Thursday, November 01, 2007

Clarity and honesty - Part 2

When, on 11 September 2007, I informed Mark Thompson about the discriminatory filtering of messages on CBBC, I was surprised to receive such a muddled explanation.

I had pointed out, amongst other things, and in case he was not aware, that Newsround has been systematically and covertly discarding feedback from 14 and 15 year-olds.

The reply I got said that the CBBC channel (including CBBC on BBC One) and all its programmes "are now aimed at children aged from 6 to 12" and, I was told, that explains why Newsround "does not normally publish comments from those aged 13 or above."

The reply doesn't hold water for two reasons:

1] CBBC has been aimed at 6-12 year-olds for several years, but 14 and 15 year-olds have only been cast aside recently - after 'Creative Future' was unveiled.

2] Newsround routinely publishes comments from those aged 13.

The DG hasn't yet attempted to explain the discrepancies. His policies, announced on 25 April 2006, seem to have resulted in an underhand attempt to drive viewers away from CBBC in preparation for the new teen 'brand' - BBC Switch.

Someone must have deliberately instigated this discriminatory policy, and Newsround Blog will try to find out who it was. But whether or not the culprit is identified, Mark Thompson, having been informed, now bears responsibility.

Often people at the BBC make very clear statements. Take this one for instance: I have never been involved in a deception of the public. Nothing equivocal about that, but just to make sure why not follow by saying It would just never have occurred to me (see blog 31 July 2007)

But without honesty the clearest statements become meaningless. And that's why the BBC has a serious problem - an ethos of dishonesty emanating from the highest levels of management.

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