Letter: Open season on the BBC

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was in the BBC for 30 years, until 1981. I never thought it was particularly well managed. It was far from golden, but it was a good place to work. What is clear to any reasonably informed observer is that the necessary management of change has been conspicuously badly handled since Marmaduke Hussey became chairman seven years ago.

Any new management tends - not unreasonably - to tell its friends that the place is in a terrible mess and that the staff is awful. But you can't go on saying that for years and be surprised that you have a real mess on your hands.

Forgive me showing my campaign medals, but there are some lessons from the past which might help. We all knew then that the audience was why we were in business and that the licence fee was levied on every household in the land. And we were not totally ignorant about the cost of everything.

We didn't have silly slogans dreamt up by PR men. We liked it when Huw Wheldon went on about excellence but we thought it our job to work hard for long hours to try and make good programmes - because we worked for the BBC.

To risk being accused of fighting the last war, may I suggest that the governors and management of the BBC show a little more interest in the programmes they make for their audience and a little less concern for the 'structure' of the corporation. They might also show a little pride in the staff that make programmes.

This might be a practical way of persuading the politicians that the BBC deserves a new charter.

Yours faithfully,

JOHN GRIST

Cockermouth, Cumbria

14 July

The writer is a former head of current affairs at BBC television.

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