Should the BBC do more in-house? 

13 July 2007

Well, it’s one angle that hasn’t been explored a great deal by the rest of the UK media (another writer has suggested it briefly here).

As has been pointed out, we don’t (yet?) know where in the chain the clips of the Queen’s photoshoot got “out of order” (haha, come now, do you really expect me to believe that? Weren’t they edited that way to make the programme seem more worth watching?), but one central point to my mind is that there would be fewer slips ‘twixt cup and lip if the BBC made more of its important factual programming in-house.

This of course goes against the grain of the post-Thatcher market-based-everything approach to the world, where everybody believes the hype and rhetoric about competition making things better and cheaper, the NHS and the police reclassify Bad Things to enable them to meet silly targets and you can’t buy a single bus ticket to get you across Manchester – well maybe you can, but only if you can find the right buses*. Competition makes things either more expensive or poorer quality, or results in more exploitation of the workforce (the profit has to come from somewhere, remember); targets don’t help because they don’t solve fundamental problems and clever people will always find a way round them – such “accountability” is a sham; and people don’t want the “choice” of six different bus companies running one profitable route and nobody running the less profitable ones – that’s just an excuse to let a few people make more money. But such is the world in which we live.

Perhaps we are not going to grow out of this childishness in a hurry. Perhaps global warming will have taken out most of our civilisation before we have got round to doing anything sensible about it, and none of this will matter any more as we run about trying to find something to eat. But even so, you would have thought that maybe the BBC could do important stuff itself and not farm it out. And factual programming is the most important stuff, on a number of levels.

Of course I would have the BBC do most of its stuff in-house if it was up to me. (Don’t worry, no I am not going to write an article about what I would do if I was DG. Other people are so much better at it.) I would have enough staff there to look at the material that’s being produced and make sure that it’s all good, instead of wasting it on pretending so-called accountability (but yes, Virginia, I did apply to be on the BBC Trust, and no, they didn’t write back to me).

And finally, far be it from me to suggest that this documentary trailer nonsense is surely a veritable storm in a teacup anyway. Would anyone have made such a fuss of it in earlier times? I don’t think so. Perhaps the late Nigel Dempster would have mentioned it in his column, amongst all the revelations about which nob was nobbing whom, but would anyone else have noticed? I suspect not. Indeed, I’m not even sure if it wouldn’t have flown below Mr Dempster’s radar.

So just grow up, everybody. Back to work, there’s nothing to see here, thank you, move along there.

Thank you and good night.

*Many thanks to Kirk Northrop for pointing out that my information on this was out of date: all the Bus Companies operating scheduled services in the GMPTE area have now begun to sell and accept the System One ticket. Thank goodness for that! However, I’m sure it would all work better if the buses were under city council control…

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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Richard G Elen Contact More by me