Letters to Ariel
The slogan for the BBC's Wimbledon 2013 campaign, on posters across New Broadcasting House, says: 'It hurts so much because they want it so bad.'
I want badly for it to be grammatical. It hurts so badly that it isn't.
Marek Pruszewicz, acting deputy editor, Newsnight
I'm having a few problems with the new payslip system. I can't get it to print out from my browser without all the background boxes overlapping with the numbers.
I phoned the helpline. The nice lady said there was no problem at their end and that I should print it from a pdf.
'How do I do that?' I asked.
'I don't know, I'm not very good with IT,' said the nice lady.
Deana Page, Proteus, BBC Radio
DMI - the black hole?
In your articles about the scrapping of DMI published on May 24 and June 11, the cost of the scheme is quoted as £98.4m.
However, in his email to staff dated May 25, Tony Hall indicates that this figure is only for the period of the project for 2010 to 2013.
As the Digital Media Initiative started in 2008, and included sums paid out to Siemens for their contribution before the project was brought in house, are we going to be treated like adults and told the true total cost of this, to quote BBC trustee Anthony Fry, 'complete catastrophe'?
Alan Caswell, senior media assistant (TV Intake), I&A
Dominic Coles, director of operations, replies: Thank you for your letter. The figure of £98.4m covers the total cost of the project to the BBC, over its lifetime, including all expenditure to the end of the project.
Pip pip to the clock
Given that the BBC is removing the clock from the homepage as the BBC Trust ruled that this feature 'breaches accuracy guidelines', where does this leave the pips as broadcast on Radio 4 across the digital platforms with their various delays?
As the GTS [Greenwich Time Signal] is no longer an accurate time signal, has it now become, in effect, Radio 4's news jingle?
Eddie Pitman, senior studio director, BBC News
A Radio 4 spokesperson replies: Although radio output is subject to a slight delay on digital platforms, the pips are generated accurately by the BBC and are an intrinsic part of the Radio 4 schedule for millions of our listeners.
Not so far from North Korea
After the mass hysteria caused by the visit of The Queen to the NBH Newsroom, I trust the journalists who took part will remember their excitable behaviour next time they write mockingly about the sometimes bizarre reaction of North Koreans when they get to meet Kim Jong-un.
Saleem Patka, World Service
Points of view
I am one of many who find the rape apologist views of Nick Ross deeply offensive and I am deeply offended that via my licence fee - if he remains in any receipt of the BBC's employ (whether 'self-employed' or otherwise) - I will be DIRECTLY funding payments to someone using the BBC to publicise his new book, and therefore these misguided opinions and factual inaccuracies about rape.
Mr Ross is now claiming it was the sub who wrote the header (in the Daily Mail) and who is responsible for the 'misrepresentation' of what he actually 'meant', but Mr Ross wrote the article for the newspaper and all within it.
This is all the worse for the fact it has occurred whilst Operation Yewtree is still continuing. Will the BBC be distancing itself from Mr Ross and his comments? If the BBC makes a CHOICE not to, then it will aggravate what is already a clear view of the BBC as complicit in acts, deeds or words that very clearly dismiss and diminish the traumas of victims of rape and sexual abuse.
Donna McCarthy, senior information researcher, Cardiff
Nick Ross replies: I have never been employed by the BBC and have not worked for the BBC under any form of contract for many years. Nor could I have written a controversial book while presenting BBC programmes. In any case, while my book is certainly controversial, I cannot be held responsible for what people like your correspondent say I say. Some wild ideas have gone viral and are feeding on themselves. For the record this is what I actually say in my book:
'One of the sadder aspects of sex offences goes beyond the physical defilement and past the violation of peace of mind; it is the tendency to self-blame. We owe much to the advances of feminist campaigning.'
And, emphatically: 'No amount of incitement can excuse rape. Rape is one of the most violating crimes. Victims tend to feel dirty, embarrassed, wracked with revulsion and self-blame.'
This does not quite tally with your correspondent's description of me. But the clue is in the book's title: Crime: How to solve it - and why so much of what we're told is wrong.
For the record, Jo Wood - of the Mersey rape centre who first criticised me after reading excerpts sent to her by a newspaper- has now read the book and has changed her mind. She says: 'Having read the full version I am satisfied that there is no intention to criticise victims of rape and that the comments made, when read in context, actually strengthen the arguments for sexual violence crimes to be treated with the empathy and respect that victims demand.'
She adds: 'Maybe they should think about who is fast becoming the victim here - and without even holding a trial.'
In responding to the points of concern, the BBC said: 'The views referenced in the letter are not shared by the BBC.'
Pay-off parity, please
When the seemingly annual round of redundancies loomed large, one crumb of comfort to many former colleagues was the long-standing arrangement that they'd get one month of salary as redundancy for each year of service up to 24 months.
This helped bridge the gap between leaving and re-employment/pensionable age.
After the excesses of £600,000 and £900,000 redundancy payoffs in recent years, I welcome the proposal for a £150,000 cap on senior executive redundancies. But why aren't we all treated equally and subject to the same £150,000 cap?
This attack on general staff terms - the proposal to lower redundancy to a maximum of 12 months for those who have under 12 years service (and freezing it at 2013 service accrual for those with 13-24 years service) is being slipped in at a time of economic hardship, even though savings to the BBC will only be made far into the future.
A member of staff on grade 8 or 9, for example, who has spent half their life in service to the Corporation but is made redundant at 50, would easily fit within the £150,000 cap.
Yet the BBC is proposing that a person in the same position in 12 years' time would receive a redundancy payment that is 50% less generous.
However, a senior executive who joined the BBC on a £300,000 salary but is made redundant four years later would still be able to receive the same level of redundancy payout that the long-server in my first example had accrued.
Philip Mullen, broadcast engineer, BBC Yorkshire.
Lucy Adams, HR director, replies: Thanks for your thoughts on the consultation. We're currently discussing the proposals with the unions and are keen to hear as many different points of view as possible.
Fizz falls flat
The end of the football season marked the end of an era for BBC Tees Sport.
Our Hartlepool United commentator Brian Arrundale retired after 33 years of following the team, home and away.
To mark the occasion - I wanted to make him feel special - I bought a magnum of champagne (£36.65 - on special offer - a third off at Sainsbury's) to present to him at the end of an hour-long interview about his time with us on the John Foster show.
As you can imagine, Brian was thrilled.
I was rather less so when I came to claim for the champers - it was refused on these grounds: "1.5.3 Gifts for artists and contributors: If there is a valid business reason, gifts such as flowers (but not champagne) may be given to talent and the cost must be reclaimed through expenses."
So I couldn't reward a valued contributor with a bottle of fizz that equated to approximately £1 for every year of his service to the BBC.
Can we not apply some common sense to the policy? I understand why we can't be seen to be spending vast amounts on champagne (although flowers appear to be fair game) but £36.65 doesn't seem too extreme.
Paul Addison, senior broadcast journalist, BBC Tees
Brave new world?
The new Careers Hub promises to do away with 'the generic essay question used for almost every vacancy at the BBC' and take more information from a pre-built profile. Surely this stops applicants tailoring applications to specific roles and highlighting the skills they have for that job. The first rule of applying for jobs is to tailor your application! For people who have done a wide range of different roles - or have spent time freelancing - this is a huge setback.
If there is to be a 'searchable pool' of people surely this raises privacy issues too. What if you are applying for jobs internally but don't want your current manager to know? She/he searches the pool and sees your profile.
The old method might have been a little tedious but if you really want a job, you put in the time and effort to customise your application.
Jonathon Cockburn, broadcast assistant, Newsbeat
Annabel Dixon, head of resourcing and talent, replies: I'd like to reassure you that you can tweak your careers profile at any time you like, to update it with current skills and experience or adapt it for a particular role you wish to apply for. You can also attach other copies of your CV to the portfolio section of the profile - all of which are searchable. So please don't worry about being able to tailor your application.
It's the recruitment and talent teams who search for candidates; they make sure the candidate is interested in a role and has the right skills and experience before they send the shortlist to the hiring manager.
If you have any further questions or want any more information please feel free to contact us at Hubsupport@bbc.co.uk Alternatively, you could attend a drop-in session, you can find dates and times here .
Is Tony for turning on TVC?
By cancelling the DMI project, the DG has demonstrated that he is not averse to revisiting the decisions of his predecessors. Will he now take another look at the plans to demolish five of the best studios in the country at Television Centre?
This plea is not because of any sentimental attachment to an iconic building or the countless programmes made there, or because of the backing by many stars (www.savetvc.co.uk) but because these studios are actually needed.
With the impending closure of Teddington, and Pinewood's plans for expansion rejected (again) there will be a real shortage of studios. I hear that independent companies planning productions for the BBC in 2014 are having difficulty finding studios to mount them in.
