Yesterday afternoon was not the BBC’s finest hour: seven current and former luminaries were summoned to appear before the Commons Public Accounts Committee in Westminster’s Portcullis House to be lightly grilled on the subject of redundancy payments to some of their former senior colleagues. Not all the seven were of one voice on the detail.
The amounts argued over were, in the overall budget of the Corporation, not a significant percentage – the contentious payouts totalled around 3 million notes – but what certainly was significant was the measure of dysfunction on display. Communication between former Director General (DG) Mark Thompson and the Trust that is supposed to oversee the organisation was at best patchy and tetchy.
So the scene was set for that part of the Fourth Estate that despises the Beeb to give it a good kicking. And stepping up to the plate has come the Maily Telegraph, telling readers in an editorial that “It is increasingly ludicrous that the corporation should be funded via a £140 flat tax on every television in the land”. A word in your shell-likes, Tel people: that is not how the TV Licence operates.
I have more than one television. But only one licence is required. So that’s one crap piece of lame journalism, and an own goal. Anyone else? How about Daily Mail scourge of the BBC Quentin Letts (let’s not)? Here goes: “The BBC is our national supplier of broadcast journalism. Its name should evoke an idea of honesty”. Er, it is a national supplier of broadcast journalism, and yesterday that wasn’t the subject.
How about one of those witty Letts sketches of the participants? “From the left, ladies and geltlemen, we had ...”. From the left? The public seats weren’t full, but Quent didn’t bother to turn up? Because if he had, he would not have described Mark Thompson as being “on the left”, as he would have been sitting behind him. The screencaps confirm that Letts was, indeed, not present.
Maybe Dacre hack Sam Greenhill, writing the “news” part of the hatchet job, could do better? Not if his lame dig at the Beeb’s outgoing HR chief Lucy Adams is anything to go by: “her glasses perched on her head in what critics dubbed an ‘Ab Fab’ look”. No Sam, critic singular – you. Given that Ms Adams wobbled badly under questioning, there was no need for lame invention.
Never mind, though, have another try: “The BBC's governing body may be scrapped because of the executive payoff scandal”. Great, Paul Dacre’s fantasy future trotted out as a news item. Try again – how about when Ms Adams was accused of lying, “prompting cheers from members of the public”. That was the BBC Newsroom – your own sodding story says so. Another failure to put through an open net.
The Beeb had a bad day. The press is having a worse one. No change there, then.