Posts Tagged ‘Adam Sherwin’

BBC Chief Says Corporation Could Axe News Programmes

August 22, 2020

Here’s another piece from yesterday’s I, for 21st August 2020. Written by Adam Sherwin, it reports the comments by the Beeb’s Fran Unsworth in an interview with the Torygraph that the corporation could axe the 6 O’clock and 10 O’clock News from its mainstream channels in a decade. The article runs

The BBC’s News At Six and News At Ten could disappear from television screens as the corporation’s coverage shifts to digital, its head of news has said.

Fran Unsworth said that a push to attract younger viewers meant that the BBC’s flagship bulletins could move from broadcast channels to the iPlayer within a decade.

Ms Unsworth said: “Ultimately, in 10 years’ time, we probably won’t be consuming linear bulletins. I might be wrong about that but I doubt it. There might be one (bulletin) a day, but video will just be in a different space… you know, iPlayer, your tablet, your iPhone.

One of the flagship bulletins, whose audiences have doubled during the pandemic, might survive, she told The Daily Telegraph.

Figures released at the start of lockdown showed news programmes’ ratings had risen.

In the week to 28 March, five of the 10 most-watched broadcasts were editions of the BBC News At Six, with the bulletin on 23 March attracting a TV audience of 8.3 million, nearly double its typical rating so far this year. The 10pm programme had reported audiences of six million.

But Ms Unsworth said that while young viewers had discovered the BBC delivered information they could trust during a crisis, the surge in TV news viewing was a temporary phenomenon.

The corporation has announced already that it will axe the Newsround afternoon bulletin, which has run for nearly 50 years.

The BBC is slashing more than 500 jobs from its news division in a bid to make savings of £80m. Reports and interviews will be shared between BBC outlets.

This is going to delight the Tories and the Murdoch empire, who would like to see the Beeb privatised completely. About 70 per cent of news consumed in the UK comes from the Beeb, and obviously Murdoch and his squalid minions would like to see this greatly reduced so that they can move in. And that means extremely biased right-wing news, like Fox in America. Or Sky News Australia, which is so right-wing it can only get further to the right by beginning with an evocation of the Eureka Stockade and calls for the reintroduction of the White Australia policy.

The Beeb is having trouble attracting a young audience. According to the reports I’ve read, they simply aren’t interested in it. And unless the corporation can find ways of attracting them, that means the Corporation won’t have an audience and so consequently, no future.

However, many young people have learned that the Beeb doesn’t produce information they can trust. Not after its constant, vicious smearing of Jeremy Corbyn and its blatant anti-Labour bias. And Scots viewers, I’ve no doubt, will remember how Nick Robinson very carefully edited down SNP leader Alex Salmond’s full answer to a question about the impact Scottish independence would have on Edinburgh’s financial sector. Salmond stated fully that they’d gone into it, and Edinburgh’s banks would remain in the Scots capital after independence. They wouldn’t leave for London. But this didn’t satisfy the Macclesfield Goebbels, and his answer was first cut so that Robinson claimed he hadn’t properly answered it, and then completely edited out so that he finally claimed that Salmond hadn’t answered it all. It was a piece of propaganda worthy of a totalitarian state. I realise that Salmond, despite his acquittal, is still under the shadow of the multiple rape accusations. But this is a different issue, and shows how desperate the Beeb and the British establishment were to discredit him when it came to Scotland leaving the union.

Millions have learned that the Beeb does not produce information they can trust. That’s why they’re turning to alternative news sources, like those on the Net.

I think it would be disastrous if the Beeb did abandon proper news bulletins on its broadcast channels, leaving that space to be filled by Murdoch and the other media magnates. I want it to get better, not to go completely. But through its concerted campaign against the Labour party, the Beeb has successfully alienated the very people, who would have otherwise supported it the most against Tory demands for its privatisation.

And so the Beeb has only itself to blame for the crisis it is now facing, whatever delusions Unsworth might have about winning back young people.