It seems senseless to demolish - not close, demolish - TCs 4-8 in these circumstances.
It's not too late. Plans have yet to be submitted to Hammersmith & Fulham council, and the bulldozers are not due to move in for a couple of years.
The developers are working with the BBC, which has retained the freehold of the site, and a rethink is by no means out of the question.
Television Centre was a Production Village before the term was thought of - and it could be again.
Peter Neill (retired staff)
Dominic Coles, director of operations, replies: The BBC and its commercial subsidiary, BBC Studios and Post Production, looked at great length, both at how the sale of Television Centre could deliver best value and what our portfolio of commercial studios should be going forward. Together, we concluded that a footprint preserving the legendary Studios 1, 2 and 3 at the redeveloped Television Centre, combined with BBC Studios and Post Production's facilities in Elstree and Bristol, would represent the best overall position for the BBC.
Whilst Television Centre is being redeveloped, BBC Studios and Post Production is continuing to offer large, medium and small HD studios at Elstree and Bristol, where it will make BBC shows like Strictly Come Dancing and Pointless in the famous George Lucas stage and revamped Stages 8 and 9, as well as programmes for other broadcasters and independent production companies like Deal or No Deal and A League of Their Own.
We will continue to work closely with broadcasters, commissioners and independent production companies to plan as effectively as possible to balance supply and demand for studio space.
Why give Adebowale a platform?
On the day of the Woolwich attacks we broadcast, before the watershed, a video of Michael Adebowale explaining why he had just committed a hideous murder.
I believe this was a terrible mistake, which showed a worrying lack of judgement on the part of the editors concerned.
It was not necessary in order to tell the story, so why did we do it?
To suggest that it was OK because the footage was available elsewhere, on other channels or on the internet, is simply not good enough.
It was an irresponsible thing to do, because others will now know that all they have to do in order to get on primetime television is cut someone down in cold blood, then turn to the nearest bystander with a mobile phone.
Secondly, we broadcast it at a time of day when children may well have been watching, without their parents necessarily being present. Do we really want kids to be watching this stuff?
A shameful decision.
Theo Leggett, SBJ, World Service
So the increased pay offer amounts to an extra £1 a week. Post-tax that equates to about 65p, or less than 10p per day extra in our pockets.
And Lucy Adams says 'this will go some way to helping people with the cost of living this year'.
I honestly don't think I've ever had a more insulting email from BBC management.
Iain Tatch, senior software engineer, FM Programmes & on-demand.
Lucy Adams, HR director, replies: I'm sorry if you found my email insulting. That certainly wasn't my intention and may have been caused by some clumsy phrasing on my part.
Of course I wasn't trying to suggest that the £50 increase on the original offer would help towards the cost of living. I was trying to say that the new offer of £650 would mean that nearly half of all our staff would be getting close to or around inflation which is running at 2.4%.
In the current economic climate, with most publicly funded organisations paying around 1% and with the savings we have to make over the next few years, this offer seems fair. I do of course realise that for many staff this is still below inflation and I understand that this is also tough.
Having read that Newsnight is again having to say sorry for one for its reports, can I suggest that the controller of BBC Two commissions a new programme simply called The BBC apologises for Newsnight?
Alan Caswell, senior media assistant (TV Intake), I&A
Tube on right track
The Tube: An Underground History documentary on BBC Two on Thursday May 16 was a stellar piece of work.
Constantly interesting, excellent interviewees, minimal filling or repetition.
Martin Lewes, Kendal reporter, Radio Cumbria
Mosey the man
Roger Mosey's new position as editorial director has been likened to Mark Byford's former role as head of journalism.
I made the case in an Ariel letter for bringing Byford's role back at the time of the Newsnight/Savile crisis.
The BBC needs an editorial leader and Roger is an ideal choice, brought up through the ranks with a wide-ranging BBC journalistic background and not fast tracked to the top.
Oh, and why not rename the post deputy DG, because that's what it is.
Bob Chesworth, senior broadcast engineer, BBC Hereford & Worcester
Mean with microwaves
Is it too simple a solution to revisit the decision not to put microwaves on each floor at NBH?
Looking around it seems that there is a predominantly large proportion of people riding the overcrowded lifts just in a bid to heat their lunch.
Or is the real plan, as I suspect, to double the Radio 3 audience by having as many people as possible shoehorned into the Radio 3 lift? Ha ha only joking…..
Rachel Hobson, BBC Persian
BBC Workplace replies: There are no microwaves, kettles or toasters in tea/coffee hub areas as there have been several incidents in recent years when microwaves have taken live programmes off-air in other buildings. However, the number of microwaves in the News Café has recently been increased to meet demand and these are available 24/7.
The central glass lifts in New Broadcasting House will be particularly busy at peak times so staff are encouraged to use the wide range of alternative lifts and stairs which are available across the rest of the building.
Any staff with comments on catering in New Broadcasting House - good or bad - are encouraged to give us direct feedback via email@example.com.
Keep it Cornish
With the news that the BBC is planning a revival of Poldark can I make a special plea for the producers to ensure the Cornish accents are correct?
The original 1975 series was marred by the bizarre dialogue of the actors speaking the sort of mummerset which London-based producers seem to believe is common to everyone west of Bristol.
One would hope that the budget might stretch to an expert in the Cornish dialect. Even better, how about some real Cornish people to be part of the cast?
I understand both Susan Penhaligon and John Nettles have done a bit of thespian work and both can actually speak with a genuine Cornish accent
Gans gorhemynadow a'n gwella (Best wishes)
Nick Serpell, obituary editor, BBC News
Speaking of Stuart
As one of many who worked alongside Stuart Hall at the BBC in Manchester in the 1970s, I'm saddened by the willingness of some former colleagues, following his confessions to the court, to offer their recollections of his behaviour.
I too heard stories about Stuart's louche conduct, but I trust those who felt it necessary, many years later, to unburden themselves to the media and, by implication, to denigrate other decent people, feel suitably righteous.
For the avoidance of doubt, I do not condone or excuse activities leading to Stuart's arrest.
Doubling up on details
I was interested to read the recent discussion about BBC payslips in Ariel online.
I may have missed something, but payslips were available online for years. You could already view and print off payslips by logging on to the MyDetails section of Gateway.
It's not essential for staff to be able to view payslips from their computers at home. As I've said, they could print off a copy at work and they can always call or email BBC Payroll from home or work if they really need to check any further details at short notice for some reason.
Couldn't we have saved an awful lot of money and effort if we didn't introduce another way of getting payslips? Security testing and all sorts of work must have been taking place.
The vast majority of staff don't need any more 'features' or options. We just might need a payslip printed on rare occasions, or to file at home, which can already be done. Gateway must be secure because we have our personal details on MyDetails at the moment.
I've not spoken to any staff who think this is needed. There are posters around the place promoting a 'Simpler BBC'. I agree with this.
Simon Ward, East Midlands Today
Beverley Tew, group finance director, replies: Thank you for your letter.
When we brought in our new payroll system this year, we were offered myPay as part of the package, which we felt would offer us several benefits.
One of these is that we can now offer payslips to groups who haven't been able to receive payslips from us before. This includes the thousands of freelancers we engage each year who don't have BBC log-ins, so aren't able to access myDetails.
Another reason for introducing myPay was for the fact that the myDetails system is becoming an older technology and at some point in the future will no longer be sustainable.
You may also be interested to know that BBC is already working on a project, which will pull-together several of our HR and Finance systems, which will reduce the need for several log-ins and passwords and will hopefully make things that bit simpler.
I have been working in logistics at Windmill Road and Perivale since joining the BBC in 2006. About 18 months after starting work I was diagnosed with a disability, Fibromyalgia, which is characterised by chronic pain and fatigue.
Over the years my condition has not improved, even after many different treatments, and I am not physically capable of continuing in my current role as it is too physically demanding.
What I really need is some advice from anyone out there about areas of the BBC more able to accommodate flexible working. I need a position that allows me to at least work from home when my disability flares up - I'd be willing to meet any additional cost that this may incur.
I've worked in TV intake and on various cataloguing, research and stock management projects. I'm hard working, a fast learner and open to new ideas; I just want to continue to work and contribute as much as I can to the BBC.
If anyone can point me in the right direction I would be very grateful.
Alan McBlain, senior media assistant, I&A
Paul Doherty, senior media manager, I&A, replies: Information & Archives HR and Management are actively supporting Alan in finding alternative work in the BBC and this is an additional way of seeking this.
While it's admirable that the BBC Trust has published the details of Tony Hall's contract, could someone reassure us that the five days extra annual leave he seems to have been granted compared to the rest of us will be extended to all staff.
