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Tuesday, March 16, 1999 Published at 04:47 GMT


Dimbleby joins BBC attacks

David Dimbleby: Corporation must be more "buccaneering"

Broadcaster David Dimbleby has joined former BBC chairman Lord Hussey in criticising bureaucracy at the corporation.

The Question Time host tells this week's Radio Times magazine the BBC has lost much of its old sprit over recent years.

"The BBC has lost the knack of quick decision making because it relies on endless focus groups and analysis.

"Managers spend their lives sitting around tables studying theories about how the BBC should be positioned. It has to be more buccaneering," he said.

[ image: Lord Hussey: Attacked the BBC in the Lords]
Lord Hussey: Attacked the BBC in the Lords
Mr Dimbleby - who unsuccessfully applied to be director-general of the corporation in 1987 - said he would have run the BBC differently to Sir John Birt, who retires from the position later this year.

"I'd like to think I'd have listened carefully to the accountants and done a lot of things that Birt carried through, but I hope I'd have had a subtler ear for broadcasting."

But he added that he respected Sir John, who took up the post in 1992.

"I have been in the institution man and boy, so I don't feel disloyal. I admire the way he has been assiduous in doing it the way he wanted. He's taken a lot of flak and survived pretty well."

Lord Hussey recently criticised "bloated management and bureaucracy" at the BBC in a recent speech to the House of Lords. Current chairman Sir Christopher Bland said he was "woefully out of touch".

[ image: David Dimbleby: Outside in the cold]
David Dimbleby: Outside in the cold
Mr Dimbleby added that it was "a mistake" for the corporation to compete for ratings against its commercial rivals.

"The new argument for the licence fee is the old one, that you offer something visually different and of better quality If we just replicate ITV and BSkyB what's the point of us? None at all."

He also hit out at the late scheduling of BBC One's Question Time. "It's crazy to clear the schedules and put Question Time out after 11pm. That erodes the image of the BBC as serious and central to British life," he said.

Although Mr Dimbleby frequently deals with the UK's leading politicians, he said he did not mix socially with them - and had not been invited to 10 Downing Street since he became a broadcaster.

He joked: "Maybe if I snorted coke and had one hit record I would be invited, but I wouldn't know what to do or say."

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