Author Archives

David Keighley


DOWNING STREET “WOOS DACRE AND MOORE’ FOR TOP MEDIA POSTS:  Glen Owen (Mail on Sunday 27/9) reported that prime minister Boris Johnson – in a bid to ‘shake up the left-wing establishment’ –  had approached the ex-editor of the Daily Mail Paul Dacre to become  chairman of Ofcom in succession to Lord Burns, who was stepping down a year early at the beginning of 2021. He added that Mr Dacre had been ‘wooed’ by Mr Johnson at a drinks party earlier in the year and had responded that he was interested, subject to assurances about freedom and independence. Mr Owen also claimed that senior civil servants, meanwhile, were attempting to thwart – by insisting on due process – the appointment of another Downing Street favourite, the former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore, as chairman of the BBC, also at the start of next year.

Patrick Sawyer (£ Telegraph 27/9), also reporting that Paul Dacre was being considered by Downing Street as the new chairman of Ofcom, said he was one of the BBC’s   fiercest critics, and that the prospect was ‘certain to cause deep alarm among the BBC’s current hierarchy and its supporters’. Mr Sawyer speculated that he would want to rein in the BBC, forcing it to downsize and focus on its core public service responsibilities. He added that talks with Mr Dacre were at an early stage and it was not yet certain that he would be chosen, or agree, to take up the role.

Guido (27/9) quoted a speech by Paul Dacre from 2007 in which he outlined problems of BBC bias and ‘Cultural Marxism’, as well as ‘inherent statist bias’. He had said:

How often do you hear, on the Today programme or Newsnight, contemptuous references to the tabloid or popular press as if it was some disembodied monster rather than the very embodiment of the views of the great majority of the British people?

Fair enough. The tabloid press – and it’s getting confusing here, because the Times and the Independent are, of course, tabloids now, and the Mail has more quality readers than most of the so-called quality papers put together – is big enough to look after itself. Except I don’t think it is fair, because this ignores the ever-burgeoning influence of the most powerful media organisation in the world: the hugely subsidised BBC. And it’s my contention that the BBC monolith is distorting Britain’s media market, crushing journalistic pluralism and imposing a monoculture that is inimical to healthy democratic debate. 

Now before the liberal commentators reach for their vitriol – and, my goodness, how they demonise anyone who disagrees with them – let me say that I would die in a ditch defending the BBC as a great civilising force. Indeed I for one would pay the licence fee just for Radio 4. But the corporation is simply too big. For instance, it employs more journalists and their support staff -3,500 – and spends more on them – £500m – than do all the national daily newspapers put together.

Where there was once just a handful of channels, the BBC now has an awesome stranglehold on the airwaves, reaching into every home every hour of the day – adding ever more channels and even considering launching over 60 local TV news stations across the UK.

No wonder Britain’s hard-pressed provincial press complains it can’t compete, our ailing commercial radio sector is furious that the market is rigged against it, our nascent internet firms rage that they’re not competing on a level playing field, and ITN, aided and abetted by some pretty incompetent management, is reeling on the ropes.

But it’s not the BBC’s ubiquity, so much greater than Fleet Street’s, that is worrying, but its power to impose – under the figleaf of impartiality – its own worldview. Forget the fact that the BBC has, until recently, been institutionally anti-Tory. The sorry fact is that there is not a single Labour scandal – Ecclestone, Mittal, Mandelson and the Hindujas, Cheriegate, Tessa Jowell, and Prescott and Anshutz – on which the BBC has shown the slightest journalistic alacrity.

No, what really disturbs me is that the BBC is, in every corpuscle of its corporate body, against the values of conservatism, with a small “c”, which, I would argue, just happens to be the values held by millions of Britons. Thus it exercises a kind of “cultural Marxism” in which it tries to undermine that conservative society by turning all its values on their heads.

Of course, there is the odd dissenting voice, but by and large BBC journalism starts from the premise of leftwing ideology: it is hostile to conservatism and the traditional right, Britain’s past and British values, America, Ulster unionism, Euroscepticism, capitalism and big business, the countryside, Christianity and family values. Conversely, it is sympathetic to Labour, European federalism, the state and state spending, mass immigration, minority rights, multiculturalism, alternative lifestyles, abortion, and progressiveness in the education and the justice systems.

