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David Keighley


SURVEY FINDS 74 PERCENT OF BBC COMEDY IS BIASED TO LEFT:   Christopher Hope (£ Telegraph 13/12) said that the BBC had been accused of ‘flagrant bias’,  after a survey of comedy output during November (available here) had found  that 74 per cent of comedy contributors on its main channels were given to left-leaning, ‘woke’-supporting or anti-Brexit comics.  He reported that the survey – conducted by the Common Sense Campaign –

had identified that only two contributors in the 364 slots had openly expressed pro-Brexit or Conservative sympathies. Mr Hope noted that Tim Davie, the BBC director general, had already acknowledged that the BBC’s comedy output was seen to be too one-sided, but reported that a BBC spokesman had responded to the survey by stating that the corporation did not analyse comedy by comparing numbers, but judged it on whether it was funny and whether it reflected ‘ a range of different views’.


BBC BOTANIST: ‘GARDENING IS RACIST’: Harry Howard (Mail 13/12) said that BBC Countryfile presenter James Wong – a botanist – had come under attack after claiming on a series of Twitter posts that British gardening had racism ‘baked into its DNA because of its ‘fetishisation’ of terms such as ‘heritage’ and ‘native’.  Mr Howard noted that Mr Wong had approved a tweet which stated: ‘Gardens are denied their political agency because they too often reveal uncomfortable politics of individual ownership, spatial inequity and unsustainable practices.’


BBC INSERT ‘FINGER-WAGGING PREJUDICE’ INTO VICAR OF DIBLEY:  Allison Pearson (£ Telegraph 9/12), noting that the eponymous character played by actress Dawn French in BBC1’s comedy series The Vicar of Dibley would ‘take the knee’ – in line with Black Lives Matter protocol to acknowledge white racism  –  stated that it was no surprise that ‘some people’ were upset that the Christmas version of the show had shoehorned in references to the BLM movement.  Ms Pearson opined:

‘Deep sigh. Is nowhere safe from this aggressively sanctimonious new religion? Clearly not. Dibley’s vicar, Geraldine Kennedy (Dawn French), takes the knee on the village green while the church organ plays in the background – if you can imagine such a thing. I prefer not to. Getting down on one knee is something Britons used to only do to propose marriage or tie a shoelace. What on earth will the Dibley Parish Council make of this incongruous juxtaposition of gentle English comedy and furious US identity politics? One member, Jim Trott (Trevor Peacock), who is known for his slow wits, inappropriate sexual references (is that even allowed any more?) and for stuttering “no” repeatedly, would probably say, “No, no, no no no…” And I reckon a few million viewers could agree with him.

‘. . . The BBC obviously finds this difficult to comprehend but rather a lot of white, middle-class people pay the licence fee and they quite enjoy seeing their lives represented amid the hourly, finger-wagging lectures from News and Drama about how dreadful this country is and how appallingly prejudiced we all are. The Ten O’Clock News’s recent obituary of Peter Alliss appeared to take a sideswipe at the well-loved golf commentator because the 89-year-old had made a few jokey remarks which didn’t find favour with the po-faced thirtysomething Corbynistas who seem to make up most of the corporations’s staff. Although not its audience, funnily enough.’

BASHIR ACCUSED OF ‘DESPICABLE’ CONDUCT:  Sam Greenhill (Mail 2/12) reported that the BBC’s journalist Martin Bashir – who had conducted the corporation’s 1995 Panorama interview of Princess Diana – had been accused of being ‘despicable’ in the way he behaved in a murder case in 1991. Mr Greenhill said that Karen Hadaway, the mother of a nine-year-old child who had been murdered in the notorious ‘Babes in the Wood’ double killing in 1986, had handed some of her child’s clothes to Mr Bashir after he promised to take them away for DNA testing because police investigation of the murders had been put on hold. Mr Greenhill added that Mrs Hadaway had not heard from Mr Bashir again and that she had since claimed that the clothes had never been returned. Mr Greenhill further reported that there had been speculation that the absence of the clothes had delayed the eventual police resolution of the case by more than 20 years.