If not, why not? It sends out a terribly divisive message if there's one rule for the DG, and another for the rest of us. He gets 30 days annual leave. We get 25. Why?
David Young, assistant editor, World TV News
I can't remember the last time I wrote to Ariel. It's certainly not since we lost the paper copy, which was a sad day. The issue which sees me giving up part of my lunch hour to write about is another sad loss of a paper document - the pay slip.
May I venture to suggest it would be easier to cancel or downgrade a Sky TV account than it is to get a sneaky look at my own payslip under the BBC MyPay system? I have emailed twice (no reply). I've phoned on four occasions - on three of those occasions I was promised a new password the same day. Guess what? As Diana Ross once put it, I'm still waiting.
I'm told that it takes just five minutes to reset a password but there is a very big backlog and many complaints. Now they can't guarantee when I might get my new password. I deal with other major organisations, including the utility companies, who can reset your password even faster than they can put up your bill. Why can't the BBC sort this out? The MyDetails pay system on Gateway was far superior.
So, I continue to wait to find out how much I've been paid. The answer for those who may be curious, by the way, is 'not nearly enough'.
Andy Comfort, Breakfast Presenter, BBC Radio Humberside
Beverley Tew, Director of Finance, replies: I understand that the Payroll team has now been able to help Andy successfully get back into myPay.
As with most system roll-outs, we've made adjustments along the way and have recently removed the 'memorable word' prompt from the 'forgotten password' screen to make requesting a temporary password simpler.
When requesting a temporary password though, it's essential that you follow the on-screen instructions exactly or the system won't send one to you. Now, all you need to do is enter your staff number and date of birth - but be sure to include the check digit/letter at the end of your staff number in upper case and your date of birth in the format: DDMMYYYY (for Safari browsers MMDDYYYY).
We're working towards putting an error message on the screen should users enter their details incorrectly. Over 14,000 people have now successfully registered for their e-payslips. However, if you do experience any problems with signing-up for myPay, please call the Payroll Help Desk on 0207 326 9760 who can talk you through the process
The benefit of myPay is that it enables us to access our pay information anywhere - as opposed to myDetails which requires you to have a BBC log-in and to be on the BBC network.
Another benefit is that we can now use the same system for new groups, such as freelancers, who in the past haven't received pay slips, don't have BBC log-ins and so aren't able to access myDetails.
The BBC has also begun work on a longer-term project, which is looking at ways in which we can pull-together several of our HR and Finance systems under one umbrella - and will hopefully reduce the need for several log-ins and passwords and will simplify our HR processes significantly.
Now that there's no BBC HD channel, why not transmit BBC Three and BBC Four programmes overnight on BBC One HD or BBC Two HD? Thus viewers with HD recorders can store them for later viewing.
Frank Page, Retired Staff
Ding Dong sets worrying precedent
So Radio 1 didn't play Ding Dong on the Chart Show….wow!
I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I can only remember two other songs being 'banned' on Radio 1 - God Save The Queen by the Sex Pistols and Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. One was written specifically about the present monarch and the other had lyrics which could be considered offensive to some.
Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead was written in 1939. It isn't about Margaret Thatcher.
Although some may consider the timing of this to be distasteful, there is nothing in the song that relates directly to Baroness Thatcher, so I not only fail to understand why the BBC gave in to the Mail/Express people screaming for this to be banned, but I think it sets a very dangerous precedent.
If someone suggested that 'If I Only Had A Brain' - from the same musical - was re-released in honour of George Osborne, would that be banned as well?
Are we now to ban everything that's in dubious taste? Frankie Boyle off the air then……and a few other comics - Have I Got News For You edited to within an inch of its life? What next?
The fact that a 'clip' was played 'in a news environment' makes the decision even more baffling. In my opinion, it's a spineless decision which could come back to bite us.
Rhodri Tomos, Broadcast Journalist, BBC Cymru Bangor
I fail to see how the now-club-run canteen at the Media Centre is supposed to be an improvement on what was available in White City previously.
Not only does the counter/till service become chaotic when there are more than two people waiting, but at almost 35 years old I am suddenly no longer deemed qualified enough to prepare my own toast at breakfast time. This in spite of the fact that, as far as I can recall, I have never once trapped my hand in a toaster slot, or indeed suffered third degree burns whilst picking up sausages with tongs.
I live in hope that these are just 'teething issues' but I fear that this is perhaps the BBC's way of encouraging us in W12 to dine elsewhere..
Chris Malpas, Fabric Support Analyst, W12 Technology Support
Dino Portelli, BBC Club Chief Operating Officer, replies: When we opened the Media Village clubs in both the Broadcast Centre and Media Centre, we set out to provide great quality food, cooked from scratch daily. We're proud of the food we serve and want to enhance that by serving you your food in an appropriate way.
Food has always been served this way in the Media Centre cafe due to space constraints (and not any health and safety rules). The now shut White City One cafe occupied a bigger space, and so the layout meant people could serve themselves.
However, we take all comments seriously and after reviewing the service levels over the last week and a half we will be making the following changes:
- We are moving the toaster to a remote point where customers can help themselves. We will, however, continue to serve hot breakfast items from the counter.
- We are also increasing our staffing levels to meet the increased demand upstairs.
- Alternative outlets can be found in Broadcast Centre where staff can still make their own toast.
We appreciate that this is a change from how things used to be but we hope you'll grow to love it.
I guess in this day and age the expectation is that I should count myself lucky to still be on the BBC payroll, keep my head down and shut-up. However, the switch to online payslips doesn't fill me with confidence.
The other week we had to shut down webmail access as a result of a very successful phishing operation and the BBC lost control of several official Twitter accounts to hackers. I presume those systems too had 'BBC Information Security approval' and were, in the words of BBC People, 'compliant with BBC Security Policies'. Fat lot of good it did them!
The old payslips were designed so you at least knew if they'd been opened. Now anyone printing off their payslip at work will have to hope they can get to the printer across the newsroom or down the corridor before a colleague picks it up and tries to avoid reading your salary. How does that comply with the Data Protection Act as BBC People claim?
No doubt a reply to this letter from them will point out that you can always access the system from home and print it off there, which I guess is what the BBC hopes will happen, if it's to be more sustainable by getting us all to use our own paper and ink to subsidise the Corporation.
Joe Campbell, reporter, BBC South Today
Zarin Patel, Chief Financial Officer, replies: We've brought in myPay as part of our new payroll system, which means you can see all your pay slips in one place from now on and from anywhere. This stops paper copies from sitting in mail boxes around BBC offices as they often did when staff were on leave, for example.
I'm not sure how printing is set-up where you are but the pull-printing facility would stop somebody from being able to see your e-pay slip - as documents only come off the printer when you swipe your id pass against a card reader. If you don't have this facility, you could speak to your IT coordinator about the possibility of setting this up.
I can understand your concerns about security, given the recent cyber-attack, and can assure you that myPay has been through a rigorous review by the BBC Information Security team. We tested how secure the site would be against any potential hackers and we're happy that myPay meets the BBC's tough security policies and that the risk of the system being hacked is low.
Unfortunately, there's always the possibility for individuals to set up a phishing attack by creating false or replica websites and, therefore, everyone has to be on their guard against entering their details into sites that aren't genuine. There's some good advice on the Technology Gateway site around this.
If anyone's concerned that they've been directed to any site that they believe isn't genuine, they should report it immediately to BBC Information Security - again see the Technology pages.
I hope this is helpful.
My division has decided that, for the appraisals this year, 'all staff grades 2-11 will receive a verbal rating' regardless of their wishes.
Is it OK if I stick my fingers in my ears at this point in the appraisal process?
Adrian Chinery, senior investigations engineer, Radio Technology Team
One up on Tony
I was listening to the new DG, Lord Hall, this morning (April 3) being interviewed by John Humphrys, in which he appeared to say that he was hoping to make us One BBC.
If he had read the back of his ID card, he would see that, according to the much quoted BBC Values, 'We are one BBC'.
Although to be fair to him, I note that, ironically, when I got in to work, I had an email from BBC online appraisals, stating that: 'Each division is deciding the approach they wish to take regarding the completion and submission of standard appraisal forms this year'.
So maybe we aren't one organisation treating all its staff exactly the same way, but a loose confederation, under different fiefdoms.
Alan Caswell, senior media assistant (TV Intake), I&A
Are redeployment figures right?
The ubiquitous 'BBC spokesman' claimed, in your article about the strike announcement, that: 'We continue to work extremely hard to redeploy staff and have already succeeded in redeploying nearly double the number of people that have been made redundant.'
Now, we are aware that, with significant input and initiative from the joint unions, the BBC has a new redeployment policy which it is actively and quite successfully pursuing.
However, by its own figures, there have been 699 redundancies (114 of them compulsory) as a result of DQF, and a further 140 post closures - a total loss of 839 jobs.
