Friday, August 27, 2010

Thompson comes out fighting - time to concentrate on the right targets

So Mark Thompson has finally delivered his MacTaggart lecture and I'm sure it is being trashed by many newspapers but there is much to be applauded in the speech. It is a strong defence of public service broadcasting and the BBC and a clear rebuff to the nonsense talked by James Murdoch at last year's event. Particularly welcome is the case made for a retransmission levy - which the NUJ has long been campaigning for - which would see those who rebroadcast public service content but pay nothing for its creation pay a charge to enable more investment in original content. There were also some welcome comments about the need to tackle executive excess at the beeb.
But the speech also failed to address some real current concerns - like the threat to staff pensions which has sparked a revolt inside the corporation. You cannot make great programmes without great staff. They are fundamental to what makes the BBC so popular. Yet they are demoralised and undervalued by a management which has rewarded itself and is now undermining their pay and conditions. The BBC would stand a much better chance of fighting off it's enemies if it was united itself. To rebuild that unity staff want the DG delivering more robust defences of what they do and less waging war on their pensions. When the unions declare their ballot results next week all that is good about tonight's speech will be lost amidst the headlines over strike threats and pension robberies. It's not too late for the BBC management to stop that happening. Stop the pensions robbery!

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