Media News and Media Moves – 16 March 2020
Daily Dose of BoJo
Just in case we weren’t hearing enough of it, Number 10 revealed this morning that the Prime Minister is to give daily press conferences on the state of Covid-19 in Britain. Following a weekend of criticism of Downing Street’s comms strategy from Labour leadership hopeful Keir Starmer, Boris Johnson will be personally chairing many of the daily briefings, which Number 10 say will continue “as long as necessary”. Following months of frosty relations between Downing Street and the media, senior figures are now praising the vital public service offered by the lobby. After months of ministers boycotting the BBC, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has this morning appeared on the Today programme, confirming that over-75s will soon be asked to stay at home for an extended period to protect themselves.
DCMS Committee grills BBC
Senior BBC executives were on Thursday called to Parliament to answer questions about proposed cuts at the corporation, as well as planned changes to the licence fee. Outgoing BBC Director-General Lord Hall and Chairman Sir David Clementi gave evidence to the first hearing of the new DCMS Committee. The decision comes after a turbulent few months for the BBC during which it was announced that 450 jobs would be cut and Lord Hall said he would be standing down.
In the session, Lord Hall said there could be a “paring back” of BBC News services as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, but that its priority is to keep services going. Repeating comments by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, who said the BBC lacks “genuine diversity of thought and experience”, DCMS committee chair Julian Knight asked Lord Hall if he believed the BBC was “too woke”. John Nicolson MP asked BBC bosses if the BBC was prepared to take 80 and 90-year-olds to court over scrapping the licence fee. Lord Hall said the BBC had set up a “special team” to make sure its communications with the over-75s about paying the licence fee are “sensitive”.
This comes the same week as Press Gazette revealed 47 per cent of their readers back the scrapping of the BBC licence fee. 956 people responded to the question posed on their website: “What is the best long-term funding solution for the BBC?” within the past week. Of the readers who took part, 53 per cent backed the compulsory licence fee model covering radio and TV that has been in place since 1946.
It’s interesting that almost half the readers of a media-specialist publication supported an alternative funding model for the BBC indicating that those in the industry also agree with calls to shake-up the broadcaster.
LAUNCH OF THE WEEK
Following International Women’s Day last week, the launch of a new social networking platform ostensibly accessible only to women, was met with backlash over data concerns.
Giggle claims to create an environment in which women can “connect for a genuine purpose… free from misogynistic harassment and abuse that can be found on other popular platforms”. However the app promises to keep it girls-only by using “biometric gender verification” to “determine the female gender” of prospective subscribers. Even besides the issue of gender identification, using software to determine if someone if a ‘real’ woman poses a host of ethical problems.
Having a great time here at the end of days pic.twitter.com/ZuE5hQR9af
— alex v. green (@degendering) February 6, 2020
BBC News has appointed Rianna Croxford as community affairs correspondent. She will be leading the BBC’s coverage of the UK’s diverse population and communities, with a focus on underserved and hard to reach audiences. Rianna is currently a broadcast journalist for the BBC News podcast team including The Next Episode, Newscast, and Americast.
Kim Gittleson has joined The Economist as Co-Editor of the Intelligence Podcast.
Josephine Forster has been promoted to Editor of the Daily Mail’s Femail.
Isabel Deibe has joined the Daily Express as a Digital Reporter, covering lifestyle, health and travel.
Nicholas Barrett joins BBC Reality Check as Business and Economics Researcher.
Dorothy Byrne will step down as Head of News & Current Affairs of Channel 4 on May 1st. She will become Editor-at-Large of the television station for the next year.
Neil Pooran will soon be starting a new role as a Political Reporter at PA Media, covering the Scottish Parliament.
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