 

 

Murdoch’s Daughter Being Considered as Next Beeb Director-General

February 11, 2020

This is ominous. According to an article by Adam Sherwin in yesterdays I for Monday, 9th February 2020, the BBC is considering appointing Elisabeth Murdoch, Dirty Rupe’s daughter, as its first female Director-General. The I’s article seems to think this will be a positive move, as she isn’t supposed to be hostile to the Beeb like her father. And the appointment of one of Murdoch’s family as the Beeb’s chief will supposedly deter Downing Street from making any further attacks on the Corporation. The article runs

Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of Rupert Murdoch, who became a successful television entrepreneur in her own right, has emerged as a surprise candidate to run the BBC.

Mus Murdoch, former head of Shine UK – the production company behind MasterChef and Broadchurch – would be seen as an acceptable director-general by the BBC’s Downing Street critics. However, the prospect of the broadcaster being run by a member of the Murdoch family, which has campaigned against the licence fee-funded BBC through its newspapers, will shock many at the corporation.

I has learned that the BBC is appointing headhunters to broaden the search for a new leader, following the announcement that Tony Hall is leaving.

Current favourites include Charlotte Moore, BBC director of vision, the best-placed internal candidate; Jay Hunt, former head of BBC1 and Channel 4, who now leads Apple’s European TV commissioning; Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4; and ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall.

Insiders say the BBC is almost certain to appoint its first female director-general.

The BBC board, led by Sir David Clementi, is seeking a figure with proven leadership in the creative industries who carries enough authority in Whitehall to guide the BBC through tough negotiations over the future of the licence fee.

Ms Murdoch, who pocketed £130m when she sold Shine to 20th Century Fox, ticks many of the boxes. She does not share her family’s antipathy to the BBC, having sold 20 shows to the broadcaster as a producer.

Stepping aside from her family’s succession battle, Ms Murdoch, 51, has spoken in support of the “universal licence fee” but urged the BBC to how “efficiently that funding is being spent on actual content”.

It is not clear if Ms Murdoch would welcome an approach for the £450,000 post. last year she co-founded Sister, a global television production business which developed the acclaimed Sky drama Chernobyl.

Although Downing Street’s choice to lead the BBC would be a longstnding critic such as Rebekah Brooks, CEO of Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, a figure such as Ms Murdoch would prove an acceptable compromise.

In a box article next to this, ‘Power play Smart move?’, Sherwin also writes

Although the appointment of the new director-general is a matter for the BBC board, Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s top aide, has privately warned that a ‘business as usual’ successor to Tony Hall would only hasten the end of the licence fee.

Handing the BBC’s future to a scion of the Murdoch dynasty would be a bold move for the broadcaster.

Elisabeth Murdoch has £300m in the bank, boosted by dividends from her father’s sale of Fox’s entertainment assets to Disney, and has made a number of strategic investments in digital start-ups.

But another option could be Alex Mahon, Channel 4’s chief executive. Hired by Ms Murdoch for her Shine group in 2006, it was Ms Mahon who brought the Broadchurch producer Kudos into the business.

The upside of luring Ms Murdoch, once named the fifth most powerful woman in Britain in a Woman’s Hour poll, is the weight her name would carry in negotiations over the BBC'[s future with Downing Street. “It could be a genius move. They woulnd’t dare f**k with a Murdoch,” said one insider.

My guess is that even if Murdoch became director-general, she’d still carry on the and increase the Beeb’s right-wing political bias. I also think that she’d carry out some further privatisation and quiet dismantling of the Beeb for the benefit of its competitors, but not as outright as Cummings and BoJob would quite wish.

Whoever gets installed as the next director-general will still be under pressure to get rid of the licence fee, though I’m sure the Tories would hesitate at attacking one of Murdoch’s own family because of the power of the Murdoch press. On the other hand, she could well reverse her previous positive attitude to the Beeb, and become an enthusiast for its dismantlement once she become D-G.

