WorldwideUKIrelandAustraliamore
media.info

Martin Kelner - 'the most charmless sacking I have ever suffered'

personBy James Cridland for media.info
access_timePosted 20 March 2016, 7.17pm edt

Remove the ads and support us: GO PRO




In a blog post, Martin Kelner has revealed the manner of his sacking from BBC Radio Leeds.

Kelner, who had been with BBC Radio Leeds since 1981, reveals that he was told after his programme on 18 March that he'd presented his last programme. The meeting, with Managing Editor Sanjiv Buttoo, took less than five minutes.

Sanjiv had, in a pincer movement, assembled all the staff upstairs for an "important meeting" so that no-one was around when I left after my show, and I had no chance for farewells with any of my colleagues. So I had the delightful experience of slinking out of the building alone and unseen.

In his blog post, Kelner reveals that he had voluntarily taken a pay cut when moved to lunchtimes in November 2012. After a stay in hospital for cancer treatment, he also reveals that, as a freelance broadcaster, the BBC required him to repay some of his wages.

When I started work again - initially I was only able to do one day a week, owing to being, er, nearly dead - I had to pay back money I owed. I didn't have the cash at the time, so I agreed to pay back £20 off every show fee. The really sweet thing is they didn't sack me until I had paid back every penny I owed from when I was busy dying. I finished paying them back about a month ago, just in time for the heave-ho.

This sacking - for no fault of Kelner's - is the latest in a line of poor judgements by the BBC. BBC Three Counties presenter Iain Lee was fired for not according enough respect to an interviewee who believed that homosexuals were an abomination. Tony Blackburn was apparently fired for changing his mind in evidence to a BBC enquiry - though Director of Radio, Helen Boaden, had done similar for the Pollard report in 2012.

Possibly most frustrating, for a presenter with considerable pedigree, is that Kelner was unable to say goodbye to an audience that has been with him for thirty-five years. As he says in his blog:

It has always seemed a little unfair to me, given so much effort is put in to make a connection between voice and audience, and in view of the BBC's loudly proclaimed attention to honesty and accountability.

Quite.

Read his blog in full

More information

BBC Radio Leeds
West Yorkshire
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.

Comments

PRO1 year ago

As mentioned, it's more poor judgement from the BBC at local level. How long before James Whale, another talented speech presenter who isnt exactly the classic generic LR clone presenter gets the heave-ho from BBC Essex?

At one end, you have BBC Radio London with its poor share of listeners and a station sound that feels very niche and ABC1, also bordering on copying LBC, while other city BBC locals such as WM and Manchester are still rotating Phil Collins and have a provincial format when these stations should be reflecting their areas more closely.

It really is pot luck to who's in charge of your BBC local to if it's any good or not. Radio Kent at least tries to engage with their presenter line-up, while BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey feel as if they're 'going through the motions' of being a local radio station, not helped for the majority of the day, serving an editorial area from Rye to Aldershot.

1 year ago

That's the BBC for you.

via Twitter1 year ago

via Twitter1 year ago

1 year ago

Is it any different from commercial radio, especially when one famous episode involved a breakfast show presenter who, after his show, escorted his celebrity guests out of the building to thank them and say farewell, only to find that the security guards would not let him back in because his name was no longer the list and the new owners had displaced him and his show ...... forever - but didn't bother to tell him.

1 year ago

Martin Kelner's manner of departure is more akin to the treatment commercial radio presenters receive.
Shame on you BBC Leeds.

1 year ago

The BBC have been royally ticked off since they were stopped from axing local radio so they're doing it through the back door. They get rid of popular presenters and put out bland, boring programmes that are of interest to very few in the hopes that listener figures will fall enough that they can justify shutting down the whole service. They also seem to love to play the 'race' card. In our area we lost 2 very popular weekly shows: Irish Link and Mondo Italiano - listened to by many who weren't either Irish or Italian! Asian Link, however, gets to keep its time! Give it 5 years and BBC local radio will be gone.

