BBC Trust – an Oxymoron?


I assumed that any democratic public body would make some effort to be, well, democratic. No, that’s not necessarily what ‘democratic’ public bodies do.
So what am I banging on about?
Where’s the Scottish representation element in the Scottish Audience Council?

Members of BBC Trust Scottish Audience Council
1. works and lives in Glasgow
2. born and brought up and working in Glasgow
3. live in Edinburgh, brought up mainly in Glasgow
4. Lives in Dumfriesshire, from Glasgow
5. Works in Glasgow
6. Works in Fort William
7. Works in Dundee – is from Glasgow?
8. Lives Edinburgh
9. Works in Glasgow
10. Lives south of Glasgow

Meeting Summaries
The ACS holds its meetings 11 times in the year, every month apart from August. The meetings are primarly held in the BBC Scotland headquarters in Pacific Quay, Glasgow. Although the Council does try to hold its meetings out of Glasgow at least three times across the year.
The summaries of meetings will normally be available shortly after they have been approved by the Council. Browse through summaries below.

11 April 2011 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

10/11 March 2011 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

29 January 2011 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

3 December 2010 MacDonald Holyrood Hotel, Edinburgh

1 October 2010 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

3 September 2010 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

4 June 2010 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

7 May 2010 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

9 April 2010 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

11/12 March 2010 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

5 February 2010 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

8 January 2010 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

4 December 2009 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

6 November 2009 Apex City Hotel, Edinburgh

2 October 2009 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

4 September 2009 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

26 June 2009 Apex International Hotel, Edinburgh

29 May 2009 Edinburgh

1 May 2009 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

6/25/26 March 2009 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

6 February 2009 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

9 January 2009 Pacific Quay, Glasgow

I didn’t really think much of that arrangement so I wrote and told the BBC Trust that and this is what they replied.
Uhm, my comments on their comments, so to speak are in italics.

Dear Lena,

Thank you for your comment which we will draw to the attention of
members at their next meeting. The issue you raise has been discussed in
the past but it is good for the Council to re-consider it from time to
time, and thank you for raising it.
(Pleased that someone’s taken notice at least and taken time to reply.)

Most formal Council meetings are, as you say, held in Glasgow as their
main purpose is to facilitate discussion between members, and
interaction with BBC Scotland management. Meeting in BBC Scotland’s
premises in Glasgow is the most cost-effective way of doing this.

(Most meetings held in Glasgow to facilitate discussion between members – only if most members come from this area, surely? And interact with BBC Scotland management – ok. Most cost-effective – not most democratic, not most representative of Scotland – so it comes down to money. It is important but with some imagination surely the BBC can come up with some other arrangement than face-to-face meetings? Isn’t the BBC at the forefront of information technology?)

Representation of the regions of Scotland is a factor in recruitment of
Council members. In addition to their brief to represent the whole of
the audience, members are, in most cases, expected to represent
audiences in the particular region of Scotland with which they are most
connected.

(If representation of the regions of Scotland is a factor then it’s not apparent how the Trust is fulfilling this. How can members in, say Edinburgh, represent Orkney and Shetland, or Easter Ross? What do most of your members know of areas in Scotland outside their own? Of what kinds of service people in other areas want or feel is lacking? This is nonsense.)

To gather the views of licence payers there is, as you rightly imply, a
need to travel more widely, and audience engagement events over the last
couple of years have, for example, taken place in Aberdeen, Inverness,
Stirling, Kilmarnock, Elgin and on Lewis, and other places as well as in
Glasgow and Edinburgh. Council members attend these events and report
back to the full Council on the views expressed by licence payers.

(Are you seriously suggesting that one-off meetings where incumbents report back to the committee in Glasgow really represent views in Scotland’s regions? Practically every adult in Scotland is a licence payer – how many have their views represented at all?)

Thank you very much for raising the issue.

Now if I were to offer my well-honed mind to the Audience Council I would have to be prepared to write off a whole day and be prepared to travel for in excess of 6 hours by car or 7 -8 hrs by rail to attend meetings in Glasgow or very occasionally Edinburgh.
Meetings in the Central Belt are fine for folk in the Central Belt who might have to lose a morning or an afternoon but a morning, afternoon and evening?
It seems to me that the meeting set-up has been arranged by people whose working life consists of meetings. That is how some people actually do spend their days – meeting with other people who spend their days meeting with more other people.
Well, stop it.
It’s not useful and it’s rarely clever. Yes, I’ve done it.
I contribute to a regular survey completed by people in Aberdeenshire which is used to decide Council policy.
WHY can’t the BBC Trust run a similar scheme with their Audience Council? It would certainly be more democratic and more representative of Scotland as a whole.
The BBC Trust is presently looking for members and this is what it says on its website.

