Oh, those sickening self publicists at the BBC

Ofcom need to take a long, hard look at The One Show. The BBC proudly describe it as “a live magazine programme featuring topical stories and big name studio guests.”

However, last night (and not for the first time) The One Show appeared to be little more than a shameless, thirty minute long promotion for BBC programmes.

In fact, the entire show was dedicated to promoting BBC1’s Christmas night schedule. If I’m not mistaken, this is what Ofcom’s compliance people call “undue prominence”, and what it amounts to is thinly disguising blatant self-publicity as innocent editorial content.

It was obvious that the BBC knew they were doing it. That’s why they went to the trouble of briefly interviewing the Head of Scheduling at ITV about his own plans for the Christmas night schedule. Clearly this was meant to reassure Ofcom that the BBC were not abusing their position as a public broadcaster in order to devote huge chunks of topical news airtime to plugging their own offer. The problem was that they interviewed the ITV guy for about 15 seconds and then dedicated the whole of the rest of the programme to the BBC’s own Christmas schedules.

Let’s be clear on this. It is neither ethical or acceptable for any broadcaster to disguise advertising as programme content. It’s dishonest and misleading to viewers and license payers.

Simple people, like those who watch The One Show, don’t understand these things. They think promotions and commercials are only the bits between the programmes. It wouldn’t occur to them that staff in the promotions department at the BBC continually lobby news editors to hand over airtime for cynical programme promotion.

It’s not just The One Show that do it. The BBC’s Six O’Clock News regularly devote large parts of their bulletins to issues that are going to be covered in primetime documentaries later that evening, and they always go to great lengths to promote the start time. So is that news, or is that advertising? The line grows ever thinner.