Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A safe pair of hands

The BBC has appointed the safest pair of hands as its new Director General. George Entwistle, whose name we shall be hearing rather a lot, is a former editor of Newsnight and is, in every way, a BBC insider.
As Director of Vision, Mr Entwistle was in charge of all BBC TV channels. Insiders say he has strong credentials as the de facto “editor-in-chief”, with a current affairs background at Newsnight, Panorama and On The Record. But he was criticised last month for overseeing botched coverage of the Diamond Jubilee river pageant.
The BBC was ridiculed in Parliament for “dumbing down”, after presenter Fearne Cotton showed viewers a sick-bag emblazoned with the Queen’s face.
Mr Entwistle was also deputy editor of Tomorrow’s World and The Culture Show. The 49-year-old father-of-two studied at Durham University, before starting out as a sub-editor at magazine firm Haymarket.
He moved to the BBC in 1989 as a broadcast journalism trainee and becoming assistant producer on Panorama within a year.
What could possibly go wrong? Maybe I should ask it another way: how could it possibly go right?

Will the new Director General pay any attention to the constant stream of criticism that is directed at the BBC that rose to a crescendo after the Jubilee river pageant coverage? Will he read the excellent report by Brian Dennis Sewell, recently published by the New Culture Forum that shows with a good deal of evidence that the BBC shows institutional bias in a great deal more than just the news coverage? Somehow I doubt it.

This is, of course, excellent news. For some time now I have been arguing that like the EU, the UN, the whole system of quangos and many other institutions of that kind, the BBC is beyond reform and this appointment proves that it is, indeed, so.

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