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- 05/02/13--02:53: _Review prompted by ...
- 05/08/13--05:02: _Unions condemn £600...
- 05/14/13--00:58: _Prizes for Today an...
- 05/14/13--02:23: _David Frost: There ...
- 05/16/13--03:59: _Ian Katz leaves Gua...
- 05/20/13--01:43: _Prescott condemns '...
- 05/23/13--01:32: _BBC's £50 pay deal ...
- 05/23/13--03:43: _John Humphrys admit...
- 05/24/13--05:13: _NUJ condemns 'shock...
- 05/29/13--04:33: _Think tank report a...
- 06/11/13--00:47: _BBC accused of 'not...
- 06/11/13--04:53: _Unions call for str...
- 06/11/13--07:17: _Brian Sewell: 'Inte...
- 06/12/13--01:25: _Tributes pour in af...
- 06/12/13--07:05: _Former Channel 4 Ne...
- 06/13/13--01:49: _Boris Johnson to fo...
- 06/18/13--01:16: _Radio 4 Today censu...
- 06/19/13--02:58: _BBC fails in bid to...
- 06/20/13--00:18: _BBC boss claims £40...
- 06/24/13--03:10: _BBC releases style ...
- 05/24/13--05:13: NUJ condemns 'shocking'£98m digital media project waste
- 06/12/13--01:25: Tributes pour in after BBC newsreader dies, aged 48
- 06/12/13--07:05: Former Channel 4 News editor Jim Gray takes up BBC news role
- 06/13/13--01:49: Boris Johnson to follow Nick Clegg by hosting LBC radio show
The BBC is to review its bullying and harassment policy and remove gagging clauses from future BBC contracts and compromise agreements.
The news comes after an in-depth Respect at Work, commissioned in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal, found "a strong undercurrent of fear" at the corporation.
Current BBC contracts can include “derogatory statement restrictions”. New BBC director general Tony Hall, for instance, is barred from making "any derogatory or unfavourable public remark or statement" about the BBC during his time in office or within two years of his departure. BBC trust chairman Chris Patten revealed last week that this clause would be removed from Hall's contract.
The review was prepared with the help of Dinah Rose QC and Change Associates.
Hall said: “Parts of this report do however make uncomfortable reading. We need to be honest about our shortcomings and single minded in addressing them. I want zero tolerance of bullying and a culture where people feel able to raise concerns and have the confidence that they will be dealt with appropriately.
“I also want people to be able to speak freely about their experiences of working at the BBC so that we can learn from them. The measures we are taking today, including the removal of so called ‘gagging clauses’, show our commitment to change. This agenda will be a priority for the senior management team going forward.”
The review included submission from than 930 individuals, including past and present BBC staff.
It found that there have been 37 formal complaints of sexual harassment over the past six years out of a total of 22,000 staff and 60,000 freelances. This was seen as being a comparatively low amount.
But the report did raise alarm bells about bullying and a culture of fear about speaking out.
The report said: “Concerns raised about bullying and other forms of inappropriate behaviour were much more prominent in contributions to the review than concerns raised about sexual harassment.
“Often this behaviour appears to go unchallenged by senior managers. Some individuals are seen as being ‘untouchable’ due to their perceived value to the BBC.
“There is confusion as to what constitutes robust management of performance and what is bullying. Inappropriate behaviour is felt to exist between managers and their teams and vice versa and between BBC staff and our third party suppliers.”
One staff member quoted by the report said: “People are afraid to complain, there is a huge fear of reputational loss and shame. These are the invisible silencing mechanisms.”
Change Associates said: “Throughout our conversations we heard a strong undercurrent of fear; fear of speaking out, fear of reprisal, fear of losing your job, being made redundant, fear of becoming a victim, fear of getting a reputation as a troublemaker and not getting promoted if an employee, or further work if a freelancer, supplier or contractor.
“Considering the strength of positive feeling for the BBC, ‘fear’ feels like a contradiction in terms. But its widespread presence is a significant contributor to issues that undermine the Respect at Work agenda.”
The report found that “multiple members of staff in different parts of the BBC reported being bullied by a ‘known bully’”.
It said: “These individuals create a climate of anxiety and participants described how they live in fear that it will be their turn to be verbally abused today. People used very emotive language to describe how over time this affects their ability to do their job, as they actively avoid discussion for fear of confrontation and are reluctant to challenge any decision put forward.
“Comments were made that in some teams, the only common bond they have is ‘the fear of the one who calls the shots.’ People also cited the fact that they were ashamed about how this made them behave – when they feel relief that it’s someone else’s turn, they keep their head down and squirm and then are full of shame at how they have just watched their colleague take a verbal beating.
“Such public displays are most often conducted by senior staff, managers, programme makers or others who are sufficiently confident of their position and reputation to give such a performance.”
