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Roger Bolton - presenter of Feedback

While Feedback has been off the air, the BBC has been on the rack.

At the beginning of September, present and former BBC leaders were put on the 21st century equivalent of the rack when Margaret Hodge and her parliamentary committee turned the screws over executive pay offs and inflated salaries. The Director General (DG), Tony Hall, wisely kept out of it, able to argue that he had been elsewhere for the last decade, and that he had taken action to reduce some of the excesses. Instead he went up into the mountains to talk to Lord Reith and returned with tablets of stone upon which is inscribed “Thou shalt Educate, Inform, and Entertain. There are no broadcasting commandments greater than these.”

This week, in a lull in hostilities while the Daily Mail was preoccupied with its conflict with Ed Miliband, the relatively new DG, after 6 months on the hot seat, took the opportunity to lay out his future strategy for the corporation; though Tony Hall said the BBC would have to find £100 million in savings to pay for some new initiatives. He did not say from where those savings would come.

Talking of Radio 1, the DG said that it “is no longer just a radio station. It’s already filming sessions, interviews and programmes that live online. Its audience can now listen, watch and share its music performances. So I want to see a Radio 1 video channel on the iPlayer, alongside BBC Three, providing original content”.

Ben Cooper, the Controller of Radio 1 and 1Xtra, said “I’m very excited about transforming Radio 1 from being just a radio station into being a full audio-visual channel”.

At Feedback we were keen to find out more about these plans and whether this so called “visualisation” of radio would extend to other networks including Radio 4. Here is my interview with Ben Cooper:

Ben Cooper talks to Roger Bolton on Feedback

Also, this week we featured a report on how Radio 4’s Inside Science team put their programme together. If you would like us to do similar reports on other programmes do let us know, and do say if you would like to accompany me.

You set the agenda on Feedback. As Tony Hall has said, the BBC belongs to you, not to those who, temporarily, run it.

Roger Bolton

Listen to this week's Feedback

More Feedback blog posts


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  • Comment number 4. Posted by Russ

    on 14 Oct 2013 22:16

    Helen Boaden, Director of BBC Radio, said today:

    "It's important not to be seduced into thinking visualisation is the panacea to all radio's challenges," she said. "We've done some sensible research and the truth is that demand from most radio audiences for visualisation is currently limited. Indeed, even at Radio 1 where 10 videos are watched every second of every day, success isn't guaranteed and many visualised strands are quickly retired".

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by All for All

    on 13 Oct 2013 10:43

    Dear Lord Hall,

    Thank you.

    Led thus, I am sure the BBC will use new technology, and will create new 'content': and doing so might survive, as such, our BBC, a national institution of global repute, serving and leading, alongside the NHS and parliament.

    Survival is in doubt more on other grounds, more on survival of the BBC's context, not merely of general commitment to "the idea of public service broadcasting", but of a people - perhaps a planet - with time to spare for entertainment, or education, or even 'information', beyond that keenly watched from security cameras.

    The BBC - theoretically, in the founding-spirit of Lord Reith - should be in a position to ensure well-being for not only 'the enterprise', but for 'the good society' it seeks to serve. That still, today, insecurity is to be faced - for some creative, demoralising for many, perhaps ruinous to all - in the BBC and across society, by every member of staff and every member of the public - surely is a reflection of shared neglect, or failure against opposition, on a truly vital matter.

    Far from honouring the promise of the first Charter & Agreement, to promote "the fundamental principles" of democracy", we have regressed, to explanation merely of "the workings of British parliamentary democracy", in philosophical terms an oxymoron. We still are appeasing material conflict of interest, sullying 'the case for our culture' with endless scandals of power abused.

    What would it take for 'creative security', and 'innovative courage', to be afforded to our citizens, in and out of the BBC, and moving in and out of the BBC? I hope that I am amongst many in looking forward to your directness on this question, on equal partnership as the best way - in truth the only way - to 'bring the best to everyone'.

    Broadcasting should not follow the press, waiting for Leveson.

    Yours sincerely.

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by Russ

    on 11 Oct 2013 22:47

    Interesting to compare how important Ben Cooper felt it was "to bring an audience into a BBC space" for R1 TV, whereas BBC's new Playlister seems only too happy to encourage its radio audience to go to elsewhere for streaming services. Is this joined-up thinking, or merely a BBC grabbing ad hoc technological opportunities rather than concentrating on the quality of its content?

    I share newlach's concern over costs. The whole of BBC radio costs approximately 8% of the licence fee income. In an era of draconian DQF cuts, it can't afford extra overheads on fancy visuals.


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  • Comment number 1. Posted by newlach

    on 11 Oct 2013 19:00

    I suspect that I am not alone among Feedback listeners in giving little thought to Radio 1. If any of the "big" BBC radio stations had to have a budget cut Radio 1 would be my first choice. This is why I am concerned that more money for Radio 1 will mean less for the others. With 16 million people already accessing Radio 1 visual content through YouTube each month why this concerted drive to change a fully functioning wheel? I was surprised to hear Mr Cooper say that the costs associated with filming and distribution are quite low. This is encouraging. But what will happen when a wily producer presents survey data "showing" that "viewers" really want to see more content shot in exotic locations!

    A camera on those sitting in the Feedback chair would be a good thing, but what about the likes of John Humphrys at 6 o'clock in the morning? There would only be more expense with make-up artists, hairdressers, costume designers etc.

    I did laugh out loud at the joke about Charles Dickens, so Radio 1 certainly has its strengths!

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