BBC ‘PRE-JUDGES DIANA INQUIRY’: Robert Mendick (£ Telegraph 1/12) reported that the BBC had been accused of pre-judging the outcome of its inquiry by retired judge Lord Dyson into the circumstances surrounding the 1995 interview of Princess Diana by Martin Bashir, who had been a BBC Panorama journalist. Mr Mendick explained that lawyers for Allan Waller, who had been head of security for Earl Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother, had written to the BBC  accusing Martin Bashir of ‘conspiracy to create an instrument of fraud’ (allegedly, forged bank statements purporting to show payments to a former employee of Lord Spencer). He added that the BBC legal department had responded that it believed the corporation did not bear any liability.  Mr Mendick said that ‘there would be anger’ that the BBC appeared to have made its own findings about the claims before the Dyson inquiry had properly started.


MPs DEMAND PM REINS IN  BBC ‘WOKE’ BIAS: Glen Owen (Mail 21/11) said that Conservative MPs had written to prime minister Boris Johnson demanding that he launch a fightback against the ‘politically correct woke agenda of institutions including the BBC. Mr Owen reported that the letter, from 60 MPs and peers in the Common Sense group, chaired by senior backbencher Sir John Hayes, was asking for a number of ‘drastic’ measures including decriminalising non-payment of the BBC licence fee on the basis that it was time ‘to defend British traditions and values’ as well as standing  against ‘the senseless woke whingers and the soulless militants who despise the best of Britain’.  Mr Owen quoted from the letter, written in the context of the BBC’s decision to remove the word ‘faggot’ from the The Pogues’ Christmas song Fairytale of New York in deference to the LGBTQ+ lobby:

‘In light of the BBC’s repeated refusal to address its organisation’s undoubted liberal bias, illustrated most recently by its bizarre decision to censor a well-known Christmas song (perhaps, similarly, the whole canon of popular music is to be reviewed by a highly paid zealot!), we believe it is now time to decriminalise the licence fee, so enabling ordinary Britons to choose whether or not to pay for the BBC’s content.’

Mr Owen noted that the BBC had said Fairytale Of New York would be played with its full lyrics on some stations, but not Radio 1, whose young listeners ‘are particularly sensitive to derogatory terms for gender and sexuality’.

MANGOLD ‘ASTONISHED’ BY OMISSION IN BBC PRINCESS DI PROBE:  An article in the Mail (22/10) said that veteran BBC investigative journalist Tom Mangold had ‘expressed astonishment’  that the BBC panel set up by the corporation ’s management board to investigate whether the BBC Panorama interview of Princess Diana by Martin Bashir in 1995 had been properly set up and conducted  would not investigate as part of its remit whether there had been a ‘cover-up’ within BBC ranks.   The piece quoted Mr Mangold, who had been a ‘leading light’ on Panorama when the interview occurred:

‘I am somewhat baffled by the complete absence of any reference in Lord Dyson’s (the former judge chairing the inquiry) brief to investigating the events within the BBC after the story of the forgeries broke.’

It was also stated that Mr Mangold has previously spoken about his conviction that executives on the programme had ‘conspired, lied, deceived and cheated’ to hush up the scandal, adding: ‘The true story is much bigger than Bashir.’

It was further reported that Mr Mangold had outlined the points he believed Lord Dyson must address in investigating the (alleged) use of faked bank statements and other ruses which led to Diana agreeing to the world exclusive interview.

He suggested the questions should be: ‘1. What steps did the BBC and, in particular, Martin Bashir take with a view to obtaining the Panorama interview in 1995?

‘2. Were those steps appropriate, particularly in regard to the BBC’s editorial standards at the time?

‘3. To what extent did the actions of the BBC and, in particular, Martin Bashir influence Diana’s decision to give an interview?

‘4. What knowledge did the BBC have in 1995 and 1996 of the relevant evidence, such as the forged bank statements?

‘5. How effectively did the BBC investigate the circumstances leading to the interview?’