A staff member quoted by the report said:
“There are some pretty horrendous examples of behaviour both upwards, downwards and sideways and I see far too many ‘angry’ emails between people.”
And another said:
“My line manager regularly displays aggressive behaviour, shouting and raging at me and others, completely unprovoked. If I complained I thought I would be perceived as not being able to do the role I had been newly promoted into.”
BBC director of HR Lucy Adams Director said: “The Respect at Work Review takes an unflinching look at the culture that exists inside the BBC today. It shows that there is much that is positive about working here but there are areas where we need to improve. Clearly bullying is an issue that needs to be dealt with within the BBC but feedback from freelancers and Bectu’s own survey findings have shown there are issues in this area across the industry as a whole.
“I am grateful to those members of staff, unions and contributors past and present who shared their feedback. Their insight has been invaluable. Our aim now is to ensure we can take the recommendations from the report and use them to improve the experience our staff have of working at the BBC.”
Reacting to the report, Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: “I very much welcome this report.
"I am grateful to Dinah Rose QC for her work, and I am pleased that the BBC’s senior management have engaged actively with the review.
"It is now vital that the BBC, under the new DG, acts swiftly and decisively on the report’s findings.
"It is essential managers at all levels in the organisation make sure that the BBC is a good place to work, with the very best standards of behaviour.”
The BBC has been accused of “double standards” after offering below-inflation pay rises while splashing out £1 million on new senior salaries.
Media union Bectu has urged members to reject the 20013/14 pay offer by the corporation, which would see all staff on salaries of less than £60,000 given a flat £600 increase.
The offer represents a 3 per cent increase for the lowest-paid members of staff, earning £20,000, with nearly two thirds of staff – those earning more than £30,000 – getting less than 2 per cent.
In recent months, the BBC has hired former culture secretary James Purnell and Anne Bulford from Channel 4 to newly created roles, earning £295,000 and £395,000 respectively, while former Times editor James Harding has joined as head of news on £340,000.
Bectu general secretary Gerry Morrissey said: “The BBC wants to do all this in the name of Delivering Quality First cuts. However at the same time as they are again asking staff to tighten their belts they are employing three senior executives at a cost of more than £1million. This is yet another example of the BBC's double-standards and we'll be encouraging staff to resist the proposals in their entirety.”
In February, Bectu, the National Union of Journalists and Unite submitted a joint claim for 6.3 per cent based on RPI, which currently stands at 3.3 per cent, plus 3 per cent.
The NUJ is set to meet BBC management later this month with Sue Harris, broadcast organiser at the union, saying that industrial action was a possibility.
“We will try and negotiate with them on good faith,” she told Press Gazette. “But they should know that people are not happy.
“These guys have had job cuts year on year for eight years, well before austerity started.”
According to the NUJ, RPI has risen by 17.2 per cent during the last five years, while BBC wages have risen by 7 per cent during that time.
A BBC spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring that this year’s pay rise goes as far as possible to reflect increases to the cost of living, balanced by what we can afford to pay given the savings we need to make. We have made a flat rate offer of £600 which is weighted to the lower paid and in addition we will ensure that everyone receives a minimum increase of 1 per cent which is consistent with rises elsewhere in the public sector.”
But Harris said the BBC “likes to flip flop about comparing itself with the public sector or private sector” adding that ITV recently agreed a 2.75 per cent hike and £900 bonus for all staff earning below £60,000.
The BBC won most of the journalism prizes at last night’s Sony Radio Academy Awards.
The Today Programme was named overall breakfast show of the year. And presenter John Humphrys also won the radio journalism of the year prize.
Humphrys, 69, agreed a nine-month extension to his BBC contract last month.
The judges said of Today:
No one who heard John Humphrys interviewing George Entwistle could be left with any doubt that they had listened to something momentous occurring and, sure enough, the director-general of the BBC stepped down later that same evening. But The Today Programme is so much more than one interview or one presenter. The judges were rocked by the ”hidden hunger” interview with a well-spoken British mother who had not eaten for five days, wooed by Lynne Truss’s eloquent review of the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony and won over by sparkling reports from around the globe. In a post-Leveson Inquiry world, The Today Programme reminds us all why freedom of speech and quality journalism are worth fighting for."
On John Humphrys, the judges said:
Whether he's in the studio grilling a Cabinet Minister or overseas on an assignment, his intelligence, rigour and refusal to be fobbed off, mark him out as an outstanding broadcaster and his interview with the former BBC Director General George Entwistle was one of the THE news events of 2012."
The best speech programme was Witness on the BBC World Service presented by Robin Lustig. The judges said: "This entry contained compellingly authentic personal stories set against historical events."
News and current affairs programme of the year was Newsbeat on Raduio 1: “Real investigative jouranlis, which is well tailored with audience reaction.”