1 year ago

Of course Asian Link gets to stay. The Asian audience are more likey to be more left-leaning due to the more sympathetic manner in which left wing governments will treat them; therefore are more idealogically in line with a state broadcaster that we all must pay for if we watch TV, even if we only use commercial services.

1 year ago

Jeez, what a load of ideological rubbish! You sound like a refugee from DS.

There is NO evidence that Asian people are any more or less likely to be liberal or conservative, libertarian or authoritarian.

And the licence is to receive television programmes, and it doesn't matter what channel you're watching, you still have to pay . And let us not forget, that instead of just paying for the BBC, it's also having to part pay for the local television services as well, and pay for S4C. Not to mention as well that some of the 'commercial' services you might be watching might be part owned by the BBC as well.

All in all, it ain't that clear cut any more.

All of which leads to a 'Politifact-style' rating for your post of...

Pants On Fire!!!

PRO1 year ago

Not to mention as well that some of the 'commercial' services you might be watching might be part owned by the BBC as well.

As a point of order: UKTV is 50% owned by BBC Worldwide, not BBC public service. In the context of the above posting, it should be noted that none of your licence fee goes towards paying for UKTV. Indeed, UKTV earned a profit of £74m last year. BBC Worldwide returned £173m to the BBC public service in 2013/14, so contributed roughly £6.50 extra to your licence fee.

1 year ago

James Cridland...

As a point of order: UKTV is 50% owned by BBC Worldwide, not BBC public service.

As a point of order, UKTV is 50% owned by BBC Worldwide, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of BBC public service, so, let's call a spade a spade. UKTV is 50% owned by the BBC. The fact that it has to be done through a subsidiary company, is merely a quirk of how the BBC is constituted.

1 year ago

Ah - this old argument.

Occasionally I see campaigns on social media to abolish the BBC licence fee and move towards subscription TV. Since we already have subscription TV we can already get an insight into just how well that will work. So the first question I have to ask is that if we don't have a BBC, who is going to make all the progammes that occupy the schedules on commercial (subscription) TV?

In the case of many subscription channels on £ky, I often see repeats of shows that were originally made by and shown on the BBC.

If we take ITV/STV, they are one of very few commercial channels that are willing to spend very large amounts of money on big productions, knowing that as a main (public) broadcaster they will get a good return in advertising revenue and/or premium rate competitions.

If we take Channel 4, it's partly funded by government and almost entirely screens independently produced programs, some of which are made WITHIN THE BBC's STUDIO FACILITIES!!!!

Channel 5 is owned by a major global TV company and aside from current affairs programs, it screens programs that are cheaply made by independent production companies, some of whom offer syndicated shows to the entire planet (e.g. ice Road truckers) or they make programs that are simply compilations of CCTV and dash-cam footage, narrated by a bob-a-job. They also take a lot of programs that have already been aired on their sister channels, such as MTV (which no longer plays music videos but has lots of "documentaries" about junk yards, catfish and people with personality problems). As if that wasn't enough, it's almost guaranteed that Channel 5 will repeat many of those shows within a year (I can almost recite the scripts of some of those severe weather documentaries).

So if we didn't have a publicly funded BBC, the quality of TV would spiral downwards and we would have to hope that ITV/STV would continue to take the chance with its budgets.

1 year ago

Sorry, Art, but calling you out here...

If we take Channel 4, it's partly funded by government and almost entirely screens independently produced programs, some of which are made WITHIN THE BBC's STUDIO FACILITIES!!!!

You're confusing Channel 4 with S4C. You're thinking of Newyddion, which has nothing to do with Channel 4.

PRO1 year ago

Ian, I love your naivety.

Many Channel 4 programmes are made at BBC studios, since the BBC rents these studios out to third party broadcasters (again, to keep the cost of the licence fee low). Indeed, Channel 4 don't actually own any studios of their own.

You may also have noted that Channel 4 also uses the South Bank studios (owned by ITV) - as, shock horror, do the BBC for shows like QI and Have I Got News For You.

Perhaps one day you'll pause for a minute and realise you don't, quite, know everything. Though I don't hold out much hope.

1 year ago

Trust me Ian, I know a bit more about that subject than you do. Connections and the like.