Whatever happens, the Beeb is still in serious danger. But because of its massive political bias, its traditional defenders on the Left are no longer as willing to support it.

 

The Beeb’s Reward for Helping the Tories Win the Election: 450 Newsroom Jobs to Be Cut

January 30, 2020

There were reports last night of mass redundancies at the BBC newsroom. According to a story in today’s I by Adam Sherwin, ‘BBC staff in revolt as 450 news jobs are axed – but red button reprieved’, there was an angry confrontation between newsroom staff and the Beeb’s director of news and current affairs, Fran Unsworth over the proposed sackings. It was led by Victoria Derbyshire, whose award-winning show has also been axed. Here’s part of the article

Victoria Derbyshire led a furious staff revolt at the BBC yesterday after the corporation unveiled cuts to Newsnight, Radio 5Live and other news output, leading to 450 job losses.

The BBC said that presenters would be among those axed as resources are transferred from traditional broadcasting to digital platforms, in an attempt to make £80m of savings.

The number of original films produced on the flagship political programme Newsnight will be halved, with 12 staff under threat. A spokesman said that job losses at 5Live were being “driven by the changing listening habits of the audience and demand for digital content”.

There will be a review of the “the number of presenters we have and how they work” and a reduction in the number of stories covered each day, under a new centralised story commissioning structure.

The BBC is predicting 450 job losses, in addition to the 50 posts cut at the World Service before Christmas. Separately, it also suspended closure of its “red button” text service after protests that the move could adversely affect the elderly and people with disabilities.

An additional article by Sophie Morris reports that Johnson was asked yesterday whether the BBC was a ‘mortal enemy of the Conservative party or cherished British institution that will be funded by the license fee’ by the Labour MP for Weaver Vale, Mike Amesbury. Our current shambolic excuse for a prime minister replied ‘Well, Mr Speaker, I can certainly say that it is a cherished British institution and not a mortal enemy of the Conservative party.’

Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. Jeremy Hunt also said how the Tories ‘cherished’ the NHS, despite having authored a book demanding its privatisation, and as Health Secretary presiding over a process of cuts and privatisations. Sherwin’s article also quotes Amol Rajan, who seems far more closer to the mark by suggesting that the cuts are an attempt to appease the Beeb’s critics in government. They believe the corporation is outdated and may be replaced by a subscription-style streaming system. Rajan said

“The audience the BBC has in mind in making these changes isn’t just licence fee payers – it’s the inhabitants of 10 Downing Street.”

The Tories have hated the Beeb for a very long time. Some of that is ideological – they hate any kind of state industry. And some of it is very much self-interest. They resent the Beeb because it is required to be impartial, and their backers in the corporate media, like Rupert Murdoch, would like it abolished and its position as the country’s main broadcaster replaced by their own networks. A week ago Zelo Street reported that Boris’ adviser, Dominic Cummings, really did want to present the corporation as utterly biased against the Tories.

This is, of course, the complete opposite of the real truth, which is that Beeb has always been far more biased against the left, the Labour Party and the trade unions. And last month’s election campaign showed how extreme that bias was, with every opportunity taken to present Labour in an extremely bad light. In particular, the Beeb joined the rest of the lying corporate media in claiming that Jeremy Corbyn was an anti-Semite, and the entire party was seething with Jew-hatred. If the Beeb had hoped to fend off the Tories’ attack by obediently following their line on the Labour Party, they’re going to be sadly disappointed. BoJob and his polecat still want greater say over who becomes the new director-general now that Tony Hall has retired. They will want someone who is dutifully compliant with their demands. Someone who will further turn the broadcaster into their propaganda arm, while running it down prior to privatisation.

 

 

 

Rapper Fab 5 Freddy to Host Beeb Film on Renaissance Art

January 25, 2019

More arts news. Also according to yesterday’s I for Thursday, 24th January 2019, the New York rapper Fab 5 Freddy is due to hos a Beeb documentary about the Renaissance. The article, written by Adam Sherwin, ran

Move over Simon Schama, Fab 5 Freddy wants your spot. The New York hip-hop pioneer and former graffiti artist is the unlikely choice to present a BBC 2 documentary on Italian Renaissance Art.

