Monday, 29 June 2009

Melanie Phillips joins Mail attack on BBC

The BBC finds itself in the crosshairs of the Daily Mail once again. The whole of page 5, part of the editorial and a Melanie Phillips op-ed piece of today's edition are all devoted to attacking the Beeb. Partly because of expenses and partly that in order to broadcast over 170 hours of the Glastonbury festival on TV, radio and online, it had to send quite a few people to the event. Shock horror.

No word that the coverage was of a very high standard with viewers being able to pick and choose between everyone from Lady GaGa to Neil Young, Status Quo to Amadu and Mariam.

(The Telegraph, The Sun and the Star have also covered the Glastonbury angle, although all these stories are almost identical.)

The Mail says the BBC 'sent' 415 people to cover the event, but given that nearly half (190) were technicians and in total only 125 of the 415 were staff (the rest freelances and short-term contractors) it doesn't seem that excessive.

But according to rent-a-BBC-bashing-quote Tory MP Philip Davies it's 'another example of of how the BBC is bloated'. The Mail editorial dimisses it as a 'mass junket' to which all are invited.

The Mail claims all this cost an 'estimated' £1.5m although it doesn't even begin to explain where this figure has come from.

And then Melanie Phillips steps in. At one point she sniffily dismisses BBC presenters for 'knowingly' referring to the festival as 'Glasto', without realising the headline on the earlier story is, er, BBC's Glasto army. As Mail subs knowingly call it.

She admits that 'a huge outside broadcast...can't be covered with a handful of staff,' which is rather more generous than the editorial can manage. But she's more concerned with why the BBC is covering Glastonbury at all:

Glastonbury might be popular among the young, along with a bunch of superannuated hippies vicariously revisiting their lost adolescence.

In other words: How dare the BBC provide programmes that might be 'popular among the young'? She goes on:

It's hard not to conclude that an event with particular appeal for those of a certain age who were teenagers in the Sixties and Seventies. Which, by an amazing coincidence, just happens to be the age of many senior BBC executives.

In other words: How dare the BBC provide programmes for people who are between 43 and 68?

If the BBC weren't providing programmes for these age groups, or indeed covering major arts events, that would be wrong. But as this is modern music, it's not really important to the likes of the Mail and Melanie.

She turns this, as the editorial did, into a rant against the BBC and its expenses, claiming the publication of them caused 'such outrage'. Although the death of Michael Jackson rather ovetook the story, there was very little evidence, outside of the pages of the Mail, that there was 'such outrage'. (Maybe this is the same type of 'outrage' that led it to launch its 'Not in the Mail any more' campaign against wheelie bins)

But the evidence of her own outrage is quite odd. She points out that 'no fewer than 47 BBC executives were paid more than the Prime Minister's salary of £195,000,' including Director General Mark Thompson's £816,000. Which leads her to ask:

is he really saying that his job is four times as important as the Prime Minister's?

At which point, she should answer this question: Is her boss, Mail Editor Paul Dacre (paid £1.62m per year), really saying that his job is EIGHT times as important as the Prime Minister's? (And twice as important as the DG's?)

It would be interesting to know how much Melanie is paid as well, so we can see how many times more important she thinks she is than the PM.

1 comment:

  1. What a bunch of cunts, honestly. How often is live music from pop music festivals on TV? Once, twice, three times a year? However much it cost, Bruce Springsteen's set on Saturday night was worth it alone. While they're at it, why don't these newspapers complain about how much it's costing the BBC to show Wimbledon? Or might that be a little too close to their bourgeois buttons?


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