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15th December   

A Weekend in Amsterdam...

Christy Moore song winds up the easily offended in Ulster
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The BBC have apologised over a song aired by Radio Ulster in a late morning slot.

Veteran broadcaster Gerry Anderson played a song about a lads mini-break in Amsterdam, which featured drunken escapades, rolling joints , bar brawls and dancing with transvestites.

Listeners to Radio Ulster were reported to be 'shocked' by the language in the song, which included the 'uncensored swear word' 'shite' and plain English references to sex toys and drug taking.

The song, Weekend in Amsterdam by folk musician Christy Moore, led to complaints after Anderson played it on his show before lunchtime.

An angry Belfast Telegraph reader said they were outraged after hearing the song on a morning programme at a time when young children could have been listening: Surely this must be the most obscene song ever broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster. No bleeps either, mind.

The song details a madcap weekend in the Dutch capital, which begins in a cafe where they smoke hashish and go to a bar to listen to a band they criticise as being shite . They then go to the red light district, where one of them dances with a transvestite before getting into a fight and running from the local police.

One verse goes:

Macker sez while we're here we'll go and have a look at the kinky gear
I said a quiet prayer I wouldn't bump into anyone from Kildare
Big dildos, blow-up dolls, snap-on tools and hairy balls
Vibrators, whips and chains, zips and fanny ticklers
God between us and all harm
0 The Weekend that we spent in Amsterdam

East Londonderry MP, Gregory Campbell. said such lyrics should not be aired before the 9pm watershed. Given that this was a morning listening audience, hopefully the BBC will take fairly stringent action to put in place procedures to make sure that similar types of lyrics aren't broadcast at that time of the day again.

A spokesperson for Radio Ulster said the song has now been removed from the playlist. We apologise for any offence caused, she said.


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14th December   

Update: Committee of Miserable Culture...

BBC director general defends Jeremy Clarkson from parliamentary calls for his sacking
Link Here
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

BBC director general Mark Thompson defended Jeremy Clarkson to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee. He said that Clarkson's comments were said entirely in jest and were not intended to be taken seriously and that he would not be sacked.

Challenged by committee member Jim Sheridan to sack Clarkson, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said: Were we to sack him for saying something pretty stupid that would set precedents that mean a lot of people would never get to broadcast.

Thompson said: Although clearly he's a polarising figure for the BBC, there are many millions of people who enjoy and support Jeremy Clarkson. That has to be balanced against a couple of flippant remarks in one programme.


Cowards, giving in to a campaign by the tabloids, who have mobilised tens of thousands of people who never even saw the One Show incident but were told what to think he said. And the thing about train suicides wasn't two days later, it was in the same show...

See article from

10th December   

Update: Pandering to Nutters...

BBC postpones Stephen Fry's QI lest nutters are offended by the rapid reappearance of Jeremy Clarkson
Link Here
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

The BBC has postponed an episode of QI featuring Jeremy Clarkson to avoid being criticised for putting him back on air so soon after his joke unappreciated joke about shooting striking public employees.

The programme was filmed over the summer but the channel said, in light of the recent events, some of his comments might be taken out of context. The BBC said:

It is not unusual for the running order of programmes to change. The billed episode of QI will be shown at a later date.

Yahoo! reports incorrectly that Two days after his rant about the protesters, the 51-year-old became embroiled in further controversy after calling people who throw themselves under trains selfish .


article from
See Clarkson Powered Up from

6th December   

Update: A Top Notch Performance...

Clarkson successfully winds up 31,000 easily offended whingers
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Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson's appearance on The One Show is set to be one of the most complained-about TV shows of all time after the number of complaints made topped 31,000.

As of this morning, the tally complaints morning had reached 31,057, more than 10,000 up on the last published figure from Friday morning of 21,000.

Ofcom also received hundreds of complaints about the interview. The media regulator is not set to publish an update until Wednesday, but reports suggest there have been an additional 500 to 1,000 complaints, taking the total number of complaints close to 32,000.

