Reading the full judgement in the Miriam O’Reilly tribunal case it’s impossible not to be struck by the tribunal’s finding that there was “no documentation whatsoever” setting out a decision making process which saw 4 presenters lose their jobs.
The BBC’s callous and discriminatory dismissal of O’Reilly – the panel say she and colleagues “were dismissed almost entirely out of hand” – will saddle the Licence Fee payer with yet another fine. It should also lead to dismissals of those responsible.
In a statement the says Director General Mark Thompson will use his position as Chair of the broadcasting sector’s Cultural Diversity Network to “raise the topic of fair representation of people of all ages across the broadcasting industry.”
Frankly Thompson’s focus needs to be on finally getting a grip of the organisation he’s (over)paid to manage.
For their part the BBC Trust needs to ensure a thorough investigation is carried out into a decision making process so lax that official records of major spending and recruitment decisions are considered an optional extra.
After dodgy competitions, executives topping up their salaries courtesy of insanely generous expenses, the Ross/Brand fiasco and the overturned 6Music decision, Licence Fee payers are entitled to ask what they’re getting in return for possibly the highest executive salary bill in the public sector.
They’re also entitled to know that the man in charge of the organisation understands his own future cannot be guaranteed if future management-led cock-ups arise.
BBC bosses have previously dismissed any accusation of agism in how they decide who gets to front shows. That casual rejection will have played a major part in fostering an atmosphere where O’Reilly & co could be so easily heaved aside.
It’s now time for the BBC to drop its obsession with youth and looks and ensure all sections of the audience are fairly and truthfully represented.
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