Monday 9 December 2019

First thoughts from the BBC

Just for the record, I thought I'd transcribe how Boris's remarks about the BBC licence fee were reported on the BBC News Channel this afternoon. The BBC's Alex Forsyth was the report given the task of extemporising off-the-cuff responses (to coin a phrase). Note the little touches of editorialising along the way:

2.25 pm
Well, this is a campaign which so far, from the Conservative perspective in particular, has been very tightly controlled, because they entered this campaign thinking that they were the frontrunners to win it and they didn't want to do anything to disrupt it. So, a big part of it has been about trying to keep it to the core message, a focus on Brexit, and that was the thrust of what the Prime Minister came out here to do, coming to Labour Leave-voting seats. But two things have come up which you might have said were slight unexpected. The first one, as you say, an announcement, or at least the suggestion, that Boris Johnson would consider in the future, if he were to be re-elected Prime Minister, of getting rid of the licence fee. He said it was something that had to be looked at and reconsidered, that perhaps it wasn't the right way to justify funding the BBC in the very long term. He said he didn't want to make up policy off-the-cuff but then he went on to suggest that perhaps this is something he might look at, and that isn't something we've heard in that way from the Prime Minister before. 

3.07 pm
But there have been two things that have come up which have distracted from that. The first, as you say, that off-the-cuff, if you like, suggested policy announcement that Boris Johnson would look at the licence fee, the the way the BBC is funded, in the future, where he to be re-elected. First time we've heard him go that far on that

4.13 pm
Yeah, you might have considered this to be unexpected. Boris Johnson during that press conference was asked a question by a member of staff who was working at the road haulage company that he was visiting, and this was a question about the licence fee. And Boris Johnson gave an answer which, as I say, wasn't pre-briefed. Nobody was expecting him to say it. But it certainly might not have been entirely unwelcome, because it is the kind of answer which may play well with the voters that Boris Johnson is trying to target. This is what he said when he was asked about the licence fee. [Clip of Boris Johnson]So, that is the Prime Minister saying that he didn't want to talk about policy off-the-cuff and then seemingly doing just that. And so we've had two narratives emerging today which were not expected at the beginning when we thought the focus would continue to be on Brexit. One around the TV licence fee, which might not prove entirely unpopular with the people that Boris Johnson's trying to persuade,...


  1. Did it really take them two hours to tell us that Boris' 'off-the-cuff' remark was actually a response to a question from a member of the public.

    "Ve are asking der questions!" (Not the plebs.)

  2. Saying "the voters that Boris Johnson is trying to target", is more or less an admission that the BBC is biased against the Conservatives. Thank you BBC for making your position clear.

  3. Not particularly biased but "go so far" is a phrase that carries negative connotations. When the BBC likes some proposal it calls it "radical", "groundbreaking", "courageous" or some such. It doesn't express surprise that someone or some organisation has "gone so far" as to put forward the proposal!

  4. Read between the lines here - Boris is referring to a Maynard Keynes quotation - "in the long run we are all dead"

    He's actually saying that he isn't going to do anything about the TV Tax with duplicitous speech.


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