The Edinburgh TV Festival wouldn’t be the Edinburgh TV Festival without a bit of a ding-dong and it came today in the form of a row involving Channel 4 News anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy.
The newsman was quizzing BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore at the festival, asking punchy questions about why the BBC Trust has been so critical of her channel of late, and whether she accepted veteran BBC news man John Simpson’s recently-expressed claim that the BBC is “run by tough women” and is “grotesquely managed” because of it.
Guru-Murthy’s questioning prompted an angry response from a BBC staffer in the audience who accused him of “legitimising” Simpson’s “sexist” comment, something Guru-Murthy flatly denied.
He said: “When a leading BBC talent like John Simpson makes a comment like that I think one of the leading BBC women executives should be invited to comment on it. That’s why I asked it.”
But the row really started at the end of the session when BBC controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson and director of television Danny Cohen confronted Guru-Murthy in person, followed by angry exchanges.
Stephenson was heard asking Guru-Murthy about his “agenda”, which he said was “aggressive”, and Cohen was also heard exchanging angry words. Cohen was then seen apparently being led away by his PR minder, with Guru-Murthy heard saying that his comments were “ridiculous”.
The BBC has not formally commented on the incident but one senior BBC PR tweeted: “Krishnan seemed to think it was 7pm on C4, not a TV channel session at #edtvfest”.
Guru-Murthy left the session quickly after and was not available to answer questions.