BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Entertainment  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 11:30 GMT
More grief for the governors
Broadcasting House
The BBC's governing body is under attack again
Nick Higham

The coverage of last week's Lambert report into BBC News 24 was a useful reminder of just how partial newspaper journalism can be.

I have to declare an interest: I work regularly for News 24, and the four months I spent as its "jubilee correspondent" this summer were more fun than anything I've done for years.

But you don't have to be a loyal News 24 staffer to raise an eyebrow at the way publication of the inquiry into the channel by Richard Lambert, the former editor of the Financial Times, was covered in some newspapers.

The report itself was eminently fair and balanced. Its general tone was headmasterly, and Lambert's broad verdict was one familiar to many of us from school reports in years gone by: "Not bad, could do better."

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which commissioned the report, did not seem disposed to make much of it.

House of Commons chamber
The governors' role will come under more scrutiny in the Commons
There was no press conference, and indeed the report was published when its author himself was out of the country and unavailable for interview.

The department's press release simply told the BBC to produce a new "remit" for the channel by April, showing how it would make it, as Lambert proposed, more distinctive from its commercial rivals.

Negative reporting

Somehow this relatively anodyne affair produced headlines of the "government report blasts failing BBC" type, with one newspaper even suggesting the BBC had been told to revamp the channel "or close it" - an idea which seems to have come out of nowhere.

Interestingly, this negative reporting came not just from the usual Fleet Street suspects - the Mail, which famously loathes the Beeb, and the News International stable, whose sister company BSkyB produces Sky News. The Guardian and the Independent reported it in a similar fashion.

All this was less a reflection of what Lambert said about News 24 itself, more a reflection of what he said about the BBC governors.

He was critical of the lack of financial transparency surrounding the channel, of the governors' unwillingness in its early days to acknowledge its shortcomings and of the lack of detail about the channel in successive annual reports.

There is a widely-held consensus in the rest of the media that the governors' time is up: that the idea of an organisation as powerful as the BBC which is not subjected to external regulation is no longer sustainable.

The pressure to amend the new Communications Bill to bring the BBC under the control of the new super-regulator Ofcom is unrelenting.

The newspaper reporting of the Lambert report reflects that. His criticisms offered a timely stick with which to beat the governors. In the process, the substance of what he said about the channel itself rather got forgotten.

The BBC's Nick Higham writes on broadcasting

Industry eye

Digital watch
See also:

05 Dec 02 | Entertainment
05 Dec 02 | Entertainment
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes