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David Keighley

BBC BIAS DIGEST 17 SEPTEMBER 2020

LINEKER ‘RACE-BAITS’ OVER SPORT QUIZ:  Rebecca Davison (Mail online 17/9)said BBC football presenter Gary Lineker had caused a furore when he had tweeted that Alex Scott, a former England women’s  team footballer, had been confirmed as Sue Barker4’s replacement as host of the BBC1 quiz A Question of Sport.   He had said:

‘Congratulations and good luck to @AlexScott on being the new host for Question Of Sport. Smart, knowledgeable and perfectly qualified for the role. Oh… and if you have a problem with Alex getting the job, you might just be part of the problem.’

Ms Davison suggested that Mr Lineker appeared to be shrugging off a warning from new director general Tim Davie about such activity on social media, perhaps because as a part-time football presenter, he was not bound by the new rules. She added that some on twitter had reacted by suggesting that Mr Lineker was attempting to ‘race-bait’ people for an argument. Ms Davison reported that a source in the BBC had told her that Ms Davison – whose roots were in Jamaica and Ireland –  was being lined up as Ms Barker’s replacement not because the corporation was trying to be ‘woke’ but because of her knowledge of sport and experience of broadcasting.

DEFUND THE BBC CAMPAIGN PUSHES FOR LICENCE FEE REDUCTION: Ellie Cambridge (Sun 17/9) said that a ‘Defund the BBC’ campaign had raised £60,000 in donations and 40,000 supporters, had three main aims: to show viewers how they could legally cancel their television licences; to call for the decriminalisation of non-payment; and to lobby for the licence fee to be reduced at the BBC’s mid-Charter review in 2022. She noted that the organisation was being led by Brexit campaigners Darren Grimes and Calvin Robinson, and believed that the corporation’s Brexit-related coverage portrayed supporters as ‘thick, racist and old’.

BBC ‘TREATS VIEWERS WITH CONTEMPT’:  Leo McKinstry (Sun 15/9) claimed that the chief talent of the BBC – which once made great programmes – was now alienating the British public with extravagance and attachment to wokeness, and that the people who paid for this ‘vast monolith’  and self-serving bureaucracy were often treated with contempt by the corporation.  He argued that this was clear in the figures for the pay for BBC presenters revealed in the BBC annual report which showed that 75 of them received salaries of more than £150,000. Mr McKinstry said that the pay figures made a mockery of the BBC’s decision to end free licences for the over-75s. He also noted that the annual report showed that the headcount had gone up in the public arm over the past year by 300 to 19,500 and the number of senior managers had increased to 253.

BBC DEFENDS ‘KILL WHITEY’ JOKE: Jack Wright (Mail 17/9) said that the BBC had come under fire for giving airtime to ‘Marxist’ comedians who had joked about ‘killing whiteness’ after new director general Tim Davie had vowed to ‘take a sledgehammer’ to left-wing comedy bias at the corporation.  He reported that black comedian Sophie Duker – on the BBC2 programme New World Order – had made ‘controversial statements’ about white power and racism in a segment of the programme discussing the Black Lives Matter movement.  He added that Ms Duker had called whiteness ‘a capitalist structure’ and then made jokes about ‘killing whitey’, had stated that ‘white power is Trump tower’, and that capitalism ‘hurt black people’. Mr Wright said that radio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer had tweeted,’ This is horrible, it’s not just unfunny, it’s incoherent Marxist gobbledegook’. He added that the BBC had commented that the content was ‘within audience expectations, for a post-watershed satirical programme.

NEW HOST “LINED UP FOR QUESTION OF SPORT’: Bryony Jewell (Mail 17/9) reported that a BBC source had claimed that 35-year-old Alex Scott, who was a former player in the England women’s football team, was being lined up to replace 64-year-old former tennis star Sue Barker as host of the BBC1 quiz A Question of Sport. Ms Jewell quoted the source as saying that she was ‘genuinely the best woman for the job’.   She said that former BBC presenters had accused the corporation of both ageism and sexism.

