BBC TV boss Danny Cohen has hit out at recent critics of the Corporation insisting that those who are “well rewarded” by the BBC must stop giving media interviews in which they criticise the organisation.
In a robust address to journalists at an event marking the BBC’s Christmas programming, Cohen said that people “who work for the BBC and are well rewarded for it are quick to attack or criticise the organisation in public rather than deal with any issues or concerns internally”.
While he insisted that “'critical friends” are important for the broadcaster’s well-being he added: “I know that BBC staff often wonder why some of our on-screen talent and some former members of staff choose to attack or undermine the BBC in public rather than express any concerns they have in private conversations within the BBC. In short, this drives BBC staff mad.
“It is very important to say that the vast majority of the talented people we work with on-screen are great supporters of the BBC and I want to put on record my thanks to them for their hard work, creative dedication and public support.
“But I would also like to call on those who are paid by the BBC but criticise it in media interviews and in public to think hard before they join the daily chorus of BBC-bashing that takes place in some quarters.”
Cohen said that such comments are “damaging” and called on “everyone who believes in the BBC to get behind it, to speak up for it, to celebrate its successes”, adding that “those employed by the BBC should drive this change from the inside rather than undermining this wonderful organisation from the outside”.
While Cohen made no mention of anyone by name, recent critics of the BBC have included David Dimbleby, who suggested that the BBC should be dramatically slimmed down, cutting out “some of the gardening and the cookery” and that BBC4 be abolished and merged with BBC2.
Jennifer Saunders, the star of the hit comedy Absolutely Fabulous recently told Glamour magazine that the "ugly" and "corporate" BBC of today no longer resembles the place she worked when she created her classic comedies.
She said: "It's become top-heavy in such an ugly way. They went corporate instead of being what they should be, which is a national resource, a place which trains people and curates the best programmes, and encourages talent and does great news and journalism."
Roger Mosey, a former head of BBC Television News who ran the BBC’s Olympics coverage before leaving this year, suggested last month that the BBC axe channels BBC3 and BBC4 in order to focus on quality and suggested that a slice of the BBC's licence fee could go to its commercial rivals.