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As goes the Beeb...
June 25, 2012 12:35 PM   Subscribe

There are fears for the future editorial independence of the BBC after news journalists were ordered to come up with money-generating ideas for the corporation, a leaked email reveals. BBC bosses have told reporters to think of money-making schemes and present them to their line managers at forthcoming job appraisals – raising concerns that the organisation's prized editorial standards will be compromised by commercial imperatives. The 2,400 staff working in the BBC's Global News department, including the BBC World Service, have been told that they must now "exploit new commercial opportunities [and] maximise the value we create with our journalism".
posted by symbioid (33 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I had to chuckle, because I know that when some upper-floor types came up with this idea, someone added a bulletpoint looking something like this:

- Ensure all journalists are made aware of this program

And today, their going over this and someone will say "I think that bulletpoint should've specified, 'ensure all journalists, but only those who work for us are made aware of this program. Nonetheless, we can check that one off.

Satisfied, they will move on to which posh restaurant they will hold their upcoming off-site planning review meeting.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 12:44 PM on June 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I guess they would never be the same after they got a taste of that Top Gear cash.
posted by PenDevil at 12:44 PM on June 25, 2012


That humming sound you hear is Lord Reith spinning in his grave.
posted by Dr.Pill at 12:46 PM on June 25, 2012


Oh, oh, oh, OH, I know, I know! Blackmail!
posted by Old'n'Busted at 12:47 PM on June 25, 2012 [17 favorites]


Toxic Chemical Spill in Bangladesh!
Presented by Union Carbide, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co.
posted by Talez at 12:50 PM on June 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Headline:

Boffins predict Thatcher's future gravebound rotational velocity reduced by 20%
posted by lalochezia at 12:51 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


prized editorial standards will be compromised by commercial imperatives

That ship sailed a long, long time ago.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:52 PM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Do journalists even come up with money making schemes in commercial news outlets?
posted by b1tr0t at 12:53 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


...editorial standards will be compromised by comprised of commercial imperatives... -Ed.
posted by hal9k at 12:54 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


There are fears for the future editorial independence of the BBC after news journalists were ordered to come up with money-generating ideas for the corporation, a leaked email reveals.

I have one! Nationalize the Daily Mail, Fox, and the rest of Murdoch's holdings, sack all middle managers and above, hang Rupert's ghoulish undead corpse from Tower Bridge as a warning to all megalomaniacs, then sell trips on Thames ferries for twice-daily stonings.

Financial problems solved!
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:01 PM on June 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


The best money-making scheme for the BBC would be to continue to produce high quality content, and to start making it more easily and persistently available at a reasonable cost. I'd gladly pay for access to any of dozens of programs now locked up in the BBC archives (that have never been made available digitally, or only briefly after broadcast.)

Based on the dogwhistle pull quotes above, though, it sounds like the real goal here is just public sector gutting - with a little bit of mouth-breather sneering thrown in.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:05 PM on June 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


BBC bosses have told reporters to think of money-making schemes and present them to their line managers at forthcoming job appraisals

Rubbish. 'We need money, please let us know if you have ideas of your own' is very different from telling people to come up with ideas or face the chop. This is rather sad muckraking from the Independent, whose entire story consists of handwringing over bureaucracy-speak.

I have one! Nationalize the Daily Mail, Fox, and the rest of Murdoch's holdings

You mean the Sun. Rupert Murdoch does not own the Daily Mail.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:10 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


You mean the Sun. Rupert Murdoch does not own the Daily Mail.

The only way to be sure is to nationalize both.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:13 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


You mean the Sun. Rupert Murdoch does not own the Daily Mail.

Typical liberal reaction, letting facts getting in the way of Truth.

You're right, of course. Was too busy frothing at the mouth.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:13 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read the article, but didn't get the feeling that any kind of connection was made in the leaked email between editorial integrity and money-raising. Lots of companies do this sort of thing - ask all employees for ideas on how the company can do better (i.e. make more money) in any and every area, not just the part that the employee works in.

My wife's employer recently did this across the world and selected 6 ideas from tens of thousands of entires. The employer got money-making ideas - which became the employer's intellectual property, as was very clear in the T&Cs - for the price of a handful of airfares for the winners to fly to corporate hqs, stay a few days (for making presentations to higher-ups), and some certificates.
posted by vidur at 1:14 PM on June 25, 2012


"The best money-making scheme for the BBC would be to continue to produce high quality content, and to start making it more easily and persistently available at a reasonable cost. I'd gladly pay for access to any of dozens of programs now locked up in the BBC archives (that have never been made available digitally, or only briefly after broadcast.)"

