Watching yesterday’s grilling of BBC bosses by MPs it was striking just how much the less than Magnificent Seven resembled the contestants of BBC One’s The Apprentice.
Like Lord Sugar’s wannabes, BBC bosses apparently approach their tasks with a fixed ‘i’m right’ mindset from which they emerge only long enough to whisper a barely audible, and guaranteed to be ignored, invitation to dissent for the sole purpose of being able to share the shit around when it eventually hits the fan.
Unfortunately for former Director-General Mark Thompson and outgoing Head of HR Lucy Adams, they were playing with public money in a time of great hardship and austerity.
People were eventually going to start caring that the weren’t up to the job.
Thompson, a man who claimed his £415 annual BAFTA membership on expenses despite earning a salary of £613,000, seemed still not to get the depth of public anger at the sight of pretty average managers being made rich by hard working Licence Fee payers.
MPs were quick to blame the BBC Trust for sticking so doggedly to its very narrow remit but never once seemed to remember that it was the current generation of politicians who established the toothless watchdog.
The Trust will never have a mandate to intervene, to challenge and to block unless it is elected by the Licence Fee Payers whose interests it’s meant to protect.
Electing a BBC watchdog would give Licence Fee payers a real say in how the organisation is run and make it impossible for future executives to divert large sums of public cash from programme budgets and into their pensions pots.
If responsibility for the BBC continues to rest with appointed place-men and women then the executive will quickly return to form as soon as we let our collective guard down.
The only long-term reform of BBC governance worth the time and effort is the one which places each individual shareholder of the BBC in a position to curb its excesses.