Further to Ed’s post, I too am stunned at the lack of coverage the BBC affords to the tsunami of damaging stories to Labour all over the press today. The Balls story, the Collins story, the plummeting poll numbers ALL off-radar as the State Broadcaster continues to attack the Police. I also read that Jonathan Ross has been cracking jokes yesterday as the BBC read out an official statement lambasting his actions in the Andrew Sachs affair. Listeners to Ross’s Radio 2 show heard an announcer summarise a ruling from broadcasting regulator Ofcom which described the phone messages at the centre of the scandal as ‘offensive, humiliating and demeaning’. But instead of adding an apology at the end of it, Ross made a series of sarcastic remarks and played the song The Lunatics have taken over the Asylum. It’s the sheer arrogance of Ross that gets me – and in a way he sums up the problem with the BBC itself.
So, foul mouthed 40’s something egomaniac adolescent and glittering star within the BBC firmament Jonathan Ross is due to return to our screens, a truly chastened figure! Erm well not!
The Mail reports that “Despite the fuss he caused, provoking an unprecedented 42,000 complaints following his obscene and distasteful ‘prank’ call with Russell Brand to Andrew Sachs, Ross has a simple attitude to the furore – which is that people need to ‘get over it’.” It appears that no extra measures are being put in place to prevent the creation of further offence. ‘The code of compliance is just as it was before,’ confirms a Radio 2 spokesman. And, astonishingly, the BBC claims it has had no extra meetings with the star during which taste and standards were discussed. There will be no extra supervisors in the studios looking over his shoulder and the chain of command will remain just as it was before all the fuss. Even the question of what Ross might say at the Baftas – which will go out before the 9pm watershed – is being regarded with studied nonchalance.
Is anyone surprised? The BBC showed a lamentable lack of understanding of the offence that Wossy caused in the first instance and has made this compounded this ever since by demonstrating a revolting combination of arrogance and contempt for the license-payer.
Reading Jay Hunt, the Controller of BBC1, describe Jonathan Ross as “responsible” made me think that the BBC hierarchy are like the Bourbons in that they learn nothing and forget nothing. How on earth can anyone describe the sniggering puerile cash grabbing Wossy as “responsible” when he has shown no evidence that he even understands the concept?
I see that BBC Trust report into Manuelgate is due out later today. I’m sure that Wossy will be excused any further punishment beyond the minor slap on the wrist he has been given. I will be on the BBC this morning here in Northern Ireland and I will be demanding that Ross have his obscene contract terminated forthwith and that this incident highlights the entire credibility of the license-tax which is then used to fund the likes of Brand and Wossy. Talk to you later.
I see the BBC have managed to mess up the apology they made such a big deal out of broadcasting on Radio 2 yesterday. “The Corporation was forced to change the wording of a statement broadcast on Radio 2 after the 78-year-old Fawlty Towers star complained that it did not directly refer to his wife and daughter, who he said had been deeply hurt by the affair. Mr Sachs, who was also angry that he had not been consulted over the apology, telephoned the BBC’s London headquarters after listening to the statement yesterday morning and demanded that it be changed for the repeat scheduled for 9pm. The BBC Trust, the Corporation’s governing body, was made aware of Mr Sachs’s reaction and it was agreed that the later broadcast would go further.” It’s just serial incompetence at every level, isn’t it? Meanwhile I was reading that Russell Brand has revealed that there were more “personal” comments actually cut from what was finally broadcast during the now infamous session. What a class act the BBC has become.
You wait months for a resignation, and then three come along at once… Another Beeb executive has quit over Ross and Brand’s phone calls. And the BBC is to apologise to the nation. Just for the call, mind. But it’s a start, so tune in today on Radio 2 at 10am, and again just after 9pm. Bloody repeats.
The Sundays bring another round of analysis of the story the Beeb would rather forget – Manuelgate. The Telegraph has two that are interesting: the story that the Tories are considering cutting its funding by £200 million – at least a step in the right direction; and this piece by Bruce Anderson, which makes entertaining reading.
One depressing aspect of it, though, is that he points out that the problem of bias has long been recognised, just never tackled:
When he was in charge, John Birt identified the problem. Many BBC employees socialised only with those who shared their views. They never met anyone who thought that Ronald Reagan was a good president.
He also encapsulates well the argument that may be keeping the Conservatives quiet:
[S]ome Tories see an electoral argument for caution, at least for the time being. The BBC is already hostile. How much more damage would it try to do if it decided that there was nothing to lose?
It seems to me, though, that many at the Beeb have already reached that conclusion.
The Beeb’s favourite paper, the Mail, though, has a more damaging piece, which may shock those relying on text messages to Radio One as a scientific sampling of youth attitudes: An overwhelming 71 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds believe it was unacceptable for Brand and Ross to leave sexually explicit messages for Mr Sachs and 82 per cent of them think it was wrong for Brand to say that Mr Sachs was ‘thinking about killing himself’, it reports. It also finds support for the license fee is lowest among this demographic.