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Listen: Iain Lee says BBC is in 'a state of fear'

By James Cridland for media.info
Posted 16 December 2015, 10.58am est

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Iain Lee, in his first speaking engagement since leaving BBC Three Counties Radio, opened up to University of Gloucestershire students about the media industry on Wednesday afternoon.

The breakfast host clashed on-air with a Christian lawyer, calling her a bigot, during a heated debate on homophobia in November. Calling the breakfast show his ‘best ever’, he told Radio Production students the industry needs a breath of fresh air. Producer Katherine Boyle also spoke, telling students of the benefits of being persistent and that she was ‘gutted’ the show had to end.

A self-professed radio geek, Iain called the BBC a ‘weird old dinosaur’ and said he felt they should stand up for themselves more, citing the Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross row in 2008 as an example of a similar scenario. Whilst a lover of the institution, he described the BBC as being ‘in a state of fear’, while Boyle explained that good radio should never be afraid to push boundaries and embrace failure.

Tone Radio’s Dane Smith spoke to Iain Lee after his talk; there's more at Tone Radio's website.

Last week, six complaints about the interview were thrown out by UK regulator Ofcom. The regulator believed that there was no issue warranting investigation. There has been no public BBC Trust investigation, either, into the interview.

Meanwhile, Alex Dyke continues in his job at BBC Radio Solent in spite of having 45 Ofcom complaints against him upheld, and being censured by the BBC Trust.

Presenters who have broken BBC guidelines on impartiality, including Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts, have also retained their presenter jobs in spite of rulings against them by the BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee.

It appears that there's something we clearly don't know about Iain Lee's departure: but it's clear from his comments that it was a show that he loved doing. He also has considerable support within the industry. RAJAR for his show had good increases in hours and reach, despite poorer performance for the station as a whole.

So: what's up? And why didn't the BBC 3CR team back their on-air talent?

Iain Lee and Katherine Boyle also spoke earlier this year at the Next Radio conference, before Bigot Gate. Here's the video if you've not seen it.

More information

Tone Radio
University of Gloucestershire
James Cridland — James is the Managing Director of media.info, and a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. His website is at james.cridland.net, where you can subscribe to his weekly newsletter.
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