BBC director-general Tony Hall wants to move more staff and services out of London but relocations are proving hard to sell to employees, according to the Guardian's
Mark Sweney, who reports that Hall told the Royal Television Society convention that while the corporation had made 'enormous strides' in reducing its focus on capital, more needed to be done in fully embedding and distributing it around the UK. Hall told delegates: 'A decade ago, a third of the BBC was based outside London and two-thirds was in London. Today that balance is 50/50. We've moved from less than 10% of our network TV programmes produced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to 20%. But I want us to think bigger. Imagine a world in which the BBC moved still more out of London. It would take time, but what an enormous creative and operational opportunity'.
The BBC has 19,231 staff – not including just over 2,700 at commercial arm BBC Studios – of which 52% are based outside the M25, which rings London. Hall has not disclosed how many employees, or which services, might be moved outside London. Moving London-based staff out of the capital has proved to be a hard sell. Channel 4, which is moving about 300 of its 800 staff out of London to locations including Leeds, has experienced up to 90% of employees in some departments seeking redundancy payments in preference to leaving the capital. The BBC received a similar proportion of refusals to move to its BBC North HQ, MediaCityUK, when it opened in Salford in 2011. And just 31 out of 144 agreed to relocate to operations in Birmingham. Relocating is also expensive. The BBC estimates the lifetime cost of the move to Salford, including operating costs for the site up to 2030, to be £942m.
BBC TV's Newsnight
presenter, Emily Maitlis, has declared that getting a straight answer from politicians in 2019 is becoming 'noticeably and increasingly difficult'. Speaking at the Cheltenham literature festival, promoting her new book Airhead: The Imperfect Art of Making News
, she said:
'I think increasingly I really come to appreciate the people, the politicians, the interviewees, of any stripe and size, who are able to answer a question. It seems such a small, gentle thing to demand in 2019 but it has actually become the biggest ask that we can make... What I notice now is that a lot of the things that are said to us on camera, on air, are not particularly believed and quite often not true. It is an extraordinary position to be in. It is a really weird position to be in as a journalist.'
She cited as an example a politician telling her there was absolutely no doubt that Theresa May would get her Brexit deal through, and then, off air, 'they casually admitted they would lose by about 80 votes. You just think, wow, that was three seconds, that was three seconds later!'.
Maitlis said there was a real climate of politicians infantalising language, thinking that three words would shut down debate. 'It is a way of saying if you question something, you're not an optimist... you're being a bit negative or you're not patriotic.'
Dundee-based publisher D C Thomson has launched a new monthly magazine aimed at women over 55 to 'fill a gap in the women's market that has existed for some time'. The launch of Platinum
is the biggest UK women's magazine launch in over a decade, according to media industry website Press Gazette, at a time when women's print titles are closing, have already closed or have greatly reduced their print output in the past three years.
has a cover price of £4.50, an initial circulation of 250,000, and will be available in more than 20,000 retailers across the UK. The magazine will cover health, style, travel, financial advice and homes, with regular columnists including technology journalist Maggie Philbin, Loose Women
panellist Jane Moore, and Embarrassing Bodies
medic Dr Dawn Harper. It will rival Saga Magazine
which is aimed at the over-50s and puts out 233,700 copies a month, according to media industry body, ABC.
is edited by Ali Kirker who most recently worked on the Sunday Post's
magazine supplement. Ali has been associated with D C Thomson for many years. Earlier in her career she worked on the company's now-defunct weekly magazine Jackie
, where she was deputy editor. She left the company to freelance in PR and publishing but returned 10 years ago. Kirker commented: 'Our research has consistently shown women who are over 55, the majority of whom are entering a new life phase, feel there isn't a magazine that informs and reflects their life'.
Meanwhile, in another major initiative by a Scottish media company – Newsquest – The Herald
and sister paper the Evening Times
have launched a campaign calling for better care for the 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland. The two Newsquest titles are aiming to tackle 'Scotland's biggest health issue' by backing Alzheimer Scotland's Fair Dementia Care
campaign plea and petition. The Herald
devoted its entire front page to the campaign launch.
