The BBC: Getting Back to the Values


What do you say about the current morass engulfing the Corporation?  Particularly when Jeff Randall has written superbly on the subject in Sunday’s Daily Telegraph in a piece entitled "All the BBC needs is Proper Management." ; and the Standard on Tuesday 9th led with the news of another 2800 plus job cuts on the front page on top of the 3, 200 that have already gone, until Alistair Darling’s pre-budget announcement  knocked the BBC onto page 4.

It can hardly be described as a good week for the BBC.

 Here is my three ha’pence:

Engraved on the wall in the reception of the Media Centre in White City are the 6 BBC values.  These were produced after a massive consultation exercise and represented the aspirations of the vast majority of staff.  For the record, they are:

Trust is the foundation of the BBC

Audiences are at the heart of everything we do

We take pride in delivering quality and value for money

Creativity is the life blood of the organisation

We respect each other and celebrate our diversity so that everyone can give their best

We are one BBC:  great things happen when we work together 

 Values should point to the way an organisation behaves inside and outside.  The values define what an organisation wants to be like and how it should move forward.  When a disjunction appears between the values and the perceived behaviour, the result is a level of cynicism that is cancerous and depressing both for staff inside, and the public that pays for the BBC through the Licence Fee.  Even if you look only from outside, there is a colossal failure of the values. They have, in no way, defined how the BBC has acted recently and, apparently for the last few years.  And the degree that the edifice is toppling is illustrated by the debate around that first value Trust.  The fundamental breach in trust between the Corporation and its audience, the State, and the staff is everywhere visible.

There is something profoundly wrong with a Corporation whose staff would rather lie to the audience and cover up, than admit a mistake to their boss. Respect, quality and trust?  Not much there really. 

There are tens of thousands of staff getting on and doing a great, professional job making brilliant programmes in spite of the atmosphere around them.  That is a tribute to their loyalty and creativity.  But getting back to the values may be a way of trying to heal that weeping sore of an organisation that espouses one thing and does exactly the opposite. In the commercial sector that is prima facie evidence of a company in deep, deep trouble.  I hope that this is not the case for the BBC.


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