BBC ‘MUST DIVERSIFY AWAY FROM WHAT WHITE PEOPLE THINK’: Jemma Carr (Mail 20/11) reported that Jonathan Munro, the BBC’s head of newsgathering, speaking at a Creative Coalition conference and Media Masters podcast, had said that the BBC should ‘diversify’ its senior news staff because editorial meetings tended to be dominated ‘by what white people think’.  Ms Carr said that Mr Munro had noted that when he had joined the BBC in 2014, every member of his team had been a Caucasian male, and a consequence of the lack of diversity had been that in the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire of 2017 – which had killed 72 people – the BBC news teams had not understood the gravity of issues faced by council house tenants.  Ms Carr also reported that Mark Mardell, who had retired as presenter of the BBC World This Weekend programme, had warned the BBC against ‘annoying and dismaying’ its basic audience in its pursuit of the diversity agenda.



CUMMINGS DEPARTURE ‘STOPS CHANCE OF BBC REFORM’: Robin Aitken (£ Telegraph 16/11) argued that the removal of Dominic Cummings from the inner circle of Boris Johnson advisors was a ‘disaster for any hope of serious BBC reform’. He stated:

‘The taxi that took Dominic Cummings away from Downing Street for the last time was carrying more than just the Prime Minister’s ex-chief adviser; it also carried away any realistic hope that the Johnson government might deliver on reform of the BBC. With Cummings gone the chances that there will be any serious assault on the Corporation’s privileges and prerogatives are severely diminished.

‘Dominic Cummings was the one person in the heart of government who understood why it was essential to take on the BBC. He could see what so many others seem unable to – that the BBC stands in opposition to everything that real conservatism consists of. Cummings departure is therefore a huge victory for the liberal-left Establishment.

‘When the Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis unburdened herself of her heartfelt contempt for Cummings and Johnson back in May she left no one in any doubt about her own politics. But her forthright editorialising also gave an insight into BBC thinking. It should always be remembered that what the BBC broadcasts is never the work of just one individual; broadcasting is a collaborative venture.

‘Maitlis would not have been able to simply write out her diatribe and then deliver it on-air without anyone else knowing. That script would have been seen and maybe amended by at least a couple of other BBC journalists – probably a senior producer and the programme editor would have read it through. It was, in fact, a considered and calculated attack which had the approval of senior editorial figures.

‘And what Maitlis’ verbal assault showed was just how rattled the BBC was by the knowledge that standing just behind the Prime Minister, and whispering in his ear, was someone who was its sworn enemy. Which is why the BBC news operation mounted such a sustained and vicious campaign to paint Cummings’ road-trip to the north in the blackest of colours; the Corporation was desperate to get rid of a man it rightly saw as a threat.

From the amount of coverage the BBC gave the story, and its tone, one might have thought Cummings stood accused of some serious crime rather than a minor (non-criminal) infringement of the rules made by a concerned father making childcare arrangements. However on that occasion the BBC’s hysterical campaign to unseat Cummings failed and Johnson stood by his man; but now, thanks to the PM’s girlfriend,  they have the scalp they most wanted and the chances of meaningful reform of the BBC have  plummeted.

‘Buried amid all the media comment over the weekend about the defenestration of Lee Cain and subsequent resignation of Dominic Cummings was a line about how the government is now going to drop its much-trailed intention of decriminalising non-payment of the BBC license fee. This is highly significant. The plan to make non-payment a civil, rather than a criminal, matter had been bruited since the beginning of the year. It was strongly hinted that this was one of Cummings’s ideas designed to undermine and weaken the BBC’s position.

‘There were some, perhaps inflated, estimates of how much such a move would cost the BBC in lost revenue – between £200 and £300 million annually, it was said – but more significantly it would have demonstrated a symbolic distancing from the principle of the license fee. And nothing is more important to the Corporation’s high command than ensuring the license fee’s continuation because it is the foundation upon which the entire edifice rests.

‘So the fact that now, in the immediate aftermath of Cummings’ departure, de-criminalisation is off the agenda points to an important new development; the government is suing for peace, and on the BBC’s terms. For who now, in the upper reaches of the government has the stomach for a fight with the BBC?

‘In these pages on Saturday Charles Moore, writing about Mr Cummings’s departure from No 10, detailed his remarkable successes on Brexit which came against all the odds; the referendum campaign itself and then the guerilla warfare in Parliament which coaxed and goaded the opposition into agreeing to a general election which Johnson then won handsomely. As Lord Moore said, all this was achieved “against the most bitter Establishment resistance in living memory”. And it is true that that the BBC was itself the stoutest, most constant supporter of that Establishment fight-back. As close textual analyses of the BBC’s output have demonstrated, the BBC’s coverage of Brexit heavily favoured, by a ratio of roughly 2:1, the pro-EU position.

