Monday, March 20, 2006

Lord Birt limbers up

You can imagine that the BBC is looking for forward to this one. Lord Birt, the closest thing on earth to a living "croak-voiced Dalek", is lined up to give evidence to the BBC Charter Review Select Committee this week. He never has been much of a fan of the BBC even when he was its director-general.

Birt, who has become one of Tony Blair's blue (pie in the) sky thinkers, is best known most recently for wanting to give some of the BBC's licence fee away to other broadcasters.

Fortunately for the BBC, his "top-slicing" proposal of giving a certain amount of the BBC's funding to other commercial broadcasters was not favoured by beleagured media secretary Tessa Jowell because she believed it would undermine public support and its independence. Quite right.

Birt, who has a long-standing animosity with now BBC chairman Michael Grade, will no doubt use the occasion to put the boot in.

Birt never quite got the public service bit about the BBC. During his time at the corporation, of which he became director general of in 1992, he spent his time writing off personal expenses against tax (including secretarial services of his wife).

He introduced a myriad of confusing internal market reforms (great ideas such as various bits of the BBC cross-charging each other) and was disliked by much of the organisation, which his successor Greg Dyke dismantled. Better still, of course, Dennis Potter dubbed him the "croak-voiced Dalek" which is the only thing worth remembering from his time at the BBC.


At 4:02 PM, Blogger ChrisB said...

NEWS UPDATE: He's given up the Blue Skies after the embarrassing 'applied for nuclear power job' (after saying more nuclear power needed) thingy if I'm not mistaken

At 4:08 PM, Blogger Gordon said...

You're nuclear engergy needs someone like Birt. If ever there was an industry that knows somethings about kickback and smoothing over government fears.

Blair was putting him up for the job as chairman of Urenco, the uranium producer part-owned by the Government. Of course it has a £300,000 salary?!

And better still for Birt it could yield million if like defence research agency QinetiQ it was sold off. They really need a Birt I can hear the case for privitisation as I type.


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