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    Friday, 7 November 2008

    Avoiding Offence: Caroline Thomson on Brand-Ross at the LSE

    Caroline Thomson, the Chief Operating Officer of the BBC, spoke at the LSE this week in the wake of the Brand-Ross debacle. Evidently, Ross and Brand were doing what they do, egging each other on in a manner familiar to all (former) school-boys (and -girls? - sorry, can't vouch for this as I attended a single-sex Grammar) before stepping across some line in the sand of propriety. Thomson accepted that this had happened, and that the editorial regime had proved inadequate.

    On another level, the whole saga speaks to the question of what is the proper ambit of public service broadcasting. Indeed, it was pushed into the spotlight by sections of the Press keen to propagate their own answers to that question. Such matters continue to command the attention of Ofcom and of the DCMS. I'm with Peter Fincham when he warns that the BBC must maintain a role in the entertainment sphere, not least because it is through such 'diverting' programming and associated commentary that we gain and review most poignantly a collective understanding of who we are. Worthy pronouncments on this or that social issue or moral question rarely make the visceral connection easily achieved through the ministrations of Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo and others. Quite whether the BBC need pay its leading entertainers the reputed millions, however, is an open (moral, political and - in the light of the economic travails of the broadcasting sector - commercial) question. The same question might reasonably be asked of the remuneration received by the 100 BBC executives paid more than the Prime Minister (BBC Question Time last evening), accepting that the time served on the PM's pauper salary of £190k per annum then grants access to Gringotts vault (1,2,3).

    A transcript of Thomson's speech at the Polis event and an interesting trailing comment from Charlie Beckett can be found on the Polis site.

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Not sure who this 'poo' guy is, but there's a similar and extended argument from Vanessa Richmond on the social value of dumbed-down popculture here.