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Tuesday, 15 November 2011

TBQ at the BBC, a cheeky little agency scam and other assorted hoots

Did I ever tell you about the time I was asked to join a BBC committee all about the future?

It was all about predicting what was going to happen in the 21st century. Total wankfest, as you'd imagine. One meeting was enough. What a shame they're increasing the TBQ (Total Bollocks Content) and cutting back on the things that make them good - like the World Service.

A perfect example of what's gone wrong in Broadcasting House is on their weather website, brought to my attention with a groan of despair by Crispin White. "We're building a new weather experience for you". WTF???? Are they going to arrange a heatwave on New Year's Day? No: just a new way to show the bloody weather forecast. Are they hiring failed ad copywriters to churn out this tawdry stuff?

The rot set in, of course, when Thatcher got rid of the last real programme maker to be Director-General and replaced him with a bloody accountant, followed by a man called Birt who spoke nothing but corporate jargon. Tony the Bliar, saviour of the Middle East - favourite Charity, Tony Blair's bank account - loved him. They probably used to sit there talking to each other about stakeholders and Tony's Third Way (which is up your arse, if you really want to know),

Anyhow, bit by bit the BBC made fewer and fewer of their own programmes, and bought more in from outside. Then they hired more and more people to buy the programmes. Net result, millions of our money pissed away and a man at the top called Mark Thompson getting paid nigh on a million quid to do a shit job.

Someone should remember the BBC motto: Nation shall speak peace unto nation. Cameron, or Bliar-Lite as we all realise, should stop giving aid money to kleptocrats in poor countries and give half to the World Service and the rest back to us.

It'd be a good idea, too, to fire all the corporate drones starting with the top man. Then they could use that money saved to hire people who will make BBC programmes rather than paying outsiders to do the job. Just like they used to.


On the matter of failed copywriters an agency called The Lean Agency (geddit?) has had a brilliant wheeze. Instead of just hiring freelance writers and so on they're offering "franchises" - the poor dupes are expected to pay a fee for the privilege of working for them. Anyone who falls for that one deserves what they get.

The agency's website tells you all you need to know about why they need good copy. Thanks to Iain Maclean for sending me this egregious example.


Thanks to the folks who sent me messages reading "Berlusconi". You have been added to the great list of masochists who get my helpful ideas, and my colleague Bill Fryer will contact you about the sundry ways we can help you do better.

Lastly news for those of you interested in copy.

1. I promised a free webinar on copy today. I did two versions yesterday and didn't like either. So I have redone this morning, and if the radiant Chloe has time to edit it will be up later. I do sound a bit hoarse, but it may interest you.

It is just under 30 minutes long, and covers something I will not be talking about in Spain.

2. On the matter of Spain, I am talking about arrangements with my client there, who is wisely busy this week doing his real job rather than doing favours to me. I will keep you posted.

3. The video of my Bristol Copy Seminar is now available and I will be writing about it later this week. The content will not be the same in Spain. I am working on something new to celebrate the spring.

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