At the same time there have been 160 redeployments to continuing roles, 65 to fixed term roles and 37 successful bumpings - a total of 262 - a very worthwhile and commendable figure, but not nearly double the number of people that have been made redundant.
There is no way that the above statement from the BBC is anything like true, and the Corporation really should not attempt to use incorrect statistical devices to try and make a case for itself.
Mark Scrimshaw, Chair, BBC Division Bectu
No logic to redundancies
I see in a recent email from Lucy Adams that the BBC claims to be doing all it can to help redeploy members of staff at risk from redundancy.
If that's the case can someone please explain to me why two journalists at BBC South East have been turned down for voluntary redundancy, while at BBC South, the neighbouring region, two journalists face being made compulsory redundant.
Until the BBC deals with ridiculous scenarios like this I am afraid staff will continue to believe the BBC is NOT doing all it can.
Paul Siegert, News Correspondent, BBC South East
Lucy Adams, HR director, replies: I'm glad that Mark recognises that we have been working closely with the unions and seeing some good results in redeploying people.
I'm happy to share the detailed figures behind our statement which refers to the number of redeployments versus the number of compulsory redundancies - one of the key issues which the current dispute with the unions is about.
So far we have managed to redeploy 225 people facing redundancy as part of DQF, which is nearly double the number of compulsory redundancies we've had to make (114). We have presented these statistics to the joint unions at national level and they haven't been queried or disputed.
The full breakdown of figures in the DQF period is as follows:
Redeployed to continuing roles = 160
Redeployed to fixed term roles = 65
Voluntary redundancies leading to successful 'bumping' = 37
Voluntary redundancies accepted = 585
Compulsory redundancies (actual) = 114
I hope these figures also go some way to answering the comment about whether we are doing all we can. I can't comment on the cases of specific individuals but I would like to be absolutely clear that we are committed to redeployment whenever it can happen and managers locally are working very hard on this.
More than Madness
A Madness concert is really boring for such an iconic end. Not that Madness are not a good act, but where was Bruce Forsyth, Wogan, a BBC orchestra and choir, Queen, Paul McCarney etc?
Gillian Dear, programme organiser
My dad, Bill Lovell, who spent more than 20 years working for the BBC at Ealing Studios, has died unexpectedly at the age of 58.
Dad joined the BBC straight from Imperial College, where he had studied electrical engineering, in 1975.
He remained at Ealing Studios with the BBC's television film services (TFS) for the first half of his career.
In 1996 he took redundancy from his role as technical services manager at Ealing Studios, and a few months later later he joined Arri Media.
He worked in the then emerging, digital sector of the industry, most recently as head of digital and 3D. At Arri he pioneered the D20, D21 and Alexa cameras. Some of his department's latest projects included Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones and Skyfall.
Myself, my mum Deb, and my brother and sister, as well as his young grandson, all miss him hugely, but have been comforted by many lovely messages from his friends and colleagues.
His funeral will be held on Tuesday March 26 at Ealing Green Church in West London at 1.45pm. All are welcome. Family flowers only please.
Ruth Bradley, politics reporter, BBC Somerset
Can someone tell me why the tea in Media Centre costs £1.60 when tea in White City was only 50p?
This price refers to tea sold in the Tiki cafe on the Media Centre's ground floor - a space managed by BBC Worldwide.
Source, which is on the fifth floor of the Media Centre, currently sells tea for 50p (regular) and 65p (large), as well as offering a range of speciality teas.
The BBC Club will take over Source from April 2. Tea will cost 50p for members and 60p for non-members - the same as in the Broadcast Centre cafe. Members will get an additional 10p discount in March to celebrate the opening.
Scotland 'doing everything' it can to redeploy
This week the NUJ has made a number of assertions about the implementation of DQF savings in BBC Scotland. Included within these are suggestions that individuals have been targeted for redundancy or bullied. These assertions are entirely without basis.
We all recognise that DQF has been very tough across the BBC, as it has been within BBC Scotland, and change on this scale can be deeply unsettling and upsetting. That's why we've tried to tackle the issue as carefully as possible, doing everything we can to redeploy people when and where opportunities arise.
Since we announced our proposals last August, we have held detailed consultation meetings with the joint unions and, based on their feedback, we have already incorporated a number of changes to our plans.
BBC Scotland has a good record on redeployment and we would always rather retain people's skills within the BBC wherever we can. In that respect we have, in the last two years, achieved our savings almost entirely through redeployment and/or voluntary redundancy.
Within our 2013/2014 savings, 23 people have taken voluntary redundancy and we have so far redeployed 7 people. However we have not yet succeeded in delivering the level of redeployment we would wish. There are still 11 people at risk of redundancy, nine of whom are NUJ members, and work is on-going to offer full support to those involved. To this end:
• we have offered two permanent redeployment opportunities in Scotland to one colleague, who has since decided instead to take redundancy;
• we have also offered two other colleagues redeployment opportunities in Scotland which will last at least six months;
•over half of the group has been interviewed for new roles, and those involved have further applications under review;
•five people are already on attachment to temporary roles to gain experience in other departments within BBC Scotland;
• HR and Resourcing colleagues have held one-to-one discussions with 'at risk' staff in Scotland to discuss their CVs, skills and experience and to consider existing and upcoming vacancies.
However there are limited opportunities in Scotland. We recognise that some people are unable to relocate from Scotland and also that some may not wish to be redeployed and have therefore not followed up all available roles which have been brought to their attention.
We want to work with, and not against, the unions to ensure our people are treated well at all times and particularly throughout these challenging times.
Ken MacQuarrie, Director, Scotland
I've just been fortunate enough to sit through the latest episode of the BBC Safeguarding Trust seminar which I found very interesting, thought provoking and refreshing in helping to maintain the high standards we aim to reach in our broadcasting.
One of the items in the seminar questioned whether a commercial item seen often in a programme or series could either consciously or unconsciously lead to accusations of product placement. It got me thinking about that fine series The Apprentice, which I always make a point of watching.
One thing in each episode worries me - the constant footage of the fleet of Chrysler Voyagers used to ferry the apprentices around in luxury. Is it time to give another motor manufacturer a chance of showing off their people movers on this peak audience show? What about a fleet of Ford Galaxys or Seat Alhambras or Citroen Picassos to name but a few?
Or in these days of post DQF and austerity, perhaps the apprentices should travel around in pairs in Smart cars?
Tim Gillett, sbj
Call it Madness
I have just received a notice from BBC Audiences inviting ticket applications for The One Show on March 22nd.
Chris Evans, Matt Baker and Alex Jones will 'bring down the curtain on the greatest television stage on earth, BBC Television Centre' during the programme.
If it is the greatest, then why is it closing? And how appropriate that the band gigging will be Madness. 'nuff said!
Nick Stanbra, operations coordinator, TV Playout, Red Bee Media
Is there any news on the car parking situation in West London? The TVC car park is due to close in three weeks with the loss of hundreds of car parking spaces and I know many people who live outside London are having to rethink their journey to work in a big way.
I know there was a move to negotiate parking at Westfield for £3 a day for BBC staff. Can you tell me if anything has happened about this please?
Alice Adderley, TVC
Mark Tugwell, Operations, replies: The closure of the buildings means that we will have space for vehicles needed for operational use, visitors and the disabled, though not for general staff parking.
The BBC has agreed that we can keep open the car park in White City until a tenant is found, and this will be made available to BBC staff based in W12. Only the incremental cost of keeping it open will be passed onto staff as a daily charge.
The BBC has not been involved in negotiating a discounted rate at any off site car parks in W12, nor does it intend to do so. A number of individuals have done so at Westfield on behalf of their colleagues.
Fabric not up to the job
I agree with Dafydd O'Connor's views [see below] regarding the shortcomings of Fabric, and it seems by her reply that Sarah Hayes, controller I&A, empathises with the points he makes.
According to the BBC annual report, Fabric was to be 'a desktop-based digital production tool that allowed content to be accessed, edited, and shared remotely across the entire BBC' and would 'fundamentally change the way we make programmes'.
Sadly, Fabric is simply not fit for purpose in its current form. Even as a tape management system it has considerable shortcomings, but in no way is it suitable as an archive research tool as its design and interface are fundamentally flawed in almost every respect.
It is therefore a great shame that despite the best efforts of many archive researchers and producers to provide constructive feedback during Fabric's development and prior to its launch, their concerns were simply not acted upon or listened to emphatically. It was launched regardless.
According to the BBC Trust/National Audit Office, the estimated gross cost of delivery and implementation to the end of March 2017 of this project is £133.6m. Is this in line with the strategy of Delivering Quality First?
