THE REAL BBC

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A blogger wrote a piece about the BBC over the Savile mess.

I sent him this piece to correct many of the things he had only guessed at or assumed that the press were accurate in the way they attacked the organisation.
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There are two BBC’s to this story …. There is the management and there are the programme makers. The two very rarely meet. There is no need for them to meet.The ‘chain of command’ in the BBC is as follows:

DG – Controller of BBC1 and all the other TV channel heads and radio heads.

Heads of Departments are for the following genres: Documenataries, Music and Arts, Current Affairs, News, Light Entertainment …. etc etc

You also have ‘Series Editors’ of programmes like Newsnight, Panorama,

Each progamme has:

A producer, director, researcher, editor, PA, Production Manager, cameraman, sound recordist, runner, lighting man,

If it is a studio progamme like Top of the Pops there could be a staff of up to 100 working on the prgramme.

I was a film editor. My personal boss was head of editing but I rarely saw him. There was no need to. He had no say in my day to day activities. I scheduled myself in consultation with my producer and or director. If I wanted to take half a day off I could but then there were times when I worked for fourteen-twenty hours in a single day before going home. It was give and take. As long as you kept up with the schedule that is what guided the staff.

As long as the programme made it to air on time that was all that mattered.

We did have one case of an editor hassling his female assistant. She reported him to the Head of Editing. They moved her to another editor. He was warned and never had another female assistant assigned to him in his whole career.

Management are not involved in programme making or what goes on in any of the rooms. Many things happened which the management did not know about: sex on premises (between consenting adults), some staff in high pressure current affairs jobs drank too much at lunchtime (but were still able to function). BBC Premises have always had bars.

SAVILE

It is quite easy to understand how he did what he did without many people knowing about it.

His immediate boss would have been head of entertainment. They were the only ones who would have had the power to fire him. A producer or director could have complained but they would have gone to the Series producer or Head of Light Entertainment.

So, I can see how Savile, in his office or his caravan, did what he did. Not many on the programme would have been aware of it.

There was no culture of the ‘groping of women’ in the BBC being an accepted thing. It maybe have been in the Entertainment Dept but it wasn’t a done thing in any of the departments I worked in.

I suspect the enquiry may find that the Entertainment Dept was a wild card in the pack.

PRESS RESPONSE

The current attack on the BBC is being driven by powerful media companies who are competing with the BBC and want to see it cut down (Daily Mail) and others who feel they were badly treated by Leveson.

A FEW POINTS

With regard to the unhappy staff  poll…

The BBC had always been a great place to work. People loved their jobs. Staff were highly motivated, they didn’t need anyone telling them what to do or how to behave.

It changed with the arrival of one man ……… John Birt.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Birt,_Baron_Birt

“During his tenure as Director-General, Birt restructured the BBC in accordance with Conservative Party privatisation policies, in the face of much internal opposition”.

That is when the rot set in and when I, like many, decided to leave.

Birt brought in a business approach and many execs from the City of London who knew nothing about broadcasting or how to handle creative staff. The producers and directors who I had worked for were suddenly referred to as “clients”.

The ‘suited Geeks’ from the City didn’t understand that a creative process requires ‘thinking time’. They thought it was just like making tins of beans. The schedules were slashed and working conditions detoritated rapidly.

David Attenborough commented: “When Birt gets up and says the whole of the BBC was a creative mess and it was wasteful, I never saw any evidence of that. I absolutely know it wasn’t so in my time. Producers now spend all their time worrying about money, and the thing has suffered for it.”[17]

They were bad practises which crept in from those from the City. Some companies were billing the BBC high fees whilst using BBC premises as their offices.

John Birt, despite being employed full time for the BBC, billed them as a freelancer and claimed VAT refunds as if he was a company. That is not allowed under any employment law.

The Director General

George Entwistle spoke too early. He should have let the press wait until he had taken stock of what had gone on and who knew what.

Quotes from blogger’s piece:

“The ingratiation effect is staff deciding to only give good news. Staff will exaggerate how much they agree with senior managers”.

That maybe a recent development but it certainly wasn’t the order of the day in my time. There would be arguments with management. I instigated some of them.

“creative talent will be rewarded”

Creative talent was encouraged to be creative not to do bad things …. A few incompetants were rewarded and favouristsm existed … But the organisattion was to big for it to keep the true talented staff from getting what they wanted. If you were getting nowhere in the dept you worked in you simply moved to another dept/prgramme.

Ron Taylor, 2012.

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