Clarkson Powered Up

See article from

HMV says sales of Clarkson's Powered Up DVD have soared after he said public sector strikers should be shot

Powered Up , in which Clarkson relocates with the Stig to the south of France to find his favourite car of the Year , doubled on Thursday and saw a similar jump on Friday.

The retailer would have expected sales of the title, along with man other DVDs, to spike in the runup to Christmas. But industry sources suggested that the Clarkson controversy and ensuing media coverage would have been responsible for as much as a 25% to 50% increase across high street and online sales.

An HMV spokesman said:

We've found in the past that controversy involving artists, with all the media coverage this generates, can often boost sales of their products.

Clarkson is one of those 'Marmite' personalities that you probably either love or hate, and the chances are that many of the public he upset weren't likely to be among his fans in the first place, while people who do appreciate his sense of humour and follow him on TV may have felt prompted to go out and buy his Powered Up DVD over the weekend.


article from

5th December   

Update: Striking Back...

BBC issues a response to complaints about Jeremy Clarkson's strike joke and a nutter MP tries to invoke a parliamentary rebuke
Link Here
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

The BBC has published a response to complaints about Jeremy Clarkson's jolly gape that strikers should be shot. The BBC said:

As has now been widely reported, we had many complaints about a number of Jeremy Clarkson's comments on the show. The One Show is a live topical programme which often reflects the day's talking points. Usually we get it right, but on this occasion we feel the item wasn't perfectly judged.

The presenters apologised at the end of the programme to viewers who were offended by his comments and the BBC and Jeremy would like to apologise for any offence caused. Jeremy has said: I didn't for a moment intend these remarks to be taken seriously -- as I believe is clear if they're seen in context. If the BBC and I have caused any offence, I'm quite happy to apologise for it alongside them.

Meanwhile the Labour MP of Kingston Upon Hull East, Karl Turner, has proposed an early day motion whingeing about Clarkson as follows:

That this House condemns the disgraceful and disgusting remarks made by Jeremy Clarkson on the BBC; notes that his comments have been criticised by thousands of licence payers, hon. Members and unions; believes that his remarks were inflammatory and have left workers and their children shocked and upset; further believes that high profile TV presenters have influence on their audience and should act with responsibility at all times; calls on the Government to give a full response; and urges the BBC Director General to commence disciplinary proceedings.


article from

5th December   

Personality Clash...

BBC answers criticism that its shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2011 features only men
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We received complaints about the lack of women nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2011.

BBC response

We recognise that the all-male line-up has created much debate amongst viewers of the programme, sports-lovers in general and those that champion the cause of Women's sport in this country. We have had many different points made in the reaction we receive which informs our editorial discussions and we do value it. We have reported all this feedback widely across the BBC and in order to ensure we use the licence fee as efficiently as possible we are sending this response to the issues from our Director of Sport, Barbara Slater to everyone who has contacted us which addresses as many of the detailed points raised by everyone as we are able to:

The shortlist comprises some of the finest sports stars on the planet. Everyone is rightly proud of their achievements over the last year, the role they play in inspiring younger generations and the credit they deliver back for the UK. I share the disappointment that the independently determined shortlist does not include any British Sportswomen. There were some worthy female candidates and I should recap how the selection process works.

The shortlist of the ten British sports stars is determined by the combined votes of a panel of industry experts based on their assessment of relative sporting achievements during the year. The panel consists of the sport editors of the national newspapers, selected regionals and magazines. These are chosen because of their expertise in the area, their coverage of a wide range of sports throughout the year and the extent of their readership. In total, we received 27 responses from the 35 invitations that were issued this year. The panel included publications such as the Sunday Times, the Daily Mail, the Irish News, the Mirror, the Daily Telegraph, Sport Magazine and the Herald. It is worth noting that most of the publications did include at least one sportswoman in their shortlist.

