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Should the BBC bosses be elected?

  • Paul Mason
  • 28 Mar 06, 12:20 PM

LONDON. When I arrived back in the Newsnight office one of its most truculent producers dared me to write an article suggesting that, if the House of Lords can be elected, so could the BBC bosses. So here it is. The idea is that, since there is such flux in broadcasting, so much public debate, and so many options for what the licence-payers might want from a public service broadcaster, why not let them vote on it....

...You could have clear rival slogans: "abolish channels, let programmes rule"; "outsource everything to Endemol and Capita"; "vacate the commerical space to Sky and ITV"; "more makeover shows" etc.

The viewers could choose by hitting the interactive buttons on their remotes, or sending a text message.

The chair and board of governors, instead of facing the accusation of being placemen for the Government/Ofcom - or, conversely, out-of-touch old buffers incapable of running the Corporation - would simply be answerable to the audience. You could even make a telethon out of it, along the lines of Strictly Come Dancing.

The Chief Exec would still be appointed as now. It's the same as, in theory, public companies have to do - ie submit their board to election by the shareholders. It should not get in the way of the medium-term strategy and running the organisation - but it would give those who are supposed to represent the licence-payers a clear mandate for governance.

I dont necessarily agree with the idea but there is certainly no technical impediment to doing it. What do you think?

Comments  Post your comment

Hi Paul, it's me again!
What a good idea, I would love to be given the chance to vote out all the "out-of-touch old buffers incapable of running the Corporation" I pay my licence fee to the BBC, therefore I 'should' have some say in the way it is run, including which "old buffer" sucks up to the government next. I would like the BBC to become TOTALLY independent especially the news group, no more following party lines, getting feeds from Reuters or AFP news. The BBC has enough news correspondents around the world to gather its own 'factual' news stories; I think they should start using them.

  • 2.
  • At 04:46 PM on 28 Mar 2006,
  • kim wrote:

Ehhhh !

Under the existing system, there might be suspicions of cronyism or whatever, but when did anybody suggest that elections lead directly to better qualified individuals holding office ?

They don't, they simply grant legitimacy to the actions and decisions of those elected, sometimes at the cost of elevating the most unqualified via a popularist vote.

In the case of Parliament, the emphasis is (by necessity) on legitimacy, with the BBC the priorities are quite different, the selection should be based on a clinical assessment of suitability.

  • 3.
  • At 06:20 PM on 28 Mar 2006,
  • Paul Mason wrote:

Clinical assessment? I think the shrinks would probably fail anybody who expressed a desire to do the job...on grounds of insanity.

We might be tempted to vote Paxo out, he's getting a bit old bufferish with his sarcastic comments about podcasts: "seems like TV without the pictures to me". That sounds like radio - is that supposed to be an inferior medium? Also his obvious sarcasm about our "invaluable comments" on this site is not appreciated.

Maybe it's time to send him back to somewhere like El Salvador, where he did some valuable reporting - a long time ago. He might appreciate the break from wondering why UK "lying bastards" were lying to him - yet again.

  • 5.
  • At 08:00 AM on 30 Mar 2006,
  • Tim wrote:

I think it's been made quite clear over the last ten years that the voters of this country can't be trusted. We really don't need more [insert random occupation here]Idol, and one Eastenders is too much already.

Let the people decide? all you'd get would be regional announcers introducing the next epsiode of Big Auntie, where Wogan and Chris Moyles are set adrfit on an island, or in a house, given mind numbing "challenges" that the ever eager public get to vote on to decide who gets a little extra publicity.

Pah, keep the masses out of the BBC, they wouldn't know quality if sat on Kilory and complained about them.

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