‘It was that bias which provided the casus belli for the government against the Corporation. The European issue has been the dominant issue in British politics for forty years; it was an issue where unbiased, impartial information and news coverage would have been enormously beneficial to the whole nation. Instead of which, in dereliction of its duty of impartiality, the BBC showed consistent favouritism to the pro-Europeans. For Dominic Cummings that partisanship provided all the justification he needed to take-on the Corporation, to challenge its pretensions of impartiality and to threaten it with the removal of its privileges.

‘So what now? With Cummings gone the danger is that the government will lose all appetite for a war against the BBC because, without doubt, it would have been a protracted and politically bloody affair. It would have required determination and a willingness to spend a lot of political capital. That same Establishment which fought, tooth and nail, to prevent the democratic will of the people from being implemented, would certainly have rallied around the BBC if it was in any serious way threatened.

The BBC can count among its allies the entire arts establishment, academia and the education lobby, reliable media allies like the Guardian and Channel 4, as well as a huge swathe of Parliamentarians in both Houses. The BBC lined-up solidly behind the Establishment on Brexit and the favour would have been returned with interest.

With Dominic Cummings in No 10 – the man who once wrote that the BBC was “the mortal enemy” of the Conservative Party – there was a chance, albeit a slim one, that the Tories would free themselves of the Stockholm Syndrome which has always hampered their dealings with the Corporation. Too many Tories labour under the  illusion that the BBC is neutral towards them and now the one man who was clear-sighted on the issue has been booted out. In his place we have the Prime Minister’s girlfriend Carrie Symonds and her buddy Allegra Stratton.

‘Between them these two seem to have thoroughly brow-beaten the Prime Minister. Johnson is now a much-diminished figure and the BBC will be cheering. It seems more than likely that the Tories under Johnson will now slump back into their comfort zone; that could well turn out to be something depressingly reminiscent of the Cameron administration – a ‘CINO’ government  “conservative in name only”.

‘There is an outside chance that the panel set up by the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to examine the future of the BBC license fee will recommend its abolition. But the portents are not encouraging. As that indispensable right-of-centre news website Guido Fawkes has pointed out none of the panel members has any track record of criticising the license fee. On the contrary the 10 members look like a mix of industry insiders and establishment placemen much more likely to favour the status quo.

All of this adds up to a black day for reformers and a wonderful one for the BBC. Cummings, its enemy, has been unceremoniously dispatched and the Prime Minister has now chosen his girlfriend as  his principle adviser. With one bound the Corporation was free. As Private Eye’s long-running BBC satirical cartoon strip ‘Corporation Street’ might have put it: “Trebles all round!”‘.

BBC bias: An open letter to the new director-general

BBC bias: An open letter to the new director-general

THE BBC’s bias on Brexit has been proven beyond doubt. That is the Telegraph‘s response to News-watch’s latest report on the BBC’s Brexit coverage this week. In the words of Robin Aitken, former BBC producer and author of The Noble Liar (an excoriating and deeply perceptive book about BBC bias) our report shows an overwhelming pro-EU slant in BBC coverage from the close analysis of one random week.

The conclusion we reached, and Aitken concurs with, is that the Corporation is still regarding Brexit through the lens of Project Fear.

The question Aitken raises is whether the new director general of the BBC will take it seriously. Your move, Tim Davie, he says.

As he reports, we are indeed seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Davie to discuss how he intends to meet his pledge to make BBC impartiality a priority. And we are still waiting to hear whether he is prepared to put his money where his mouth is and, unlike his predecessor, accord News-watch the time of day and the respect its long-term independent monitoring of the BBC’s Brexit output deserves.

To encourage him on the path he’s promised, here is our open letter to him in advance of that meeting.

Dear Mr Davie

On September 3, in your first address to staff after taking over as director general, you stated that impartiality – as required by the BBC Charter – would be your main priority. 

You have announced measures which require staff not to post biased remarks or opinions on social media.