The inclusion of publications such as Nuts and Zoo in the shortlisting panel is for a variety of reasons. These magazines have a dedicated sports section which every week covers a range of sports including Women's sport and minority sports. They also have a readership profile which reaches younger audiences and helps contribute to a balanced panel which is representative of all the BBC's audiences. There are very few other widely-read publications that cover such a breadth of sporting news, features and reports on a regular basis. We do not include specialist sporting publications given their potential inherent bias to one particular sport nor do we canvas the views of non-sporting publications.

The current system was introduced in 2006 and at least two women have always previously been shortlisted for the main award. Having considered a wide range of alternative mechanisms, we remain convinced that the current system is fair, independent and robust. Previous top 10 candidates included in 2010 Jessica Ennis (3rd) and Amy Williams whilst 2009 saw Jessica Ennis (3rd) and Beth Tweddle. In 2008 Rebecca Adlington (3rd), Nicole Cooke, Christine Ohuruogu and Rebecca Romero all made the Top 10 as did Paula Radcliffe and Christine Ohuruogu in 2007. In 2006 Nicole Cooke, Beth Tweddle and Zara Phillips were nominated with Zara winning the award. This is therefore the first time there has been no female representation since the current system was put in place five years ago. The ultimate winner of the award is determined solely by a public telephone vote during the show itself.

We stand by the current voting process but have committed to take on board what has happened this year and we will review the shortlisting process for next year's show. It is too early to say what, if any changes will be made to the process but please rest assured that we will seek the opinions of people both within and outside of the BBC before deciding on the appropriate methodology for 2012.

The current focus on the shortlist for the Sports Personality of the Year Award has shone a bright light on the wider issues surrounding the media coverage and profile of Women's sport in the UK. As I'm sure you are aware, the BBC is committed to covering a broad range of sports and events and this includes a significant commitment to Women's sport. The BBC is proud to have followed the achievements of many successful sportswomen through our coverage of events such as the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, Wimbledon and the Women's Football World Cup.

I trust that I have addressed your questions satisfactorily and made clear the BBC's commitment to a fair selection process. This year's shortlist for the main award represents six very different sports and has candidates from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is disappointing that the independent process did not result in the shortlisting of a female candidate; but we believe it does not detract from the incredible array of British talent that will compete for the 58th Sports Personality of the Year Award.

Barbara Slater, Director of Sport


article from

2nd December   

Seeing the Funny Side...

BBC boss enjoys a little strong language in her comedy
Link Here

One of the BBC's most senior executives, Caroline Thomson, has reportedly said it is acceptable to feature strong language in television comedies.

The BBC's chief operating officer suggested one of the main criteria for comedy shows was to cause offence and to make her flinch . But I think sometimes that is one of the points of comedy. It is very tricky because language that will give you offence, won't give me offence. And language which gives me serious offence won't give my son offence.

Speaking at the annual Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference, she explained that there was an enormous intergenerational difference about what is acceptable .

Vivienne Pattison, director of campaign group Mediawatch UK, claimed the comments were out of step with her audience .

Ofcom do research every year asking if there is too much swearing on TV. And every year, more than 50 per cent of the viewers say there is too much, she told the newspaper.

The idea that bad language in comedy is good -- it's not big, it's not clever and it's not funny.


14th November   

Maintaining a Free Press...

Chris Patten of the BBC speaks against Ofcom style censorship for the press
Link Here

Speech by Chris Patten, Chairman of the BBC Trust, to the Society of Editors Annual Conference on 13th November 2011.

Why the BBC needs a free press

I may have in due course to explain the standards we apply to our journalism at the BBC to the Leveson Inquiry. If so, I hope I can make a convincing case that the sort of regulation that covers us is appropriate for broadcasters but would not work for newspapers.

