Blog: Spot the difference (7-01-15)

Some 23 000 BBC employees carry passes inscribed with the BBC Values  which – together with the Corporation’s Mission and Vision – inform the work of the BBC and the discharge of its public purposes. Thousands of other freelancers and independent producers are also bound by these Values.

At a month-long trial in Birmingham in February 2012 the Values took centre-stage.To support its claim that the BBC Values are no more than a mission statement, in short nothing to believe in,  the BBC referred the Tribunal to the following statement of values which appears on BBC passes and its websites.

  • Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest.
  • Audiences are at the heart of everything we do.
  • We take pride in delivering quality and value for money.
  • Creativity is the lifeblood of our organisation.
  • We respect each other and celebrate our diversity so that everyone can give their best.
  • We are one BBC: great things happen when we work together.

At paragraph 7.8 of its judgment the Tribunal records the following finding.

“Like many corporate organizations the BBC has a set of values, or a mission statement, which it publishes, and expects its employees to follow. These values are as follows.

Trust- the BBC is independent, impartial and honest.

Audiences  –are at the heart of what the BBC does.

Quality- the BBC takes pride in delivering quality and value for money.

Creativity – is the lifeblood of the BBC.

Respect – each other and celebrate diversity so everyone can give their best and working together – one BBC where great things happen.”

Most BBC staffers will spot the difference immediately. The Tribunal’s version is a re-write. The vital pronouns “we” and “our” have been excised and replaced by “BBC”. The cardinal principle, “Trust is the foundation of the BBC” also goes. A collective and individual pledge of loyalty to the Values has been transformed into an impersonal mission statement. The only piece of evidence offered as proof that the BBC Values are a mission statement is itself misrepresented.

The real BBC Values must of course be followed, “lived and breathed” as the Management Board says. This is in line with the BBC’s  high ideals expressed in its famous mission to inform, educate and entertain and its lofty motto adopted in 1927, “Nation shall speak unto Nation”.

For good measure the gilded inscription at Broadcasting House invests the BBC’s purposes with religious inspiration.

“This temple of the arts and muses is dedicated to Almighty God by the first Governors in the year of our Lord 1931, John Reith being Director-General. And they pray that good seed sown may bring forth good harvest, and that all things foul or hostile to peace may be banished thence, and that the people inclining their ear to whatsoever things are lovely and honest, whatsoever things are of good report, may tread the path of virtue and wisdom.”

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