 

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST 16 SEPTEMBER 2020

BBC ANNUAL REPORT REVEALS FALL IN AUDIENCES AND REVENUE:  Daniel Martin (Mail 16/9), said that figures in the BBC’s annual report showed that the number of people paying the BBC licence fee had fallen by 237,000 to 25.9 million  over the previous year, with overall licence fee revenue – which was also hit by a fall in government contributions towards free licence fees for the over-75s – down £170 million to £3.5 billion. Mr Martin also reported that young people aged 16 – 34 now watched only seven and a half hours of BBC programming per week, only slightly more than You Tube. Across all ages, the audience reach of BBC1 had fallen from 68 per cent of adults per week to 65.4 per cent, with BBC2 also declining from 42.9 per cent to 41.9 per cent.  Radio audiences had also dropped – Radio 1 from 17 to 16.6 per cent each week and Radio 2 from 27.2 per cent to 26 per cent, though Radio 4, at 19.3 per cent had been stable.

Ellie Cambridge (Sun 15/9) reported that the BBC had disclosed that ex-England football captain Gary Lineker, who was now the main football presenter and had been the highest-earning on screen star with a contract worth £1.7m, had taken a pay cut of £400,000 a year, meaning that Radio 2 presenter Zoe Ball – paid £1.36 million – was now the corporation’s highest earner.

Kathy Gyngell (Conservative Woman 15/9), under the heading ‘How dare they? BBC robs the poor to feed millions to its fat-cat presenters’, said the BBC annual report contained its very own Rich List of its on-air and front-of-house staff paid more than £150,000 per annum, ‘all compulsorily paid for by you and me, including millions of over -75s’.  She noted that Gary Lineker – who had agreed a pay reduction but was still on £1.3m-a-year – had posted a tweet afterwards ‘that shows his contempt for the little people who pay his salary’ and said, Oh dear, thoughts are with the haters at this difficult time’. Mrs Gyngell commented:

‘. . . find me one iota of justification for the inflated salaries for these so-called celebrities who even the kindest would have to admit are no Terry Wogans, Two Ronnies or Bruce Forsyths, the real entertainers of decades past. The over-rewarded and mainly indifferent editors, reporters and presenters who make up the rest of the list are the reason I have had BBC TV and radio switched off in my home for a long time. Lockdown was bad enough without being driven mad on a daily basis by the BBC’s entitled ones – their propaganda, inanities, bad grammar and substandard reporting.  If I never hear the harassing Nick Robinson (£299,999 per annum) or the maddeningly smug and patronising tones of Mishal Husain (£269,999) ever again, I will be happy. As for the egregious and self- opinionated Emily Maitlis on £374,999, well, words fail me.’

The full report is posted on the News-watch website.

Stephen Glover (Mail 15/9) argued that the person made happiest by the revelation of the BBC pay figures was likely to be the prime minister’s  main advisor, Dominic Cummings,  who wanted ‘to hack back the Corporation and ideally eviscerate it’, with the ultimate aim of abolishing the mandatory licence fee, with non-payment decriminalised in the meantime.  Mr Glover argued that the British people – two-thirds of whom, according to an opinion poll, wanted the licence fee scrapped, with more than half thinking the corporation was politically correct – were inexorably losing their affection for it.   He stated:

‘Yesterday’s publication of gigantic BBC salaries will be greeted by many as further evidence that it is increasingly out of touch with its audience, and has jettisoned the values of public service that once distinguished it. . . . In the last financial year, the total salary bill for ‘talent’ edged up £1million to £144.6million, while pay for the BBC’s executive committee rose from £4.95million to £5.41million despite endless undertakings that top management would tighten its belt.’

He concluded:

‘The Corporation goes on behaving exactly as its enemies would wish. And I’m afraid it will find it has fewer friends than it used to.

‘Can it be saved? New director general Tim Davie has got off to a good start by reversing the decision to ban the words of Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory at the Last Night Of The Proms. His attempt to crack down on opinionated BBC staff pontificating on social media is also welcome. Reforming this arrogant behemoth will nonetheless be an almighty task.

‘I hope Mr Davie succeeds because the best of the BBC is worth fighting for. But it won’t survive in anything like its present form if it continues to carry on regardless.’