There is a kind of symbiosis between the BBC and the press. We do different but complementary things. The BBC depends on the press for some of its news agenda and it gives some stories back to the press to pursue further. The style of the tabloids is not something we could or should try to match. But nor should we be snobbish or squeamish about it. The Sun under Kelvin McKenzie added (to use the word in the old-fashioned sense) to the gaiety of the nation. I still have a copy of The Sun's front page Up Yours Delors , written of course by our Diplomatic Correspondent . Trevor Kavanagh is plainly one of the outstanding political writers of his generation. I have not always agreed with The Daily Mail (perhaps I am guilty of understatement) but I greatly admired its brave campaign in pursuit of the murderers of Stephen Lawrence and -- which I trust won't annoy him too much -- I try not to miss Quentin Letts. It may be that I have always been more relaxed about the tabloids than some former political colleagues because I have never been convinced that they set the political agenda decisively. I used to be the Chairman of the Conservative Party. When after the election in 1992 we heard that it was the Sun wot won it , I reflected on the fact that our polling throughout the election campaign had shown that most of the public and its readers thought it was a Labour newspaper. Max Hastings is right to argue that political leaders demean themselves by the amount that they court the press. Looking back over the years it is clear that at least one very famous proprietor waited until it was pretty plain who would win an election and then threw his weight behind the predicted victor.

So I have no wish to turn our tabloids into trimmed down versions of The Church Times. Their vigour is an important part of the liveliness of our democracy. Free speech, and therefore that vitality, would truly be damaged if a single group of people, beholden to and perhaps even appointed by politicians, were to have the power to decide what should or should not be published. Statutory regulation of the press would in my view be more than wrong-headed, it would pose a real danger to the public discourse that underpins our democracy.

Only the press can reform the press

So the responsibility to ensure high standards of professionalism rests with journalists, their editors and their proprietors. My rather prosaic conclusion is that newspapers have to be given the chance to find their own solution -- although I note that already there is talk of Ombudsmen and backstop powers to help make any new system work.

But how can you give a system of self-regulation -- a form of accountability that newspapers invariably scorn when others advocate it for their own industries and professions -- the credibility that the public seek?

It is particularly important because newspapers have played and continue to play a fundamental role in our democratic life. They can continue to do so - in particular if they can carve out a distinctive role and a position of trust in and amongst the din of the internet. They can help to close the democratic deficit that risks opening up in that new online world of endless unmediated opinion and information.


2nd October   

Update: Common Complaint...

BBC responds to complaints about use of the calendar terms CE and BCE
Link Here

The BBC have responded to complaints about the use of the calendar terms CE/BCE to replace AD/BC:


We received complaints from people concerned about press reports claiming that the BBC has replaced the reference terms BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) with BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era).

BBC Response

It is incorrect to say that the BBC has replaced date systems BC and AD with Before Common Era (BCE) and Common Era (CE). Whilst the BBC uses BC and AD like most people as standard terminology, it is possible to use different terminology, particularly as it is now commonly used in historical research. The BBC has issued no editorial guidance on date systems, and the decision rests with the individual editorial and production teams. It should also be noted that for every BCE or CE reference, there are still a great many BC and AD references used across the BBC.


20th July   

A Culture of Compliancy to Morality Campaigners...

BBC to cut back on excessive 'compliancy' rules
Link Here

The BBC's governing body, the BBC Trust, said there had been debate about whether current programme-making rules, known as compliance, were too restrictive .

The BBC went a bit over the top in pandering to whingers after the press hoo-hah over prank calls made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand on Radio 2.

The BBC Trust is talking about simpler forms and fewer layers of checking .

In June, Radio 2 breakfast presenter Chris Evans criticised the corporation and its compliance procedure. The compliance department of the BBC is so extensive it's an unbelievable nightmare, he told an audience at the Hay Literary Festival in Powys. Sometimes you come up with an idea and the compliance is so great that you just say, 'Let's not bother'.

A report from the trust said it was now testing a revised process, which is supposed to make programme-making easier.


15th July   

Office of BBC Communications...