Best coverage of a live event went to BBC Radio 5 live for London 2012 and speech radio broadcaster of the year went to Eddie Mair of PM on Radio 4. The judges said:
This broadcaster has intelligence, spontaneity and a razor sharp wit. He navigates stories with authority and command, adding value at every turn. The entry is a masterclass in how to interview, showing great tenacity and a forensic approach to questioning, but also humanity.
Veteran broadcast David Frost has suggested that new BBC director general needs to thin out BBC management.
Frost, who has worked for the BBC off and on since 1962, told the Independent:
"He has come back at just the right moment. I think that one thing that you talk to people about inside the BBC and outside the BBC and everybody seems to feel that there is one level at least of middle management that could be sacrificed and not replaced. There’s too much middle management at the BBC. The interesting thing is that the middle management and possibly the higher management crisis at the BBC is very similar to the situation that the Royal Opera House was in when Tony arrived there. There were all those stories about rifts.”
But there are no signs so far that he plans to reduce the number of well-paid senior managers at the BBC.
The BBC also has a management board member responsible for development and implementation of editorial policy and standards. David Jordon was on a salary of £167,000 as of June 2012.
Several executives who did not cover themselves in glory during the Jimmy Savile/Lord McAlpine scandals well have all retained their salaries and been moved sideways to new roles.
Guardian deputy editor and head of news Ian Katz has been recruited by the BBC as the new editor of Newsnight.
Katz fills a vacancy created by the departure of Peter Rippon in the wake of the Jimmy Savile debacle. It was announced in February that Rippon had been moved to the job of editor of the BBC Online Archive.
In December 2011, Rippon took the decision to spike a Newsnight story claiming that Jimmy Savile was involved in a number of sexual assaults.
Meanwhile former World At One editor Jamie Angus - currently acting deputy editor of Newsnight - has been announced as the new editor of Radio 4's Today programme.
He replaces Ceri Thomas who was promoted in March to become BBC head of news programmes.
Katz has been at The Guardian since 1990 and has worked as a reporter, foreign correspondent and features editor for the paper.
In 2008 he was executive editor of The Guardian in charge of the Saturday edition when he was promoted to deputy editor.
The Guardian still has two other deputy editors: Katherine Viner, who is currently in Australia heading up a new international edition of Guardian.co.uk, and Paul Johnson, who heads up news, business and sport.
Guardian News and Media editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger said: "Ian has been a central player in The Guardian's team for many years. He is an inspiring, immensely talented and innovative journalist who has played a crucial role across digital, news and features.
"We’re sorry to see him go, but leading the BBC's flagship news programme is a huge challenge and I'm sure he will do it brilliantly."
Rusbridger said in an email to staff that Johnson will take immediate responsibility for news on The Guardian on an interim basis.
Katz will join the BBC in July and take the reins at Newsnight full-time from September.
He is the second national newspaper journalist to join the BBC in a senior management role in recent months.
In April it was announced that former Times editor James Harding was joining the BBC in the £340,000-a-year head of news role.
John Prescott has launched an attack on the BBC for its “ridiculous” wages and the cost of its relocation to Salford.
The former Deputy Prime Minister used his regular Sunday Mirror column to criticise the taxpayer-funded broadcast after the National Audit Office last week unveiled its relocation bill.
The NAO’s report showed that the corporation spent £24 million moving staff to its new Media City HQ in Greater Manchester, including 188 individual payments of at least £50,000 and 11 of £100,000 or more.
Prescott said that management at the BBC “seems to be on another planet”.
He added: “In this time of austerity, it continues to pay ridiculous bonuses and wages. And while I’m in favour of the BBC moving 5 Live, BBC Sport and other production bases to Salford, can we really be expected to foot the bill for outlandish resettlement costs?”
The NAO criticised the BBC for its overly generous relocation deals. The report said: “There are clearly question marks over the generosity of the relocation packages offered to staff”.
It also highlighted the lack of documentation for the move and “inadequate” handling of the exceptions to its standard relocation package. However, it said the overall process was handled well.
The report added that it was “too early to judge the long-term impact and value for money of the move for licence fee payers”.
Earlier this month, the National Union of Journalists and media union Bectu both criticised the BBC after it offered below inflation pay rises to staff. Bectu urged members to reject the deal while the NUJ is due to meet with management in an effort to negotiate an improved offer.
The pay deal came after the BBC hired three new executives on a combined salary of more than £1 million.
The BBC has increased its pay offer to its lowest-earning staff but the improved deal looks unlikely to prevent industrial action.
The corporation increased its flat-rate pay rise for all staff earning less than £60,000 from £600 to £650.
Union Bectu has said the offer is still “far too low given the decline in staff pay over years and the current level of inflation”. The broadcast union, along with the National Union of Journalists and Unite, are seeking an increase of £1,200 across the board.
