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Opinion: Some Runners Are More Equal Than Others in Race for BBC Job

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: Some Runners Are More Equal Than Others in Race for BBC Job

Article excerpt

The race for the chairmanship of the BBC has descended to low farce.

It ought to be time to avert your gaze and let the process run its course for a couple of weeks. But rather like the Oxford-Cambridge boat race, which attracts far more people than ever spent time in the bars at either university, the race for the BBC simply fascinates.

Throughout the media village, there is only one question being asked.

Who? The only honest answer is that we don't know. Try betting on a horse race when you don't know how many runners there are and where the stewards can remove a perfectly good candidate for no known reason.

How can you explain the fact that Sir David Frost was deemed worthy of the shortlist but Richard Lambert, the former editor of the Financial Times, got a curt call saying he hadn't made it? What large organisation has Sir David chaired - a supposed 'must-have' criterion for success?

The BBC chairmanship race will end up undermining confidence in the whole process of public appointments, particularly in media. To create an illusion of openness, candidates are encouraged to apply for top jobs. Naively perhaps, they think that because they have been invited to apply this means they stand a chance. Not so. It simply means they have been asked to make up the numbers so that headhunters can go on charging their fees and a lot of decent people can go on being made to look like monkeys.

One of the latest victims has been Bob Phillis, chief executive of the Guardian Media Group, who was encouraged to believe he had a chance of becoming chairman of Channel 4. …

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