Taking the Mic

This comment piece by Jeff Randall what is really wrong with the BBC:

In the case of Standard Life, it had taken calls from the BBC’s business unit, several shows at Five Live and Radio Four, regional radio outlets, BBC Scotland (lots from there), BBC Online, Breakfast TV, the One O’clock News, the Six O’clock News and the Ten O’Clock News. Oh yes, and News 24.

I’ve experienced it many times – the big story breaks and the phone rings off the hook, mostly from the different bits that make up the BBC. One interview isn’t enough, each programme wants its own take on events, its own exclusive interview and if the story breaks in the morning, drive time want to move it along even if it hasn’t.

It’s the curse of 24 hour news, talk radio and a profusion of tv and radio channels. Oh, and DAB. My rule of thumb is to invite one BBC tv and radio and another for ITV and commercial radio, but only on the understanding that they share with their colleagues. Otherwise some poor sod ends up doing interview after interview, sometimes for the best part of 24 hours. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen.

But it isn’t just news where the Beeb overdoes things. Five Live, for example has two commentators at each football match who do 22½ minutes per half, plus a summariser who has to go on for the whole 90 minutes, no substitutes. Why? Surely one commentator would be enough.

And there’s the cricket. There is a whole Test Match Special Team of what seems like eight commentators and summarisers and yet Five Live feels it also has to send its own cricket correspondent to foreign climes? Surely Jonathan Agnew or whoever fill-in with the occasional report.

And why do we have a regional weather forecast and a national one? Wouldn’t just one do, one that tells you what is happening where you live with a bit tagged on about what is happening elsewhere?

Don’t get me wrong, I think the BBC is great and, unlike the Jeff Randall critique, I don’t think the problem is that it is over-managed. Taking account of the above, it is that it is under-managed. No-one is taking a strategic overview and rationalising the personnel.

Perhaps the commercial companies are equally profligate of on-air talent, though somehow I doubt it. I remember a few years ago calling a commercial radio station and asking for the news desk: “Sorry love, can you call back? He’s reading the news.”

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

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