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Roger Bolton's teeth

Monday 13 July 2009, 19:19

Mark Damazer Mark Damazer

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Feedback is one of the most important programmes on Radio 4 - and in some ways the whole of the BBC. For many years it has been the only programme on a mainstream network - TV or Radio - that has engaged consistenly and rigorously with complaints. Points Of View on television does a bit of that - but it is shorter and less stringent. The BBC News Channel has now set up a serious programme to examine discontents. Feedback is done by an independent company (City Broadcasting) in order that there should be some distance between us (the BBC decision makers) and the production team who make it.

I have appeared on Feedback for many years - when I was in BBC News and now as Controller of Radio 4. I did so last week - to answer questions from a panel of Radio 4 listeners who were far from completely happy. We explored our coverage of America, Thought for The Day, Drama - and whether we take listeners' opinions seriously enough.

It is a tough programme to do. Roger Bolton has teeth and bares them - but people like me are given enough time to explain ourselves as best we can. I hope that is well enough. I am biased but I think the BBC editors etc. who come on do take the whole thing seriously.

There's always been a little - almost deliberate - uncertainty about how much the programme should focus on Radio 4 and how much on other BBC radio stations - and even, occasionally, wider BBC concerns. It is mostly about Radio 4 - but when you get a big kerfuffle - think Ross/Brand - Feedback becomes an important arena for debate, explanation and confession.

Some issues get 'done' repeatedly - trails, accents, comedy, the Today programme interviewing style etc. I know that the production team are always looking for new (sic) themes to explore - so feel free to take up the offer. We (BBC employees) may not all regard being on Feedback as the single most enjoyable part of our lives - but it is an essential part of what we do - and, as it happens, I mostly rather do enjoy it! Mostly...

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    Comment number 1.

    Feedback is an excellent programme, and its independence from the BBC is obvious. All interviewees are questioned rigorously and the wheat is separated from the chaff, as it were. I have no wish to name particular individuals, but the chap interviewed a few weeks ago on the £100 million DAB project seemed quite weak. Licence-fee payers money must be used wisely, and without Feedback I would have been unaware of the likely problems the DAB project will have for radio listeners.

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    Comment number 2.

    There is one over-riding problem that runs through most of my complaints and that is the bias in favour of Israel.I say that because they have managed to label themselves equal victims as the Palestinians and they use that to great effect. But you can not equate the Democratic state of Israel as opposed to the complete innocent children held as prisoner and not allowed to go to school or even have a half decent chance for medical treatment .there has to be a diffirence between what israel does as a state, as opposed to their illegal actions on a civillian population and using the term terrorist as if that excuses their terrorism .Where is the equality of language .
    I feel i can do more good shouting at the BBC and hoping to create a fairness by shaming most of the cowards that are editors and those that refuse to make programmes about the real suffering of the children that will have had no childhood and no action ever comes out off or from their leaving it to the peacemakers .
    I am sure you know all this 'have heard all this 'and will ignore all this.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 5.

    1) Glad you mentioned Trails (the "One small step for man..." sound clip has me at bursting point, as it has had too much playing over the last week, and just when I thought R4/FiveLive was 'over it', I heard it again just before the Afternoon Play)... Did you forget your blog about Repeats in February when you indicated you would cover Trails sometime in _that_ month ? (unless I've missed a blog entry on the subject, in which case, apologies)

    2) You have several weekly programmes, "Pick of the Week", "Moneybox" (apart from a few summer reports), "Broadcasting House", and so on, but given there are comments of complaint and praise because of radio content *every* week, and Feedback cannot cope with it normally, consigning some to the website (apparently, though that gives rise to a digital divide), is there any reason for not having "Feedback" on _every_ week, please?

    "Feedback" seems to find time for a report on some topic most weeks, which cuts time for listener comments quite a lot, but given many programmes are weekly then surely "Feedback", which is meant to allow listeners to provide the BBC with feedback (rather than only following a formal complaint route!) could also be weekly - even if you had guest presenters such as Chris Dunkley - for when Roger is busy or on holiday...

    When you replaced "The Message" (alternating with "Feedback") with "The Media Show" you gave the latter (surely of most interest to those in broadcasting!) a weekly slot. So why does the Media get a weekly slot, but your listeners (customers / source of income!) get less from your service and have fewer opportunities to comment on it?

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    Comment number 6.

    Why isn't there a message board for 'Feedback' when it's on, or at least a blog, since that seems to be the new message board these days?

    I'm guessing someone does read these comments, even if they're posted months after the initial entry, so I might hope for an answer...

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    Comment number 7.

    #6. At 11:16pm on 06 Jan 2010, Joe K wrote:

    "Why isn't there a message board for 'Feedback' when it's on, or at least a blog, since that seems to be the new message board these days?

    Probably because there is already at least three official feedback methods for the programme, all a MB or blog will do (I suspect) is muddy the waters so to speak, does one make a complaint - never mind any 'rants' - via the message board/blog or does one use the 'official' contact method(s)?


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