Audience Council Scotland vacancies
The Audience Council is a group of volunteers who work to ensure that the views of audiences in Scotland are heard at the heart of decision making in the BBC. We are looking for people with a range of backgrounds, interests and skills. If you’d like to be involved, find out more here.
Current Vacancies
The BBC Audience Council for Scotland is currently recruiting new members. We are looking for applicants with an informed interest in BBC services, insight into audience needs in Scotland, and the ability to work with others in formulating advice for the BBC Trust. Members are volunteers.
The application form is available below in PDF and Microsoft Word formats. You can either print out the application form, complete it and send it to: BBC Audience Council Scotland, Room G11, 40 Pacific Quay, Glasgow, G51 1DA or you can edit the application form and email it directly to us at acs@bbc.co.uk.
Information for Applicants:
PDF version
Word version
Application Form:
PDF version
Word version
Applications must be received by Monday, 27 June 2011. If you have any problems or queries please contact 03704 111 810.

So I thought I might just fill in their application form.
You’ll have to scroll down to find it, down past the (over) wordy information.
You might be tempted yourself.

Audience Council for Scotland Recruitment
Information for Applicants

The BBC Trust is responsible for getting the best out of the BBC for licence fee payers across the UK. Audience Councils play a vital part in that process, by providing the Trust with clear views from their nation about the BBC and its services. There are four Audience Councils – one for Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Membership, activities and outcomes

If you become an Audience Council member you are appointed as an independent volunteer from outside the BBC. Membership is open to anyone over 16 except those who are politically active or those employed by either a BBC supplier or other media organisation. Members are usually appointed for three years. There is no payment, but you will receive expenses. An induction is provided and the work of the Council is assisted by a small team of professional staff.

There are currently ten to eleven Audience Council Scotland meetings a year, most of which are held at Pacific Quay in Glasgow.

You will be asked to prepare for each meeting so that you can contribute to Council discussions of BBC Trust public consultations and to Council assessments of BBC services.

You will be expected to take part in outreach events to listen to and report back on views from other members of the public. Members are also encouraged to seek views about the BBC from their own informal networks. These activities help the Council to advise the Trust through a deeper understanding of the range and diversity of audience views throughout Scotland.

Council members are asked to make the time commitment necessary for the effective delivery of the Council’s work and to agree to the conditions of membership, including a commitment to the Seven Principles of Public Life (see below).

The Audience Councils report regularly to the BBC Trust and meet Trust members formally once a year to present the audience priorities identified through this process. The Trust uses this input to help shape its priorities for the BBC for the coming year.

A more detailed description of the Audience Councils’ remit and responsibilities, membership, activities and resourcing, is contained in the Audience Council Protocols. The Protocol includes information about the Audience Councils’ relationship with licence fee payers, the BBC Trust and BBC management. Further details of the Audience Council Scotland’s current membership and its work are available at bbc.co.uk/acs

Recruitment

There is a regular recruitment and selection process. Vacancies are generally advertised on BBC television, local radio, online and sometimes in the local press. As there are always more applications than vacancies, a shortlist is prepared with the aim of achieving a broadly diverse Council membership.

The shortlist is drawn up by an appointments panel which includes an external independent member who scrutinises and validates the shortlisting and selection process. If you are shortlisted, you will be invited to meet the panel for an interview.

The Council’s membership should reflect the diversity of the BBC’s audience in Scotland. It should be consistent with the principle of appointment on merit and include people with varied skills, experiences, knowledge and backgrounds from different parts of Scotland.

This is me –
I think you might be failing in your own criteria there. That’s not the picture I get from looking at the current panel I’ve included at the beginning.

The selection and appointment of Audience Council members follows the guidelines produced by the Public Appointments Commissioner for Scotland (see Audience Council Recruitment procedure below).

Selection Criteria

The following selection criteria will be used when considering who to nominate as members of Audience Councils:

 An informed interest in the BBC’s local and network services across television, radio and online.

