Richard Lutz gazes into his flatscreen and sees only seedy shenanigans
First comes the emergence of reports that the new head of the BBC Trust, Rona Fairhead, may not have her eye entirely on the ball when it comes to regulating our taxpaying interests as watchdog-in-chief of the broadcaster. She also has to have time to sweep up her £524,000 pa from rotten bank HSBC as a chair of its audit committee.
Who oversees our main broadcaster when she is at her local cashpoint hoovering in her mega thousands? Whose interest does she really represent when she is in thrall to a bank that launders Mexican drugs money, squirrels away tax free loot in Swiss accounts and violates the Banks Secrecy Act?
Second, comes a timely report from columnist Nick Cohen. With one eye on the fact that senior BBC bosses said they had no idea about Jimmy Savile’s depravities, Cohen points out how reporters who tried to tell the public about his crimes have now been either sidelined or sacked.
He points out in his Observer column that Newsnight producer Meirion Jones, who oversaw investigations into Savile’s horrendous deprivations, had his report banned by his bosses. He was sent to another programme and now told there is no room for him anywhere.
Call it what you will – he’s been fired by any other name. It’s a classic squeeze-out, a kangaroo trial which is a time-tested management weapon.
His colleague on the Savile piece was reporter Liz MacKean. Cohen says she has been forced out too. He quotes her as saying: “When the Savile scandal broke,the BBC tried to smear my reputation. They said they had banned the film because Meirion and I had produced shoddy journalism.
“I stayed to fight them, but I knew they would make me leave in the end. Managers would look through me as if I wasn’t there. I went because I knew I was never going to appear on screen again.” And she added:
The scandal is simply this: the BBC is forcing out or demoting the journalists who exposed Jimmy Savile as a voracious abuser of girls.
Jones told Cohen: “There is a small group of powerful people at the BBC who think it would have been better if the truth about Savile had never come out. And they aim to punish the reporters who revealed it.”
So, that is one perspective of how the BBC (the BBC we support with our taxes) really runs the show.
But there is a footnote emerging from the papers today. We all know Jeremy Clarkson is a mega star with alleged racist-tinged remarks about those who aren’t white or European. There have been criticisms about comments hurled at folks from Africa, the Far East and Mexico, to name a few. He denies being a racist. Reports in the papers on Monday said a company set up by the TV roadster made a profit of £600,000.
All power to the guy. He made a profit in a business. He’s hard working, if nothing else.
But it seems he used to own another company with his TV producer. It was called Bedder 6. And guess what? It was a joint venture between those two and BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the British Broadcasting Corp. It controlled the commercial rights to Clarkson’s popular show Top Gear.
No wonder the BBC is so keen to keep him. They were in business together until Worldwide bought him out. And as the report says today, it is unknown how much of the fee Clarkson gets from the BBC’s public wing and Worldwide drips into his new company that showed the £600,000 profit. Both parties refused to talk.
This is the reality of the Beeb.
So, this week when you are gobbling up your Eastenders, being spoonfed charity by Comic Relief or being intellectually stimulated by fancypants current affairs shows, think. Think carefully, about the garbage floating just below the surface of the productions pouring out of the screen. Productions which we own and fund.