Phil Clark, archive producer, Entertainment
Pat Younge, chief creative officer for BBC Productions, replies: As you're someone who specialises in producing archive content, I know that issues with Fabric will be uppermost in your mind, as you must be one of our heaviest users of the search function. We know that perhaps it doesn't do all the things you need it to do right now, which is why we haven't switched off Infax.
We are continuing to work on the interface and effectiveness of Fabric - the system is updated monthly - and are addressing many of the issues that I suspect cause you and others concern, like the speed of searches and ordering of search results.
We're always interested in getting real granular feedback from users so we can prioritise Fabric development. We're going to arrange another feedback session shortly and I hope you'll come and share your experience to help us speed up the remediation process.
We are committed to make Fabric work effectively and I promise we will not switch off Infax until Fabric's in better shape.
Fabric hinders archive dig
I'm a producer-director specialising in archive-based tv documentaries. From a production perspective, the BBC's new archive system, Fabric, is wholly inadequate.
Far slower than its immediate predecessor, the Research Gateway Infax web-browser, and less user-friendly than the archive's Native Infax, its introduction is not enabling but compromising BBC archive research.
Using the web browser, it used to take me three seconds from entering my search term to looking at the programme shot-list, which is the bit I need to read. With Fabric, which buries the vital information layers deep, it takes 12. So research that would have taken an hour now takes four. With the licence-fee-freeze squeezing budgets and production schedules tighter and tighter, that's time I don't have.
Everyone I know is currently doing their archive research on Infax and only using Fabric for the unavoidable job of requesting the tape. However, since Infax stopped being updated in May last year, it's becoming more outdated every day.
Infax will ultimately be phased out. Before that happens, Fabric's user-interface architecture must be fundamentally re-shaped. If not, the limited quality of the archive research we can do here will compromise what ends up on-screen.
Dafydd O'Connor, producer, BBC Wales
Sarah Hayes, controller Information & Archives, replies: My team in Information & Archives are facing the same issues, therefore I completely empathise with the points you raise.
We are currently assessing Fabric to ensure it can still deliver the original digital archive vision. I anticipate that the output of this will provide a plan incorporating Infax and future ways of working.
I hope that we will have an overview and timelines in the near future. Please rest assured that ensuring that archive content is secure and searchable is absolutely paramount in all of our plans.
Can anyone confirm if the desk - between pillars along the side of the Old Broadcasting House reception - temporary or here to stay?
It's awful, not friendly or welcoming. And looks so cramped for those sitting there.
Maire Devine, Audio and Music
BBC Workplace replies: The OBH reception has been redesigned after feedback from staff raised concerns with the position of the desk.
As OBH is a listed building, and any changes had to be agreed with English Heritage, it was decided to reinstate the reception back to its original design. This allowed us to move the desk away from the doors and provide a better experience for visitors.
The desk was mocked up and left for a number of weeks so staff had the chance to give feedback on its position and height. The desk is now in its permanent position and will accommodate one receptionist who can choose to sit in either of the two seats.
That's not rubbish
With many colleagues continuing to move buildings in the coming months, what is being done to ensure that perfectly good equipment doesn't get junked?
I know that Beebcycle (http://teamsites.gateway.bbc.co.uk/vision/vision/beebcycle/default.aspx) can be used to recycle sets, props, technical and business equipment between BBC buildings and sites, but awareness of it seems rather low.
In these straitened times we should be trying to save BBC-purchased equipment from going in a skip rather than to another good home within the Corporation.
Also, it's worth bearing in mind that if you uncover anything ancient then BBC Heritage might be interested in first refusal.
Philip Mullen, Broadcast Engineer, Leeds
Can we join the Club?
Is there any chance the BBC Club could also take over the catering at New Broadcasting House? Anything would be an improvement on the News Café.
Nick Serpell, Obituary Editor, BBC News
Are machines to blame?
Within the last six months on BBC Radio there have been many occasions when autoplayers have been to blame for affecting our output.
Recent incidents have included playing out incorrect programmes, playing split programmes in the wrong order, playing two programmes on top of each other (in one instance for over an hour and a half) and missing news bulletins.
Is there anything that can be done or do we just have to accept that this is a natural consequence of replacing humans with machines?
Richard Andrews, studio manager
Chris Burns, head of group operations, A&M Group Management, replies:
First of all I would like to assure you that we take any technical errors very seriously. However I am not aware of any problems lasting for an hour and a half.
Autoplayer is part of a system used across the BBC to play out pre-recorded programmes and is extremely robust. Some of the issues we have had have been as a result of human error.
So to ensure that staff feel fully supported and comfortable with the system we are providing additional training.
No-brainer to honour doctors
I felt compelled to write in and say that when the BBC gets it right it gets it spot on.
I come from Oxford and have never been prouder than while watching Brain Doctors from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. Far from handsome, paediatric neurosurgeon Jay Jayamohan is the meaning of the word charisma!
Having spent time in intensive care and having had a very sick little girl, watching this programme made me ask why it is that footballers and celebrities get huge money and honours when it is these doctors who deserve all the titles.
Let's be honest, there isn't enough money in the universe to pay them what they are worth. I can't wait to see what amazing feats these gods will perform next week.
Pat Noel, receptionist, Oxford
Can't escape the dinner queue
As I sit at my desk 'dining' on a rock hard, lukewarm jacket potato with cold cheese (£1 a pot!) and dubious tuna (do a sniff test folks, I had off tuna last week that smelled like the end of the world), I wonder who on earth designed the News Café on -1 in NBH.
Not only is it tiny, its poor design means people are queuing for tills around people queuing for food, around people queuing for the coffee machine and so on.
Even if you decide you don't want to pay a fortune for said potato (curry day is a rare high point) and bring in your own food, you have to join the lovely long queues for the microwaves, now that nobody is judged to be intelligent enough to use a microwave in their own kitchens.
If you're very lucky, you may even get a lift after eight minutes of waiting in a overcrowded lift lobby too. Don't think of using the spiral staircase - it's not wide enough for two, especially if you're carrying a soggy, cardboard box.
I dream of the White City canteen - DREAM I tell you…
Louise Pepper, BJ, BBC London
BBC Workplace replies: Any staff with comments on catering in New Broadcasting House - good or bad - are encouraged to give direct feedback to our suppliers via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The News Café was never designed to cater for the entire building given the vast choice of outlets in W1 which include the Media Café, the BBC Club in Western House, trolley services, the 7th floor Coffee Hub and the Radio Café which will re-open this Spring with a new operator.
The number of microwaves has also been increased to meet demand. The central glass lifts in New Broadcasting House will be particularly busy at peak times and staff are encouraged to use the wide range of alternative lifts and stairs which are available across the rest of the building.
Move over, Brian
On Sunday afternoon on Radio 1, Alice Levine had this helpful advice for a listener who texted in to say she was revising for a physics exam: 'just remember the letters and numbers and stuff ,yeah?'
Move over Professor Brian Cox, there's a new science presenter in town...
Zoe Kleinman, Technology Reporter, BBC News
Tell us when life is fast-tracked
Do the northern lights really flicker and weave across the sky - or do they move more gently? I don't know, because I've only seen them on tv, and although they invariably sweep around, the movement of the stars behind suggests the film's running fast. The same applies to magnificent tropical thunderheads bubbling up above the jungle.
And on Africa this week, I watched the naked rodents rushing down their tunnels - were they on location, or is one of the blacktops about to tell us they were in a zoo in Germany, like the polar bears?
How easy would it be to have a graphic embedded in the signal, worked by one of the colour buttons, so viewers wanting to know when reality had been tweaked to tell the story more effectively could get a little icon on screen telling them the pictures were running at twice actual speed, or whatever?
You could call it a trust issue.
Martin Lewes, Kendal reporter, BBC Radio Cumbria
Don't give Murray the boot
Colin Murray - innovative, funny, intelligent and not in awe of the players of yesteryear who are now overpaid pundits - is being moved off Match of The Day Two.
Match of the Day has looked tired and formulaic by comparison. Same old pundits, same predictable analysis. The only people allowed to have opinions are former footballers. MOTD is stuck in a pre-interactive time warp. Luckily for the programme, the actual football is normally entertaining.
Keep Colin Murray and let the fans and football writers have a voice too.
Bernard Gabony, College of Journalism
Will BBC Three HD have a home?
With BBC HD set to be replaced by BBC Two HD this year (2013), where will I be able to watch High Definition programmes made for BBC Three and BBC Four?
Also where will any future BBC 3D content be broadcast?
Why not retain BBC HD as a service that predominantly simulcasts BBC Two but still has the flexibility to show HD and 3D content from other BBC channels?
