Overblown Nonsense

So the Ross/Brand things has blown up out of all proportion. Seriously. The scale of the media frenzy is in no way proportional to what actually happened. When I wrote about this the other day, I did so in a way that discussed something that would be of interest to people who read Media Guardian.
Reporting the number of complaints that the BBC or Ofcom or whoever has received is facile and meaningless. It only invites comments about why those people aren’t complaining about more important things.
If you want to find worse things that are happening in broadcasting in the UK, I suggest that you subscribe to Ofcom’s Broadcast Bulletins. They send around a neat weekly email which runs through them. This week, they fined a TV station £15,000 for broadcasting some guy who claimed that his homeopathic remedy cured cancer. That’s outrageous.
It’s clear that the likes of Sky and the Mail are egging on the debate in a massive way, but frankly that’s irrelevant. Similarly irrelevant are the media aspirations of Sachs’ grand-daughter. Anybody who says otherwise is on a dangerous road towards the “she was asking for it with those clothes on” type defence of attacks on women. And Sachs’ age is also irrelevant.
Sky News’ coverage would lead you to perhaps not realise what’s going on elsewhere in the world right now. The Congo, US interest rates, umm, David Tennant quitting Doctor Who. That sort of thing. I’m surprised they don’t have the Sky Copter up hovering over Brand’s house. This is on a scale not seen since Maddie went missing. Just to be clear, the coverage of that was abhorrent and unnecessary too.
It’s clear now, that both Ross and Brand have realised they’ve done wrong and are sincerely sorry. Brand’s quit his show – which frankly was wrong for Radio 2 anyway, and curiously placed on a Saturday night at the precise time that many of his prospective listeners would not be around (Prior to Humphrey Lyttleton’s death, his 11pm Monday jazz programme got a bigger audience than Brand’s 9pm Saturday show).
Of course Brand still has his stand-up, his new C4 series, a new hardback book, a new paperback book, the odd presenting gig and a burgeoning film career. He won’t be destitute.
So where to now? Well Ross will be off the TV and radio for a while. A producer will be fired. I doubt anyone senior at Radio 2 will have to walk. Everyone at the BBC will have to attend some new course like they did for running competitions. And that’ll be that.
It’s fair to say that this has been poorly handled by the BBC. As soon as someone senior had listened back to what went out – ie. last week, before most of the press got into the game – they should have carried out their suspensions and investigations. Leaving things to drag on this week has helped nobody.
And I really don’t understand why politicians – beyond perhaps, those at the DCMS – or anyone else really, are getting involved. They really ought to be asking why ITV is no longer providing a proper local news service, and is getting rid of all its PSB remit. Serious issues.
I do despair of our media sometimes and the ignorant coverage we get. I really do.

1 Comment

  1. All good points. I have a couple more to make:
    * Would this media outrage have happened if it wasn’t two of the biggest and most recognisable ‘celebs’ in the country involved? They are regularly on the gossip pages anyway.
    * Russell Brand’s show might not have got high ratings, but the podcast was worth over 750k listeners (perhaps much more?). Not sure how that compares with the broadcast numbers. I didn’t even know when Brand’s show was on, but I still listened to it most weeks.
    * I’m sure I’ve heard Brand make far more outrageous statements than the ones this incident is about.

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