As an example, before it moved to ITV, Paul O'Grady's late afternoon show on Channel 4 (UK - not S4C Wales) was filmed in the BBC studios.

At one point Channel 4 did NOT make any programs of its own at all. Even when it first broadcast from 1982, the only program it made was Right To Reply - but it still hired studio facilities to do so. Indeed, it was often said that Channel 4 was no more than an office, rather than an entire TV station. Even the Channel 4 News is made by ITN. These days Channel 4 has diversified to be several channels, including Film 4 for which it can (loosely) claim to be involved in the production of some of its own content.

It's an interesting business model, is Channel 4 - but one that depends on public funding and also a publicly funded BBC to make Channel 4 work and use the studios of (even though they have no other connections).

Then there are all those re-cycled BBC programs that commercial TV stations on digital platforms broadcast to make money.........! Without the BBC, they'd be screwed. Without a licence fee paying for the BBC, ironically the other TV stations probably wouldn't exist.

1 year ago

Art, Channel 4 is a public corporation, but takes no public money. It's a profitable enterprise, either reinvesting the money or using it to bolster reserves for occasional loas making years.

It does not need, nor get, any funding/resources from the BBC. The independent companies that make its programmes can hire BBC resources at a similar price to what you or I could.

1 year ago

James Cridland;

Ian, I love your naivety.

Many Channel 4 programmes are made at BBC studios, since the BBC rents these studios out to third party broadcasters (again, to keep the cost of the licence fee low). Indeed, Channel 4 don't actually own any studios of their own.

Actually, I must hold my hand up here and say I misread what Art was saying. I thought he meant that the BBC was actually making programmes for Channel 4, not that independent companies were using BBC studios, which is something that I consider to be unimportant. It doesn't matter whether it's BBC studios or ITV Studios, or anybody else's studios.

And Channel 4 used to have their own studios, under 124 Facilities, before it got wound up at the end of 2014.

1 year ago

Art Grainger;

Trust me Ian, I know a bit more about that subject than you do. Connections and the like.

But apparently not enough to know, as Matt Deegan correctly pointed out that Channel 4 receive no public money. All their funding comes from advertising, sponsorships and subscription revenue from the HD variations of e4, More 4 and Film 4.

1 year ago

So sorry to hear about the way the BBC have treated Martin Kelner. We all know that cuts have to be made, and difficult decisions have to be actioned, but after more than 30 years loyal service he deserved better. Kelner's boss Sanjiv Buttoo describes himself as "an award winning journalist and broadcaster." He began his career in the British armed forces. This man should be mature and experienced enough to know that whatever the current "BBC policy" it is utterly shameful to treat your colleagues like that. Disgusting, insensitive, disrespectful behaviour. Mr. Buttoo should hang his head in shame.

1 year ago

What I do find strange is that Martin Kelner (if I read it right) has been making a regular commute from London to Leeds to do his programme. He could have easily done it over an ISDN link from London...

Taking into account the travel and possibly digs. cost in Leeds, and the modest fees paid out, how on earth did he ever manage to pays his bills?

I don't know enough about the relationship to comment on the departure but clearly a formal HR process should have been put in place, the days of dramatic frogmarching out of buildings, is something that should have been left in the last century.

Years ago, when wholesale departmental instant dismissal was all the rage, the telephoned generic code from the friendly HR mole was 'black bin liner' it would be the signal to immediately clear your desk whilst recovering the files you needed, clear own data off your terminal, deposit black bags in you/ your partners car and await the call upstairs, Collect the severance cheque, and hire a desk at the Press Centre in London... Just needs a bit of organisation. Martin will be back on the airwaves before long....

PRO1 year ago

Julian - rather the opposite. He commuted to London for weekends, as I understand it.

1 year ago

Either way, a long haul, but as I said he'll be back on the airwaves before long,, or better still use his expertise to help set up several new stations and possibly train up the new generation of broadcasters. Time to put something back? Anyway best of luck to him, and join the NUJ if he isn't already a member...

Login or register to comment
It only takes a second with your Google or Facebook account.

Remove the ads and support us: GO PRO