As I stood in CNN’s London newsroom listening to the BBC explaining job cuts you can understand why some people think Mark Thompson has not gone far enough. Hence Sky News’ John Craig’s little joke on their blog at the expense of the numerous BBC TV staff covering the EU Summit in Lisbon. Most commercial broadcasters think the BBC is vastly over-staffed even after these cuts. Back home in my street talking to a good friend and BBC TV producer, however, and you understand why the axe hurts.
The idea of ‘efficiency’ is sound. People like CNN, ITN and Sky have been efficient for some time now. Belatedly the BBC has realised that it needs to move people from Old Media duplication to New Media multi-skilling. And yet although BBC News is high value and a core component (I would say the ultimate, essential component of public service broadcasting) it is taking the brunt and there is no doubt that these cuts will reduce quality. For Jonathan Ross’ £18 million salary you could fund Newsnight for two years or the Today programme for four years. I know where I would spend the money, but the BBC prefers to keep paying out to the consultants and for the empire buiding. The BBC is moving in the right direction but I sense that today we saw a lack of real leadership and that an opportunity to truly reshape the future of public service broadcasting has been lost.
Oh well, I am off now to talk to Internet TV Channel 18doughtystreet about why the BBC should follow their enterprising example.