BBC BIAS DIGEST 15 SEPTEMBER 2020

BBC SENIOR MANAGEMENT ‘FACES CULL’:  Anita Singh (£ Telegraph 15/9) said that in revealing the contents of the BBC annual report (on 15/9), new director general Tim Davie would – according to a ‘source’ – say that he was planning to remove unnecessary layers of bureaucracy, including a cull of its 100 most senior executives earning more than £150,000 a year. Ms Singh claimed the annual report would include the results of a management survey conducted by Deloitte into corporation finances which showed that 95 per cent of controllable spend went on the content and delivery of programmes, with the remainder on support services. She added that the planned reduction in jobs applied only to the public service arm of the BBC but not to its commercial business, BBC Studios, which was still hiring staff.  Ms Singh said that under Lord Hall, Mr Davie’s predecessor, promises were made to reduce headcounts, but in 2018-19, there were an additional 1,021 appointments to public service roles, taking the total to 19,231. She reported that Mr Davie was expected to praise the performance of iPlayer, which had enjoyed 4.8 billion streaming requests in 2019-20. She added that Mr Davie had made no mention of the BBC’s decision to end  free television licences for over-75s from August in his first speech to staff, but Silver Voices, a group representing pensioners, had now requested an urgent meeting with him, and Mr Davie had agreed to schedule a date.

Daniel Martin (Mail 15/9) claimed that the publication of the BBC annual report would led to a backlash from pensioners because it revealed that payment for its stars rose by more than £1m to £144.7m in the past year, and that 76 presenters earned more than the prime minister’s salary of £150,000 a year.  He added that the figures also revealed that the corporation had given pay rises to more than 700 female employees since a row over gender pay parity in July 2017.  Mr Martin reported that Dennis Reed of the pensioners’ group Silver Voices had demanded that payment to stars should be slashed if the BBC expected over-75s to pay for their licences.  He added that the annual figures showed that two stars were being paid more than £1 million and 73 received between £150,000 and £500,000, representing 10 per cent of total internal creative content spend, a figure unchanged from the previous year.  He said the BBC had declined to comment.

MAITLIS ‘ATTACKS GOVERNMENT AGAIN’:  Craig Byers (Is the BBC Biased? 15/9) noted that, on BBC2 Newsnight, Emily Maitlis, interviewing Lord Lilley and Sir Roger Gale about the passage of the government’s internal market bill, interrupted Lord Lilley, a supporter of the bill 10 times and Sir Roger, who voted against the government, zero times. Mr Byers also noted that Lord Lilley had received the ‘laugh in the voice’ treatment from Ms Maitlis and was told by her that one of his key arguments was ‘quite specious’.  Dylan Donnelly (Express 15/9) also noted that Ms Maitlis had called Lord Lilley’s defence of the bill ‘specious’ and that, in response, many viewers had said on social media that she had not been impartial in her questioning.

BBC ‘SHOOTS ITSELF IN FOOT’ OVER SPORT QUIZ CULL: Jim White (£ Telegraph 15/9) argued that in deciding to cull former tennis star Sue Barker, along with team captains Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell  from the corporation’s long running BBC1 quiz A Question of Sport, in pursuit of  ‘diversity’, BBC bosses had shot themselves in the foot.  Noting that they might be replaced with figures from ethnic backgrounds, he said that – though it was commendable if the BBC reflected society as a whole – all three of the current roster of presenters were over 60 – another desirable component of ‘diversity’ which was seemingly being ignored.

He added:

‘The idea that there are millions of youthful hipsters who will be drawn to the show if you make the regulars a bit younger and more diverse is absolutely fanciful. This is not going to become a must-see appointment in the artisan coffee roasteries of Hackney because Jermaine Jenas and Alex Scott are unveiled as the new team captains (excellent broadcasters though both of them are).

‘It is a bit like suggesting Fleetwood Mac would appeal more to today’s teenagers if they recruited a twentysomething singer. This is a show with a very specific demographic: the very reason people like Question of Sport is that it has been around forever doing the same things it has always done with the same cast. Or to extend the Mac analogy, that it has long gone its own way. The truth is that removing Barker and the boys from the mix will simply alienate the existing audience while wholly failing to bring in a new one.’