The NUJ is set for a series of meetings with its members at the BBC over the next two weeks before a likely ballot on strike action early next month.
Sue Harris, broadcasting organiser at the union, told Press Gazette: “I cannot imagine the mood is going to change massively. People are not going to be wowed by an extra £50 on the table.”
But she added that the union would welcome the chance to re-open negotiations with BBC management.
“We are always open to talking more if they come back to us with something sensible.”
In an email to staff, BBC HR director Lucy Adams (who is paid £320,000 a year) said the BBC hoped the improved deal “will go some way to helping people with their costs of living this year”.
The email continued: “Everyone at the BBC is keen to avoid yet more industrial action for the sake of our audiences, so I’d encourage those of you who are union members to feedback your thoughts to your local union representatives.”
The BBC has hit by two strikes so far this year over job cuts. The walkouts affected flagship programmes such as BBC Breakfast, Newsnight and Radio 4's Today Programme.
The email also outlined changes to how the BBC’s unpredictability working allowance will be factored in to “salary progression payments” amid fears that incorporating UPA into salaries could affect pay rises. Following a consultation, the BBC has agreed that eligibility for salary progression payments this year will be determined before taking into account UPA.
Radio 4 Today presenter John Humphrys bribed a police officer.
This was the startling admission made by the veteran broadcaster when he picked up the London Press Club broadcast journalist of the year prize. OK, it was 50 years ago and it was with a bottle of whisky at "Merthyr Tydfil nick" when he was a 17-year-old cub reporter.
“Now they would be banging my door down at 5am in the morning”, noted Humphrys in a well-received jibe at the Metropolitan Police.
Fortunately Met commissioner and guest speaker Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe had already left Stationers’ Hall after delivering an anodyne 15-minute speech mostly about diversity. There was not a word in his address about the 60-plus journalists his force has arrested over the last two years, the ongoing furore over secrecy around arrests or the new allegations of a Met cover-up over Leveson evidence. And sadly no time for questions.
Humphrys said that he shouldn’t really be getting the award and instead favoured BBC World Affairs Correspondent Paul Wood: “All I had to do was get the director general sacked.”
Humphrys revealed that when he first joined Today he was told: “The purpose of The Today programme is to prove to the nation that if you listened to the Today Programme you didn't need to read a newspaper.
“I’ve thought about that over the years and it's bollocks.The Today programme has done awfully well and all that but we cannot do it without newspapers precisely because they make trouble, because they are difficult, because they are awkward, because they have opinions and they do the sort of stuff that the BBC cannot do. So we need to have newspapers. Please God circulation will stabilise and go up because God knows what we would do without you."
The National Union of Journalists has condemned the BBC for wasting “vast sums of public money on hopeless projects” after it announced it was writing off £98.4 million spent on the Digital Media Initiative.
The DMI was scrapped today after five years, with BBC management admitting that it “struggled to keep pace with new developments”.
In an email to corporation staff, director general Tony Hall said the BBC would be investigating the failure of the project “and will take appropriate action, disciplinary or otherwise”.
He added: “Projects of this scale are not without risk and we are not alone in suffering from problems delivering them. But we have a responsibility to spend licence fee payers money as if it was our own and I’m sorry to say we did not do that her.”
The NUJ criticised the BBC for its “shocking waste of money” just days after management upped a proposed pay deal to staff by just £50 a year.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “This represents a shocking waste of money. It seems the BBC cannot afford a fair pay rise for staff who create the top quality content that licence fee payers want, but it is able to squander vast sums of public money on hopeless projects like this. It is right that the director general has stopped it in its tracks and no doubt there will be more such decisions as he unearths all of the skeletons lying in BBC cupboards. Tony Hall said he will be taking appropriate action, disciplinary or otherwise, and I hope the executives who are to blame for this are called fully to account.”
The DMI was designed to make it easier for BBC journalists and programme makers to handle and share audio and video material by using “new digital production tools”.
Initially, the BBC outsourced development of the project to Siemens before bringing it in-house in 2010. The Public Accounts Committee later criticised the outsourcing deal, saying the BBC should be “more vigilant” with licence fee-payers money.
A think tank report has questioned the BBC’s impartiality, criticising it for “pro-immigration”.
The study, by Catholic Herald deputy editor Ed West, criticises several instances where it is felt that the corporation has not given equal weight to pro- and anti-immigration coverage.
The report, which relies on material from 1997 to present, criticises a number of flagship BBC offerings, including the Today programme and Newsnight.
The study, Groupthink: Can we trust the BBC on immigration?, was published by right-wing think tank The New Culture Forum.
Former BBC business editor Jeff Randall is quoted in it as saying that when he was at the BBC, before moving to Sky News in 2007, multiculturalism was “supported” by the BBC.