Lords committee reports on the governance and regulation of the BBC
Link Here

The convoluted and overly complicated complaints process at the BBC must be improved, say the Lords Communications Committee in a report. The Committee has conducted an inquiry into the governance and regulation of the BBC, and have identified a number of areas of governance that the BBC needs to upgrade.

Concerns over the mechanisms for complaining are raised by the Committee, which learned of the many different processes for varying types of complaint, making it very difficult for viewers, listeners and users of BBC content to know where to go to complain. This must be resolved. The BBC needs to provide a clear overview of how the complaints process works and publish this in one place on its website and there needs to be a clearing house to direct people through the complaints process.

The confusion is in part because the BBC Trust and Ofcom have overlapping jurisdiction in several areas of content regulation, with the exception of issues of impartiality and accuracy and commercial references, which the BBC Trust regulates. In particular, because the BBC should not remain judge and jury in its own case, the Committee wants the BBC and Ofcom to consider granting Ofcom the right to regulate the BBC on matters of impartiality and accuracy.

In addition, the Committee say that:

  • Creativity must not be allowed to be stifled by overly bureaucratic compliance culture .
  • Best practice for programme making needs to be established to ease concerns that it isn't always clear to viewers what is reality, reconstructed and constructed footage.
  • Greater clarity is needed on the governance role of the Non-Executives on the on the BBC Executive Board, and the Non-Executive Directors at the BBC to be recruited from a wider range of backgrounds than they are presently.
  • The Government, the BBC and the National Audit Office (NAO) should work together to agree on terms of access for the NAO to the BBC, ensuring that the NAO does not comment on any matters of broadcast content or journalistic integrity which should be entirely off limits.

Commenting on the report, Chairman of the Communications Committee, Lord Inglewood said:

Ultimately the BBC needs to be accountable to those who use and pay for it, at the same time as having the independence of its journalism, broadcasting and creativity protected from outside political interference. There are a number of ways that its systems and processes need to be improved, some of which can be done relatively quickly. The new Chairman of the BBC, Lord Patten of Barnes, is set to review issues of BBC governance this summer and we urge him to consider our recommendations as part of his review.


30th June   

Update: One Stop Complaints Shop...

Lords committee reports that the relationship between the BBC Trust and Ofcom is too convoluted
Link Here

The BBC's complaints process is convoluted and overly complicated , a group of peers has said. The Lords communications committee said it was hard for viewers, listeners and web users to know whom to contact. and proposed a complaints one-stop shop .

Part of the problem was that the roles of the BBC Trust and watchdog Ofcom overlapped, the report added. And despite Ofcom having the final say in all other areas, the BBC Trust has responsibility for matters of impartiality and accuracy.

Peers said the BBC should set out a clear explanation of its complaints process on its website, so that licence fee payers knew what they could expect. There should also be a single point of contact for all complaints, regardless of whether they applied to television, radio or online material..

This situation - in which the BBC was judge and jury in its own case - was undesirable and should not continue, the peers said.

The committee called for all complaints to be made to the BBC in the first instance, followed by a right of appeal to the BBC Trust and a subsequent final appeal to Ofcom if the complainant was not happy with the trust's decision.


29th June   

New Tricks...

TV cast reveal that the BBC is terrified of causing offence
Link Here
The stars of BBC police drama New Tricks have criticised television censorship , saying that the broadcaster is terrified of causing offence.

Alun Armstrong, who plays oddball Brian Lane in the show, told the Radio Times: We tend to come up against the BBC mainly when there are edicts and memos and script changes, which we never get to discuss.

Dennis Waterman, who plays Gerry Standing in the show, added: We play the game of, 'was this written by the writer or a BBC executive?'


24th June   

Update: Lazy, Feckless and Flatulent Censors...

BBC upholds complaints of quips about Mexicans on Top Gear
Link Here
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers
The BBC has upheld complaints against Top Gear over Richard Hammond's comments that Mexicans are lazy, feckless [and] flatulent .

The Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) investigated complaints (from 11 viewers and from the Mexican Section of the Latin American Studies Association) prompted by remarks about Mexicans by the presenters, made in the context of reviewing a Mexican car.

The comments about Mexicans were made when they were discussing Mexican sports cars. Reviewing the Mastretta, Richard Hammond said vehicles reflected national characteristics: Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat. The presenters, known for their edgy jibes, then described Mexican food as refried sick .

Jeremy Clarkson added that he was confident he would not receive any complaints about their comments because the Mexican ambassador would be asleep.


Although the remarks were humorously intended (the intention being to call attention to the absurdity of a certain stereotype of Mexicans), their tone and cumulative effect seemed to the ECU to give the impression of reinforcing, rather than ridiculing, the stereotype.

Complaints upheld.

Further action:

BBC Vision discussed the reasons for, and the issues arising from, the finding with the production team.


10th June   

Dame Censors...

Patricia Hodgson moves from BBC censor to Ofcom censor
Link Here
Ofcom has announced the appointment of Dame Patricia Hodgson and Dame Lynne Brindley as Non-Executive Members of Ofcom's Board.

Dame Patricia Hodgson will join the Ofcom Board on 1 July 2011 and will become Deputy Chairman for a three year term, on the retirement of Philip Graf, on 1 January 2012.

Dame Lynne Brindley begins her three year term on 1 September 2011.

Millie Banerjee retires from the Ofcom Board on 30 June 2011.

Patricia Hodgson is Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge, a Non-Executive Director of the Competition Commission and Member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England. She was Chief Executive of the Independent Television Commission. She is also currently a Member of the BBC Trust from which she will step down with immediate effect to take up her role at Ofcom.

Lynne Brindley has been Chief Executive Officer of The British Library since 2000. She is a Member of the Arts & Humanities Research Council and a Board Member of the Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network. She is also a Member of the Strategic Management Board for super-fast broadband for Cornwall & the Scilly Isles from which she will resign on her appointment to Ofcom. She was formerly Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, Director of Information Services at the London School of Economics and senior management consultant at KPMG.

The appointments were made by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.


5th June   

Putting the E's into Easy Offence...

The News Quiz cleared of 6:30pm reference to 'cunts'
Link Here
BBC executives have offended the Daily mail by ruling that a clever reference to 'cunts' was cleared for a 6:30pm radio show.

In a scripted joke, radio presenter Sandi Toksvig said: It's the Tories who have put the "n" into cuts

The Corporation decided that the word has lost much of its shock value and is tolerable for radio and television.

An executive who cleared it for daytime transmission on flagship Radio 4 even said it would delight many of its audience, who would love it .

Sandi Toksvig made the joke on The News Quiz and BBC executives cleared it before broadcast

The BBC's ruling is outlined in the rejection of a complaint from a member of the public, who took 'offence' at the reference. He complained to the BBC and the BBC Trust. Both bodies rejected his complaint  A subsequent appeal to the Trust's Editorial Standards Committee was also rejected.

In a letter dated 20 January, 2011, Francesca O'Brien, head of Editorial Standards at the BBC Trust Unit, said:

The BBC guidelines include this word as one of the most offensive so I accept your comments regarding the potential offensiveness of the word.

However given the nature of the programme, service and time and the expectations of the likely audience, the fact that the word was not actually spoken but only referred to in word-play and with reference to the context of cuts which had been announced that week, I do not consider that there is a reasonable prospect of success for your appeal on the point.

John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said: The vast majority of people still regard this an offensive term and it should not have been broadcast at this time.

Vivienne Pattison, of the nutter campaign group Mediawatch-UK, said radio programmes, currently free of any controls, should now be given their own watershed. She said: This is still an offensive term and is in fact one of the only truly offensive terms we have left. It should not have been broadcast at this time.


3rd June   

Update: A Pain in the Backside...

