Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Revision of BBC Editorial Policy - part 3

Mark Thompson took over as BBC Director-general on 22 June 2004, telling staff there was a need for real, radical change. Thompson immediately set about restructuring of the BBC's Executive Committee, and one year and a day later the BBC published its new slimmed down set of Editorial Guidelines - the guidelines still in place today.

How did Mark Thompson's guidelines differ from what went beforehand? The Producers' Guidelines, as they had been known previously, had given comprehensive advice on a range of issues including Taste and Decency. Mark Thompson, however, presumably thought that kind of stuff wasn't needed in his new anti-political-correctness BBC. So it was ditched along with a lot of other things, including this guidance from the chapter about Portrayal:-

Gay and lesbian people, and those who are bi-sexual, make up a significant minority entitled to be served and treated fairly by the BBC ....Lesbians and gay men can be particularly subject to thoughtless and offensive stereotyping .... There is no place in factual programmes for our use of words like 'queer', 'dyke', 'fairy' or 'poof': when contributors use them they should be challenged wherever possible.

The BBC claimed its new guidelines had applied "editorial lessons learned since the last update in 2000," but didn't explain why some sections had been removed. Previously, producers had been cautioned not to "demean or brutalise through word or deed, or to celebrate cruelty." Comedy must be "well judged, not gratuitous, unnecessarily cruel or designed to harm or humiliate a person or group."

The policy guidance removed by new broom Mark Thompson would have made it abundantly clear that the treatment meted out to Andrew Sachs by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand could not be countenanced.

Thompson has made no bones about his disdain for political correctness. He told The Telegraph: we have some of the most politically incorrect voices in Britain on the air every week – and I’m glad we do. And Jeremy Clarkson will come round looking for you if you disagree!

Is it any wonder there's a yobbish and bullying culture at the BBC which led, amongst other things, to the Andrew Sachs incident. Brazen Mark Thompson, rather than admit responsibility for BBC failings, repeatedly insists others take the blame and resign.

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