Opinion from Lord Digby Jones

Hey! BBC! Give Business a Chance!

Published Monday 9 August, 2010

I have never written to the Director-General of the BBC before (other than to thank him for dinner!) but last week saw me do just that. I became a complainer to the Beeb!

What provoked such radical, nay revolutionary, action was watching the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning to find the usual suspects doing the Papers Revue and to make true the Show's boast that it is the TV version of a good read of the Sunday Papers, all sections were covered (from Politics to Sport, from Culture to Foreign goings-on)... ah! except Business... again! Every Sunday Paper has a Business Section.

So I put pen to paper to the DG (not, thankfully, in green ink... although the next missive might be... I have bought some just in case!) asking when was the last time any one of the Directors-General of the CBI or the Chambers of Commerce or the IOD was invited onto the programme. I stressed that this was not a personal bleat; there are far more important people from Business who should grace the Marr Sofa before my copious frame settles into it.

I pointed out that the Farnborough Air Show had just finished. Now we're really good at making stuff that goes up there, stays up there and comes down again safely and providing value-for-money. In fact hundreds of thousands of people are employed in the Aerospace Sector in Britain every day and only the USA has a bigger Aerospace Industry. Nations of

the World flock to our shores to buy the gear we make. So, I asked the DG, was the Chairman or CEO of Rolls-Royce Aero engines or BAe Systems or GKN or Cobham invited onto the Show as would be the Fashion Designer starring in British Fashion Week or the Opera Singer about to exercise his tonsils at Covent Garden?

I told the boss of our public broadcaster that Toyota had just started making its Hybrid car at Burnaston in Derbyshire as the only place in Europe where it is doing so. Now that should warrant coverage on the Show; manufacturing and green all in one slurp of coffee. But not a murmur!

Jaguar Land Rover has just had a record quarter for exports and it's owned by an Indian Company and the Prime Minister was in India! Good credentials for a biz/political story you would have thought... informing and reporting with, perhaps, the boss of Jaguar or Tata? Help the breakfast toast go down a treat! But no... not a glimmer.

If we are going to pull ourselves out of our economic mess we must trade our way out and generate wealth to pay tax and employ people who will pay tax. Giving fair balanced coverage of that part of our Society that is tasked with doing that job is surely what the BBC is about. No favours are asked and none will rightly be given; but come on DG... all we ask is fairness.

I know the bosses of our great UK plc's and innovators don't live as close to the studio as Mesdames Moore & Platell but they do have something to say and not just when the business disaster/scandal/strike/bonus story isn't the news.

Will I get a satisfactory reply to my first-ever letter of complaint to Auntie? I will let you know, dear reader, when I do.