Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Repentant BBC Will Miss Duncan the Deliverer

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Repentant BBC Will Miss Duncan the Deliverer

Article excerpt

There is obvious rejoicing across the marketing world at the appointment of Andy Duncan to the top job at Channel 4. Here, at least, there is no doubt that a marketing man is sitting at the top table. And he won't have to worry whether he is really going to have the ear of the chief executive.

Attention has rightly focused on whether Duncan is the right man for the job and what the appointment means for the programme commissioners at what has always been a programmer-led channel. But as the latest round of musical chairs in broadcasting pauses momentarily, it is worth considering the effect of his departure on the BBC.

Despite Michael Grade's theatrical talents, the Corporation is not blessed with people who have natural skills in getting a difficult message across.

Duncan will be missed not just because he is a good communicator, but because his message was backed up with clear implementation skills.

The BBC now faces an extraordinarily difficult couple of years in which it will not only have to put its arguments to a rightly sceptical government, but also make sure something actually happens.

Last week's three-ring circus, at the Royal Institute of British Architects, was a slick performance. It came complete with authentic Grade touches, drawing on everything from Groucho Marx jokes to his own comment while at Channel 4 - that every 10 years the BBC got a case of old-time religion.

It was remarkable to listen to the BBC's new chairman confess to such a range and diversity of sins, from arrogance and unwillingness to listen, to the equally serious evils of mistreating independents and a lack of awareness of how its commercial activities are hitting the private sector.

The BBC was finally confessing to all the 'crimes' of which it has been roundly accused over the years.

There should be widespread rejoicing about the sinner who truly repenteth, but what does it say about Grade's predecessors and former directors, who happily went along with such calumnies? Red-hot gospellers will tell you it is easy to get people to confess if the atmosphere is right. But will they stick to their promises on a Monday when the emotion of the revival meeting has passed? …

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