Why I am going to war with the BBC
In its mission statement, the BBC says that it “exists to serve the public, and its mission is to inform, educate and entertain.” It exists, therefore, to report the news in an impartial manner – not to make the news or to push a particular agenda.
I would contend that the BBC is now working outside its remit. Far from being an impartial spectator to events, it has become an active participant in our national debate, whose influence is unauthorised and unwelcome.
Current and former employees have acknowledged what you might call the “Guardianisation” of the BBC’s editorial line. You only have to consider a range of topics such as climate change, the EU and immigration to see that the BBC treats those who have concerns about such issues with an institutional disdain.
But its meddling with the news agenda has recently reached new heights, especially concerning the TV election debates. Even the BBC’s own former Chairman, Lord Grade – a man who recently brought about an amendment in the House of Lords to protect the corporation’s income stream – expressed outrage at the corporation’s threats to “empty chair” the Prime Minister if he did not cave to its demands.
Finally, and most importantly, there is the TV licence fee. This month we had a debate on the decriminalisation of non-payment of the fee in Parliament. This was due to the amendment put down in the House of Lords, which was then supported by five ex-BBC employees parroting the BBC PR machine’s line that this will cost millions of pounds of revenue should decriminalisation be legislated. The debate was riddled with dubious warnings that local radio stations and Cbeebies will have to close if the BBC did not retain the ability to send people to jail for being too poor to pay for their TV licence.
This month has also seen the suspension of the Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson for an alleged fracas with a producer. It has been speculated that the programme’s brand is worth tens of millions of pounds in annual income to the BBC. Should Jeremy Clarkson finally be forced out of the BBC, a reported aim of senior BBC executives, how will that revenue gap be filled?
Remember this: the BBC – thanks to its ex-employees in the Lords – has achieved a delay in possible decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee for another two years. On current trends, that will see 100 more people put in prison and over 300,000 citizens criminalised, simply because the BBC judges it to be a price worth paying for the maintenance of their revenue stream.
You really do have to question the moral approach of an organisation that applies such standards to the public they are supposed to be there to serve. It will also be revealing to see how Jeremy Clarkson is dealt with compared with Russell Brand, who in spite of his disgusting behaviour towards Andrew Sachs is now a leading presenter on Comic Relief. Perhaps this is because his extreme Left-leaning views are more palatable to BBC executives.
By leading the debate and setting the political agenda on the decriminalisation of the licence fee, I have set myself on a collision course with the might and influence of a £5 billion worldwide media organisation, which has attacked my family business, falsely reporting “facts” and attributing comments to me which I did not make.
I am fearful of retribution from the BBC after having been picked last week, out of a possible 46 East Midlands Seats, as a focus for the regional news programme in the upcoming election, effectively granting my opponents a disproportionate amount of prime BBC airtime to attack me.
The BBC has a budget more than double the size of the Foreign Office – and is an empire of an organisation. I believe serious questions must be put to the BBC at Charter Renewal about their agenda and their transparency.
This must be done without fear of its monolithic PR machine, which wields so much power. “Auntie”, as she was once affectionately known, is no longer with us. Instead we are faced with one of the last vestiges of corporatism, a leviathan that seeks to change our national culture and which holds even our highest elected representatives in contempt. The BBC has shown it is willing to ride roughshod over our democratic processes, so it must be tackled.
Andrew Bridgen is MP for North West Leicestershire
I laughed at that bit about the BBC supposed to be serving the Public…Craig at ‘Is the BBC biased?’ quotes this arrogant gem from a BBC correspondent:
A classic case of BBC bias:
Douglas Fraser used his blog to debate the statistics and the political context, and ended with the following very characteristic bit of BBC reporting – giving the appearance of impartially outlining alternative interpretations but actually strongly steering the reader towards a very particular view point:
‘So why the mismatch between public opinion and political consensus? Perhaps it is merely a desire for a point of difference.
Perhaps it is because it is a less salient issue for Scots: having less experience of ethnic minorities in their neighbourhoods, they care less about it than other issues.
You could argue that MSPs at Holyrood are out of touch, and in an elite which finds immigration useful in providing the low-price labour to support its lifestyle.
Or you could see MSPs as leading public opinion, setting out Scotland’s distinctive attitude to foreigners and incomers, on an evidence base about demographic change with which few others are familiar.
That version of Scotland’s outlook on the world may not be based on public opinion. But it’s a positive story to tell.’