Earlier this week, The Register made some interesting revelations about the BBC's expenditure on legal fees regarding Tony Newbery's FOI case. While the costs, at around £22,000 are somewhat lower than we had thought, although it is worth pointing out that I had a related case go all the way to the Information Tribunal, so it is plausible that the real cost of the BBC hiding the 28gate seminar details is double this. And there are the internal costs to take into account as well.
But suffice it to say that the BBC is spending a lot of money to avoid being transparent.
Which is why I was particularly interested in this excerpt from a report entitled "Ender Analysis - Media & Telecoms: 2013 & Beyond, part 1". It features Tim Davie the Acting Director General, BBC.
Q. You came to the Director General’s job unexpectedly, at a time when the BBC, one of the most trusted brands globally, was in some difficulty. Given your background as a marketer, how do you restore faith in a brand? Where is the faith in the BBC at the moment?
A: The first thing you should do is not worry too much about your PR programme.
The temptation is to think ‘What is our line? What is our public line?’, but the actual first question is ‘What are we doing? What is the right thing to do?’ When this works you tend to know what you are talking about, and you feel comfortable in your position. CEOs are often strapped to the three lines they are supposed to say, and as a result they struggle. So the first question we asked ourselves was ‘Are we doing the right thing?’, and the obvious answer was that our role as the BBC is to deliver quality programmes. What we need to do is not screw up, and that was my first order in the job.
But it is not only what you do, but also how you do it. The degree of transparency we have at the BBC means we have to be comfortable with the truth, and to that extent I have written to 32,000 ex-employees asking if they have any uncomfortable truths about Jimmy Savile – if they do I genuinely want to know.
The BBC is in a privileged position with £3.6 billion guaranteed income every year, and we need to pursue the right tone. I think we will achieve this through transparency and listening to what the public wants.
It's funny, because the impression you get from the 28gate affair is that the BBC wants to remain very, very private and to listen very carefully to what environmentalists want.