COLSTON STATUE BIAS:  Jack Montgomery (Breitbart Europe 15/9) said that the BBC was facing further accusations of political bias after claiming in a news report that the statue of Bristol trader and philanthropist Edward Colston had been ‘symbolically lowered’ in June into Bristol harbour by Black Lives Matter ‘campaigners’. Mr Montgomery said that the Save Our Statues campaign had countered on social media that the reality was that ‘a violent, lawless mob’ had been involved, with Darren Grimes, a Brexit campaigner adding that the statue had been ‘dragged down by a mob in an illegal act of criminal damage whilst police turned a blind eye’.

BBC Bias Digest – 14 September 2020

CONSERVATIVE MP: ‘BBC SHOULD BE DEFUNDED’: Simon Osborne  (Express 14/9) said the Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns had called for the BBC licence fee to be scrapped,  and had urged prime minister Boris Johnson to use his Commons majority to push through major reforms of the corporation. He added that Ms Jenkyns had claimed viewers were fed up of paying the annual £157.50 fee to a broadcaster which was now behaving like ‘a politically correct nanny state’. She had said:

‘I think the BBC has had its monopoly for too long now.” “It is inherently leftist and pushing that agenda all the time – I know the number of interviews I’ve done where they’re just so biased. And I feel they are also teetering on the cancel culture as well which they shouldn’t be doing. If every penny of taxpayers money goes to the BBC or any public sector organisation it should have scrutiny.

And added:

‘They should be a beacon of light for British culture – it is the British Broadcasting Corporation – rather than trying to be this nanny state, politically correct role which they have being doing recently. This has got to change so let’s just get on and defund the BBC.’

 

BBC ‘TO SCRAP MEETINGS CULTURE’: Anita Singh (£ Telegraph 14/9) said that new director general Tim Davie had decreed that most internal meetings were a waste of time and that the ‘meetings culture’ – satirised in the BBC programme W1A – must end as part of a larger ‘unrelenting’ drive to make efficiencies and scrap unnecessary layers of bureaucracy.  Ms Singh said the measures would be outlined in the latest BBC annual report, due to be published on 15/9.  She said that the report would also outline that the gender split between pay levels among high corporation earners  – now at 55:45 in favour of men, had improved from 75:25 in 2017.  Other measures included a warning to staff about the need to be more circumspect in the use of social media and open about outside interests.

BBC BIAS DIGEST 13 SEPTEMBER 2020

 

BBC ‘PUT WOKE TO BED’: Faith Ridler (Mail on Sunday 13/9) reported that Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia had been sung last night at the last night of the proms following the ‘furious backlash’ over the lyrics being pulled due to ‘imperialistic ties’. She added the performance had been by a reduced orchestra of 65, against the normal 300, and without an audience, with the choir positioned in the stalls to ensure social distancing.

BBC BIAS DIGEST 12 SEPTEMBER 2020

MAITLIS ‘CHUCKS ROTTEN EGGS’ AT FORMER BREXIT MEP:  Craig Byers (Is The BBC Biased? 12/9), noting that Emily Maitlis was back presenting BBC2 Newsnight after a fortnight’s break – during which new director general Tim Davie had announced a renewed drive towards impartiality – argued that, in presenting an item about UK-EU Brexit negotiations, she had made not ‘the faintest attempt at even-handedness’.  Craig explained:

‘When I saw that she was going to conduct a joint interview between a pro-EU, ex-Conservative opponent of Boris Johnson (David Gauke) and a former Brexit Party MEP (Ben Habib) I metaphorically rubbed my hands in anticipation.

‘What better test could there be? Would she be even-handed, put appropriate devil’s advocate questions from different positions, etc? My old interruptions test probably tells you all you need to know. She interrupted Ben Habib 11 times and David Gauke only once – and the one interruption of David Gauke was only so that she could get right back to bullying Ben Habib.

‘She didn’t even make the faintest attempt at even-handedness. The two points she put to David Gauke were ones entirely in line with his own point of view. They helped him. (Hope he properly thanked her, maybe with flowers, later). Every one of her points to Ben Habib, in contrast, was a hostile one, contradicting him and challenging him, and doing from a position of disdain and moral superiority.

‘To put it only slightly fancifully, David Gauke was obviously there to be egged on, and Ben Habib was even more obviously there to be placed in the stocks and have rotten eggs chucked at him.’

