Thursday, 17 June 2010

Dumb and dumber BBC

SOMEONE really needs to get a grip on standards at the BBC.
In an increasingly complex and multi-faceted media world there is surely a place for a state-sponsored (but not controlled) broadcaster which is not totally focussed on commercial considerations.
Without the profit imperative, the BBC ought to focus on its Unique Selling Point: Quality. Instead it just gets dumber.
What evidence do I present? I will give just three examples: The World Cup, Springwatch and the News.
The quality of football at the World Cup has been a little disappointing, but that is nothing to the standard of the reporting. We sort of expect ITV and the satellite channels to be riddled with hyperbole.
But the BBC is just as guilty of talking up the latest genius of the beautiful game, who turns out to be incapable of kicking a ball, or catching one if a goalkeeper.
This interpretation relies on being able to understand what the pundits are saying. Over the years I have just about learned to translate the Scottish burr of Alan Hansen. But his English is crystal clear compared to Emmanuel Adebayor, the Togolese professional footballer who plays as a striker for Manchester City in the Premier League.
I am lost in admiration for the fact that he can babble on about a specialist subject like football in what is probably his third language. I couldn’t begin to match this feat.
But that is not the point. The point is that his accent is indecipherable.
In a desperate bid to get away from the World Cup, I switched over this week to watch Springwatch, which ought to be full of fluffy, cute creatures battling with tooth and claw to get a grip on life.
Instead it is full of the ridiculous twitterings and obscene gestures of Kate Humble and Chris Packham. When Packham first took over from Bill Odie he appeared quiet, knowledgeable and very much the junior partner to the veteran presenter Humble.
How the roles have reversed. She has gone from alpha female to whimpering, eye-lash fluttering, and archetype dumb blonde. He has become domineering, intrusive and outlandishly arrogant. He was actually massaging Kate’s thighs when I switched over. If I was Mr Humble I would be very concerned.
We were promised an explanation of the wonderful variety of flies and instead were given a token, short and largely uninstructive couple of minutes on flies, with large chunks of the hour-long show devoted to inane padding.
Even the normally worthy Simon King, who was undersea off Dorset, was reduced to buying crustaceans off the local fisherman to justify his expensive scuba-diving. Local sea creatures seemed to be keeping well away from the BBC cameras. How wise of them.
The BBC news, once so respected round the world, just goes from bad to worse. There was a headline introduction this week saying President Obama had compared the BP oil spill off Florida to the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Centre twin towers.
I was just un-dropping my jaw about his stupidity at mixing up a tragic accident which killed 11 people with a deliberate act of sabotage that wiped out more than 3,000, when the story started.
Of course he did no such thing. He said that the oil spill was to the environment what 9-11 was to terrorism, in that it was a multi-site event that would take a long time to deal with. That is not the same thing at all.
So BBC, when the cuts come your way, stop worrying about technology, and ratings, and hyperbole. Instead focus on standards, and accuracy, and helping the nation wise up, not dumb down.

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