Steve Saul, BBC Radio Manchester
Simon Smith, head of TV Operations, replies: There will be an announcement soon confirming the date when the DQF decision to close the BBC HD channel and create instead a HD version of BBC Two will be implemented. After that date, there will be a period of time when the only way to view programmes made for BBC Three and BBC Four in HD will be to do so via the BBC iPlayer.
BBC Vision and BBC Distribution are currently working on options for extending our HD channel portfolio and securing the future delivery to audiences of all the BBC's HD and 3D programmes. These have yet to go through the normal financial and governance processes, but as soon as there is any news we will share it.
PM 'lazy' on India rape story
Historian William Dalrymple was interviewed on Saturday, December 29 on the India rape story.
Twice he made derogatory, inflammatory comments about 'Jatts' - the community of North-west region (Punjab) - leaving the listener with an impression it's this community that is a problem (if not to blame).
At no time was he challenged. Presumably, none of the PM team had heard of Jatts, so had no idea to whom the historian was referring - hence took his 'expert' view.
Like me, the majority of Jatts are Sikhs, not Hindus. They're a minority community in India, mostly farmers, regularly caricatured in Bollywood films as uncouth country bumpkins.
Mr Dalrymple played on this prejudice at what is a highly emotive time in India. We have yet to know more about the accused - who they are, where they come from - but for him to use his interview to demean the Jatts was irresponsible and dangerously misleading.
More importantly, it was also lazy journalism on the part of Saturday PM. It may have been a quiet period during the festive season, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to get a guest who was 'best fit' for this sensitive story. Mr Dalrymple was not.
All the team needed to do was to contact the WS Hindi team (London or Delhi) who'd have given good guidance and even suggested the right guest - one or two of the correspondents specialise in women-related issues and guested on World News on the story. All that rich resource at PM's fingertips - unused. What a waste.
Guess WS Language teams still have a job to register on the radar of 'big' national programmes, be they radio or TV. 'One BBC' still has a way to go.
Jat Dhillon, senior producer, BBC Global India TV and World News
Scrap the risk list
I was astonished to hear that the main target of the Pollard Review was Steve Mitchell, one of the BBC's best and most sensible journalists, so I read the Review to find out why.
It seems, from the tone, that Steve got right up Nick Pollard's nose. Unwise, no doubt. But the substance of the criticism seems to be that Steve took the Newsnight programme in question off the Managed Programmes Risk List. The what?
Sorry, Nick, but that can't be the answer you were looking for. The BBC is all about risk. Either all of its programmes should be on that list, or none.
The only question to which the Managed Programmes Risk List is the answer is this: which bit of BBC bureaucracy should be scrapped forthwith?
Bob Eggington, BBC News 1974-2000
How did Pollard tot up £2m?
Can someone explain to me how the Pollard Review into one event, which took place over a period of less than two months, (commissioned on about October 16, ended December 19), cost £2m? This means it cost approximately £30,770 per day, or more than the annual pay of 65 Band 04H posts outside London.
I assume that most of the 'witnesses' are based in London, so no travel expenses had to be paid. They are in BBC buildings which have conference rooms, which I assume would have been provided free of charge for any interviews.
The only assumption I can make is that the team conducting the 'investigation' ran into hundreds.
What is that phrase the management use for cutting posts? Oh yes, value for money.
Alan Caswell, senior media assistant (TV Intake), Information & Archives
James Heath, controller, Policy, replies: The Pollard Review was set up to answer a set of extremely serious and complex allegations including whether a Newsnight investigation into Jimmy Savile was dropped due to management pressure.
The allegations were damaging BBC journalism's integrity and trust at a very fundamental level. It was essential that they were examined independently, rigorously and in detail to ensure we could establish what happened. This work was expensive but it was necessary in order for the conclusions to be regarded as credible by licence fee payers.
It is worth noting that the money used to pay for the Review was taken from a central contingency fund to avoid any impact on content spend.
The Review found that there was no pressure applied from management to stop the report from running, which was important. It also made a series of important recommendations on ways to improve how we work, share information and make decisions across the BBC.
It is hoped therefore that the legacy of the report is to bring better working practices to the organisation as a whole which all BBC staff can benefit from in the future
Is redeployment a hollow pledge?
Redundancies seem to be unavoidable in these difficult times, so it came as little shock to learn that the recent World Service cuts meant that the sword was dangling above my head.
The BBC's commitment to redeployment served as some reassurance that my employer would take 'reasonable steps' to 'find suitable alternative employment' for me.
After nine years with the corporation and extensive experience as a producer across various platforms, I felt quietly confident that my status as a 'priority' in the redeployment pool would at least get me a board or two. And when I was sent some prospective opportunities, I was delighted: the system is working, and, yes, I'd very much like to apply for anything you can find me.
But this is where the BBC's 'reasonable steps' end. In the past two months, I have been rejected for jobs I am overqualified for - without any feedback, despite my repeated requests for it. For some I have been a 'full profile match', yet it appears that despite being a priority, the BBC has no obligation to interview me if my skills match, or do anything other than pass a cursory glance over my CV before stamping a 'rejected' onto it.
Several of my colleagues have had the same experience, some of whom have concluded that being in the 'redeployment pool' is, in fact, detrimental to your future prospects at the BBC.
How can the BBC claim to have a commitment to the redeployment of staff, and, at the same time reject perfectly suitable, priority candidates before interview, without explanation? Isn't it about time that managers stopped seeing people under threat of redundancy as incompetent and give them a fair chance?
Jennifer Bartram, producer, World Service
Huw Jones, Employee Relations, replies: I was sorry to hear of the writer's experiences in trying to find new a new role within the BBC.
It's difficult to comment without knowing more details, but, among a number of initiatives designed to improve redeployment, we now insist that managers look in the redeployment database first for suitably qualified candidates prior to posting an advert internally. Only after they've looked internally can they go externally.
We also now offer earlier access to services designed to help staff achieve redeployment with CV and interview workshops and a dedicated website with career information. We've also centralised DQF redundancy funding so that managers are not dis-incentivised from taking on redeployees and set aside additional funding to be provided as part of re-investment for retraining/reskilling.
As a result of these and other initiatives the number of individuals, at risk of redundancy, who have uploaded their CVs onto the redeployment priority pool has increased since its launch in September from 7% to 25%.
In addition the recently established Retraining Fund designed as part of a commitment to invest in training in new skills required for future roles recently reported that they had received and accepted 14 applications.
Whilst we can see redeployment is happening in World Service (at least 24 successful cases since Jan 2011) I'm particularly concerned to hear that you're not being offered interviews for jobs for which you're fully matched and also not receiving feedback. I'd encourage you to contact either myself or the HR Manager in Global News who leads on redeployment - Fatima Islam.
I'm sorry that your experiences have not been good and while I'm sure we don't get things 100% right please allow us the chance to try and sort this out.
On the way out
Each time the DG announced another tranche of redundancies, it came with a promise that there wouldn't be any more revolving doors at the BBC.
If only the reference was to a physical object rather than a metaphor.
Richard Ellison, technical operator
While watching Sports Personality of the Year with my family last night, my father raised an interesting question: if the results were decided by public vote, why was Lennox Lewis ready to present Andy Murray with his third place award?
Has the BBC flown celebrities and three different SPOTY awards to each sports personality just in case they win?
Anything sane I can tell my dad?
Nic Ford, product owner, Barlesque & Mobilesque
Ariel is told that any absent nominees either have a replica trophy sent to them and an OB arranged, or nominate someone to accept on their behalf. There is one replica trophy which serves for first, second or third prize. Local celebrities are used to present the trophies.
For an organisation rightly focusing on simplicity I'm utterly baffled as to why I've been asked to fill out a risk assessment form when booking a meeting area in NBH?
Troy, head of content release, BBC Vision, December 14 2012
Steve Gregory, head of production safety, replies: Generally a risk assessment isn't required when booking a meeting room or meeting space. However, if hosting a large number of external guests who aren't familiar with the building, doing things that might affect other building occupants, or changing the space (for example adding lighting or hanging equipment on structures), Workplace might need further information to ensure everything has been thought through.
It's difficult to comment on individual cases, and we encourage people to contact BBC.Workplace@bbc.co.uk if they have concerns or feedback.
I think both Ian Jolly and Rob Pobjoy [see below] have fair points re access to BBC buildings.
I'm a long legged lanky lass (31" inside leg) with an athletic build (I have shoulders to rival an American football player). I've had (roughly) the same body size for the last ten years but I too have noticed that I'm having more and more problems getting through the security cordon at BBC buildings.
The White City building is into BDSM as those bars smack you on the bum every time you go through. I'm either trapping toes or having the heels of my shoes damaged in the glass turnstiles and, after endless experimentation over the last year, I've found adopting an ungainly 'geisha' like shuffle whilst scrunching my shoulders is the only way to get through the W1 and White City doors.