Hell, I'd pay $20 a year just to help prevent the usual Dr Who hiatuses. Seriously, 8 episodes, just long enough to really get into it, then "See you in 6-8 months!"... with a cliffhanger.

Aargh. It's annoying.

The BBC's got a lot in its archives, and in its talent pool. Sure, it'd be difficult for them to turn out a lot of consistently high-quality content in a timely manner, but the revenue for them doing it would be quite tasty...
posted by JB71 at 1:34 PM on June 25, 2012


I know a lot of Americans -- myself included -- who would gladly fork over cash in order to watch past, present and future BBC program(me)s without delays.
posted by gsh at 1:53 PM on June 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Tote bags and pledge drives are the way forward.
posted by schmod at 2:00 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


For all you "I'd gladly pay for the BBC" types you do realise the thing which is stopping the BBC exploit this is the Tories crying unfair! unfair! at the behest of Murdoch and Desmond.
posted by fullerine at 2:20 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


One thing that annoys me is that the BBC shop will ship DVDs etc. practically anywhere in the world except the US and Canada; where we have to order from BBC America or BBC Canada at prices typically at least 50% higher after adjusting for exchange rates. And this is an improvement from a year or two ago when the differential was sometimes on the order of 200%. And yes, I know about DVD regions. If they'll ship a Region 2 disk to, say, Thailand (which is not in Region 2), they can jolly well ship it here.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:23 PM on June 25, 2012


I unplugged my TV and cancelled my license fee more than a year ago after paying it for 6 years even though I pretty much never watched live TV. I believe the BBC is amazing and a good deal but I just couldn't fund an institution that actively hated me because I refuse to use Apple or Windows products.

IMO the big problem is the revolving door of TV management types who rotate between commercial and public TV bringing the copyright protection ratings obsessed lowest common denominator mindset of SKY and its ilk to public tv.
posted by srboisvert at 2:28 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know a lot of Americans -- myself included -- who would gladly fork over cash in order to watch past, present and future BBC program(me)s without delays.

Seriously. Open the gates, BBC - we'll pay for it!

Elsewise, I feel the same trepidation that this is just thinly-veiled code for "we're going to fire a whole lot of people, and dumb down the content further."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:37 PM on June 25, 2012


For all you "I'd gladly pay for the BBC" types you do realise the thing which is stopping the BBC exploit this is the Tories crying unfair! unfair! at the behest of Murdoch and Desmond.

It was only until year or two ago that the BBC website used to be vast, and filled with wonderful content. Then of course came the attacks from the private sector whining that people shouldn't be getting for free (or rather, as part of the value for their licence fee) what they'd otherwise have to pay someone like Murdoch or the Barclay Bros for. And the BBC dutifully swung the axe.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:48 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just couldn't fund an institution that actively hated me because I refuse to use Apple or Windows products.
Wait, what now?
Which parts of the BBC require Apple or Windows products for access?
posted by fullerine at 3:08 PM on June 25, 2012


We knew the end was coming when they let h2g2.com out to the highest bidder. It's a far better site now, btw.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:19 PM on June 25, 2012


Ideefixe: That ship sailed a long, long time ago.

Indeed. John Pilger's film The War You Don't See contains some shocking interviews with top brass from BBC News that makes it very clear that high editorial standards have not been a priority for a very long time.
posted by nowonmai at 3:32 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hell, I'd pay $20 a year just to help prevent the usual Dr Who hiatuses. Seriously, 8 episodes, just long enough to really get into it, then "See you in 6-8 months!"... with a cliffhanger.

They've cancelled promising tv series because of these cuts.

The unkindest cut of them all is how they pushed the knife here in their statement:

A BBC spokesman stated that as a result of the cuts initiated by the "Delivering Quality First" process, BBC Four is concentrating funds on purchasing imported shows: "We've loved having Dirk on the channel but the licence fee freeze means less British drama on BBC Four...In future we will focus on the best dramas from around the globe, like The Killing and Borgen, whilst BBC One and BBC Two become the main homes of original British drama."