That sounds good, and was handled by the gargantuan 350-strong BBC PR machine to achieve maximum impact but, with respect,  BBC bias is not confined to ill-advised tweets – crass as they may be – from John Simpson and Gary Lineker.

Everything from comedy to drama and from the educational content of BBC Bitesize and BBC Ideas is also infected with woke, partisan zeal. 

One indication of the scale of the rot is the latest News-watch report.

Which, as Robin Aitken outlined, shows that despite everything that has happened since the 2016 referendum and the imminent departure from the EU ratified by the 2019 general election, the corporation is still pursuing Project Fear about life outside the EU, and is still swamping EU coverage with the views of  those who oppose Brexit or are pro-EU .

On top of that, not one programme has ever been broadcast by the BBC which explores possible benefits of departure. In sharp contrast, hundreds of hours of programmes have been devoted to climate alarmism and the supposed benefits of electric cars, so called ‘green’ energy and a carbon-free future.

But the reality is that a full audit of the extent of BBC failures of impartiality would take a team of dozens of scribes and analysts working round the clock for years to achieve.

Mr Davie, you are thus faced with a Herculean task in rooting out bias. But as yet, you have given no indication to the outside world – other than instituting the Tweet purge – about how you intend to achieve this.

Many viewers, of course, do not believe that reform is possible, which is why recent surveys show that  the majority no longer want to pay the BBC licence fee and don’t trust BBC news. 

But the current Charter is in place until 2027, and as the agenda for our forthcoming meeting, may I suggest the following urgent action points as a basis for our discussions and instant attention?

Find top-level advisers who are genuinely independent and will give you a perspective other than the stifling wokery which has infected the Corporation at every level.  Put some of them on the internal management board so their views are heeded.

Ditch opinion polls as a way of determining whether BBC output is impartial and get properly in touch with real people out there north of Watford and west of Oxford who will tell you what needs changing.

Institute instead rigorous monitoring of BBC output compiled by independent advisers who are not in the BBC or woke bubble. This will make the constant struggle to be unbiased a properly transparent process.

Scrap the current internal complaints system and put the 350 BBC publicists (combined pay £15million-a-year plus?)  to work instead in scrutinising output to get rid of liberal bias and in ensuring complaints are properly investigated rather than being seen as an intrusion.

Abandon your defence of the BBC licence fee and the outmoded notion of universal provision and start planning now for major change to reflect changes in the media environment. It’s only when the  Corporation has to fight in the marketplace for audiences that it will become fully responsive to audience needs and preferences, and it will be all the better for it.

Make genuine ‘diversity’ an important internal and output goal without the BBC being an overt arm of the woke ‘racism’ agenda and a fanatical tick-box exercise.

Scrap in its present form the lavish BBC Academy and relaunch it as the bastion of rigorous professional integrity and training to ensure that audiences across the whole of the UK are properly served.

Inject new life into the programme-making process by ditching tired formats such as Question Time and Newsnight – both around 40 years old – and replace them with new offerings which genuinely incorporate diversity of views.

Tell those who write for the BBC that they are not on a mission to convert the audience into woke-infected zombies but rather to stimulate them with challenging, fresh material containing a variety of perspectives and views.

At every level, celebrate British history and culture rather than preaching the message that we are a nation who should be ashamed of our past, and are tarred with blood-guilt. End once and for all the Biased Broadcasting Corporation and make the first ‘B’ stand for British in the full sense of the word.


BBC STAFF ‘CAN TAKE PART IN TRANS PRIDE EVENTS’: Jamie Johnson (£ Telegraph 6/11) reported that BBC director general Tim Davie had written to staff clarifying several points about the corporation’s new rules about social media and political activities. In particular, he had asserted that there had never been a ban on taking part in Pride or Trans Pride events, or other marches and protests, but that it was forbidden for them to attend rallies organised by political parties.   Mr Davie had stated:

“What we’re asking senior leaders, journalists, producers and those of you who work in news and current affairs as well as factual journalism to do is to take care when making decisions about participating in events and not to take a personal public position, via your actions or your words, on public policy issues.

