Thursday, August 11, 2011

There is probably no single cause for the riots in England. But it would be naïve to overlook the role the BBC, with its Creative Future policy, has played in alienating the younger generation.

Creative Future has been, in almost every respect, a failure and waste of resources. At one time the BBC was, indeed, creative. But you only need compare recent live news coverage on the BBC News channel with that of its main competitor, Sky News, to see how the BBC has declined. So much for the BBC Vision of being "the most creative organisation in the world."

Amongst Creative Future's proposals was the narrowing of the target age for CBBC programmes. And even though the BBC knew full-well that teens were already being poorly served, as confirmed at the time by a Newsround interview with Richard Deverell, the BBC continued implementing the ill-judged plan, and thus further disenfranchised young audiences.

Within weeks of Mark Thompson's unveiling of Creative Future, Newsround began a covert policy of discrimination against older children. I drew this discrimination policy to the attention of Ofcom (pdf) and the BBC Trust.

The BBC has continued to alienate older kids by removing gritty realistic drama programmes from the schedules, most notably, axing Grange Hill. Anne Gilchrist said "Part of CBBC's reputation for reflecting contemporary Britain back to UK children has been built upon Phil Redmond's brilliantly realised idea, and of course it's sad to say goodbye to such a much-loved institution."

A claim by Anne Gilchrist that the decision to axe Grange Hill had the support of CBBC's audience was investigated by myself and found to be untrue (pdf). That was far from the only time the public has been misled by the BBC, yet unfortunately the organisation rarely admits its faults.

Other evidence of the BBC's complete betrayal of young people includes removal of the Your Life web section. Nothing better illustrates the BBC's disrespect for children than the way they handled message board closures in December 2008, describing the extremely unpopular move as "improvements."

Ask Aaron, the expert help message board was shut down a month later.

In March last year the director-general, Mark Thompson, said that he wanted to cut teen services, suggesting that teens instead rely on Channel 4 and other broadcasters. His reason? I speculate on Mr Thompson's reluctance to serve all young people fairly (see blog 3 August 2011) Presumably that explains why, years ago, control of Diversity was wrested by BBC management from the specialist BBC Diversity Centre.

However, leaving aside the speculation on Thompson's motivation, there's no getting away from a likelihood that the BBC's cavalier attitude towards children and young people is at least a contributory factor in the present unrest.BBC - the most creative organisation in the world

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