Letter: Mark Tully: the BBC will regret the loss of its 'old dinosaur'

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The Independent Online
IS THIS really the way the BBC feels it appropriate to proceed: to drive Mark Tully, one of its foremost foreign correspondents, to the point where he feels he must resign, and then to demonstrate that it has no idea of the value of what it has lost by describing him and his latest criticism of the Birt regime as 'the last gasp of an old dinosaur'? That was the phrase used by 'a senior source at the BBC', according to newspaper reports.

Mark Tully is no dinosaur, but the best correspondent reporting about the sub-continent. Of course senior management, and the Director- General particularly, must be miffed at his outspoken attacks on their handling of the corporation's affairs - particularly as most of what he says makes such sense. There were other less damaging ways of dealing with the issue, and skilful managers would have used them.

Good senior management would have avoided a situation where the BBC makes public statements regretting Tulley's departure - and lets 'senior sources' loose to rubbish the man. Or was it perhaps the work of someone trying to advance his position by the very same toadying sycophancy of which Tulley was so scornful?

The contribution to the BBC of its present top management has been state-of-the-art managerial bull and an apparently total failure to appreciate that a major part of its job is to provide an atmosphere in which talent can thrive.

The recent renewal of the BBC's Charter makes little difference to that judgement. The people who have made the BBC the world's leading broadcasting organisation are its Mark Tullys - men and women who by their hard work, their talent and in many cases their genius across the range of the BBC's activities have raised it to its present, unchallenged level. What a pity the men now leading the BBC don't seem to realise that.

David Spaull

Former Editor

BBC World Service News

Crawley, Sussex