Command failure 

7 November 2008 tbs.pm/975

Radio 2’s Dave Barber resigns ahead of on-air apology for Brand-Ross calls

Apologies in advance for mentioning the ‘S’ word again, but I’ll try to keep it relatively brief this time. Yes it’s the return of ‘Sachsgate’, this time with the resignation of Radio 2’s head of specialist music and compliance Dave Barber ahead of the apology that will be broadcast tomorrow, and it doesn’t take a genius to deduce the reasoning behind this resignation.

It seems that the BBC has all the necessary procedures in place to stop potentially contentious material from being transmitted such as those well-documented prank messages left on Andrew Sachs’ answering machine, but because there was a ‘process failure’ (so to speak) it’s inevitable that human error was ultimately to blame here.

Therefore the person charged with the responsibility of broadcast compliance issues would inevitably have to carry a portion of the blame, even if it was the Radio 2 controller (Lesley Douglas) that ultimately caused these problems by not maintaining a suitably arms-length relationship between controller and presenter.

Hopefully once the apology has been broadcast tomorrow the BBC can stop self-flagellating itself, but three events on the horizon will help to resurrect the Sachsgate spectre. Firstly the return of Jonathan Ross will inevitably attract comments from certain sections of the tabloid press, and it will be interesting to see how this will be handled.

And then there are the reports from the two external regulators – namely the BBC Trust and Ofcom – that will be published; the latter will be interesting in terms of how it judges the BBC for the handling of the issue and what punishment (if any) will be prescribed, plus both reports will inevitably be compared to each other.

All that to look forward to next year (most likely), but in the meantime here’s some music. Presented by someone who’s decidedly non-contentious.