The search for new ways of saving money at the BBC continues – particularly important in the light of charter renewal.
As head of better Anna Rampton says, ‘The fact is this is about finding more ways of doing less of what we currently do better.’
Having dismissed the idea of losing programmes about gardening as a possible solution the renewal team propose that the cutting of the BBC Big Swing Band might send out a useful message – after all, does the BBC need six orchestras?
When news gets out that this is on the agenda the BBC start to get what head of communications Tracey Pritchard calls ‘heavy incoming’. A situation exacerbated by the fact that Ray Fredericks, the much-loved Big Swing Band leader, is about to celebrate his 75th birthday with a special anniversary concert. What had started in a strategy meeting as an idea with potential has turned into a major PR disaster.
In this context the BBC head of values Ian Fletcher’s first visit to the Department of Media, Culture and also Sport – the government department responsible for negotiating the BBC Charter renewal – does not get off to the best of starts. Especially when it is revealed that the minister is a ‘keen trombonist’.
Meanwhile, PR guru Siobhan Sharpe is leading the creative journey towards launching BBC Me, a new online platform. It is thought to be a good idea to create a launch trail which would include as many people as possible doing selfies of themselves saying the word ‘Me’ in the hope that the trail will go viral. Ex-intern Will Humphries is delegated to stand in the main reception of New Broadcasting House to try and persuade various celebrities to contribute their ‘Me’ for the trail.
Finally, head of news Neil Reid has to wrangle a significant problem of his own when the latest version of the BBC’s automatic live subtitling software is shown to have some major defects – such as getting the spelling of proper names embarrassingly wrong. But senior technical services choreographer Adam Brady is proud of the fact that they are right 93 per cent of the time and can’t see what the problem is.