He said: “Don’t take my word for it because, when I complained to the BBC about our coverage of asylum-seekers, this is what I got back from the very senior BBC news executive: ‘Jeff, the BBC internally is not neutral about multiculturalism. It believes in it, and it promotes diversity. Let’s face up to that.’
“Now, does that sound like impartiality to you?”
The report also criticises “bias” at BBC Online. It describes one online feature, from June 2002, as pro-immigration “propaganda”.
It said of the special feature, “Migrant myths”: “The views of the unanimously pro-migration interviewees blend seamlessly with the editorial, so that it is hard to see where the advocacy ends and the journalism begins.
“The arguments made for more immigration appear to be simply the voice of the BBC.”
The website is criticised on multiple occasions in the 74-page report, along with some of the corporation's flagship programmes.
The Today programme was censured for a report this year on “white flight” (where families were moving from East London) in which presenter James Naughtie described it as “a story of aspiration” and “success”.
The report also criticised Newsnight for underplaying the significance of migration patterns shown in the 2011 Census.
West’s report concludes: “In its coverage of the topic of immigration, the BBC has given overwhelmingly greater weight to pro-migration voices, even though they represent a minority – even elitist – viewpoint.
“And in its coverage of the economic arguments for and against immigration, it has devoted somewhat more space to pro-migration voices. In terms of the social costs, the BBC has almost totally ignored certain areas.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC's coverage of immigration is approached in the same impartial and balanced way as any other story, hearing from a range of voices and exploring a variety of perspectives. The BBC Trust is currently conducting an impartiality review into the breadth of opinion of the BBC’s News, Current Affairs and Factual output. Part of this review will look at the Corporation’s coverage of immigration.”
Former BBC director general Mark Thompson has been accused of misleading MPs over the failure of its £100 million Digital Media Initiative (DMI).
At a session of the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee questioning senior BBC figures on the doomed project, chair Margaret Hodge said that Thompson had told MPs that DMI was on track and being used to make programmes “and that just wasn't true”.
Hodge said she was concerned that a letter from a BBC whistleblower to the chairman of BBC Trust, Lord Patten, written last year and detailing concerns about the scheme, had only recently emerged.
DMI was scrapped last month after five years with the BBC writing off £98.4 million after admitting the project had “struggled to keep pace with new developments”.
BBC trustee Anthony Fry told the committee: “From a personal point of view, this is the most seriously embarrassing thing I have ever seen.”
Fry added that BBC Future Media & Technology director Erik Huggers, who has now left the corporation, led a feeling that the BBC could “walk on water” following successes such as its Olympics coverage and iPlayer launch.
He told MPs: "One of things I think has been unfortunate about all of this is that on the back of the successful delivery of the iPlayer, on the back of what the BBC was doing, attempting to achieve and did achieve successfully in terms of delivering the Olympics, which was very high technology compared with everything else, I think there was a feeling, led by Mr Huggers, that actually the BBC could walk on water," he said.
"There was not enough technological expertise around either the trust table or, I might argue, the executive board table to actually go ahead with something of this scale or complexity."
PricewaterhouseCoopers is working on an internal report on DMI which should be published later this year.
This will focus on what it labelled a "complete catastrophe from the licence fee payers viewpoint”.
A BBC spokesman said: "The BBC takes seriously its responsibility to provide the NAO and Public Accounts Committee with the most accurate information at all times. As has been made clear, the BBC will now be doing all it can to assist the independent review of the DMI project.
The BBC could face a mass walk-out later this summer after the National Union of Journalists called on its members to strike over an ‘insulting’ pay deal.
The NUJ and other unions are urging a yes vote when a strike ballot opens on 14 June after BBC management offered staff below inflation pay rises.
Last month, the corporation increased its offer of a flat-rate pay rise for staff earning less than £60,000 from £600 to £650 following talks with the unions but the new offer has been met with disdain. The unions had demanded an increase of RPI plus 3 per cent.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “It is quite frankly insulting that members are being offered such a paltry sum when the BBC always seems to be able to find cash for executive pay and can write off almost £100 million from its disastrous Digital Media Initiative.”
The NUJ is also up in arms over the BBC’s plans to cut its unpredictability working allowance (UPA) and to cap redundancy payouts for staff who joined after the start of 2013, which it says will create a two-tier workforce.
Stanistreet added: "Our members care about quality journalism and quality programming and this cannot be done on the cheap if the BBC wants to keep and attract talent. The changes to UPA allowances will create a situation where staff working the same shifts will find themselves being paid different rates.
“It is clear that the BBC want to introduce a two tier workforce and we know that it will be long servicing staff on better terms and conditions that will be first to be picked off in future waves of cuts. The NUJ is not prepared to sit back and let that happen.”
