Ageism at the BBC was one of the concerns raised by PD James when she interviewed Mark Thompson at the end of 2009 (see blog 3 January 2010). Another was the poor standard of some BBC output, which Baroness James felt was not as good as that to be expected of a public service broadcaster. As examples, PD James reeled off a long list of (mainly BBC Three) TV programmes, but one not on her list, but equally deserving of scorn, was Most Annoying People 2009, which was peppered through with ageism.
Recently I've been taking a look at BBC editorial guidelines (see blog 9 December 2009) and it seems the Guidelines are applicable to all of the BBC's output. So, for example, the BBC should be as fair-minded with a programme called Most Annoying People 2009, as it must be with the news or a documentary.
Anyone who watched Most Annoying People 2009 would have seen criticisms of politicians for the way they used 'our' money. But what about BBC management? How about the £100 of our money spent by Jana Bennett to buy flowers for Jonathan Ross. And that was only one example. Why wasn't Ross himself on the list - especially considering that remark, widely considered homophobic, which went out on Radio 2 last May.
In last year's MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, James Murdoch promoted his myopic view that profit is all important in the provision of quality television. Interesting not to see his name on the list. Perhaps it's something to do with his sister, Elisabeth, being chairperson and CEO of Shine Limited - i.e. the company responsible for making Most Annoying People 2009.
It's just reported that Jonathan Ross will be leaving the BBC in the summer. Very good news, and hopefully this signals that the BBC will now take its core values seriously (blog 30 December 2009)