A senior manager at controversial BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW) told an employee to work from home during the lockdown even if the Wi-Fi was not broadcast quality, with the words “don’t worry just as long as it’s audible”, The Eye can disclose.
As many people as possible in the employee’s department were being encouraged to work from home, as it is believed the cost was ‘massive’ of running both the headquarters in Llandaff and the new building in Cardiff’s Central Square, which is still unopened more than two years after the keys were handed over.
Staff in the department believe that the new building only has room for a “fraction” of the numbers now on the payroll, and fear that the move is a precursor to merging them with another department.
We have already reported deep concern among BBC CW workers about the length of time it is taking to move into their new £100 million headquarters – a transfer which may now not take place until late Summer or even Autumn.
The anxious staff told us earlier of their deep concern that they did not move into it before the lockdown was imposed.
One said: “This is a complete nonsense. Two years on and we still haven’t moved down there”.
Another told The Eye: “This is just taking far too long – some of us have moved and some of us haven’t, and everyone is asking ‘when are we going to go down?’”.
Our own Editor Phil Parry worked at the present BBC CW headquarters in Llandaff for 23 years, and said: “This is an unbelievable length of time. I thought they would have been in there by now!”.
The new headquarters was handed over to BBC CW in April 2018, and staff were told it would take 18 months to fit out the building, but several months after that date passed, equipment was still in the ‘testing’ phase. Officials were unable to say when broadcasting will start and the extraordinary delay is having a severe knock-on effect for other broadcasters in Wales, such as S4C which is due to have a number of desks allocated to workers.
Following the corporation taking possession of the new building more than two years ago, the Director of BBC CW, Rhodri Talfan Davies, proclaimed excitedly: “Central Square is all about opening up… the fantastic location means that we’ll be more accessible”.
But the growing unease among staff over the long delay since then, seems certain to heap more pressure on Mr Davies after a series of horrendous mistakes were committed.
Mr Davies’ flagship evening television news programme showed an awful inaccuracy which made headlines in England. BBC Wales Today (WT) used a picture of Brighton Pavilion during its coverage of the start of the hugely important Muslim month of Ramadan mistaking it for a mosque, and the error was then featured in the Brighton Argus.
One Twitter user complained: “BBC Wales showing a picture of the Brighton Pavilion and getting it confused for a mosque when talking about Ramadan is kind of f****d?”.
For this appalling fault Mr Davies must bear ultimate responsibility.
One of Mr Davies’ most senior executives, Colin Patterson, the Editor of BBC CW Radio Wales (BBBC CW RW) formed a relationship with the presenter Lucy Owen who proclaimed the importance of travelling by bus to work in a tweet Mr Paterson ‘liked’.
A formal complaint about an alleged breach of guidelines followed our revelations of the affair, and after extremely low audience numbers were published. A prominent figure described on Wikipedia as one of the main presenters on BBC CW RW at its launch, renewed his call for Mr Paterson and his superior, Mr Davies, to resign, and that they should be more responsive to their audience.
Mike Flynn told The Eye exclusively: “Both of these so called media executives (Mr Davies and Mr Paterson) are answerable to the public who pay their salaries via the licence fee”.
He added: “If Paterson has been having an affair with a Wales Today and Radio Wales presenter it brings his (Mr Davies’) management skills in to question and he needs to be suspended immediately”.
Despite an official denial, to the angry listener the affair represented a huge potential conflict of interest because Mr Paterson’s officials had commissioned the BBC CW RW programme hosted by Ms Owen called ‘Sunday morning with Lucy Owen’, and media executives both inside and outside the corporation have told us that they are worried about their partnership’s possible impact on the process.
The Eye also divulged how an extraordinary political row developed when the former leader of the Conservatives in the Welsh Parliament/Senedd (WP) accused on social media, BBC CW of a “link” with nationalist party Plaid Cymru (PC) and said that it was “unhealthy”.
In a highly unusual move, Mr Davies used Twitter to defend the decision to ask the PC leader on to a programme discussing major events, saying the Welsh Conservatives had not accepted the invitation.
Yet in another tweet former Welsh Conservative leader in the WP Andrew RT Davies MS said he stood by his original point.
The astounding spat over alleged links between PC and BBC CW came after growing concern about figures who have joined the corporation from PC, and those that have moved in the other direction.
The political journalist at BBC CW Aled ap Dafydd became PC’s Director of Political Strategy and External Relations, and other top level journalists have also joined PC in the past, with politicians on the left and right in Wales accusing the corporation of being a hotbed of Welsh nationalism.
Mr ap Dafydd’s move followed the appointment of another senior executive who travelled the other way.
The former PC Chief Executive Rhuanedd Richards was named as the Editor of BBC Radio Cymru and the Welsh language online service, Cymru Fyw, despite the fact that she had also been for four years, a special adviser to former deputy first minister and PC leader at the time Ieuan Wyn Jones.
The PC MS for Ynys Mon Rhun ap Iorwerth was also formerly a leading political journalist at BBC CW, joining the corporation in 1994.
Meanwhile Mr Davies’ organisation has also refused an interview with our Editor Phil Parry after an email exchange lasting six months, even though he said the new building would make BBC CW “more accessible”.
He has faced enormous anger as well after popular programmes were axed while another which WAS commissioned, was described as “embarrassingly unfunny”, and the unbelievable sequence of events have become a target of our satirical writer Edwin Phillips.
But it must also be ’embarrassing’ to Mr Davies to hear that one of his staff was told to use Wi-Fi at home which would be fine ‘as long as it’s audible’.
Another one to add to the list of ‘achievements’ for Mr Davies…
Tomorrow – why names made news for Phil who always made sure they were correct!
The memories of his extraordinary 36-year award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable neurological disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!
If you need something to keep the children entertained during these uncertain times (in Welsh) try Ffwlbart Ffred about the amusing stories of Ffred and his pet.