Tuesday, June 14, 2011

John Myers suggests Newsbeat everywhere, all the time

To be honest, the John Myers review of music radio seems to have struggled to come up with any way of improving value for money across the main BBC pop stations. Instead, it seems to have become fixated on the news service:

It also criticised Radio 2 for employing newsreaders who read a brief hourly news update but then did "little else until the next hour's bulletin".

The review questioned whether Radio 1's Newsbeat programme, which broadcasts a 15-minute bulletin twice a day – as well as hourly news updates – needed to employ 52 full-time staff, and said compliance procedures tightened up in the wake of the "Sachsgate" scandal had run out of control. The Newsbeat team also makes news for Radio 1Xtra.

The report, by former commercial radio executive John Myers, was commissioned by the BBC's director of audio and music, Tim Davie, to investigate opportunities for cost savings across Radio 1 and Radio 2, as well as their digital sister stations, 1Xtra and BBC 6 Music.
Once, Radio 1 and Radio 2 did share news output - that's the reason why Radio 1 does its news at half-past the hour, and you can see a superficial attraction in rolling Newsbeat out to 2 and 6 as well. Except Newsbeat does a bloody good job of serving a specific audience, and it's an audience which isn't the 6Music or Radio 2 audience. You could, perhaps, share news between 6 and 2 - but would that save very much? Or, arguably, Radio 2 could comfortably take the Radio 4 summaries through much of the day. But Newsbeat trying to make their own programmes and Radio 2? It's a bit like suggesting you could have the same team make Newsnight and the evening bulletins for BBC News Channel - you could, but you'd probably end up with the same number of people doing it in order to make it work.

Myers also suggests all four stations sharing a physical space. Because nothing saves money like yet another relocation of staff. (It's not clear what he'd do about programmes which come from elsewhere in the nations - march Radcliffe down south at the end of a pitchfork?)


Anonymous said...

God, your headline reeks of Sun and Mail crap. If you read the report yourself the news comment is just one area that was highlighted but the key comment was that there are way too many managers, compliance procedures, wasted office space and people in highly paid jobs doing very little. Stop cutting the staff and focus on the senior team it reads to me. How can you argue with that.

James said...

The review said money was being wasted on studio managers who were being used as a "comfort blanket" by presenters on some Radio 2 shows to operate basic equipment that DJs normally operate themselves.

That one's easy; Just get Sara Cox to do a few cover shifts on those shows. I caught a few minutes of her filling in for someone on Radio 1 the other afternoon. She was halfway through a gripping monologue about an idea she'd had (something about a TV show where her mum does gardening or something) when she suddenly stopped in her tracks and broke off to angrily berate her two studio assistants, who apparently weren't paying sufficient attention to her sparkling conversation. She demanded they look up and listen to her Ustinovian anecdote, in a manner not usually heard outside a GCSE History lesson. Lackeys suitably chastised before the nation, she then deigned to continue.

If it's studio staff that needs thinning out, I reckon a couple of weeks under Cox's reign would encourage a few more lunchbreak visits to monster.com.

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