Edwin Phillips reads an alternative Bank Holiday tender document from BBC Wales for a new TV debate series after our revelation that The Hour has been axed after just a year and at a cost to the taxpayer of about £1 million.
The Eye have disclosed the outrage of critics that this is the second Current Affairs strand to be closed following the shutting of the regular series Week In, Week Out (WIWO) which had been running for 53 years and won numerous awards, as well as the criticism of Director Rhodri Talfan Davies who has a background in marketing yet apparently disregards research which highlights the problems of creating a completely new brand.
BBC WALES TENDER NEWS
We are pleased to offer producers a chance to bid for a new television debate programme to replace The Hour, which had been given an extensive run of one year.
You will be granted a huge amount of public money as has been the case in the past.
It should comfort all producers to know that The Hour cost £1,576,893.23 to make.
These funds did not come out of the pockets of personnel on the debate series, but fortunately from the licence fee payer.
The same will be the case for your funding.
As with all BBC Wales programmes The Hour has been a huge success so we have decided to close it down.
We have publicly stated that it “capture(d) the mood of the nation” which as we all know signals the end for a programme.
Viewers were also in full agreement with our decision to shut The Hour.
One said on The Hour’s Facebook page after a programme about the NHS, that it was an “excellent discussion” another that it provided “great insight” and that it was “enlightening”, while a further viewer said it was “a necessary entity to air the views of the public in Wales”.
Clearly these licence fee payers felt enough was enough and the series had reached the end of its useful life after eight programmes.
Officials at BBC Wales agreed with these comments that the programme should close, by saying publicly that “In 60 minutes, 60 people get the chance to explore a topic in depth and hold politicans to account”.
Our support for The Hour was unwavering, despite our decision now to close it, as is evident when a spokesperson told The Eye: “As part of our commitment to open competition, we are currently considering proposals to produce BBC Wales’ regular debate programme for BBC One Wales.
“A new season of debates will launch in the autumn, focusing on the most topical news stories of the day, and the major issues shaping politics and society in Wales.
“We are grateful to The Hour team for delivering a strong run of programmes over the last year, travelling the length and breadth of Wales to capture the mood of the nation.”
All licence fee payers will also be grateful to BBC Wales for our total commitment to weekly Current Affairs television.
This is shown by our hugely popular decision to shut the award-winning regular programme Week In, Week Out (WIWO) after 53 years, and replace it with the occasional label put on important stories, BBC Wales Investigates.
Our widely-acclaimed judgement is endorsed by the fact WIWO had won archaic awards: BT Wales, BAFTA Cymru, Royal Television Society and Celtic Media.
It is entirely immaterial that marketing experts appear to agree it is better to keep an established brand such as WIWO and reform it, rather than scrap it altogether.
Our strategic decision to continue to support weekly Current Affairs programming should be seen in the context of the closure of other award-winning TV Current Affairs series on network television, and the decision to end them has been enthusiastically praised by the very people who pay our wages.
It is completely irrelevant that there were extremely high viewing figures for programmes such as World in Action, This Week, TV Eye and First Tuesday on ITV, and Rough Justice as well as Public Eye on network BBC.
It should also be disregarded by producers that an edition of WIWO still features near the top of our internal list of programmes securing the highest-ever viewing figures, and that it served as a springboard for BBC Panorama.
Producers should pay no attention whatsoever to the fact that a past episode of WIWO called A Night To Remember led to the release of three young South Wales men who had been wrongly imprisoned for 11 years after a murder they did not commit.
Producers must ignore the fact that the Editor of that surrilous website The Eye, Phil Parry, told WalesOnline: “It is absurd to suggest that putting a label on a story like ‘BBC Wales Investigates’ in any way compensates for getting rid of a regular weekly current affairs strand which had been going for many years, like Week In Week Out.
“It never works – they tried to say the same when they got rid of Public Eye on BBC 2.
“Public Eye Investigations was never heard of again.”
As producers will be aware Mr Parry is highly-inexperienced with just 35 years in journalism and only presented Week In, Week Out for 10 years from 1989.
Any tender document we receive with his name on it as presenter will be immediately filed in our extensive drawer marked ‘b’ for bin.
Tomorrow – why most members on one Welsh council live outside the community they serve.