Also, another random thought: was watching a live version of Yes, Prime Minister the other day and realized: the one Yes Minister gag that didn't age well was the joke about BBC being the second opposition; that might have been true in the eighties, but is no longer is since 2003, has it; both Labour and Tories seem to have defanged them enough to not be bothered by BBC at all.
posted by the cydonian at 4:39 PM on June 25, 2012


For all you "I'd gladly pay for the BBC" types you do realise the thing which is stopping the BBC exploit this is the Tories crying unfair! unfair! at the behest of Murdoch and Desmond.

I just wanted to repeat this, because it is the truth.

Various lobby groups have been doing the same thing to the ABC in Australia, complaining its UNFAIR!

Slipping editorial standards or not, the ABC and BBC provide vital balance where there is otherwise none. Or at least none heard above the crowd.
posted by Mezentian at 7:44 PM on June 25, 2012


Oh dear. *sigh* Why I remember the days when no matter where you turned the dial on your shortwave set, there was the Beeb. Year after year after decade, generally prattling on and on about names, places and topics about which you knew nor cared nothing, but doing it so congenially, punctuously and professionally you could hear how tight the bowties were.

And now its come to this. Oh oh oh oh. I might have known after the past 2 or 3 years of endless hours-long specials on bygone rock bands - which they had previously assiduously ignored (apart from the OBEs). Perhaps its time to restart the radio dramas, rekindle those thrilling days of yesteryear. Or ... oh, I know, report on what's showing on those MILLIONS of spycams all over - must be good for something!
posted by Twang at 8:03 PM on June 25, 2012


* Checks calendar *
* Not 1 April *
* Pulls covers over head *
posted by drowsy at 8:41 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not like they aren't producing any drama at all, but it would be sort of nice if they waited until they finished shooting one adaptation of Jane Eyre before starting to shoot the next adaptation of Jane Eyre. That and having about five Wuthering Heights on the go at any given time and every single novel of Dickens* two or three times over all in production at once, it's no wonder they've had no time for anything original since 1996.

*Except A Tale of Two Cities, of course. Wouldn't want to do that one in today's climate. Might give people ideas.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:45 PM on June 25, 2012


* Pulls covers over head *
posted by drowsy

Eponysterical!
posted by asok at 5:24 AM on June 26, 2012


Which parts of the BBC require Apple or Windows products for access?

The download option content on the iPlayer requires (or possibly requred?) that you use either Apple or Windows in order to ensure that they can revoke your ability to watch the content after your one month window is up. You can still stream flash but you can't download and then watch with linux. So if you have an internet provider that does daytime throttling of heavy users, such as BT, you can only enjoy BBC content if you like buffering pauses and abandoned streams.

Curiously for a period of several years iPhone owners were granted special privileges of DRM free content while everyone else was denied. The iPlayer downloader took advantage of this by spoofing an iPhone but that loophole was closed. (Now the iPlayer downloader captures the stream using an RTPdump and requires some fiddling to get working - or it did when I last set it up)

I eventually stopped paying attention around the time I decided to stop paying the license fee because while I use linux by choice I am not really interested in the politics of open source and the time suck involved. My media system is built on an xbox classic and xbmc so they effectively froze me out due to my not being an up-to-date customer of one of their preferred corporate providers (or more likely - not owning the same hardware as some BBC executives or their children).

It's sad the way conservatives these days try to insist that everything turn a profit. They know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. I would bet the BBC has done more to promote British values both at home and abroad than the entire massive UK military has ever done. This at a mere £4.26 Billion versus £62.7 Billion for guns and bombs (fourth highest military expenditure in the world!)

It's all moot as I am emigrating once again in a month and I don't doubt I will miss the BBC even if only for its ability to moderate the airwaves by providing a calm, sane if timid option in a world of ranting. My wife and I have already decided that we simply won't connect the cable when we move to Chicago even though it is included in our rent because after living in England the North American television environment seems so completely inane, infantalist and like 400 concurrent home shopping channels. We will probably go with some sort of netflix setup.


it would be sort of nice if they waited until they finished shooting one adaptation of Jane Eyre before starting to shoot the next adaptation of Jane Eyre.


They must prop up the period piece market demand so Kiera Knightly doesn't starve or do any movies set near the present. Another service provided by the BBC.
posted by srboisvert at 11:28 AM on June 26, 2012


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