Sue Harris, broadcasting national organiser at the NUJ, said: “At a time when the BBC is intent on making 2,000 job losses as part of it cuts-programme Delivering Quality First, it is also trying to cut redundancy terms and consultation time. If the BBC is genuinely committed to redeployment it should withdraw these proposals.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that the unions are considering strike action over pay when we have made an offer to staff which means that the majority of those eligible will receive an increase of 2 per cent or more. We understand that the economic climate is tough for staff but this is what we can afford given the savings we must make.”
Last week, the corporation settled a dispute with the union over a range of issues - including bullying and harassment – which had led to the last staff walk-out in March.
Stanistreet said the NUJ had held “some constructive talk” with director general Tony Hall that had resulted in the setting up of joint reviews to tackle some of the problems.
Art critic Brian Sewell has bemoaned the state of religious coverage on television, criticising “mediocre” staffing.
The long-standing London Evening Standard journalist believes religion is “put to one side” on TV for fear of offending.
As well as the quality of output, Sewell also criticised the frequency of programming and the times at which religious programmes are transmitted.
“I think there is not nearly enough serious coverage. Religion is with us and about us all the time,” he told Press Gazette.
“When you look at what goes on in East Timor, it boils down to a religious issue. When you look at what is happening in the Middle East, it boils down to a religious issue.
“The great division between the two great schools of Islam are causing endless problems – do any of us understand why?
“This is so important. It is as important as fascism was in the 1930s. It is as menacing to civilisation as fascism was – and communism for that matter.”
He added: “It should be part of our awareness. But it is a sort of inconvenient thing.
“Belief and faith and these awkward words where there is no definition come into play... these affect our attitude to religion. So we delicately put it on one side for fear of offending people.”
Sewell said religious coverage on the radio is markedly better, highlighting BBC Radio 4’s output, but said television cannot match up.
He blamed television’s obsession with viewing figures, and said the publicly-funded BBC, in particular, should be immune from commercial concerns.
“Television is run by people who are intellectually mediocre, if not worse – mediocre is the best that they are,” he said.
“There are too many people involved in deciding whether or not something should be commissioned. There are too many people affecting what is done after it has been done, in the editing room.”
Sewell added: “They don’t think about the quality, they don’t think about the argument, they don’t think about the need. They think about how many are going to watch it.
“If by lowering the intellectual standards, and dropping the intellectual argument altogether in some cases, you’re going to get a couple more hundred thousand, then that is what happens in the editing suite.”
Asked about the state of religious coverage in the print media, Sewell said: “Is it covered at all?”
Sewell delivered a similar address at the Sandford St Martin Trust awards for religious broadcasting having chaired the judges for the television awards.
The ceremony was held on Monday night at Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby (who was present).
On the night, David Suchet won two awards for his documentary, In the footsteps of St Paul, which was broadcast of BBC One.
Suchet was named winner of the Premier Award for television and also won the Radio Times readers’ award.
Elsewhere, BBC Bristol’s Hearing Ragas, made for Radio 4, won the Premier Award for radio.
The Sandford St Martin Trust seeks to promote excellence in broadcasting about religion ethics and morality.
BBC Radio 4 newsreader Rory Morrison has died at the age of 48, the corporation has said.
Morrison, who joined the BBC in 1990, had been diagnosed with a rare type of lymphoma in 2004.
He worked at several local radio stations – including BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio York and BBC Radio Cleveland – before joining the British Forces Broadcasting Service and then Radio 4 as a continuity announcer and newsreader.
Radio 4 controller Gwyneth Williams said Morrison had been "at the heart of the station" and praised his "intelligence, integrity and complete professionalism".
She added: "As a continuity announcer and a newsreader he was admired for the warmth of his voice, his clarity and his perfect timing. He was loved by all who knew him. We offer our deep sympathy to his family in their loss."
The father of two was married to fellow BBC journalist Nikki Jenkins.
Tributes to Morrison have been pouring in from friends and colleagues.
On Twitter, Today programme presenter Justin Webb wrote: “So so sad to hear that Rory Morrison has died - lovely warm friendly man. Much love to his family.”
BBC Clare Balding added: “It is such a loss - to his friends, to Radio 4 but most of all to his wife and two young children.”
Former Test Match Special producer Peter Baxter said: “Very sad to hear of Rory Morrison's death. Great announcer, big sense of humour, good friend of TMS.”
Former Channel 4 News editor Jim Gray has been unveiled as new head of BBC TV current affairs and deputy to the head of news programmes.
The newly created role, announced last month, will see Gray take charge of current affairs programmes, investigative journalism and interview programmes such as Panorama and Newsnight.
It is hoped Gray will bring a “sharper focus to current affairs at the BBC” in his role, which is due to start in late summer.
The BBC said that part of his job will be to “drive the editorial right across the department, building closer relationships with programmes like Newsnight”.
He will also handle editorial issues “that arise from high profile journalism”.
Gray was editor of Channel 4 News for 14 years before last year standing down.
Before that he was at the BBC for 17 years, working first at Radio 4 and then at Newsnight, where he was a deputy editor.
