Friday, December 27, 2013

The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee heard evidence from Lord Hall and others on 22nd October 2013. An uncorrected transcript of the evidence was published on 29th October 2013, and a there is also a video of the evidence available on the Parliament TV website.

Even though he'd been BBC director general for over six months it seems, from Lord Hall's misleading or untrue responses to the Committee, that he's failed to get to grips with the job. For example he did not appear to know the current target age of BBC children's services . He did not seem to have anything other than the sketchiest knowledge of BBC Switch, nor why it was discontinued, and he did not realise that audiences for Newsround and Blue Peter had, according to the BBC Trust, fallen recently. In fact, Lord Hall told the Committee that audiences for those programmes were growing.

Philip Davies questions BBC director general, Tony Hall

All of this could, perhaps, be forgiven had Lord Hall attempted to correct his mistakes. After all he recently told viewers "we should own up to things we don't get right." I did inform him personally by email and suggested he wouldn't want to mislead Parliament.

I contacted the Committee on 20th November 2013 to ask whether they'd heard from anyone on behalf of the BBC in respect of possible errors given in evidence on 22nd October 2013 by BBC director general, Tony Hall. They replied that they'd received some supplementary evidence from the BBC, which relates to the oral evidence, and a few minor amendments correcting transcription errors. The Committee, I was told, had not received anything else. The supplementary evidence was published on Monday and it's now available on the Committee's website. The misleading information, to which I drew Lord Hall's attention, was not corrected, neither has he answered me personally about the matter.

Another BBC executive not noted for their willingness to correspond with the public is Helen Boaden. Philip Davies developed the argument - based on the Pollard Review and subsequent developments - that Ms Boaden, BBC Director of Radio and formerly Head of News, is unfit to remain in place as a senior director of the BBC. Both Lord Hall and Lord Patten were left floundering, attempting to deflect the argument by defending the Pollard Review which cost licence payers £3million.

Nevertheless, as we saw in my last blog entry, Lord Hall says he's enjoying himself at the BBC and that's sufficient enough for him. He'll almost certainly continue to stay well away from the likes of John Humphrys and Jeremy Paxman. Truth be told Lord Hall is completely out of his depth at the BBC, and his talents are better suited to running an opera house.

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