Anorak News | BBC In-Fighting Over Murdoch’s BSkyB Takeover Brings Joy To News Rivals

BBC In-Fighting Over Murdoch’s BSkyB Takeover Brings Joy To News Rivals

by | 6th, November 2010

THE BBC’s striking journalists have already resulted in a return to the fore for Kenneth Kendall as a Claymation figure reading the old news in the style of modern bulletins) and pride for mothers of less attractive hacks now pushed in front of the cameras.

Add in the long weekend off for strikers and the BBC able to cover a news story on its own doorstep featuring it’s own staff mates, and it’s all good news. But the Independent says it isn’t.

The paper says the BBC’s Director-General Mark Thompson is facing a “crisis of confidence”. The problem is his attitude to Sky News (the broadcaster shrewd BBC journalists are sending their CVS to.)

Thompson added his name to a list of organs asking Vince Cable, the Business Secretary to stop Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation taking over BSkyB.

Thompson added the BBC to a list including the Guardian Media Group and Telegraph Media Group. All of them are privately owned businesses. The BBC is not. It is supposed to be impartial.

Stephen Mitchell, the BBC’s deputy director of news, addresses the Centre for Journalism at the University of Kent thus:

“The BBC has to above all be impartial and almost as importantly be seen to be impartial in every issue of controversy in the UK. It is inevitable that we will cover the growth and role of News Corp going forward as part of our journalism. Mark Thompson is the editor-in-chief and I feel that that letter in a way compromises the perception of his impartiality on an issue of current controversy… For me, he compromises his role in life by signing a letter in the way that he did.”

Of course, the BBC is not impartial. The news agenda does not arrive by accident. It is a product of personal choice. The reporters are selected because their views comply with this agenda. The bias can be more subtle than on FOX news, Murdoch’s US broadcaster, or Al Jazeera, but it sill exists.

So. Journalists are striking over pensions. And here is the Indy is story that the BBC’s chief has done wrong. But the best bit about Ian Burrell’s report is this:

Mitchell, who was speaking at the Centre for Journalism at the University of Kent, and responding to a question from third-year journalism undergraduate John Saunders, was aware that his comments were on the record.

Can you speak off the record to a roomful of trainee hacks?

Then this:

In addition to Mitchell’s criticism, his boss, Helen Boaden, the BBC director of news, has attacked the way that Thompson and his senior management team have handled BBC employees’ pensions.

It’s a pincer movement:

In a leaked email, Boaden says: “All I can say is that as a pension Trustee, I think it would have been much, much better if the BBC had waited for the deficit to be properly assessed and then worked with the Trustees to come up with a viable long term plan for addressing it.”

The apparent crisis is that workers who have ready access to the mainstream media are unhappy about getting less money in their pensions. And these workers are unhappy that their boss, Mr Thompson, has made the news personal and biased?

Tsk! How very dare he…

Posted: 6th, November 2010 | In: TV & Radio Comment | TrackBack | Permalink