Fab – real name Fred Brathwaite – was approached to do the film, ‘A Fresh Guide to Florence with Fab 5 Freddy’, after the BBC learnt that he was an art lover who worked closely with Jean-Michel Basquiat in the early 80s, curating the cult artist’s Manhattan shows.

“Amidst superstar artists such as Michelangelo and powerful patrons such as the Medicis, Fab discovers groundbreaking images of a multi-racial and multi-ethnic society that have slipped through the cracks of art history,” the BBC said. (‘A ‘Fresh’ take on the Renaissance’, p. 21).

It might be a surprising choice, but it seems to be a good one in line with current arts policy of getting different voices to open up the arts. A number of BAME artists have appeared in the news complaining that there aren’t enough Black artists shown in museums and art galleries, and that when they were small they weren’t interested in visiting them because there was nothing for them there. It therefore looks like the Beeb is trying to appeal to a younger, Black audience with Fab 5 Freddie in order to stop it being viewed as just something made by old White guys for White guys.

I am also not surprised that they chose a former graffiti artist for other reasons. Archaeologists have been working with graffiti artists for several years now in order to explore rock art and its links with modern graffiti art. I can remember attending an archaeological seminar at Bristol university at least six years ago in which one of the speakers presented a piece about their research about the graffiti in a particular area of one of the Spanish towns. And Radio 4 a few years ago also presented a programme about rock art which included comments from some of Britain’s leading street artists.

As for the Renaissance, Florence was a major centre of trade and industry, but historians have pointed out in books like The Renaissance Bazaar that many of the commercial innovations that made the Renaissance possible had their origins further east in the Islamic world. This was also a period when Europeans were turning from the Slavic east to Africa for a supply of slaves, so that you do find Blacks portrayed in art in this period. Not that they weren’t here before, of course. A 12th century manuscript from London in the National Archives shows a Black person, while one of the books that used to be stocked in shop in Bristol’s M Shed was on Blacks in fifteenth century England.

I’ve no doubt critics of the programme will decry it as ‘dumbing down’ and complain about ‘diversity’, but this could be a programme worth watching because of the original insights Fab 5 Freddie could bring.

‘Liar, Liar’ – The Anti-May Pop Song the Beeb Won’t Play

June 1, 2017

Yesterday’s I carried a piece by Adam Sherwin about a pop song against Theresa May that the Beeb definitely won’t be playing. The article reads

‘The BBC will not play a song accusing Theresa May of being a “liar” which has already made the top ten.

“Liar Liar’ by seven-piece band Captain Ska from London, includes soundbites from several of the Prime Minister’s speeches and interviews with the chorus: “She’s a liar liar, you can’t trust her, no, no, no.”

The lyrics include: ‘Where there’s nurses going hungry and schools in decline I don’t recognise this broken country of mine.”

Released last Friday, the song has soared to No. 7 in the Officials Singles Chart midweek update and has made the Download chart top 10. However the BBC said the song would not be included on the Radio 1 playlist or aired during Friday’s Official Chart rundown.

A spokesman for Radio 1 said: ‘We do not ban songs or artists, however our editorial guidelines require us to remain impartial and the UK is currently in an election period so we will not be playing the song.”

Capital FM and Heart have also opted not to play the song.

The band said in a statement: “We’re overwhelmed with the support and our message is that people do have the power to change society if we act together.’

Ordinarily, I’d say the ban on playing very political music during an election was fair. However, considering the massive bias the Beeb has against Corbyn and the Labour party, as shown in their attack on him on Woman’s Hour and the Six O’clock News, the refusal to play the record seems a bit hypocritical. Would the Beeb similarly censor a record if it extolled the virtues of May or Boris Johnson?