Why does the BBC go to the bother of recruiting a new chair of the BBC Trust when in reality, it is apparent, they are just figureheads spouting the corporate line? Have they still got that tub of lard in the props department from HIGNFY?
In her hearing with the Culture, Media and Sport Committee the latest recruit, Rona Fairhead, comes over pretty much as you would expect, saying everything that you would expect in a job interview for the Chair of the Trust…nothing controversial and if anything far too complacent about the status quo….happy that the BBC is impartial, happy that the DG is taking it in the right direction and concerned about the competition from commercial ‘conglomerates’….Murdoch? Seems very much on board and on message already.
Rona Fairhead, the new chair, or as good as, looked like having little to no political or media baggage and people were giving her the benefit of the doubt as to how she would stand up to the BBC machine.
People may have to reassess that when they see this clip, and it is interesting that the BBC chooses this particular clip:
Regardless of the headline the BBC gives it the main thrust of the clip is about BBC bias. An MP asks Rona Fairhead if she thinks the BBC is biased…her first reaction is to evade the question by talking of the ‘role of the BBC to be impartial’ and only when pressed does she answer the point.
Her answer, and she’s obviously read the staff manual, is that yes, the BBC is broadly impartial, the data says that the public think it is…it’s impartiality must be clear, understood and unquestioned.
The Trust’s job is to ensure nobody questions the BBC’s impartiality? Well they certainly do a good job of that now. As she clearly thinks the BBC is impartial there can be little hope for the future if that is the status quo she is defending.
She was though more polite than Robert Preston:
“Bollocks.” As counter-arguments go, it was a succinct one. BBC economics editor Robert Peston had been asked whether former business editor Jeff Randall was correct to say the Beeb is institutionally biased to the left.
You can watch the hearing here…
- Rona Fairhead, the Government’s preferred candidate
Rona Fairhead stated her main principles would be:
1. She would see her role as chair of the Trust as to represent the audience and to represent the British licence fee payers.
2. She aims to defend rigorously the independence and impartiality of the BBC…that is critical.
3. She will respect the different roles of the Trust and the BBC Executive. The DG and his team have done a lot of work already and she says it is in absolutley the right direction….her role would be to ensure that it goes even further.
4. She sees her role as to ensure that the BBC responds to the challenges in its environment, and they are very challenging…..user behaviour, the explosion of choice…and the emergence of new large media conglomerates….can she mean Murdoch?
We were impressed by the answers given by Mrs Fairhead and are of the view that she is well qualified to take on the role of Chair of the BBC Trust. We believe that her considerable management experience will be of great value. We note that she already has and will retain significant responsibilities as a non-executive director of HSBC and in other external roles. However, we welcome her assurance that her first priority will be Chair of the BBC Trust and that she will step down from her other positions if necessary.
YouGov also repeated their semi-regular tracker about trust in various professions following the BBC’s recent troubles. The proportion of people saying they trusted BBC News journalists to tell the trust was down from 57% last month to 44% now, and for the first time marginally more people said they didn’t trust BBC journalists than said they did.
To put this in context, BBC News journalists are still more trusted than journalists on other channels or newspapers, but there has been a sharp decline in recent years.
Interesting to see this:
(Remarkably when you Google ‘tub of lard’ the first and most frequent result is for HIGNFY)