How can the BBC help you advertise your wares better, Mr Green Blob?
Jan 11, 2016
Bishop Hill in BBC, Energy: solar, Greens

BBC preparations for the arrival of the Green BlobMy thanks to Stewgreen for pointing me to this excerpt from Jeremy Leggett's new book, describing a meeting with Roger Harrabin:

In the headquarters of the Britsh Broadcasting Corporation, I sit talking with veteran environment correspondent, Roger Harrabin. I am accompanied by my Solarcentury colleagues Frans van den Heuvel and Sarah Allison. We want to explore with Roger whether there are ways that solar energy can be better covered on television.

Hundreds of journalists and producers sit at long tables in an open-plan hall, staring at screens and tapping at keyboards. There are other floors just like this, visible through the glass that the whole building seems to be made of. All the BBC’s many outlets are based here: 166 television and radio, national and international.

We are crammed in a small soundproof bubble where meetings can presumably be held without disturbing the long rows of people. I wonder how much shouting BBC journalists and producers do at each other, under the stress of their deadlines and storylines. I imagine it is not inconsiderable. Hence the bubble, maybe.

Roger opens our meeting. I am very aware that there is an immense economic upheaval underway in society, he says, a complete energy transition, and that we are not covering it at all well. I read a lot of things about how clean energy is exploding, and I get it about the crossover into storage and transport. I accept that there is a major running story around the carbon bubble too, as yet largely untold on television. But to tell these stories on the news, I need moving pictures. It can’t be solar farms or solar lanterns. It can’t be rooms full of investment bankers.

You seem to be saying that we are at a newsworthiness disadvantage, I say, because we can’t do stuff like exploding oil rigs, burning oil trains, and oil-caked pelicans.

I can sense Sarah wincing beside me. She is Solarcentury’s head of press. But I have known Roger for a long tme. We have a frank relationship. And so we brainstorm, searching as hard as we can for things that will look interesting as they move.

I was in this building yesterday, on a different foor, talking about the solar revolution on radio, for a business programme on the BBC World Service. They wanted to explore my idea that a solar revolution is inevitable. The interviewer was sceptical to the point of hostility, which I always welcome: antipathy, fake or otherwise, helps me get my points out.

With the recording complete, she showed me a different face. I hope you’re right, she said.

So do I. But whatever, when it comes to the news, it looks worryingly as though solar, with its lack of moving parts, will be confined to the radio.

So there you have it. Roger Harrabin invited a businessman to a meeting to discuss how the BBC could better advertise his wares for him. 


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