Friday, September 30, 2011

BBC Statements of Programme Policy 2011/12

If you've been desperately searching for the BBC Statements of Programme Policy 2011/2012 don't worry because the Statements do actually exist. Despite the best efforts of Lord de Mauley to repeal Section 266 of the Communications Act 2003 at the start of 2010, Section 266 is still in place.

For the years between 2005 and 2010 inclusive, SoPPs can be found at URL with the xx replaced by the year in question (05 to 10)

However the current BBC's Statements are no longer at that URL, but are instead buried away in another document called "BBC Executive priorities and summary workplan for 2011/12"

One interesting thing to note about the Statements of Programme Policy 2011/2012 is that the 'Accountability' section, which appeared in all but the very first (2003/2004) SoPP, has now been taken out. The removed wording:-

The BBC, as an open and transparent organisation which is trusted by the public it serves, seeks to engage its audiences in dialogue, to learn from them and to respond honestly to what they have to say.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

EastEnders has won yet more awards. The BBC soap scooped five gongs at this year's Inside Soap Awards in London

One long-standing theme on EastEnders has been about the sexuality of Ben Mitchell. Is he gay or straight? Forget bi - this is a soap, after all.

In the latest episodes it seems that Ben does have feelings for another boy called Duncan whom he met in the gym whilst attempting to man-up and keep his dad happy.

Patrick saw Ben kissing Duncan, and afterwards Ben glimpsed Patrick speaking to his dad. Without having heard the conversation, Ben wrongly assumed Patrick had told Phil about himself and Duncan kissing. Later Ben threw a rock through Patrick's window.

Ben is a truly unlikeable character, but as there are no LGB characters in BBC children's dramas, he's the only gay role model many kids will see on TV. This soap will not make things easier for kids struggling with their sexuality - and although Phil may possibly accept Ben in the future, it's what's happening now that's important. And toying with the issues of sexuality and homophobia for entertainment is distasteful.

Here - as an example - is what happened right near the start of yesterday's EastEnders:-

Phil approached his son in Albert Square and asked him what happened there - referring to the broken window in Patrick's house which is being replaced.

Ben: Dunno - kids probably

Phil: You was out early this morning. What - you off to the gym?

Ben: Yeah, thought I'd get an hour and a half in before school

Phil: What, with Duncan?

(Ben looks away)

Phil: Listen Ben, er ...

(long pause)

Phil: .... I know

(another long pause)

Phil: ...know about yesterday

(another pause)

Phil: You can't keep skipping school like this

(Ben breathes huge sigh of relief)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Joe McElderry took part in the Great North Run a few days ago. Like last year it was to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust. This year he chatted to Sue Barker before the start of the race, which was broadcast on BBC One.

In a welcome change to last year, this time Newsround reported that Joe had taken part. Sunday 18 Sept 2011 at 1.55pm on CBBC:-

John: ... Elsewhere then today to Newcastle where X Factor star Joe McElderry joined 1000's of people taking part in the Great North Run this morning. Joe was running the race to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust. The course is 13 miles in total....

Joe also appeared as a celebrity guest on Sam & Mark's Big Friday Wind Up, where he was introduced as quite possibly the nicest man in the world of entertainment.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The UK Government has just announced an intention to legislate in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry. News items about LGBT equality never make it to Newsround, but it's quite refreshing to see some teens happy to chat about diversity and equality on YouTube. Here, for example, TheRealJazzBertie gives her views on religion, marriage and civil partnerships:-

TheRealJazzBertie - A future BBC news reporter?

Every year the BBC holds a journalism-fest called School Report. Schools from around the country are invited to participate by asking kids to make their own news report on something of interest. Of course there's one topic to be especially wary of - that is gay rights. So if any schools are thinking of signing up to this venture, that is the one topic to push for. Here are a few of my suggestions -

(1) School children might be able to make use of projects carried out during February - LGBT History Month - as the starting point of a BBC School Report.

(2) The government consultation on marriage equality is supposed to begin in March - the same month as BBC School Report. So that's a subject schools could look at.

(3) Next year, 2012, is Alan Turing Year - the centenary of Turing's birth. Think about the impact of computers in all our lives. What is being done to celebrate Turing's life and achievements?

(4) Kids could talk to sports personalities, such as Ben Cohen and Gareth Thomas, who are trying to stamp out homophobia and homophobic bullying. Their work has never been mentioned on Newsround.

(5) Lastly, what about an interview with the BBC Director-General? The BBC is in need of a bit of scrutiny because it's practically exempt from large swathes of the Equality Act 2010, as well as the the Freedom of Information Act 2000. What better excuse could there be for asking Director-General, Mark Thompson, for a few minutes of his time? The interviewers could perhaps begin by asking Mark - reputedly a devout Roman Catholic - whether or not he accepts the Vatican's teaching on homosexuality, and what he thinks about the prospect of gay people being allowed to marry.

