1. What should be the trade-off between creativity and risk-taking? There is an inherent trade-off between seeking originality and taking risks. The venture capitalist who invests in a new company risks losing money. The band who try an adventurous third album risk alienating their fans. The company that launches a new product or goes into a new market risks failure. The writer who says something original risks condemnation.
Where on this originality-risk trade-off should the BBC be? The danger is that the backlash against the BBC forces it be become even more conservative and less innovative than it already is.
2. What counts as “failure“? Those dupes of the Daily Mail who have complained remind me of those Muslims protesting against the cartoons of Mohammed. Their whining about “offence” is a toxic mix of emotional incontinence and intolerance. They flaunt their manufactured sensibilities like a flasher waggling what Mr Brand would call his winkie.
There are many worse things the BBC does than give artificial “offence“. As the Kirk Elder says:
Why should it get a soft ride for all these failings and yet face a “crisis” when someone swears (quite wittily) down the phone?
3. To whom should the BBC be accountable? This affair has shown that the corporation is excessively sensitive to moral panics manufactured by a business rival, whilst insufficiently sensitive to those of us who are more tolerant of its many failings. But those of us who don’t read the Mail also pay our licence fee.
Are there institutional frameworks which might ensure the BBC is more genuinely democratically accountable?
4. How hierarchical should the BBC be? Put yourself in the shoes of Lesley Douglas’s successor as controller of Radio 2. You know that a few seconds of bad radio might cost you your job. So what do you do? You insist that every broadcast should be run past you, or your deputies.
Such a Stalinist approach has huge costs. It distracts the controller from other jobs. And it demoralizes the staff. Do we really want to incur these costs?
The “crisis” at the Beeb is not the Brand-Ross affair, but rather the effects it might have.