Earning respect

It’s not often that a news story makes me incandescent with rage even before my head has left the pillow but this morning’s news reports following Mark Thompson’s (BBC Director General) speech at the Edinburgh International Television Festival did the trick.

Now, off the bat, I have to confess to not being Mr Thompson’s biggest fan. It might just be his Ginger hair and scruffy semi-beard (joke !) but I suspect it’s more to do with his breathtaking arrogance which is matched with +£650,000 annual salary paid for by compulsory subscription by then public.

It’s clear that Thompson had but one agenda last night, to get some payback following James Murdoch’s speech last year at the same event which questioned the unbridled dominance of the BBC.

The scoundrel always grounds his arguments in bogus stats like this one “Across the UK population, 71% of people say they’re glad the BBC exists.”. All apple pie and motherhood stuff. I’m sure the same 71% would support ‘sunny days’, ‘new born lambs’ and ‘open hearth fires’.

More fundamentally I suspect there are numbers out there that suggest that an overwhelming majority favour competition in broadcasting, consumer choice, a lower licence fee and a reduction in Mr Thompson’s salary – no mention of those in his speech however.

Mr Thompson and his audience would have been better served by some honesty and clarity on areas under his responsibility. The ongoing very public squabble by his on-air talent and senior management who are refusing to move to Manchester to a new hub (I don’t agree with the move – it’s relocation tokenism of the worst order but he sanctioned it so he needs to deliver it) would be a good start.

I am a believer in the BBC within the context of a healthy state / private / voluntary media and broadcasting sector but Mr Thompson needs to practice a little humility and recognize that unlike his own lack of real accountability Rupert Murdoch has had to prove himself every day to shareholders, bankers, regulators, the financial markets and to consumers. Murdoch has earned his respect – has Mr Thompson ?

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