 

SNP ATTACKS BBC DECISION TO AXE DAILY NEWS CONFERENCE COVERAGE: Daniel Sanderson (£ Telegraph 12/9) said the BBC was facing a ‘major backlash’ from Scottish nationalists after it had decided that it would no longer routinely broadcast SNP first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s daily press conferences, which had been started at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown.  He reported that the Scottish National Party believed the broadcasts on BBC1 in Scotland provided essential information about risks, whereas political opponents had compared her performances to party political broadcasts pushing the SNP perspective. Mr Sanderson added that future conferences would be covered on news merit rather than automatically.

BBC ‘REACHES NEAR EQUALITY IN MALE-FEMALE PAY RATES’: Hana Carter (Sun 12/9) said that figures on pay released by the BBC suggested that pay for women working at the corporation had moved closer to equality, with 45 per cent of those earning more than £150,000 now being females, compared with 25 per cent four year ago. Ms Carter claimed that highly-paid male stars had taken pay cuts while ‘some women had reaped higher rewards’. She suggested that one of these was news presenter Fiona Bruce, whose pay was likely to be around £400,000 a year after she took over presenting BBC1 Question Time as well as her other roles.

BBC BIAS DIGEST 10 SEPTEMBER 2020

ANDREW NEIL ‘CONSIDERING HIGHER PROFILE BBC ROLE’: Robert Mendick (£ Telegraph 10/9) claimed that former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil had been offered a ‘higher profile than  he had before he was taken off air’ by new director general Tim Davie, and that Mr Neil ‘regarded as one of the most forensic political interviewers on television’ was believed to be considering roles on BBC1 and BBC2 as part of an overhaul of the corporation’.     Mr Mendick noted that Mr Neil’s former BBC programme had been taken off air in March and then formally axed during the summer as part of budget cuts.

‘ALLEGRA STRATTON FAVOURITE FOR DOWNING STREET  HOT SEAT ‘: Jack Maidment (Mail online 10/9) said that former BBC journalist Allegra Stratton, who was currently director of communications for chancellor Rishi Sunak, was believed to be the frontrunner in a selection process to choose who would front  new daily White House-style press briefings about government policy from Downing Street. Mr Maidment said that prime minister Boris Johnson was believed to be impressed by Ms Stratton’s work for Mr Sunak, although she had not formally applied form the new post.  He added that Downing Street had insisted there would be a ‘full and proper’ selection process for the £100,000+-a-year post.

FORMER RADIO 4 BOSS SLAMS ‘OUT OF CONTROL’ BBC PRESENTERS: Luke May (Daily Mail 10/9) said that Mark Damazer, a former controller of BBC Radio 4, had told an Institute of Economic Affairs  webinar that use of tweets and social media by some BBC stars to express political views was ‘out of control’ but had denied that corporation output was not ‘paralysed by wokeness’.   It was also reported by the newspaper that BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty could be banned from speaking about Natwest on the programme sofa after it had been disclosed she had ‘moonlighted’ by appearing in a promotional video for the bank.

MAIN ADVOCATE OF WOKE CULTURE ‘IS BBC’: Anne Widdecombe (Express 9/9), discussing the rise of ‘woke’ culture, which , she claimed, was akin to the Spanish Inquisition (minus only the torture), argued that the main exponent was the BBC.  She declared:

‘Supposedly impartial, it simply ignores what it does not like and jumps on any passing bandwagon that suits its own metropolitan-elite driven notions, as is evidenced by the enthusiasm with which it has recently embraced the agenda of portraying Britain and her historic figures as rabidly racist.’

Miss Widdicombe noted that Tim Davie, the new BBC director general, had a big part to play in making the country once more a land of liberty and free speech – but said she was not holding her breath that he would.

BBC BIAS DIGEST 9 SEPTEMBER 2020

BBC ‘WOMEN’S HOUR HAS MADE ITSELF REDUNDANT’: Allison Pearson (£ Telegraph 9/9), noting that ‘talented’ presenter Emma Barnett had been appointed as the new main presenter of BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour, replacing Dame Jenni Murray, commented that the programme had become ‘too pious’ for her and that there was a ‘weary inevitability’ to the fact that an item on singing or Arctic exploration ‘will shoehorn in a diversity or BAME angle’. She opined:

‘A recent hyper-Woke discussion about something called “allyship” featured a blizzard of politically-correct terms like “systemic oppression” “intersecting identities” and “decolonising your mind”. Anyone tuning in to find out what to do with foraged blackberries would have been bemused.’