“Specifically on attending marches, it is absolutely fine for these staff to be at Pride, or Trans Pride, but it would not be appropriate to be marching with a political party, or with a group advocating specific policy changes. I appreciate that this guidance involves many of us making judgement calls about what is and what isn’t appropriate. For some this will be relatively straightforward, while others will have some questions.  To support you on this, we’ll be rolling out a programme of discussions and training on all of these issues over the coming months, and I hope you’ll contribute – as vigorously as you want.”


BBC STAFF SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS “MUST MEET OUTPUT STANDARDS’:  Charlotte Tobitt (UK Press Gazette 29/10) reported that the BBC’s new social media rules stated that staff should treat their personal accounts as if they were BBC output, complying with its strict editorial standards and not including anything which they could not say on air on a BBC programme or on its website. She added that staff had also been warned that emojis could ‘undercut an otherwise impartial post’ and that liking or following some accounts could be enough to count as sharing a personal opinion. Ms Tobitt said that journalists had also been warned against:

  • Linking to anything they had not read in full
  • Using emojis to “undercut an otherwise impartial post” whether accidentally or deliberately
  • Breaking news on a personal account – “If you have a story to break, the BBC platforms are your priority, even if it takes slightly longer”
  • Being “seduced” by the informality of social media – “Your posts about news events and issues require careful thought and editorial discipline”
  • Being “drawn into ill-tempered exchanges, or exchanges that would reflect badly on you, or the BBC”.


DAVIE ‘TO CONFIRM NEW ANTI-BIAS RULES’: Gordon Rayner (£ Telegraph 29/10) said that BBC director general Tim Davie would confirm new corporation rules which were designed to protect BBC impartiality by preventing staff from posting biased opinions on social media outlets and also by requiring them  – in a new staff register –  to declare earnings from sources other than the BBC. Mr Rayner reported that Mr Davie was expected to say that impartiality was the bedrock of the corporation and must be observed both on and off air and that he believed by forcing stars to list how much they had been paid by private companies to speak or host events, they would be ‘shamed’ into turning down such work. Mr Rayner said that the new guidance was not intended to prevent the use of social media ‘but to ensure that anyone working for the BBC uses it with appropriate regard for the BBC’s values’.   He added that a list of social media rules was being posted to staff online and would be backed by disciplinary action including sacking.

Former BBC news programme executive and Downing Street communications chief Sir Robbie Gibb (£ Telegraph 29/10)  claimed that the new measures being announced by Tim Davie showed his determination to tackle bias and ‘restore trust in the BBC’, and would demand sweeping changes throughout the corporation. Sir Robbie asserted:

‘The move is a big step in the right direction for Mr Davie, who took over the helm just last month. He has declared that restoring the BBC’s reputation for impartiality will be his top priority and in this he faces a mammoth task. We all pay our licence fee but all too often BBC output reflects the views of just one section of society – the urban, metropolitan middle classes that make up the bulk of the BBC workforce. Over the last decade, “group-think” at the BBC has distorted its output, eroding its reputation for impartiality and damaging public trust.

‘And this drive to restore what has been lost should not stop with social media or news and current affairs but should extend to the entire BBC output. For gains made in some areas risk being undermined if entertainment programmes are not subject to at least some level of editorial scrutiny. All too often, the narrow political group-think spills onto our screens in drama plots and comedy programmes.

‘It seems having a non Left-wing comedian has become a new form of tokenism. Since the rise of alternative comedy in the Eighties, the BBC has never moved culturally away from the dominance of Left-wing Tory-bashing comics. Only “anti woke” Geoff Norcott seems to have broken through this barrier. Norcott is a funny man but so too are Andrew Doyle, Leo Kearse and Dominic Frisby. You would be forgiven for never having heard of them unless you are a comedy circuit regular.

‘And how on earth did the jaw-droppingly biased Roadkill drama get commissioned? With its grotesque caricature of a Tory minister and ludicrous plot line about secret plans to privatise the NHS – surely this is the most inane, inaccurate and biased prime time drama to air on British TV.’



