Monday, January 31, 2005

Paxman blasts BBC News cuts!

The enfant terrible of British news, Jeremy Paxman, is mixing it up again - and this time his target isn't Blair or Michael Howard or any of that lot, but rather his boss, Mark Thompson! Thompson is the new post-Greg Dyke DG of the BBC (i.e., director gereral of the British Broadcasting Corporation). It seems he's decided to make his mark by mandating across-the-board 15% cuts in the organization. That includes a 15% cut in the news and current affairs budget. Thompson says he wants to plough the savings into making "more and better programmes." Paxman isn't necessarily buying it. According to a Media Guardian interview, to mark the 25th anniversary of BBC 2's flagship Newsnight program, Paxman
    said he did not understand how the cuts ... could be justified when the BBC was thinking about spending millions of pounds moving hundreds of staff from London. "I don't understand why it's necessary, particularly at a time when you can spend hundreds of millions building new buildings, moving staff to Manchester and all the rest of it," he said in an interview with Media Guardian.

Good point. The Big Move Paxman is talking about is something I talked about back on Dec. 6: "the BBC's strategic decision to move big chunks of its organization - primarily sport and children's television - away from Television Centre in Shepherd's Bush (the BBC headquarters in West London) up to Manchester." Apparently the price tag for this move is a whopping GBP500 million!

The Media Guardian piece (by Matt Wells), notes that "Paxman's comments reflect what many BBC journalists fear in private but cannot say in public." Paxman has a lot of clout in BBC News. He also takes no prisoners in the interview chair. The spiritual heir of hard-hitting interviewer Robin Day, Paxman once won a UK journalism award for taking Michael Howard (then home secretary and now leader of the Conservative Party) to task, pressing him on an issue by asking him the same question no fewer than 14 times! Paxman is also the man who has famously been quoted as saying he’s always thinking during an interview, “Why is this lying bastard lying to me.” So what would a Paxman interview with Mark Thompson look like, I wonder?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Jeremy Paxman interviewed President Bush on pay-per-view, I would sign up instantly, whatever the price!


1/31/2005 12:58 PM  

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