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Former Radio 1 controller attacks decision to pre-record Jonathan Ross show

Jessica Geen May 27, 2009

A former Radio 1 controller has criticised the move to pre-record Jonathan Ross’s radio show, describing it as a “sticking plaster”.

Matthew Bannister said the decision was “odd in a number of ways”, adding that the solution could not be extended across the BBC as it would not be practical.

He added that it would place more pressure on the corporation’s executives if the show received further listener complaints.

The decision to pre-record Ross’s show was announced last week. The BBC said the decision was made in order to keep the show in line with tougher compliance laws since the Sachsgate affair of last year, when Ross was suspended for three months without pay.

A week before the decision was made, exclusively reported that a number of complaints had been made about Ross’s comments on the show, in which he suggested gay children should be adopted.

Speaking today on BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show, Bannister said: “I think it is the safety-first choice. The issues behind the Ross-Brand affair were about the balance of power between the broadcaster and talent.

“It is another example of the BBC saying ‘We are in charge here, not the talent’, but I am not sure if it is a long term solution to sorting out the balance of power between the BBC and talent because you can’t pre-record most of your music radio. This is a sticking plaster solution.”

He added: “Once you have taken the decision to pre-record a music radio sequence, it does make a change to the show and to the adrenaline that not only the presenters but the guests feel. If you are recording it, you can go back and retake stuff. You don’t have that sense that every word you say on air counts.

“The audience will have a subtly different reaction to it. Somehow you can tell when a show has been produced a day before or a week before.

“One of the joys of listening to Jonathan Ross has always been for me anyway to listen to him walk the tightrope between what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.”

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