Chris Evans is stifled by the compliancy culture at the BBC
Link Here
Full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

The compliance culture at the BBC has become an unbelievable nightmare since Sachsgate, Chris Evans has said.

The Radio 2 presenter said the furore over the prank phone calls made to Andrew Sachs by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand had changed the broadcasting landscape, with programming weighed down by extra rules and regulations.

Evans said the changes were needed because comedy on radio and television had become too coarse. What has happened since [Sachsgate] is very, very good but also a complete pain in the backside, he said.

It means comedy has become much more sophisticated but the compliance culture that has come in since, you wouldn't believe it. The compliance department of the BBC is so extensive it's an unbelievable nightmare.

Sometimes you come up with an idea and the compliance you have to go through is so great that you just say, 'Let's not bother'.


26th February   

Updated: New TV Censor...

BBC Trust close to appointing a new chairman
Link Here

Chris Patten is expected to be named BBC Trust chairman.

His pitch to win the job of BBC Trust chairman was simple -- give me the job and I will stand up to both the government of the day and the organisation itself, if necessary.

Now Patten's name sits with David Cameron for approval having been put forward by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Insiders said that the prime minister's consent was expected to be a formality.

Patten's closest rival was Sir Richard Lambert, the former director general of the CBI and one-time editor of the Financial Times. Other candidates were Dame Patricia Hodgson, the principal of Newnham College, Cambridge; Richard Hooper, a former chairman of the Radio Authority; and Anthony Fry, the investment banker.

Update: The Chosen One

26th February 2011. See  article from

Lord Patten has been chosen as the government's preferred candidate to succeed Sir Michael Lyons as chairman of the BBC Trust.

The one-time Conservative Cabinet minister will now appear before the culture, media and sport select committee next month in a pre-appointment hearing.


14th February   

Update: Complaints Department in Overdrive...

BBC response to complaints about Mexican jokes during Top Gear
Link Here
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Top Gear, comments about Mexicans

We received complaints from some viewers who were unhappy with comments made about Mexicans in the programme on 30 January 2011.

The producers of Top Gear have apologised to the Mexican Ambassador for the comments made about him during the show. Whilst the majority of the piece on the Mastretta had been discussed in advance with BBC Editorial Policy staff, the comments about him were ad libbed by the presenters during the recording. The BBC's Editorial Guidelines are very clear about singling out individuals for irreverent/mocking/ comments. Those guidelines were not adhered to and the Top Gear production team has apologised for this. The comments about the Ambassador have been removed from all repeats of the programme.

With regard to the other comments made about Mexicans, these were indeed playing off a stereotype, and that practice is something that regular viewers of Top Gear will be familiar with, as the presenters often make jokes about the perceived characteristics of various nationalities when talking about the cars made in those countries. It is something that has been done in the past with the French, the Germans, the Americans and the Italians, so Mexico was not singled out for special treatment in this case.

Comments made by the Top Gear presenters are clearly exaggerated for comic effect - to imply that a sports car is no good because it will spend all day asleep is self evidently absurd, and not meant to be taken as vindictive. The Top Gear audience understands this clearly and treats these remarks accordingly.

The UK prides itself on being a tolerant nation, but one of the contributing factors towards that tolerance is the fact that jokes made around national stereotyping are commonplace, and are indeed a robust part of our national humour. Typically the most comedic ones are negative - for example our own comedians make material out of the fact that the British are supposed to be terrible cooks, terrible romantics, and forever happy to come second. In fact, some of the more humorous complaints we have received from Mexico are based on stereotypical retorts, with one excellent one in particular referring to the presenters as effete tea drinkers.

In line with that British tradition, stereotype-based comedy is allowed within BBC guidelines, in programmes where the audience has clear expectations of that being the case, as it indeed is with Top Gear. Of course it may appear offensive to those who have not watched the programme or who are unfamiliar with its humour.

It was not the intention of the programme to offend Mexicans but rather to use a clearly unbelievable stereotype of Mexicans to humorous effect.

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