Did Jonathan Ross really need to be suspended?

After ‘Sachsgate’, leading figures in broadcasting give their views on the BBC’s response

Greg Dyke

Director-General of the BBC, 2000-2004

I think that Jonathan Ross is a great talent who, at times, goes over the top and a bit far, but one has |to recognise that there are generational differences in taste going on here. I think that Lesley Douglas was a great talent, too, and I think it’s a tragedy that she’s been either forced to resign or forced out of the BBC.

Simon Bates

Classic FM breakfast show host and former presenter on all the five main BBC radio networks

I don’t think that Jonathan Ross should have been sacked – that would have been ludicrous – but the 12-week suspension brings back the problem in January, when everyone will be waiting for him to be outrageous, which he won’t be. Then everyone will be disappointed. The BBC has bought time but more problems.

James Herring

Television publicist who represents Catherine Tate, Jimmy Carr and a number of other comedians

The three-month ban is the kind of punishment that you would expect to be handed out to footballers, not broadcasters. Will we soon be seeing a new red and yellow card system introduced for punishing troublesome presenters?

Will Wyatt

Former No 2 at the BBC and author of the Wyatt Report into the Crowngate scandal

It would have been impossible to come out of this without a senior editorial person going. The suspension is a good solution: the balance is between causing some pain to the person who has brought the BBC into disrepute and taking away a programme that an awful lot of licence-fee payers enjoy. Ross and Brand had form in this area and the BBC needed to show that enough was enough.

Nick Ferrari

Presenter at LBC

I do think it was a sackable offence. It was not just a one-off, it was repeated. What tipped the balance for me was the stuff that did get edited out, which was even worse. But I understand the commercial pressures on the BBC and he is one of their most bankable stars, so I can see why they had to hold on to him. His salary should be paid to a charity of Sachs’s choice and BBC4 should show episodes of Fawlty Towers back-to-back.

Andrew Gilligan

‘London Evening Standard’ journalist, resigned from the BBC after Hutton inquiry'

By suspending Ross for 12 weeks, the BBC has saved enough money for an entire radio programme. I think the BBC needs people like Jonathan Ross because it has to have universal appeal, but they got their sums wrong with him. He’s not worth £6m-a-year, but his market value is about to become self-correcting.

Christian O’Connell

Presenter at Absolute

Jonathan is someone who is edgy and we like him because he says things that surprise us. Suspending him for 12 weeks is not appropriate. He is suffering a lot. There’s enough doom and gloom at the moment and people need someone like him on a Friday night. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling made all those complaints to take people’s minds off the recession.

Ronald Neil

Former director of BBC news and current affairs, reviewed its values after the Hutton inquiry

The big task ahead is how the organisation defines for every producer where the absolute boundaries of taste and decency are. If the younger generation thinks the BBC is becoming too timid and not appealing to vulgar tastes then frankly that is tough. There’s too much at stake here. Twelve weeks suspension is a clear, very public punitive action.

Rod Liddle

‘Spectator’ columnist and former editor of the ‘Today’ programme

It looks as if the executives are going to be picked off, one by one, every time there’s a crisis. The BBC finds it hard to defend itself against the tabloids because of the declining legitimacy of the licence fee, although I think there should be one. I don’t think they should be employing Jonathan Ross – the price was hugely inflated.

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