NEW ‘PRO-BREXIT’ ONLINE VIDEO SERVICE PLANNED:  Christopher Williams (£ Telegraph 24/10) said that Ben Habib, a former Brexit party MEP and commercial property executive, was attempting to raise £4m of start-up capital for Unlocked, a new online video channel aimed at ‘muzzled majority’ news audiences not served by existing broadcasting services. Mr Williams reported that Unlocked would provide a platform for political views – such as support for Brexit – which were not getting the prominence they currently deserved. He added that former BBC producer Lesley Katon, who was now a partner in the PR firm Pagefield, had been lined up as chief executive of the new service. Mr Williams noted that Unlocked would not need to apply for a broadcast licence from Ofcom, and thus would not be bound by its impartiality rules, because it would operate online.


60% ‘WANT BBC LICENCE FEE SCRAPPED’ SAYS POLL: Charles Hymas (£ Telegraph 25/10) reported that a poll commissioned by Defund the BBC and conducted by Savanta ComRes among 2,274 adults had found that 59 per cent of respondents wanted the BBC licence fee to be scrapped, with only 32 per cent backing the status quo.   He said that 43 per cent also did not believe that the corporation output reflected ‘British values’ and 32 per cent were unhappy about the way the licence fee money was spent. Mr Hymas, also noting that ‘leading Conservative MPs wanted a review of BBC funding,  quoted former leader of the Conservative party Iain Duncan Smith:

‘Public opinion on the BBC is clearly moving and that means it’s time for a root-and-branch review on whether or not the public want a fully funded public broadcaster and, if so, what functions that broadcaster should fulfil.’

Mr Hymas added that the BBC’s licence fee arrangements did not come up for renewal until 2027 with the ending of the current charter, but that there was a mid-term review in 2022 ‘with the government understood the be urging director general Tim Davie to come up with proposals for an alternative model’.   He said that other poll findings included that those over 55 were twice as likely as young people to think that the licence fee was spent unreasonably (46 percent-21 percent),  and that 50 per cent of those surveyed felt that people who only watched other channels should not have to pay the licence fee.  He quoted Rebecca Ryan of Defund the BBC:

‘This poll clearly demonstrates that the British public is overwhelmingly opposed to the Licence Fee in its current form. There are rightly serious concerns over the way that the licence fee is spent, particularly given the eye watering sums paid to certain BBC presenters. It is also extremely worrying that the BBC has alienated such huge swathes of British people who do not think it represents their values. Decriminalising the licence fee is just the first step to radical reform. The next move is to ensure the licence fee only covers BBC output.’

Harry Cole (Sun 25/10), also reporting the poll findings, said that it had shown that 2019 Labour voters and 2016 Remain voters were significantly more likely than their Conservative and Leave counterparts  to believe that the BBC fairly reflected British values.  He also reported that the BBC had claimed in response that surveys consistently showed that the licence fee was the public’s preferred way of funding the BBC and that the model was in place until at least 2027.

A Sun editorial at the end of its article  (also 25/10) said:

‘A POLL revealed by The Sun today proves what we’ve suspected for a while — the BBC is in deep, deep trouble. Almost two in three Brits say the TV licence fee must be reformed, a third say the cash is spent “unreasonably’’ — and one in six say they never even watch the Beeb. It’s time Parliament listened to them. Decriminalising non-payment of the fee will be a start. But the Government should go further and revive its plan to fund the service with a subscription model. Media luvvies squeal at the thought: they think that scrapping the licence fee would kill the Beeb off. But they’re wrong. A subscription model — in which ordinary viewers beyond London would have more stake than ever before in what shows they watch — would give tired old Auntie a new lease of life.  The BBC will always be a beloved British institution. But to stay relevant, it must start reflecting the REAL modern Britain.’

The full poll is here.

DAVIE ‘TO CLAMP DOWN ON BBC STARS ‘MOONLIGHTING’:  Luke May (Mail online 25/10) claimed that, ‘according to one presenter’, BBC director general Tim Davie was planning, in a ‘clampdown on moonlighting by BBC stars’,  the introduction of  a public register of their additional earnings.  Mr May said that Mr Davie would also reveal tougher measures on their use of social media as part of his drive to ensure that a perception of a lack of impartiality in their reporting of events was eradicated. The reporter added that one of the targets in terms of presenter pay was the News at Ten newsreader Huw Edwards, who was reputed to have been paid £400,000 over the past five years in additional earnings.  Mr May also claimed that as part of the new social media measures, Mr Davie would be prepared to sack those who broke the new guidelines, as well as suspending offending Twitter accounts.