit which goes, “the public would expect the government to keep to the funding settlement agreed last summer”. Yeah, I should think that was on everyone’s lips during the elections across the UK this week. “Look, mate, I hate all politicians but I’ll vote for you if you if you get those holes in the road fixed, sort out the waiting lists at the infirmary and can assure me now that there will be a generous funding settlement for the BBC as per last year’s negotiations. Oh and by the way, the BBC does include Sky Sport, right?”
Arguing that elected politicians are in no position to judge the public mood about BBC funding, upper-house member Lord Hall forgets to mention that his Director of Strategy – i.e. everything to do with influencing the public and government that the BBC should get a generous funding settlement – is, er, James Purnell, former Secretary of State for Culture. I imagine when James moved from being the cabinet minister responsible for the BBC to being The Lord Hall’s bloke in charge of getting the best deal for the BBC from politicians, he was told firmly by his new boss; “James, you’re a good chap, but I’d better not see you using all of that experience you have of being the politician in charge of the BBC to help the BBC with the politics of securing a good deal. No siree. Because BBC funding is no place for politicians. Er, Like you and me”.
If you’ve noticed BBC favourites like Countryfile being threatened by the BBC itself recently, well, that’s politics. If you noticed the chair of the BBC Trust pick up half a million quid from a bank for a part-time job – that too involved quite a bit of politics. The Lord Hall’s appointment as retiree director general in the wake of the George Entwistle disaster, yep, more politics. Oh, and the BBC’s unique exemption from the FOI so no-one gets to know how much public money is used paying people vast salaries (the DG is on a mere half a million)? Bit political too, no?
Trust the BBC with the politics of the BBC? Nah, yer all right mate.