Joia Shillingford: The BBC's crew can't be everywhere at once

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It was a tough week for media businesses apart from those run by Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox Business channel, launched in the US last week, showed it could refresh the business TV format.

The channel's website, though it looks a bit like a cleaning-products site, showed an admirable avoidance of business jargon. And interviewees such as Times Square's Naked Cowboy added fun to the mix.

But fun was notably absent from the latest BBC announcements about job cuts. It is hard to understand why most of the cuts are being made in areas the BBC is particularly renowned for, such as news, documentaries and children's TV. Moreover, multi-skilling – part of the rationale for the cuts – could prove hard as different parts of the editorial process often have similar deadlines.

If rushing to get a piece on TV, should you focus on trying to get more information or cutting the footage more perfectly? Or should you be trying to get a radio version of the story together?

Making sure all your journalists have the skills to do everything is a laudable aim, so long as they don't have to do everything at once. Less time to research factual stories properly is less time to hold public figures and businesses to account.

Grade grasps the nettle

Though many felt ITV's "burying of bad news" on the day the BBC cuts were announced was underhand, its chairman, Michael Grade, has been very clear in his message to the TV industry, staff and producers that the era of unethical behaviour must end.

His view is that shady shortcuts lead to lower standards and worse content and amount to a lack of respect for viewers. If he succeeds in stamping his vision on the ITV culture, shareholders should expect higher returns.

Project Red Face

Poor old Project Turquoise never really got a chance to develop a culture. Coalitions between banks have always had an uneasy feel and the amateurish events at Project Turquoise, the bizarre moniker given to seven banks building their own cost-saving trading platform, help to explain why.

Without a chief executive, woefully behind schedule and now without any semblance of a trading platform after the collapse of its reverse takeover of London's Plus Markets operation, the project looks more red-faced than turquoise. Sources close to Plus, formerly Ofex, dubbed the project "disorganised and ramshackle" and it's hard to disagree.

The London Stock Exchange stands to lose millions of pounds in trades should a rival platform ever get off the ground, but judging by the Carry On-style antics of last week, it can rest easy.

The shirt off your back

Our international footballers probably don't care much who makes the England shirt, given last Wednesday's performance in Russia. But corporate interest in the company charged with decking out the overpaid stars has reached a new high.

Shares in Umbro rocketed by 28 per cent on Thursday amid speculation that American giant Nike is readying a bid. Further intrigue came on Friday with news that JJB Sports had bought a 10.1 per cent stake in Umbro to "protect its interests" in the shirt, from which it gleans 12 per cent of its annual revenue.

Whether the Wigan group bought the position from Mike Ashley's Sports Direct is unknown. Mr Ashley is believed to have held around 15 per cent.

Witches' brew

Another surprise announcement saw shares in Scottish & Newcastle surge. A bid for S&N has been brewing for several years, but even so, this was premature.

Carlsberg and Heineken were last week unveiled as the foreign rivals behind a joint £9bn takeover and break-up plan. They were forced to admit as much after a leak sent S&N's shares up strongly. Clearly, they had not intended to make an announcement yet and no formal approach has been made. One commentator described it as a "cack-handed non-approach".

Their lack of candour has left a nasty taste in the mouths of S&N executives, who are said to be "furious" that Carlsberg – S&N's joint venture partner in Russia – had not thought to pick up the phone for serious discussions. When John Dunsmore takes over as chief executive on 1 November, he will be heading the bid defence.

Nevertheless, the swoop is a smart move. Under the plans for a carve-up, Heineken would become the biggest brewer in Britain while Carlsberg would seize control of S&N's prize asset, Baltic Beverages Holding (the Russian joint venture). Such a break-up would also sidestep any major monopoly concerns.

Analysts reckon any offer under 800p has little chance of success and other bidders may yet step forward. It's a full price to pay, but for ambitious rivals, it may well be worth it.

Additional research by Simon Evans and Tessa Thorniley

Andrew Murray-Watson is away

Comments