One of my worst decisions, groans BBC supremo
Written by ACM   
Saturday, 17 November 2012

It seems that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is not the only public broadcaster to have developed an aversion to doing its duty and not broadcasting matters of national importance just because they relate to the Royal Family. This emerges from a new book,  It's All Going Terribly Wrong: The Accidental Showman, by Major Sir Michael Parker, who produced events including the Queen’s Silver and Golden Jubilees.

 Readers will recall that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was planning to show the  old  movie “Shampoo” with Warren Beatty instead of the central events in London of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, including the river procession which involved teams of Australian lifesavers.

As a result of pressure from constitutional monarchists, the ABC correctly decided to allow Australians to witness the river procession: “ABC buckles to monarchist pressure”

 Recent programming decisions of the ABC are leading us to the conclusion – tentative at this stage – that the ABC has turned over a new leaf.

...BBC infected too


In the meantime it seems that a similar malady had infected the mother of public broadcasters, the BBC.

The London Daily Telegraph's royal correspondent, Roya Nikkhah, reported on this phenomenon  in “BBC snubbed Queen Mother’s 100th birthday to 'avoid clash with Neighbours” 

 She reports that when the BBC declined to cover the parade for the Queen Mothers 100th birthday, it was a decision which mystified the nation, and brought heavy criticism from politicians and even the corporation’s own stars.

“Now after twelve years the reason has been disclosed: the celebrations would have clashed with Neighbours, the Australian soap opera.

“Details of the BBC’s controversial decision have emerged in a new book,
It's All Going Terribly Wrong: The Accidental Showman, by Major Sir Michael Parker, who produced events including the Queen’s Silver and Golden Jubilees and the Royal Tournament. (This book may be purchased tax and postage free by clicking on the link, for the bargain price of $30.60. In addition you will ensure ACM receives a small commission.)



“The BBC has always denied that it was reluctant to interrupt its schedule to avoid postponing the Australian soap opera. 

“But Sir Michael, who was at the heart of organising the event at Horse Guards Parade in London, has confirmed that during his discussions with the BBC in the run-up to the pageant, the Corporation told him it did not want a clash with Neighbours. 

“’The BBC had just told me that they would not be covering the celebration as they had in 1990,’ he writes in the book.

 “’I was amazed and not a little annoyed. One snooty producer (who will remain nameless, although he has since turned into a right royal sycophant) said that it was an event of little importance and of no interest to the public, and anyway its timing clashed with Neighbours.” 

..."pathetic"  BBC decision widely criticised...

Roya Nikkhah reports that the BBC’s refusal to broadcast the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday procession of soldiers and civilians, featuring more than 300 charities she supported, was criticised by Tony Blair, then the Prime Minister, the Prince of Wales and a host of the BBC’s own stars, including Jonathan Dimbleby. However, she says, it was upheld by Alan Yentob, then the head of television, and Greg Dyke, the then director general.

 “However Sir Michael writes in his book:’I introduced myself to Greg Dyke... a couple of years later, and he groaned and told me it was one of the worst decisions he had ever made.” 

“ITV stepped in to cover the parade on July 19, 2000, with live coverage watched by more than seven million viewers. A further five million viewers watched ITV’s evening highlights.

 “BBC1’s alternative of Newsround, Neighbours and the news attracted an average of 3.5 million viewers. 

“Sir Michael, 71, who oversaw the public celebrations for the Queen Mother’s 80th, 90th and 100th birthdays, said: ‘I couldn’t believe it when the BBC’s head of outside events told me that nobody would be interested in the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday. I thought it was ridiculous but typical BBC – pathetic.”

Let's hope both the BBC and the ABC  broadcasters have learned from these debacles. The republican agenda of a minority should not determine programming  choices concerning great public events.