Indeed, on many an occasion, when carrying anything more than a clutch-bag, the guard on duty has kindly offered to open the disabled door for me rather than listen to my muffled oofs. As both Media Centre and Broadcast Centre doors are OK, it got me wondering why they've chosen the smallest doors possible for NBH.
I think I have the answer. It's BBC Workplace's way of vetting employees in order to make sure there's enough bench space for us all to sit at. Anybody bigger than a size 16 is not allowed in as we take up the same space as two size 6-8s, and that would skew the figures.
As they can't come out and say it, they're just making sure we can't get into the building in the first place.
PS: What's the difference between a battery hen and a BBC member of staff? The battery hens get a perch each by law.
Jenny Legg, IT & Accommodation Co-ordinator, BBC Drama Production, December 14 2012
No space to think
Please let's not have any more performances in the atrium space in Broadcasting House. I work on the seventh floor in NBH and the level of noise made it extremely difficult to concentrate on work - you could hear it even with headphones on.
It's not suitable as a performance space, as the noise gets to so many parts of the building and affects so many people who are trying to work hard. Even if it was the loveliest music in the world, there are lots of other distractions in the open plan design and we don't need any more.
Oliver H R Jones, Producer, The Strand and World of Music, December 14 2012
Tim Gillett complains [see below] about the number of people voting to say 'electrorial'. They're probably the same people who add an extra 'u' into nuclear, to make it nuculear. Luckily, there is a new clear way to say nuclear.
Martin Lewes, Kendal reporter, Radio Cumbria, December 10 2012
Where's the World Service website?
I have just spent the last 10 minutes trying to find the BBC World Service website.
Each time I go to a logical web address (and some that used to work), bbcworldservice.com or bbc.co.uk/worldservice for example you immediately get sent to the World Service iPlayer, which is only for English output and has no news or other information about World Service on it.
If you wanted to find information about one of the remaining 27 language services you would need to be able to guess that the correct url is bbc.co.uk/worldservice/languages.
Why is it assumed that if you are looking for the World Service website, that you therefore want to listen to the (English) radio iPlayer?
If you go to bbcworld.com you do get links to radio and tv content and links to language services, but it's a page that's more of an after-thought with no real content and no news.
Surely it would make sense for the World Service frontpage to be a News page (after all that's what WS is about) with links to the radio iPlayer, not the other way around.
All language service websites are done this way. For example go to bbcafrica.com and you'll get a news website with links to radio and tv content.
In my eight years working with WS language services, I've seen it squeezed, cut drastically and now packed into a small space in NBH.
World Service has always strived to provide the best services it can despite small budgets and limited resources, can we not at least have a website that better represents the whole of what World Service does?
Alistair Beavis, studio manager, World Service, December 5 2012
James Montgomery, controller, digital and technology, Global News and World Service, replies: There are several questions and I'll try to explain them one by one.
Around two years ago Global News took a decision to publish all news content in English, including the best of WS journalism, on BBC News website, to create a single online destination for international audiences in English, with greater reach and impact.
It did not make sense, editorially, technically or financially, for Global News to offer two separate 24/7 news sites in English. Since then, World Service-originated material has performed very well on the News website, notably in the international Magazine section created to make a home for multiplatform programme output. The global reach for News online ex-UK is at an all-time high.
Bbcworldservice.com is now a support site for World Service English, with links to other World Service languages and social media. It has recently moved from TopCat2 (the World Service content management system) to the iPlayer radio site provided by Audio and Music. The functionality and design are much improved - among other features, the site is 'responsive', which means it can work equally well on mobile devices as on desktop. The move is also efficient: it puts WS English on a single technical platform used by the rest of Audio.
To the point about links to language services, there is prominent promotion on the bbc.com hompage (visible outside the UK) and from relevant World index pages on the News site. Future Media is working on a refresh of the Languages landing page (www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/languages/index.shtml)
How do you say electoral?
Why do so many broadcasters, both BBC and non BBC, insist on putting an imaginary i before the a in electoral. There simply isn't one and there never was.
It's similar to the n that appears in Julio's and Enrique's surname before the g. I'm all for the evolution of the English language, but not the inability to speak it properly.
Tim Gillett, Senior Broadcast Journalist, BBC Essex
Caught in the revolution
Ian Jolly (November 20 2012) makes an exceptionally good point about revolving doors. Most days on my way in and out of NBH, I often find my heel being pushed by the revolving door.
As far as I'm aware, I walk at a normal pace. Yet, it seems to me that if I attempt to keep pace, I seem to be going too fast, resulting in my toes kicking the door.
It is my belief that the compartment is too small. Whilst we are on the subject of size, why does it seem that the doors to the reception/ outside are smaller than the doors to the reception/newsroom? It seems to me, a case of poor design.
Rob Pobjoy, project technologist, Journalism, November 20 2012
I've been going through doors all my life. In fact, I'm pretty good at it. But I've clearly lost my touch now I'm working at Broadcasting House.
I've been told my problem is that I 'go through the door too late'. Funny, as it's never been an issue before. Could it be the BBC's over-engineered, electronic revolving doors that are at fault?
Still, I'm glad there's a sign telling me not to play football in the doors - I had wondered…
Ian Jolly, BH Newsroom, November 20 2012
Leveson from the air
Seeing aerial shots of the House of Commons and the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre broadcast on the News Channel on the day the Leveson Report came out immeasurably improved my understanding of this complex issue.
Having a helicopter hovering over Westminster on a sunny November day somehow summed up how the whole question of press freedom is still 'up in the air' and was by no means a colossal waste of licence payers' money.
Jerry Chester, SBJ, BBC Worcester, November 29, 2012
Heaven is a Place I used to like
I know that Local Radio, with the honourable exception of the BBC Introducing strand, is not in the business of frightening the horses with too much new music.
But is there any chance of a moratorium on playing Heaven Is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle? It's not that I don't like it, but I must have heard it four times this last seven days.
I wouldn't be heartbroken if a similar pause were placed on Run for Home by Lindisfarne, another old favourite of mine made rather less than special by over-repetition.
Ian Wood, freelance broadcast journalist, November 29, 2012
DG too hasty
My view is that George Entwistle's departure was too soon and unnecessary. He should have waited until the reviews were complete and then, if he was found wanting, should have stood down. He wasn't given a chance.
Yes, his appearance in the Commons and on the Today programme were not good, but he should have stood his ground. It has shown, once again, that the BBC is all too willing to allow some heads to roll instead of being robust and fighting its corner.
We need to stand up to our critics more and not be shy of defending ourselves. We're in danger of these incidents affecting the whole of the BBC when, in fact, 99% of what we do is fantastic.
What happened at Newsnight was wrong, but the whole of the corporation shouldn't be tarnished as a result and the programme shouldn't be slaughtered just to appease our opponents who would like to see the BBC crumble.
We don't need a radical overhaul; what we need is a sense of perspective. There is a danger that, as happened after the Ross/Brand affair and such like, the thousands of staff who had nothing to do with the issue will have more unnecessary bureaucracy to cope with (compliance is an example).
The BBC needs to stand up for itself in the face of high profile criticism. The focus needs to be on what went badly wrong and the correct disciplinary actions taken on the minority that made the mistakes.
Steve Knibbs, SBJ
Pay-off is 'least George deserves'
In all the endless copy and comment regarding the DG's severance pay, one important fact has either been played down or completely ignored.
George devoted 23 years of his life to this organisation, building an exemplary career and earning the respect and devotion of everyone lucky enough to have ever worked with him. Anyone who doubts that need only to have experienced the atmosphere of sadness and disillusionment which hung over BBC Vision teams last Monday.
Due to the ineptitude and silence of others, and the failings of a corporate structure which he was determined to reform, he has now lost his job and been the victim of a political and media witch-hunt, which is a damning indictment of the society in which we all now live.
George has not been 'rewarded for 54 days of failure'. He has been compensated for having his BBC career destroyed in full view of the entire world. In the circumstances, it is the very least he and his family deserve.
He should now have his privacy respected and be given time to recover from an experience which no-one would wish on their worst enemy, let alone a man of his intelligence, wit, vision, integrity and all round decency.
Simon Smith, Head of TV Operations, BBC Vision
Bring back Byford
In an all staff email in October 2010 Mark Thompson wrote this about Mark Byford:
'We have concluded - and Mark fully accepts - that the work he has done to develop our journalism and editorial standards across the BBC has achieved the goals we set to such an extent that the role of Deputy Director-General can now end, that the post should close at the end of the current financial year, and that Mark himself should be made redundant.'
Only two years later the BBC finds itself with serious questions about its 'journalism and editorial standards'.
Isn't the answer fairly obvious? Bring the post of Deputy DG back, and in particular Mark Byford, with the same remit as before.
