Parliament held a debate this week on matters European referendum related, and issues relating to BBC bias (naturally) arose.
'Shouldn't the BBC be obliged to be independently monitored during the forthcoming election?' some asked (including Bill Cash and John Redwood).
Indeed, they then pushed for legislation to 'make it so' (as Captain Jean-Luc Dehaene of the Starship European Enterprise might have said).
You can read the whole thing on Hansard (and it's surprisingly fascinating), but I'd just like to focus on one paragraph from Bill Cash's speech:
It is rather strange that the BBC was somewhat dismissive of News-watch, an organisation that runs a comprehensive analysis of all news programmes - who goes on, what questions are asked and the whole conduct of the BBC output. I am afraid that it seems to me that the BBC was somewhat dismissive of that, to say the least. I believe from what I have heard that the BBC does not in fact have its own monitoring system. If it does not have its own monitoring system, how is anybody to know whether or not it has been impartial, because that is like looking for a needle in a haystack? We do not have the facilities to be able to conduct the analysis for ourselves, but the BBC has £5 billion and I would have thought that was the least it could do.
That's always seemed to me to be a vital point, and one that the BBC keeps being allowed to slither away from.
Being publicly-funded, the BBC ought to have a system in place to monitor its 'impartiality' and that monitoring should be transparent.
It doesn't have such a system in place though, it seems (or if it does the BBC is so opaque that no one knows about it!)
I think it's safe to say that the BBC's 'impartiality' will be monitored more closely than ever before in the run-up to the EU referendum, which is all for the good.
The more people do such monitoring (thoroughly and fairly) the better, because the BBC has such a huge output that a small number of people watching it simply won't be enough.
Though I don't intend to keep banging on about BBC bias forever (or even beyond the next few years), I intend to stick around long enough to play my part, but things will need arranging so that we aren't all looking in the same places.
And rules about scrupulous honesty must be accepted by all. If any set of results show no bias (or, unlikely as it is, bias in the opposite direction) we must say so.