She concluded:

‘Emma Barnett  will appeal to a younger generation of women. The trouble is most won’t be at home listening to the radio. They will be out pursuing the jobs that they can take for granted because seven decades of fervent campaigning by an iconic female radio programme, among others, has given them all the opportunities their grandmothers never had. Woman’s Hour has made itself redundant.’

 

BBC DIVERSITY CHIEF ‘SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED BY DAVIE’: John Smith (Conservative Woman 9/9), noting that BBC presenter Naga Munchetty had taken a second recent moonlighting role – thus adding to her £195,000-a-year publicly-funded salary – said that a bigger problem facing new director general Tim Davie, who had vowed to crack down on such activities, was the approach of June Sarpong, the corporation’s director of creative diversity.   Mr Smith pointed out that Ms Sarpong’s salary, which alone among senior executives, was not disclosed, but was likely to be at least £150,000 a year for a three-day week, and had a budget of £100 million connected with her role. He said that the rest of the time, Ms Sarpong took commissions from advertisers M&C Saatchi Merlin and Burberry, and also wrote books for Harper Collins as well as running her own company, Diversify International. Mr Smith concluded:

‘Are newspapers too afraid to ask probing questions about her activities, including her naïve at best and dangerous at worst, promotion of revolutionary Black politics on social media, fearing they will be labelled ‘racist’ if they do so? Or is it just that nobody has noticed this glaring oversight yet? If Tim Davie is not aware of the Sarpong case, it’s time he had a look at it. I sense it has the makings of a scandal.’

 

BBC SPORTS PRESENTERS WARNED ABOUT ‘RACIAL STEREOTYPING’:  Kieran Gill (Daily Mail 9/9) reported  that around 450 broadcasting staff, including  BBC presenters, and those from a range of outside organisations, had been on an ‘avoiding racial bias’ webinar training session, and had been told they must not use terms such as ’nitty gritty’, ‘sold down the river’ and ‘uppity’, along with ‘whiter than white’, ‘blackballed’ and ‘black mark’.   He said that the participants had also been warned describing black players  as having ‘pace or power’ could lead to them falling into the trap of racial stereotyping.

BBC FARMING STAPLE ‘NOW ABOUT BLACK LIVES MATTER’: Jane Kelly (Conservative Woman 9/9) said BBC Radio 4 On Your Farm – which used to focus on advice on ‘stockpersonship and agricultural practice’ – had now, like all BBC output, succumbed to reporting through the Black Lives Matter lens, with the result that reporter Anna Jones had told the audience from a farm in New York state run by two black women and two lesbian married couples that ‘black, gay female farming and diversity is the way of the future’.  Ms Kelly observed:

‘Rather than correct animal feed, the programme fed us with essential facts; Africans invented agriculture, but their skills were stolen from them. And if you thought people once moved from the land to the cities seeking a better way of life, you were misinformed; it was all about slavery and racism.’

 

BBC EXECUTIVE ‘WISHES DONALD TRUMP DEAD’: Kurt Zindulka (Breitbart London 8/9) reported that a senior BBC human resources executive had shared social media posts wishing for the death of president Donald Trump, expressing support for Jeremy Corbyn and had called so-called ‘right-wing’ British actor Laurence Fox a c**t.  Mr Zindulka – noting that director general Tim Davie had announced a crackdown on such activities – quoted a BBC source as saying that what she had done was ‘very inappropriate’.

