A few weeks ago is was all smiles and jokes when the Today programme’s Jim Naughtie mispronounced the Culture Secretary’s surname. Countless commentators speculated whether the BBC presenter had deliberately called him a c**t in the run up to the eight o clock news.
There were no such errors on this morning’s Andrew Marr Show on BBC One. Though there might have been plenty Local Radio supporters shouting something similar at the screen when he refused to explicitly back the sector during the interview. Listen in here.
It didn’t really get much better. Asked specifically about Local Radio and whether it would worry him if it disappeared, the Secretary of State responded :
“There’s a lot of speculation, people have been talking about Formula One and Wimbledon, and all those kinds of things, and these are not firm proposals, so I wouldn’t want to comment on anything in particular”.
It was therefore no surprise to hear him refusing to comment on anything in particular when, pressed about arts funding (in response to an open letter from dozens of stars), saying that it was a matter for the Arts Council, which apparently was “quite happy” with its funding settlement.
Moments earlier, Hunt had been allowed to openly plug the fact that tickets for the London Olympics were going on sale, including reading out specific details of the website where you could get them and who would be paying discounted prices. Right – that’ll be the same Olympics which will doubtless be covered in depth and at great expense by the BBC, bringing untold economic benefits to the country, will it?
Even the analysts Deloitte estimate that the BBC brings £2 of investment to the economy for every £1 of the licence fee – a return on investment that many commercial broadcasters would envy.
Meanwhile, back on planet Earth…
It was reassuring to receive the following email from the Nottingham East MP Chris Leslie today :
I had email correspondence on this issue with the head of the BBC corporate and public affairs Andrew Scadding and made my views very clear to him that local radio is so crucial to community life – especially here in Nottingham where the Evening Post are the only real alternative to local accountability, and their circulation is dwindling. I’ll definitely try to find ways to raise this with the key decision makers and want to bang the drum quite loudly.
And plenty of ongoing coverage in the local papers :
Collectively, we can show Mr Hunt that fence sitting only leads to a pain in the ….
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