Leading article: Clumsy decentralisation gives succour to the BBC's enemies

Share
Related Topics

For a major corporate move that is supposed to take place before the end of this year, the transfer of 2,500 BBC staff from London to the new media centre at Salford Quays seems to be causing as many problems as it was designed to solve.

The central purpose – to distribute BBC operations, and jobs, more widely around the country and make the broadcaster's perspective more representative of the UK as a whole – remains intact, just. But the practicalities remain as fraught as ever they were; perhaps, given the approaching deadline, even more so.

Nor is it just about Salford Quays. The whole decentralising exercise remains almost as contentious as it was when it was conceived, more than six years ago.

In the past few days David Dimbleby, veteran presenter of the flagship programme Question Time, has made public his opposition to the move of that programme's production to Glasgow, where it will be under the auspices of BBC Scotland. Mr Dimbleby's objections also brought to notice the resignation of the programme's editor, Ed Havard, who preferred to leave the corporation than the capital.

It was revealed last weekend that the individual responsible for overseeing the move to Salford, Guy Bradshaw, works for a consultancy, is not on the BBC's staff, does not pay UK tax, and commutes from his home in the US state of Kentucky.

What message does that send to the BBC employees who are expected to move north about the commitment of senior executives to the project? If it is such a wonderful idea, where is the cheerleading for the enterprise from inside the corporation?

With as many as half of the London-based staff either refusing to move or expressing reluctance, a bit more leadership by example might have been useful.

One might counter that all this simply reflects the extreme metropolitan bias of the BBC, and the equally metropolitan mindset of some of its star employees; in other words, the very phenomenon that decentralisation was supposed to address. It could also be said that few people enthusiastically embrace a change in their status quo, and BBC staff are no exception. There is surely truth in both these points of view.

The difficulty is that the thinking behind many of the decisions that have been taken about who should move and why seems very hard to explain, as do some of the mechanisms – such as Mr Bradshaw's employment.

And the risk is that this incoherence will discredit what is, and remains overall, a necessary and laudable operation. David Dimbleby is right, Question Time draws much of its life-blood from national politics and therefore from the capital.

The timing of the move for BBC Sport, a year before the London Olympics, also looks, even if justified in the long term, an expensive choice. Yet the metropolitan bias of the BBC does need to change; people all over the country need to feel that the BBC reflects their lives, too.

At a time when the corporation faces a government less enamoured of its many merits than previous administrations, and the viewing public is more concerned than ever about value for money, the BBC needs to demonstrate that it knows what it is doing and why it is doing it.

In every respect, the decentralisation programme, including the move to Salford Quays, has left much to be desired. The consequence is that the corporation has made itself more vulnerable to its enemies, especially those on the political right, than it might have been, had it managed its affairs better.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Newspaper stands have been criticised by the Child Eyes campaign  

There were more reader complaints this year – but, then again, there were more readers

Will Gore
 

People drink to shut out pain and stress. Arresting them won’t help

Deborah Coughlin
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?