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST 8 SEPTEMBER 2020

DAVIE ‘HAS FIGHT ON HIS HANDS’: Former BBC producer and news executive Robin Aitken (£ Telegraph 8/9), in a wide -ranging assessment of the scale of the challenge facing new director general Tim Davie, argued that the task ahead was ‘formidable’ because ‘every BBC employee, from the most junior researcher to the most senior editor, is subject to the same, massively coercive, group think’, and asserted there was BBC groupthink on key issues such as the re-election of Donald Trump. Mr Aitken said that Mr Davie must thus need to find journalists sympathetic to right-wing views and promote them through the ranks. In that connection, the effort to tempt former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil – who had been treated ‘with bad form’ by Tony Hall – was good news, but the corporation needed more like him. Mr Aitken also argued that the scale of the bias problem was also illustrated by Richard Sambrook, a former BBC news chief who had been appointed by Lord Hall to review the use of tweets and other social media by BBC staff.  He noted that Mr Sambrook had become a professor of journalism at Cardiff University and there had taken enthusiastically to twitter himself, arguing that Brexit was ‘utterly stupid’. Mr Aitken said:

‘No doubt these sentiments go down well in the Senior Common Room in Cardiff but they hardly suggest Sambrook is an impartial observer. Is he going to call-out errant BBC journalists for tweeting the very same views he holds?

‘Interestingly Cardiff’s School of Journalism often provides research data claiming to prove that the BBC is, indeed, impartial. The BBC and its fellow-travellers in academia are happy collaborators in a mutual back-scratching exercise. What this demonstrates is that the BBC has many powerful allies and they will be vocal and active in their resistance to change. To succeed, Mr Davie will have to swim against the tide of “educated” opinion across the board.’

He concluded:

‘Mr Davie has made all the right noises in his first week in the job; he has used his new high office to signal the course he wants to chart. More difficult than talking about it, though, will be effecting enough real change to satisfy the circling critics. He has a fight on his hands.’

 

BBC EUROPE EDITOR ‘BREACHED EDITORIAL GUIDELINES: Guido Fawkes reported (7/9) that the BBC had partially upheld a complaint against Europe editor Katya Adler for publishing a tweet in which she had branded cabinet minister Michael Gove ‘delusional’ and had misquoted him in terms of his opinion on a key phase of negotiations with the EU. The article noted that the executive complaints unit (ECU) had said Ms Adler had gone beyond the editorial guidelines’ licence for correspondents to use  ‘professional judgments, rooted in evidence’.

DAVIE ‘SHOULD EXAMINE OTHER FORMS OF BBC FINANCING’: Holly Fleet (Daily Express 8/9) said that John Sergeant, the BBC’s former chief political correspondent, had warned director general Tim Davie that he must consider forms of funding other than the licence fee, even if it meant a loss of income, and that he should accept that non-payment of the current fee should be decriminalised.

MUNCHETTY ‘MOONLIGHTING AGAIN’:  Amie Gordon (Daily Mail 8/9) said that BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty – who was warned in August about accepting paid promotional work from the car manufacturer Aston Martin – had been ‘reminded again’ of the danger of potential conflicts of interest after taking part in similar work for the Natwest bank.  Ms Gordon said the videos, titled In Conversation  With. . . , included chats with high profile guests such as former Labour politician Ed Balls, the captain of England’s cricket team, Eoin Morgan, and perfume entrepreneur Jo Malone. Ms Gordon reported that the plugs for the bank had been recorded before Tim Davie – who had warned staff about such ‘moonlighting’ in his inaugural address to staff – had assumed his new role on September 1.    She said that ‘BBC insiders’ were furious with Munchetty, who earned £195,000 a year. A BBC spokesperson had said:

‘Since this event, Naga has been reminded of the risk of conflict of interest when undergoing external engagements. We are developing clearer direction in this area as part of our wider work on impartiality and will have more to say on that in due course.’

Tim Davie: Reformist or PR Hype?

Tim Davie: Reformist or PR Hype?

Is Tim Davie genuinely a reformer?

His regime as new BBC director general took off at an apparent breakneck speed from September 1. In his first three days in office, he reversed the decision not to include the sung version of Rule Britannia in the last night of the proms; said he was going to ensure BBC output was scrupulously impartial; claimed that management and staffing of the corporation were to be slimmed down and made more sharply efficient; he axed former Labour minister James Purnell, who, under Tony Hall,  had improbably become the corporation’s  director or radio and education, from the BBC’s executive committee; warned presenters to stop tweeting and posting political opinions; and declared that BBC colonisation of the airwaves through the development of new channels were over.

