Saturday, July 14, 2007

BBC's Hard questions after fabricated trailer of the Queen

Anyone who has ever managed anything has probably experienced it; something that you are theoretically responsible for but actually delegate suddenly goes pear-shaped. When that happens the manager can get unfairly blamed, when really its all the fault of another party, and this is the line that appears to be being taken by the BBC in the current royal row. Let's examine this excuse for a moment though. First of all the footage of the Queen apparently walking off in a huff was fabricated. Someone, probably in the independent production company hired by the BBC, sat in an editing suite and deliberately put it together. It wasn't an accident. Then it was sent to the BBC, which might have required the connivance of more parties depending on what sort of editorial control procedures that were in place at both the production company and the BBC. So, already we are way past a mistake and into the realm of deception and maybe conspiracy. On arrival at the BBC the footage was seized upon and spun by Peter Fincham, the controller of BBC1, to journalists with language about the Queen 'losing it'. Worse still it led some BBC News broadcasts. All right, but it could still be the fault of the production company right? Well, no. There is a simple rule in journalism that stories, especially major stories should be checked and this was major enough to lead broadcasts. The footage was clearly not a continuous camera shot and so had been subject to editing but no-one picked up the phone to the Palace or the artist who was taking the Queen's portrait. Instead in their eagerness to rubbish a woman who has unflinchingly served her country for over 50 years the BBC called a press conference to spread the story as widely as possible with Fincham taking a gloating lead. So, even if the production company was solely responsible for the fabricated film, the BBC is at fault for unquestioningly pushing the lie because it made good TV and never mind the truth.

Well now Fincham has apologised but the BBC Trust, to its credit, has asked the Director General for an full explanation. All I can say is that it had better be good.

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