 An understanding of the needs, interests and diversity of local audiences in relation to the BBC’s programmes and services, including any knowledge or expertise that might assist the effectiveness of the Council’s work.
Just how is this applied when some parts of Scotland are excluded?

 An ability to work with colleagues in assessing audience feedback, views and concerns, and the provision of strategic direction and advice to the Trust on issues relating to BBC services and audiences in Scotland.

 Experience of working with others (for example, in a voluntary, community or other organisation) to identify and achieve group objectives.

 A willingness to make the time commitment necessary for the effective delivery of the Council’s work and agreement to adhere to the conditions of membership, including a commitment to abide by the Seven Principles of Public Life.

Most of the above is pure waffle and bureaucratic junk. But wait it goes on:-

Seven Principles of Public Life

As a member of the Audience Council you must commit to abide by the Seven Principles of Public Life as outlined below:

Selflessness
Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.

Integrity
Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.

Objectivity
In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make decisions on merit.

Accountability
Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

Openness
Holders of public office should always be as open as possible about all decisions and actions they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

Honesty
Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

Leadership
Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

Still there?

We are still talking about an audience council here, aren’t we? Just how much influence in public affairs does this body have? Because if they do then little wonder BBC Scotland is skewed SW.

The Audience Council Recruitment Procedure

The selection and appointment of Audience Council members follows the Code of Practice produced by the Commissioner of Public Appointments, as follows:

1. Appointments responsibility
All appointments are approved by the BBC Trust’s Audience Councils Committee.

2. Merit
All appointments are made on merit, by the choice of individuals who through their abilities, experience and qualities match the need of the Audience Councils.

3. Independent scrutiny
No appointment will take place without first being scrutinised by an independent panel or assessor.

4. Equal opportunities
The recruitment programme must deliver equal opportunities principles.
Read that as failed

5. Probity
Audience Council members are expected to be committed to the principles and values of public service and perform their duties with integrity.

6. Openness and transparency
The principles of open government must be applied to the appointments process, its working must be transparent and information provided about the appointments made.

7. Proportionality
The appointments procedures need to be subject to the principle of proportionality; that is, they should be appropriate for the nature of the post and the size and weight of its responsibilities.

Do you think that is working? Uhu?

Okay so despite the 7 or 8 hrs travelling- which incidentally I might have made it to the US for a fine wee holiday in that time or well into the Continent – I’ve decided I will complete an application.

Application for membership of the
BBC Audience Council for Scotland

Please read the associated information for applicants before completing the form. You can fill the form in electronically and e-mail it. Alternatively, you can print it, fill it in manually, and post it. If doing the latter, please complete the form in block capitals using black ink. Please ensure that you have completed the declaration section.

If you have any queries or access requirements, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 03704 111 810 or at acs@bbc.co.uk.

PERSONAL DETAILS

Last Name: Hyena First Names: Lena

Title: Princess

Address: Nae wye near Pacific Quay

Town/City: Oot o the wye Post Code:

Tel. No: Mobile No:

E mail: thehyena.lena@gmail.com

How did you become aware of this vacancy?

Radio Scotland, far else? Niver watch ony o that rubbish on tv.

It hasn’t got space for my middle name ‘the’.
Please leave this page blank.

Why? Well ok. But not it all.

In completing this application form, please demonstrate how you meet the essential requirements for appointment to the Audience Council for Scotland, to include details of all relevant skills, knowledge, experience and achievements. Remember that the shortlisting of candidates for interview can only take account of the information provided on this form. Please use continuation sheets if necessary.

INFORMATION IN SUPPORT OF YOUR APPLICATION

1 What is your awareness/knowledge of the BBC’s services across television, radio and online?

I am aware o the BBC on a’ three. Aye.

2 Who do you feel benefits most from these services and what do you think could be done to increase value for the greatest number of licence payers?

I think people in the Central Belt, or as we says, Cintraal Bilt wid.

I think you should have a body o’ fowk online or by post fa’d represent wider audience a’ thru Scotland fur starters.

Fit you’ve set up is nae a level playin field – it’s nae even a playin field.

INFORMATION IN SUPPORT OF YOUR APPLICATION (cont’d)

3 What experience do you have of involvement with diverse groups of people – and how might this help you to understand the needs and interests of licence payers in Scotland? Have you any specialist knowledge of particular sectors, areas or communities which might usefully inform the work of the Audience Council for Scotland?