BBC head of news programmes Ceri Thomas said: “Jim will be a fantastic addition to the team. He did an outstanding job as editor of Channel 4 News and I’m sure he will show the same sort of commitment and drive in highlighting the power of our analysis and investigative journalism right across the department.”
Gray said: “I am delighted to be joining the BBC in this exciting new role. The range and breadth of the output is truly impressive, and I am really looking forward to working with the team to pursue great journalism which is both ambitious and high-impact."
Boris Johnson is to follow in the footsteps of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg by hosting an LBC radio show.
The Mayor of London will take up an hour of Nick Ferrari's Tuesday show from 26 July.
Clegg has been hosting a Thursday morning slot of Nick Ferrari at Breakfast since January.
In February, Johnson recorded a message for Clegg's 30-minute show, urging him to get "government ministers out of their posh limos".
He said: "Hi Nick, it's Boris here from Islington.
"I just want to ask you when are you going to get all those government ministers out of their posh limos and onto public transport like everybody else?
"How can we possibly expect government to vote for increases in infrastructure spending, which we need in this city, and upgrading the tube, which we all need, when they sit in their chauffeur-driven limousines – paid for by the taxpayer – rather than getting down on public transport with the rest of us?"
LBC said that from next month Johnson will "choose the topics to discuss, take your calls and put his points across in his very own hour on the radio - something he has never done before".
The BBC has been censured after writer Lynda La Plante used the word “retard” during an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme.
Industry watchdog Ofcom ruled that the interview with the 69-year-old in March breached the broadcasting code related to the transmission of potentially offensive material not justified by its context.
La Plante was discussing a story in the Daily Mail in which she was quoted as saying that some BBC staff were “retards”.
The writer brought up the story, describing it as “a headline that apparently I call people at the BBC ‘retards’”, prompting presenter Sarah Montague to question her on the use of the word at a recent event.
La Plante, who penned the successful BBC crime drama Prime Suspect, replied that she had been answering an audience question about where to send scripts.
“I said: ‘You do not send a script, full script, anywhere, you learn how to do a treatment, because you don’t know if there’s a retard at the end of that envelope reading it’. Suddenly I’ve called everybody at the BBC a ‘retard’.”
The BBC said that Montague changed the subject when it became clear La Plante’s assumed clarification was “considerably less significant” than she had thought.
Ofcom accepted the corporation’s argument that the change of subject contained an “implicit criticism” of La Plante’s language. But it said that Montague should have addressed the point more explicitly and apologised to listeners.
In its judgment, Ofcom said: “Ms La Plante did not appear to recognise the potential for offence caused by this use of language, and did not apologise. Nor did the presenter explicitly challenge the guest’s second use of ‘retard’, choosing instead immediately to change the subject.
“Ofcom considered the broadcast of the word on the second and third occasions had the potential to cause considerable and gratuitous offence, and was not justified by the context. While there was an implicit criticism of these uses of the word by the guest through the presenter abruptly changing the subject as she did, in Ofcom’s view it would have been preferable if the presenter had addressed the issue with a more explicit statement, to clarify the potential for this use of language to offend, and apologise for any offence caused to listeners.”
The BBC has failed in an attempt to get a critical radio clip removed from YouTube.
The corporation requested that the video website remove the audio, uploaded by Bristol radio station BCFM, for breach of copyright.
In it, BCFM presenter Tony Gosling questioned BBC Radio Bristol’s decision to invite KPMG representatives into the studio for early morning business coverage.
Gosling suggested that the accountancy firm was an inappropriate choice and that journalism jobs may have been lost as a result of using KPMG “volunteers”.
Gosling used an 80-second clip from the breakfast show to illustrate KPMG’s role.
The BBC claimed this clip, and a photograph used to illustrate it in a YouTube video, breached its copyright and asked YouTube to remove it.
YouTube initially took it down but reinstated it when Gosling made a counter notification. The BBC was told that YouTube does not adjudicate on copyright infringement disputes unless put on notice that legal proceedings have been commenced.
A BBC spokesperson told Press Gazette that its copyright complaint has not been retracted but that the corporation has decided not to commence infringement proceedings.
After the initial complaint was made BBC Radio Bristol managing editor Tim Pemberton told Gosling the BBC had made no objection to the “legitimate criticism” in the clip.
But he said the use of copyrighted material was beyond fair dealing defence.
He also claimed that no journalism jobs had been lost as a result of KPMG volunteers being utilised.
Gosling told Press Gazette: “It’s a pity the BBC saw fit to misuse public resources in this case in an attempt to stifle criticism rather than address legitimate concerns over their too close relationship with a wealthy financial institution they should distance themselves from, even be investigating.
“BBC Radio Bristol’s relationship with Hargreaves Lansdown, KPMG and other financial institutions who deliver these daily reports is too close to the sponsorship or advertising precluded by the BBC charter.”