But not so fast.  Is his agenda really radical? Or PR hype?

The answer lies in the small print – and, more tellingly, in what he did not say  – in his address to staff made at lunchtime on Thursday (September 3) at BBC Cardiff, now housed in a spanking new £100m Welsh headquarters building

One immediate point is that his headline-grabbing decision to change the format of the last night of the proms next Saturday (September 12) was no big deal.  A choir was already performing in the Royal Albert Hall and was going to sing You’ll Never Walk Alone.  Of concern – showing perhaps that nothing much has yet changed at the corporation – is the wording of the BBC press statement about the decision. It’s an exercise in PR guff and obfuscation which casts what had clearly been a woke decision to axe patriotic songs as being determined by creative considerations.

Perhaps Mr Davie’s  biggest pledge is his push to restore BBC impartiality. That he has to say this at all – given that it is a core Charter requirement – shows the extent of the decline of the corporation.

Here, the crash-bang announcement was that Emily Maitlis and the army of BBC presenters who believe their legitimate goal is to change the world according to the rubric of the woke instruction manual rather than to report it, are going to be muzzled and prevented from posting incontinently on social media and Twitter. If true, that’s a welcome development, even if it comes well after the horse has bolted.

But will even this relatively straightforward intention work out? Already, there are reports that Gary Lineker, the £1.7 million-a-year lead presenter of BBC football, has shown he doesn’t give a hoot what Tim Davie thinks. On Friday, he launched a political advocacy video which – in pushing the need for open UK borders – suggests  that we would not have fish and chips if mass immigration not been in full flow throughout the centuries.

And what of restoring impartiality in a more general sense? Here, Mr Davie has the  biggest mountain to climb. The rot set in decades ago with the BBC’s pathological hatred of Margaret Thatcher – yielding programme’s such as the Panorama edition Maggie’s Militant Tendency – and reaching its zenith under the recently-retired  Lord Hall of Birkenhead.

He never tired of telling us his BBC was free from bias while shutting down whole rafts of national debate over issues such as climate change and swearing blind Brexit coverage was balanced when patently, it was not.

And the problem with BBC bias, of course,  is that it is not just in news reporting and current affairs programmes. It totally saturates output. Dramas are now made primarily to preach political points and to reflect diversity targets. Doctor Who, according to BBC director of content Charlotte Moore is ‘inspirational’. Why? Because it’s cracking good drama? Of course not! It’s because it now has a female in the main role. The fulcrum of most BBC comedy is ridicule of Donald Trump. Nature programmes such as Springwatch have become, in effect, Extinction Rebellion propaganda manuals.  Science so-called documentaries are commissioned and constructed to make  political points (as Charlotte Moore’s speech also underlines), and history programmes are a sustained exercise in attacking the United Kingdom and its achievements while simultaneously pushing a globalist agenda.

So what is Mr Davie going to do about this vast, multi-billion pounds avalanche of bias and distortion? Here,  his speech of last week – apart from the headline-catching assault on tweeting – was largely silent. He said he was ‘committed’ to it, and said vaguely that there would be a re-casting of internal editorial guidelines and some ‘training’.

That’s like using a toffee hammer to demolish a house. There are no new internal measures for reviewing and policing output; and nothing about bringing independent scrutiny to challenge the decisions and judgments made by BBC staff. And David Jordan, the BBC director of editorial standards – who some credit with offering a smidgeon of ballast against the relentless tide of wokeness under Lord Hall  – has been axed from the Tim Davie executive committee, while June Sarpong, the Lord Hall-promoted director of diversity, remains.

Mr Davie was virtually silent, too, about how to restore impartiality, but, by contrast, not so on ‘diversity’. That, he said, was  a top priority in every editorial meeting and every future staff appointment, in steps towards creating BBC staffing which is 20 per cent black and ethnic minority, compared to 13 per cent in the population as a whole.

And what of the licence fee? On that subject, not a peep, even though polls have suggested that 60 percent of the UK population oppose it and view it as an anachronism in the world of Sky Q, Netflix and Amazon Prime.

That’s an astonishing omission, given the pressure now building to abolish it.  Especially as Mr Davie also declared that he is opposed to a shift to subscription financing.