Yesterday I spoke in the Westminster Hall debate on the BBC.
While majority of the discussion focused on the right to free TV licences for the over 75’s, I wanted to focus my attentions on the bias and eroding impartiality of the BBC.
Some people in the debate (both directly and indirectly) argued that they wanted to see a BBC that is even more right-wing, even more vulnerable to governmental pressure, even less economically literate in its reporting. Others raised the question as to whether the BBC should exist at all.
Sadly, I know of people (on the left) who are so disillusioned with the BBC, that they have given up on it altogether.
I fundamentally believe that all of these reactions are a mistake.
There are serious problems with the BBC which cannot be ignored – from increasing government control of the broadcaster, to its over-representation of Conservative and Eurosceptic views, to the domination of privately educated, Oxbridge graduates across all areas of the BBC.
But I think that most of these issues can be resolved by making the BBC genuinely independent of governments – of the left or the right – and accountable not to a narrow elite, but to its own staff and to the communities it should represent.
The left has always been a friend to the BBC, and should remain so, but securing a public and democratic media system with the BBC at its heart will require radical change.