A senior BBC executive who earns a six-figure salary claimed almost £400 when his holiday was cancelled in the aftermath of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.
Adrian Van Klaveren, who in June 2012 had a total remuneration of £193,150, claimed £387.50 for a "Cancelled holiday to return to work during Jimmy Savile issue".
A former controller of BBC Radio 5 Live, Van Klaveren left the station in December in the wake of the Pollard Report into aspects of the scandal.
He had temporarily headed the chain of command in news at the time of a bungled BBC2 Newsnight report into child abuse in north Wales, which led to Lord McAlpine mistakenly being linked to it. The BBC later made a financial settlement with the Tory peer.
Van Klaveren is now in charge of the BBC coverage of the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
A spokeswoman for the corporation said: "Due to a leading editorial role dealing with exceptional circumstances Adrian was required to return early from annual leave."
The expenses claims also reveal that current head of television Danny Cohen was given a box of wine at Christmas by Mrs Merton star Caroline Aherne.
Cohen, who at that time was BBC One controller, gave the wine to staff at the station.
The total expenses claimed by senior BBC staff has risen by almost a fifth compared to this time last year.
New figures show an expenses bill of £206,401 for the latest quarter for which figures are available, 19 per cent higher compared with the equivalent period a year earlier (£174,041).
The BBC spokeswoman added: "The majority of these expenses are unavoidable routine costs incurred in running a major international broadcasting organisation. Whilst there will inevitably be fluctuation in spend from year to year we are mindful that we are spending public money and are working hard to keep these costs to a minimum."
The corporation has been publishing quarterly expenses for all senior managers who earn more than £150,000 in a bid to increase transparency.
The rail bill has dropped by 21 per cent in a year, and internal hospitality has decreased by 22 per year in the same period.
The figures, which cover the last three months of last year, show that taxi fares claimed by senior bosses have also risen by 19% year on year, totalling £32,948 for the period covered by the latest expenses disclosure.
The BBC's head of Human Resources Lucy Adams, one of the corporation's highest earners on an annual salary of £320,000, claimed £792.64 on taxi fares during the period.
She also claimed £446.79 as external hospitality to discuss ideas to enhance "staff engagement" at a meeting attended by eight people.
The BBC's creative director Alan Yentob, spent nearly £1,000 on cab fares for the period. His claims for taxis amount to £977.87.
Former chief operating officer Caroline Thomson, who left the BBC in September of last year and had a salary of £307,000 for her role, had claims of £387.50 for taxis for the quarter, some of which are logged as being for October in the documents which have been published.
She was given a £670,000 payoff when she left the BBC last year, a figure which drew criticism from the Public Accounts Committee which suggested that the money had been paid to "compensate" her for missing out on the director-general job.
Fleet Street is just a street. Press conferences do not exist. A spokesperson cannot be quoted. News is news – it cannot be good or bad.
These are just a few of the rules set out in the BBC’s editorial style guide, which the corporation released last week.
It will come as a surprise to few that ‘journalese’ should, in general, be avoided by BBC journalists.
“Bonk, cops, fags, ongoing and upcoming” are best avoided altogether, but words such as “blast or slam” are acceptable if used sparingly.
As well as Fleet Street jargon being banned, BBC journalists are also advised that the name ‘Fleet Street’ “is no longer a useful synonym for the print media”.
In addition, it goes without saying that the impartial BBC cannot decide whether something is good or bad news.
“For example, a cut in interest rates must not be characterised as ‘good news on interest rates’ - since, while mortgage holders will be pleased, savers certainly will not be. So the term is acceptable only with a qualification (eg: There is good news for house buyers). The safest approach is simply to say what has happened - and let the reader decide whether it constitutes good news or bad.”
More surprising, perhaps, is the fact that journalists for the corporation are forbidden from writing ‘press conference’, “which is too narrow a term and might exclude some categories of journalist”. Instead, BBC journalists go to ‘news conferences’.
Another banned term is ‘spokesperson’, which is deemed “ugly”. “Spokesman and spokeswoman are possible alternatives. Where it is not obvious, consider rephrasing the sentence - eg: The company said... or A company statement said... or A company representative said... etc.”
Meanwhile, swear words are to be avoided unless “integral to the story”. The BBC does not use asterisks and advises that the journalist should, if possible, "omit the offending term from a direct quote or use indirect speech".
"You may include some swear words, if you think their omission seriously undermines the impact of the story - but this is subject to the approval of a senior editor. Swear words should be clearly signposted, either by saying early in the story that strong language is involved or by having a standalone warning at the top. There is no ‘Top 10’ list of swear words, but do bear in mind that racial and religious terms may be considered very offensive. If in doubt - leave it out.”
Here are some other UK style journalism styleguides available online: