Tuesday 18 February 2020


Don't open the champagne yet!

Andrew Neil sums up today's lead story in The Times as, "Hilarious! PM moves to protect BBC from his own government". 

It's all about those "sources" again. There are two of them in this latest article. One says, “The PM is not as gung ho on the licence fee as Dom. With Dom it’s ideological — he believes the licence fee should be scrapped. With the PM it’s more reform than revolution,” while the other one says that Boris is personally “cool” on the idea of scrapping the licence fee. 

Much less confusing is John Whittingdale telling The Critic: There are large parts of the country that haven’t got broadband or indeed choose not to pay for it. You are turning round to all those households that don’t have fast broadband and saying, ‘You can’t get the BBC any more.’ Politically that would be utterly impossible. It is just not possible to make the BBC a voluntary subscription service for as long as it is broadcast on Freeview. We are some way off being able to switch off Freeview and put it all online.

Meanwhile, the BBC and its allies, including The Guardian and plenty of celebrities, are on manoeuvres. From Labour to the Conservatives, the various posses of the corporation's political friends are also riding to its rescue, all guns blazing. As you've been noting in the comments, even its supposed political critics - Lord Adonis, Alastair Campbell & Co. - have given up their cynical pretence of being anti-BBC and are manning the barricades for 'the Brexit Broadcasting Corporation'. The war is far from over.


  1. Lord Adonis, Alastair Campbell & Co. aren't really 'anti-BBC', indeed they are part of the team, providing that essential 'balance' that proves that the BBC 'gets it about right'.

    I wouldn't be surprised if, Fleet Street-style, the BBC rings them up just to get them to voice the 'quote' that the BBC has written for them, à la Andrew Marr on Sunday.

  2. For me subscription v licence fee is less important than PC Leftist v Impartial.

    How do you get to impartiality without turning it into something as dull as dishwater? It's not impossible, I'd say. This Week, for instance, delivered a wide range of opinion from right wing populists through to Far Leftists. So different from Newsnight and Daily Politics which come at everything from a lib-left angle.

    There are ways to achieve this.

    1. Put in place an Impartiality Board. This would be appointed by Government but would be situated within the BBC. It would include representatives of a range of national newspaper and magazines. The Board would examine output against well defined Impartiality Rules. The rules should extend to such issues as audience selection, panel, treatment of interview guests (interruption analysis). The Board should have the ability to suspend BBC staff where gross infringement of rules has occurred.

    2. Requirement that political views of BBC staff should reflect those of the population. Confidential surveys to be undertaken. It will be a requirement of BBC employment that staff complete such confidential surveys honestly. BBC should work to ensuring its staff reflect the range of opinion.

    3. BBC required to demonstrate its achievement of Impartiality Rules in an annual report on "Impartiality Implementation". This must be supported by survey evidence commissioned by the Impartiality Board itself, not the BBC.

    4. External Appointment Boards. For all vacant posts over £100k pa, put in place EABs. These to be agreed between the BBC and Government but to included at least 50% representatives of non-BBC UK based media organisations.No current BBC staff to have a vote on such boards, although up to two BBC staff can take part as non-voting members.

    5. BBC to take positive steps to create an "impartiality culture". All staff to attend courses.

    1. MB, I love your posts and views on the BBC.
      However ... I think achieving impartiality is impossible now, and maybe always was. Especially the appointment of "Boards" will backfire as for sure those Boards will be subverted by special interests, just as the BBC has been.

      I'd prefer reform of the BBC to be on based on:
      - principle of making the BBC accountable to those who pay for it. This can be by subscription.
      - the BBC gets smaller; it current size across radio, web and TV stifles competition.


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