Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More On Brand and Ross: What the Critics Think, What the Politicians Think, What the Public Thinks

Two Guardian commentators weigh in on the Brand/Ross fiasco: Lucy Mangan here and Zoe Williams here. Neither thinks Mr. Brand and Mr. Ross demonstrated shining moments on British radio. Where they differ is in their evaluation of the duo's abilities here, and what should ultimately be done to or with them. Ms. Mangan thinks Mr. Brand and Mr. Ross simply weren't very able or effective pranksters and ought to be scorned on that ground alone, and she gives us a very good rundown of some champion radio hoaxers of the past. Ms. Williams, discussing what she calls "Sachsgate," compares the pair's personalities, and convicts Mr. Brand of sheer nastiness. "Brand...is a cheap, snake-bite-and-black pub psycho...." Oh, dear. But does she think he'll be tossed off the air permanently? Apparently not. Well, it might happen. The Beeb has suspended both Mr. Brand and Mr. Ross pending an investigation.

Meanwhile, the Tories have weighed in. One spokesperson has said that such phone calls could "encourage antisocial behaviour," and as the Guardian notes, such comments raise the specter of discussion about continued or expanded funding of the BBC at a time when such funding is crucial to the BBC's future. The Prime Minister has said he thinks the phone calls were "inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour...".  The BBC, playing defense, has sent exec Tim Davie out to offer apologies and explanations to the media. Andrew Sachs's granddaughter, the subject of some of the phone call commentary, said she wanted to see the two radio hosts fired. Public complaints to the Beeb have hit 10,000 via email and telephone; check the Guardian's blog for more opinion.

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