I hiv ma Twitter freens n combatants. They’re pretty diverse – that’s a polite wye o’ sayin it.

I understan frae fit they say fit they need, even if they dinae ken it thersels.

I wid think a’ licence pyers need tae be represented. Nae reminded that maist o’ them are o’ nay concern – that’s fit a lot o BBC Scotland cams oot like.

Aye, I ken, fit you dinae ken – that Scotland streetches north, south, east frae yer haimland.

An’ I ken that fowk up here are nae at a’ happy at the parochial eenterests we hiv tae listen tae day in, day oot frae Pacific Quay.

4 Tell us about your experiences of working collaboratively within a group or organisation.

I hiv a lot o’ experience o’ warkin wi a’ kinds o’ groups – hyenas are pack animals after an a’.

INFORMATION IN SUPPORT OF YOUR APPLICATION (cont’d)

5 Demonstrate your ability to work with others to assess evidence and provide strategic advice.

I’ve warked wi’ ither Eberdeen an Shire bloggers tae highlicht the feel thinkin ahin levellin up Union Terrace Gerdens in Eberdeen. Ye can google it te fyn oot jist hoo.
An, unlike them ither fowk I hiv assessed the evidence – that showed practically naeone’s in favour o sicca a thing.

Weel, I’d say that the fowk ahin the plan ken exactly far I stan’ on it – based on evidence, like.

6 On the basis of the information provided with this application form, are you content that you can make the necessary time commitment required for Council membership?
0 Yes
X0 No

7 or 8 hrs travelling? You hiv tae be jokin.
If it wis up here, aye.

7 Are you satisfied that you will be able to abide by the 7 Principles of Public Life?
X0 Yes
0 No

Oh, aye, nae bother

8 Applicants are required to declare any potential conflict of interest.

Weel let me see – no, I hinna got ony broadcastin outlet in ma front room.

Please leave this page blank.
DECLARATION
I confirm that the information given on this form is, to the best of my knowledge, true and complete. If I am successful, I understand that agreed biographical information may be used in any BBC announcement of my appointment.

Signature: Lenathehyena Date:

RETURN ADDRESS

Please return your completed application form, including the attached equal opportunities monitoring form and any continuation sheets, no later than 27 June 2011 to:

BBC Audience Council for Scotland
Room G11
40 Pacific Quay
Glasgow
G51 1DA

If you have any queries or access requirements, don’t hesitate to contact us on
03704 111 810 or at acs@bbc.co.uk.

Thank you for your application. We will send you an acknowledgement when we receive it and we will be in touch again when shortlisting is completed. If you do not receive an acknowledgement by Thursday, 30th June please contact us on 0141 422 6076.

Please note that late applications and CVs will not be accepted.

Please leave this page blank.
Equal Opportunities Monitoring

The BBC Trust is committed to equal opportunities for all. We are seeking your help so that we can monitor the extent to which the recruitment exercise for membership of the Audience Council for Scotland has attracted interest from a broad cross-section of licence payers in Scotland. All applicants are asked to provide information on their gender, age, disability and race.

All details provided on this section of your application form will only be used to inform the statistical monitoring of applications for this recruitment process. It will be treated in strictest confidence.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES MONITORING

Gender
Male 0 Female X

Age Range
16 – 24 0
55 – 64 0

25 – 34 0
65 – 74 0

35 – 44 0
75 and above

45 – 54 0
none of the above X

Ethnic Group
To which of these ethnic groups do you belong?

Asian/Asian British 0
Mixed ethnic group (please specify)
Black/Black British 0
White/White European 0
Chinese 0
Other (please specify) 0
Middle/Near Eastern 0
Black Other (please specify) 0
Kinda grey X

Disability
The Disability Discrimination Act considers a person disabled if:
He/she has a longstanding physical or mental condition or a disability that has lasted or is likely to last at least 12 months, and this condition or disability has a substantial adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Do you consider yourself to be disabled as set out under the Disability Discrimination Act? 0 Yes
0 No
Nae so’s ye’d notice ower muckle

If yes, which of the following descriptions best describes your disability?
0
Visual (NOT including wearing glasses or contact lenses)
0
Co-ordination, dexterity or mobility
0
Mental health 0
Speech
0
Learning difficulties 0
Hearing
0
Dyslexia
Other physical or medical conditions (please specify)

Argumentative

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP IN THIS MATTER.

And that as they say is that

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