The campaign calls for a manifesto commitment from all political parties ahead of the 2021 Holyrood election that patients with advanced dementia will no longer be forced to foot the bill for end-of-life medical care. The campaign also wants a commitment that all families will receive a year of post-diagnostic support, with the charity estimating that only 50% receive this due to a shortage of dedicated link workers. Alzheimer Scotland hopes to gain 10,000 signatures for its campaign petition and The Herald
and the Evening Times
hope to boost this to 50,000.
Henry Ainslie, deputy editor of the Evening Times
and campaign co-ordinator, said: 'Working with our campaign partners at Alzheimer Scotland and Glasgow's Golden Generation in pursuing this action, we are showing how committed The Herald
and the Evening Times
are to fighting on behalf of our audiences and making a difference in society'.
The Financial Times
, which is led by an adventurous and extremely able editor in Lionel Barber, has embarked on a campaign for a 'better form of capitalism' and launched its New Agenda
campaign platform by making its online journalism available for free globally for 24 hours.
According to Press Gazette, FT
readers still had to pay for its print edition in the UK but 7,000 copies were handed out for free in New York City with the purchase of select US newspapers. Among the editorial pieces which have been addressed so far are economic inequality, the future of liberalism and capitalism, and advertising revenue going towards disinformation outlets.
In a statement on his New Agenda
campaign, Barber said: 'The Financial Times
believes in free enterprise capitalism. It is the foundation for the creation of wealth which provides more jobs, more money and more taxes. The liberal capitalist model has delivered peace, prosperity and technological progress for the past 50 years – dramatically reducing poverty and raising living standards throughout the world. The long-term health of free enterprise capitalism will depend on delivering profit with purpose. Companies will come to understand that this combination serves their self-interest as well as their customers and employees. Without change, the prescription risks being far more painful'.
I detected a frisson of frustration, or perhaps even mild anger, from one of BBC TV and BBC Radio Scotland's former stalwarts – the normally extremely good-natured broadcaster, commentator and TV personality – Robbie Shepherd, in his weekly Doric Column in the Press and Journal's colour magazine, Your Life
. Robbie, perhaps best-known to Scottish audiences for his many years as host of BBC Radio Scotland's Scottish dance music programme, Take The Floor
, was a guest at a tribute party in Aberdeen, thrown by Aberdeen-headquartered independent TV company, Tern Television, to mark the retirement of another BBC stalwart, Jim McColl. Jim has for many years been the frontman for the very popular, award-winning television series, The Beechgrove Garden
, which is produced for the BBC by Tern Television.
Now, I did explain at the outset that this frisson of frustration or mild anger was contained within Robbie's Doric Column, so you will have to translate it as best you can. Dunecht-born Robbie, who has lived in Bridge of Don for many years, declared: 'Bit ere's aye a something an here I get on my high horse in supporting Jim and thoosans mair in blastin the pooers-at-be at the Beeb, doon sooth doongrading the programme wi a shorten't series – Mither Nature nivver stans still as I hae fun tae ma cost es eer – an shiftin't tae a bran new channel (BBC Scotland) wi a name afa like fit we hae aaready. There wis a bloke up fae BBC Scotland bit, fae fit I hear, keepit saying: "we're listening to you"... It wisna the time nor the place as I strugglit tae keep ma moo shut. Oh, I've hid mair than a few wirdies in my time wi the heids o the programmes I ees't tae dee, and I can tell ye the birse was up'.
Co-incidentally, Robbie's outburst in print came around the same time as Lorraine Kelly, who is celebrating 35 years in broadcasting, predominantly as a television presenter, revealed: 'I had been working as a researcher at BBC Scotland and been told by "the big boss" that I would never make it in TV south of the border because of my Glasgow acent'. Methinks that 'big boss' was not a people person.