Dyke's 'Big Conversation' highlights BBC bullying

BBC director general Greg Dyke used his “Big Conversation” address last week to highlight the impact of bullying on staff morale.

In a film he produced himself and which was shown to to the corporation’s 23,000 staff, Dyke gathered the views of employees such as Kelly Webb-Lamb, series producer of BBC Two business programme I’ll Show You Who’s Boss. She spoke of programme-makers known among journalists as “The Bafta Bastards” who treated staff “absolutely appallingly” but were tolerated because of their talent and ability to win awards.

Dyke also disclosed plans to send up to 5,000 staff from all department, including news and current affairs, on management courses. He also laid out a timetable for a number of initiatives to encourage creativity within the BBC and to foster better working conditions. From July, the BBC will introduce “cross-divisional collaboration” which will see more departments teaming up to make programmes.

A corporation source cited docudramas such as BBC 2’s recent The Day Britain Stopped as an example such collaboration.

Dyke also said the BBC would commit to making sure flexible working and leave were available to all staff.

A BBC spokeswoman insisted this “should not be an insuperable problem” within news and current affairs despite the long cycles and shifts under which journalists have to work.

“It’s a commitment to make sure flexible working is available to all workers and it’s an extension to the legal requirements for parents wishing to spend more time with their families. The feeling is it should bring more flexibility and control over their lives,” she said.

The NUJ had called upon its members to boycott the Big Conversation as part of limited industrial action in support of the two BBC Arabic Service producers, Adli Hawwari and Abdul Hadi Jiad, sacked in February.

By Wale Azeez

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