Bob Chesworth, senior broadcast engineer, BBC Hereford & Worcester
How do I get to the top of my pay grade?
I've just read the Ariel article on the grades and pay bands review.
I've never really understood how it is possible to progress through a pay grade. It's almost unheard of to get a pay rise that's more than the standard inflationary increase, so if you start at the bottom of grade 7 at say £27,221 how do you get to the top at £43,063?
Seriously, I just don't know how to do it.
James Ingham, senior journalist, BBC South Today, November 9 2012
Neil Robson, head of reward, replies: Pay progression at the BBC today is largely driven by any standard increases that are awarded each year, coupled with what are called 'salary progression arrangements' - currently linked to the length of time a person might have worked in a role (where applicable), and any promotions that person might have achieved.
The pay and grading project was set up in part because of the difficulty colleagues often encounter in understanding and achieving pay progression within their grade and it is one of the key issues that the project team is working on with managers to address.
We will continue to communicate regularly with colleagues on the progress that the project is making in this and other areas between now and the pay and grading project's targeted launch in October 2013.
Where is Dagenham?
Having worked as a journalist in the area east of London for almost 30 years, I may be in a position to enlighten those within the BBC and the probable originators of the urban myth at a well known national news agency who insist that Dagenham is in Essex.
It is not. It is part of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. It is not within the administrative county of Essex. Its people elect members to the GLA, not to Essex County Council. It is served by the London area police force, fire brigade and ambulance service.
The older people of Dagenham may regard themselves as living in Essex. Indeed those who have migrated to Essex often regard their roots as Essex and they are right. It used to be an ancient part of the Becontree hundred within Essex. But that ended in local government re-organisation of the 20th century.
So when Ford's estate next makes it to the national news bulletins could we get it right please - Dagenham, in East London.
Tim Gillett, senior broadcast journalist, BBC Essex, November 9, 2012
CRB check error
I thought I'd better flag up an issue I'm currently having with the BBC's CRB ID checking service.
Having filled in my CRB form, because I'm working on Children in Need this year, I was advised in an email from BBC HR Direct to send validated evidence of my ID to a named person.
One week later, after returning from a course, I received my documents back from the person I'd sent them to. Surely they'd need to hold on to them for the application process, I wondered.
I asked the person why they had sent the paperwork back and was told they hadn't actually been a CRB ID checker for two years and had returned the documents as soon as they realised they were so important.
Thank goodness this person returned the documents so quickly - and they hadn't got lost in the 'system' somewhere.
Considering that safeguards to working with children are so important, and some might say never more so than right now, this kind of carelessness in a crucial administration process is completely unacceptable.
Jo Babbage, BBC South, October 24, 2013
David Locke, BBC People manager business support and data management, replies: I am sorry that the writer has had a bad experience with the CRB checking process. We put in a new online system in the summer. So far the results are very promising indeed. Well over half of all checks have come back within three days of submission and virtually all of them within two weeks. This compares very favourably with the old paper system, where checks could take months.
As with any new system, there may be the odd issue and we are currently reviewing the overall workings of the new process to identify and remedy any that we find.
I would be very grateful if the writer would contact me directly so that I can ensure that this application goes through without any further problem and look at any underlying problem to avoid this happening again.
End of the lines
Being of a certain age, I remember almost as if it were yesterday the evening in November 1969, me aged eight, when my family gathered round the tv set to watch the launch of BBC One and ITV Thames in glorious 625 lines.
If we had a colour set, which we didn't for another three years, we'd have seen it in colour too, but the increased definition was enough. In my own case these transmissions were received from Crystal Palace, which was the first one to transmit 625 lines.
Now here I am living in Northern Ireland almost 43 years later, ideally placed to see the end of 625 PAL on BBC One as Divis is the last of the analogue switch-offs in the early hours of Wednesday, October 24. I will have watched BBC One on 625 lines for the longest possible period - 42 years and 11 months.
How many of us saw the beginning and the end? I suppose there may even be some who have seen the whole period of BBC Two from 1964-2012 but I bet there aren't many.
Paul Evans, broadcast technologist, BBC Northern Ireland, October 23 2012
I am not a paedophile
I read the Daily Telegraph as ever on Saturday and turned with my usual enthusiasm to the Matt cartoon to find 'You work at the BBC? So are you a tax dodger or a paedophile?'
It was interesting timing. I was on my way to give a talk to the Devonshire Association (unpaid) on the education work I do (unpaid) in schools, colleges and universities, helping young people to find a career in the media.
I mentioned to the Association the morning I spent this week at Cheriton Bishop Primary School in Devon (unpaid), working with the children to try to interest them in the magical world of books, storytelling and creative writing. And also the afternoon with The Maynard School in Exeter, talking (unpaid) about the life of a writer.
From this working week at the BBC, I paid approximately £400 pounds in tax, the full and standard rate on my salary. And, as far as I can recall, I molested no children.
Simon Hall, Home Affairs Correspondent, BBC South West, October 7, 2012
Local radio managers know best
When I first joined BBC Radio Merseyside over 30 years ago, the senior management knew exactly what local radio was for and understood that each one would be different from any other. Leicester would be as different from Cornwall as Radio 1 was from Radio 4. They were managers in the mould of the great Frank Gillard - a tradition Pat Loughrey continued.
As time passed that understanding diminished and centralisation took over. The 20% music, 80% speech edict, which led to a massive drop in Rajar, had to be reversed. And then the wonderful Dave and Sue nonsense (as if a docker in Liverpool had the same interests as a sheep farmer in Cumbria).
I remember rowing over the decision that there was to be no two minute Silence on the 11th of the 11th on any local radio station. I patiently explained that while that may be fine for every other local station (of course it wouldn't), it would cause us immense problems here on Merseyside. I was, of course, ignored and the result was a whole host of bad headlines nationally for the BBC. We now take the Silence.
Our listeners are to be messed about again by a misguided edict that all local radio stations will carry a debate with their police commissioner candidates at 9am on November 8. Well, that may be fine for audiences elsewhere and I wouldn't presume to know. It's not fine for our audience here on Merseyside. They expect and get such debates at midday. They expect and get a light, music mix programme at 9am.
The logic that it will bring us new audiences is flawed. If it's true that national television will promote this event by driving the audience to an 'appointment to listen', why not tell them where to listen and not just when? This 'new audience' after all will not know the frequency of its local radio station; if it did, it would be an 'existing audience'.
By all means ask us to carry the debate on a particular day, and thank you for plugging it for us: leave us to plan the timing for our own local audiences. Trust your local station managers, who really do understand about broadcasting and scheduling; it's what they're paid to do. It's what Frank Gillard believed they could do.
Roger Phillips, presenter, Radio Merseyside, October 4, 2012
Where's TVC's art hanging?
As the BBC tragically abandons Television Centre, I find myself wondering about the fate of various artworks that were once displayed in that most artistic of buildings. T. B. Huxley-Jones' iconic statue of Helios and John Piper's magnificent mosaic are integral to the structure and were, presumably, sold with the rest - a cultural disgrace, considering the derisory sum for which it was sold.
But there were also portable works of arts. I am thinking particularly of the original Raoul Dufy painting from the Sixth Floor. For many years it hung in the corridor. Occasionally, I went to admire it during meal breaks. Later it was moved into the Sixth Floor Hospitality Suite, but that area has now been redeveloped.
Not only is it a thing of beauty, but it must also have a considerable cash value. I'd hate to think that it has been forgotten, or accidentally thrown in a skip, or casually pilfered by some senior executive.
It is, after all, the property of the licence-fee payers and, as a licence-fee payer myself, I would like to know what has become of my property.
Roger Bunce, former BBC TV cameraman, September 30, 2012
Tim Cavanagh, Operations Director, Workplace Operations, replies:
TV Centre has been sold to Stanhope for £200m. This is a net inward investment to the UK from overseas, and a fair price from a highly competitive and thorough tendering process.
Stanhope itself is a property development company with more than 30 years of experience that has completed around £10bn worth of high profile UK development projects including HM Treasury, Central Saint Giles, Chiswick Park; and has a lot of experience in the media and arts section having worked on projects such as the Royal Opera House and Tate Modern.
Stanhope has appointed the award winning architectural practice, AHMM, who are responsible for the Saatchi Gallery/Barbican Arts Centre and the Angel building.
The future of TVC will be determined by Stanhope, who are committed to preserving and enhancing the listed elements of TVC, and any material alterations would be subject to listed buildings consent by the planning authorities. The BBC will also jointly manage the development of plans and will retain an interest in the site for as long as it is a tenant.
In respect of the Raoul Dufy painting, it is now located in Old Broadcasting House in the third floor lobby.
To sound off about BBC staff issues, email 'Ariel Team' found in the global address list.