Monday, 15 October 2007

The BBC Chairman advises BBC journalists not to speak out about c hange

If you were Head of Communications at the BBC would you have advised the BBC Chairman to tell his own journalists not to speak out about the changes at the organisation?

As you may be aware the BBC is going through a major reorganiation as a result of not getting the licence fee award they were hoping for. As a result they are going to have to slim down as an organisation, cutting jobs and possibly having to close one or two of their new digital channels.

This has understandably caused a great deal of concern at the BBC and debate. Commentators such as John Humphreys/Paxman have suggested that the cut in licence fee may be government payback for hard time over Iraq. Commercial media organisations are relieved and feel that BBC is too powerful anyway.

However the Chairman of the BBC Trust came out last week and said that BBC journalists should not commentate on internal changes at the BBC. Does he have no understanding of the heritage of the BBC as an organisation, role in public debate etc? The BBC is not BP or other commercial organisations. What do you think from a PR perspective? Not easy if you were Head of Communications for the BBC. Complicated by the fact that he is Chairman of the BBC Trust not the BBC and I am not too sure of the organisational remit of the Trust but meant to be somewhat hands off. Doesn't sound as if he is.

Understandably John Humphreys has come out and said that he has a greater duty to the BBC as an organisation in the Daily Telegraph From a PR perspective you are not going to get the better of a national icon like John Humphreys.

Good example of communication issues and difficulties about handling major organisational change in large organisation which will debate change in public view. Similar to changes at the University perhaps?

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