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BBC Director General increasingly isolated as Tony Benn evokes Howard Beale on air

"People will die because of the BBC decision, let me be clear about that" Tony Benn In the midst of the BBC's latest PR disaster, let's just remember for a moment the noise and sackings surrounding the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand affair. Compare this to the scale of the current situation where the 'increasingly isolated ' BBC Director General turning against the combined opinion of the British Red Cross, Oxfam, Cathod, Tear Fund, Action Aid, Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, World Vision, Merlin, Save the Children, Help the Aged and many more, by refusing to show a short appeal film telling people how they can donate to help the humanitarian crisis in Gaza - one described by the Head of the UN as 'heartbreaking.. outrageous and unnacceptable'. In the face of thousands of displaced, traumatised and hungry people, in a devastated region where over half the population is under 16, and where many have been without water or electricity for the past month, and where many argue that poverty is the biggest barrier to peace, Thompson used the immortal defence : "The danger for the BBC is that this could be interpreted as taking a political stance on an ongoing story."

Excuse-me-what? Since when has a humanitarian care for civilians been a political position? What political stance does not care about human suffering? Human welfare surely goes far beyond the political - the scream of a hungry child is just as piercing and urgent whether they live next door to a rocket firing militant, war criminal or Russell Brand. And if the relatively impartial bodies of the United Nations, most of the UK Government and opposition, Channel 4, ITV, Channel 5, most of the BBC staff, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York (described by the 'impartial' BBC news website as a 'cleric'), and the dozens of charities who make up the apolitical Disasters and Emergency Committee behind the advert think that it is not political, on what authority does an ambitious entertainment executive like Thompson break with 46 years of BBC tradition by suggesting that they are all wrong?

Still, it's all good exposure for the appeal. If only DEC had thought to release the video to YouTube in time, the thousands of outraged blog posts could at least be promoting the film, as the BBC brand gets dirtied while it had, until now, covered the recent invasion better than many news organisations. But instead we get to see the treat of National Hero and Treasure Tony Benn battling to read out the postal address for sending in money on the BBC News, with his 'I'm sorry but I'm a human being' evoking (for me at least) Howard Beale's 'I'm a human being goddamit, my life has value' speach. (it follows a similar appeal on the Today Prgramme )

"You can't let the BBC say we can't help people who are dying because it might be controversial" Tony Benn

To donate to the appeal, please visit


Albarn follows Gervais with call for celebrity culture to be 'dismantled'

extras_season2_posterAs Ricky Gervais' celebrity-culture bashing (and brilliant) Extras finale scores 5.3m viewers, Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn - as a guest editor on the BBC Today programme - has called for celebrity culture to be "dismantled". The cry comes as a recent in-house poll suggests the public are tired of the BBC's focus on celebrity and reality TV, after a year in which the Corporation was criticised for paying 'stars' such as Jonathan Ross £18m for a three year deal, while making thousands of news and current affairs staff redundant.

The current celebrity culture "sends out all the wrong messages" Albarn said. "It's creating a mindset that suggests you can getsomething for nothing and that it's easy to acquire status and fame,"he told BBC Radio 4. "It should be one of the hardest things to do."

"At some point in the very near future we are going to have to change our value system so dramatically, and what we deem as important and what we throw away," he said.


Alan Johnston Freed

 After 16 weeks in solitary confinement, Alan Johnston, the BBC journalist held hostage in the Gaza Strip since March, has been released. Watching him now in the press conference, it's hard to imagine the kind of wise soul it takes to survive such an ordeal and be so articulate and honourable in the aftermath.

"It's hard to believe how amazing it is to be free"

From the Guardian: The 45-year-old Briton, looking pale and frail, was taken to the offices of the disputed Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, in Gaza City. A witness said he was well, but had lost a lot of weight.



Tutti Frutti Cast Furious Over BBC Re-Run


Emma Thompson - Rock Chick with ChicIt was a comedy classic that Robbie Coltrane - Rocked Scotland in Tutti Fruttiamassed a cult following and scooped six Baftas, only to be shelved for two decades. Now, as the BBC finally contemplates Tutti Frutti's return, the original cast members have branded the broadcaster's decision to run it on BBC4 a disgrace.

Described by one cast member as the best series ever made in Scotland, the six-part comedy drama which propelled Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson to stardom has been aired just once since it first appeared in 1987.


BBC to launch three YouTube channels

"We don't want to be overzealous, a lot of the material on YouTube is good promotional content for us"
Ashley Highfield

bbc-logoBBC clips - including The Mighty Boosh, Faulty Towers and Planet Earth - will finally be available in an embeddable, flash player for people to put in their blogs and websites legally after the broadcaster announced today a substantial deal with YouTube.

 Creating two entertainment channels and a news channel, the pages will carry Google AdSense advertising in all countries (including the UK), with revenues shared with the Beeb. The clips - which would not include full length content - may also include video advertising at the start. Oddly, the news channel, which will have around 30 items a day will include advertising and as a result not be viewable in the UK.


New BBC Trust Outlines Channel Aims and Objectives


Broadcasting House, LondonThe BBC Trust - replacement body for the BBC Board of Governors - have released the first drafts of a series of Service Licences. The TV related service licences have been published on the BBC Trust website. Each TV, radio or on-line channel operated by the BBC will have a document stating the channel's aims and objectives. A formal review process will make certain that  future changes continue to reflect the BBC's public service ethos.


DELIVERING CREATIVE FUTURE – DG Mark Thompson’s Address to BBC Staff


"When we work together, we're unstoppable..." - Thompson

Mark Thompson - BBC Director GeneralThe BBC's Director General Mark Thomson last week spelled out for BBC staff his vision for the Corporation's future. In a rapidly changing broadcast world, the UK's biggest broadcaster faces immense challenges, not least of which is convincing licence fee payers and the government of the case for more funding for the BBC. At the same time, the corporation is making itself leaner and more efficient and expanding into new areas like interactive TV and digital downloading. BBC staff feel increasingly nervous as these changes go through and once-secure jobs are shed.

Director General Mark Thompson has been sharing with them, his vision for the future of the corporation.


It’s Your New BBC


Massive Top Job Shake-up Splits the Beeb Into Three

Jana Bennett will now head BBC VisionA big shake-up of BBC production and commissioning is to elevate director of television Jana Bennett to take control of all audio-visual content. Four new "super commissioners"will also be created, who will report to her. This and associated changes at the top will carve the BBC into three, split between journalism; vision; audio and music.


Grade Defends BBC's Independence

  "The BBC, if it is not independent, is not worth tuppence of your licence money."

Michael Grade, Chair of BBC GovernorsBBC chairman Michael Grade has defended the corporation's independence at the Governors' Annual General Meeting. Questioned as to whether party politics affected the broadcaster Grade said "The BBC is like China. It has been invaded many times but it has not been conquered." He went on to say;  "The BBC, if it is not independent, is not worth tuppence of your licence money."