BBC trailer to publicise The School Report

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Haven't seen any recent Newsround gossip about Simon Cowell's engagement (see previous blog)

But today The Mirror - which is owned by the same newspaper group as The People - has more evidence that Mezhgan Hussainy is history. Apparently Simon's been flirting with Paula Abdul, the American Idol judge who felt the need to vilify a contestant who had suggested Simon might be gay.

Newsround Blog has often pointed to homophobia being pretty much endemic in the showbiz/media world. Recall, for example, the way Joe McElderry was treated by Simon Cowell and by CBBC. And then there's also the example of Simon's indignation over Dannii Minogue's LGBT-friendly comment to Danyl Johnson on the X Factor in 2009. Cowell's reaction embodies exactly what is wrong with the industry, and the way it continues to invisibilise bisexual, lesbian and gay people.

It looks like Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul are made for each other.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Eighteen months ago Newsround reported that things just keep on getting better for Simon Cowell. The news item was about Simon finding a girlfriend who had agreed to marry him. This was something of a shock to some in the media. For example, Sonali was surprised anyone would agree to marry a man who wears his trousers so high up. Others had different reasons for scepticism, as this clip from a BBC documentary in 2002 demonstrates. But Max is undeterred by it all.

So it looks like Simon's engagement is off. His fiancée will, no doubt, get a huge payout in line with the other big love of his life, whose name escaped him when he appeared on This Is Your Life.

It's very unusual to see BBC news presenters in commercials. But apparently they are allowed to appear providing their promotional activities don't constitute a conflict of interest, or undermine the editorial integrity of the BBC or the programmes they present. The relevant Head of Department has to give permission. So here is the finished commercial for Mizz magazine, with Leah and Ricky - neither of whom actually features in the current (1st-14th Sept) edition.

Leah & Ricky in YouTube commercial for Mizz Mag

Ricky was the presenter of Newsround yesterday. One of the items on the 2.15pm bulletin was rapper Elliot John Gleave aka Example, answering When I Was 10 questions. Apparently he fancied loads of people at school, but "didn't find love till later in life." His favourite subject at school was drama, and his least favourite, oddly enough, was music.

The next story on yesterday's Newsround was also about showbiz. As usual CBBC toed the heteronomative celebrity line.

Ricky: Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez might be an item, but the Biebster doesn't take any fashion tips from his girlfriend. The popstar was talking at a big fashion party in New York where he also revealed that he likes Kanye West's style ....

Now if Ricky had taken a few minutes to read though his copy of Mizz magazine, he'd know that the magazine is sceptical about the sincerity of Justin and Selena's relationship. Ricky called them an item, but Mizz questions whether the PDAs just indicate a fauxmance. Mizz suggests that, after eight months together, the couple ought to be a bit more laid back. The continuing public display of affection "smacks of trying too hard to convince us they're an item"

Mizz Magazine's verdict: Justin & Selena = FAUXMANCE
Mizz verdict on Justin & Selena

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Is former England rugby union international, Ben Cohen, another victim of BBC homophobia? A strange question, you might think - all the more so because Ben is straight and has a wife and young family.

So how could he be a victim of homophobia?

The answer is quite simply that, unlike CBBC bosses, Ben recognises the prejudice against young LGBT people and is prepared to stand up against it. Gareth Thomas is another rugby player who wants to help, but he too was given the Newsround cold shoulder, as this blog has previously documented.

Yesterday Newsround included substantial coverage of the Rugby World Cup. And there was a lot more today. Their website shows photos of the opening ceremony, how to dance the Haka and there's a guide to the rules.

Lawrence Dallaglio on Newsround - 9th September 2011
Lawrence Dallaglio -
"England hard man" on Newsround yesterday

Whose Side Are You On?

The people in charge of CBBC refuse to acknowledge that homophobia is a serious problem for kids in primary and secondary schools. In fact, when it comes to homophobia and homophobic bullying there's hardly a shred of evidence to suggest that CBBC is on the side of the victims.

This morning Ben Cohen was off to Bolton to help Bully Free Zone which is in danger of closing through lack of funding.

Anti-Bullying Week begins on 14th November 2011 - the theme this year is 'Stop and think – words can hurt'

Sunday, September 04, 2011

With his ITV1 programme last night Jonathan Ross proved that it's quite possible for him to make an entertaining show without the need for the weekly homophobic jokes which were unfortunately a permanent fixture on his BBC One Friday night show. His old house band will not be missed by this blogger, or indeed anyone who fully appreciates the principles of diversity and equality. Nevertheless Jonathan's new chat show would benefit from a talented house band akin to the one on David Letterman's show in the United States.

An ironic scene from Friday Night With Jonathan Ross (BBC One - 24/7/2009)