There is no doubting the good intentions of Tony Hall, former Covent Garden director whisked back into the crisis-ridden BBC. Tony, head of news in the John Birt era, brought with him a reputation for fair dealing, clear decision-making and a passion for the performing arts.
Yesterday, he unveiled the mission. It is a bold move to return the arts to where they belonged in the BBC’s heyday. But between vision and accomplishment something went wrong. The plan had to go through BBC channels which dictated the insertion of an extra layer of directors – Jonty Claypole as Director of Arts and Bob Shennan as Director of Music. Who needs extra executives? Only the BBC.
The announcement coincided with the resignation of Roger Wright as head of BBC Proms and Radio 3. He clearly does not need extra execs walking the floor above his head.
So why does the BBC?
Tony Hall has not put a foot wrong before this announcement. What he has now revealed is that his hands are tied and his feet manacled to a BBC bureaucracy that typifies the organisation’s deep confusion and loss of purpose, a management malaise that many ascribe to the Birt years. Politicians are not the only ones who wonder if the Corporation is still fit for purpose. If the BBC is to be saved, it needs to be rescued from its expensive suits.
Just smell the gloom as you enter Broadcasting House.