Now you may sympathise with all or some of these views. I may even sympathise with some of them. But what on earth gives the BBC the right to assume they are the only values of any merit?

Over Europe, for instance, the BBC has always treated anyone who doesn’t share its federalism – which just happens to be the great majority of the British population – as if they were demented xenophobes. In very telling words, the ex-cabinet secretary Lord Wilson blamed the BBC’s “institutional mindset” over Europe on a “homogenous professional recruitment base” and “a dislike for conservative ideas”.

Again, until recently, anyone who questioned, however gently, multiculturalism or mass immigration was treated like a piece of dirt – effectively enabling the BBC to all but close down debate on the biggest demographic change to this island in its history.

Above all, the BBC is statist. To its functionaries, insulated from the vulgar demands of the real world, there is no problem great or small – and this is one of the factors in Britain’s soaring victim culture – that cannot be blamed on a lack of state spending, and any politician daring to argue that taxes should be cut is accused of “lurching to the right”.

Thus BBC journalism is presented through a left-wing prism that affects everything – the choice of stories, the way they are angled, the choice of interviewees and, most pertinently, the way those interviewees are treated. The BBC’s journalists, protected from real competition, believe that only their worldview constitutes moderate, sensible and decent opinion. Any dissenting views – particularly those held by popular papers – are therefore considered, by definition, to be extreme and morally beyond the pale.

But then, the BBC is consumed by the kind of political correctness that is actually patronisingly contemptuous of what it describes as ordinary people. Having started as an admirable philosophy of tolerance, that political correctness has become an intolerant creed, enabling a self-appointed elite to impose its minority values on the great majority. Anything popular is dismissed as being populist – which is sneering shorthand for being of the lowest possible taste.

The right to disagree was axiomatic to classical liberalism, but the BBC’s political correctness is, in fact, an ideology of rigid self-righteousness in which those who do not conform are ignored, silenced, or vilified as sexist, racist, fascist or judgmental. Thus, with this assault on reason, are whole areas of legitimate debate – in education, health, race relations and law and order – shut down, and the corporation, which glories in being open-minded, has become a closed-thought system operating a kind of Orwellian Newspeak.

This is perverting political discourse and disenfranchising countless millions who don’t subscribe to the BBC’s worldview; one of the reasons, I would suggest, for the current apathy over politics.

How instructive to compare all this with what is happening in America. There, the liberal smugness of a terminally worthy, monopolistic press has, together with deregulation, triggered both the explosive growth of right-wing radio broadcasting that now dominates the airwaves and the extraordinary rise of Murdoch’s right-wing Fox TV News service. Democracy needs a healthy tension between left and right, and nature abhors a vacuum. If the BBC continues skewing the political debate, there will be a backlash and I predict that what has happened in America will eventually take place in Britain.

Now, there’s been much talk recently of the need for more civic journalism in Britain, the very thing the BBC prides itself on. But let’s pose this question: what if a civic BBC finds itself dealing with an administration that does not behave in a civic way? An administration that manipulates news organisations and the news agenda, that packs ministry press offices with its supporters, that chooses good days to bury bad news, that favours news bodies that give it positive coverage and penalises those who don’t, that fabricates health and education figures, and concocts dodgy dossiers – an administration that, in Campbell and Mandelson, thought nothing of engaging in systematic falsehood.

Is the BBC’s civic journalism – too often credulously trusting, lacking scepticism, rarely proactive in the sense of breaking stories itself – up to dealing with a political class that too often set out to dissemble and to deceive? The bitter irony, of course, is that when, for once, the BBC was proactive in its journalism and did stand up to the Labour party by breaking a genuine story, the corporation and its craven governors all but imploded under pressure from a rabid Campbell.

And what is interesting is that this contrasted with the ruthless support for the Iraq war that Rupert Murdoch imposed on his papers and their equally ruthless suppression of any criticism of the invasion whether it involved the attorney general’s malfeasance, virtually ignored in the Times, or Dr Kelly, all but hung drawn and quartered by the Sun.

Indeed, I would suggest that the intimacy and power-brokering between these two papers and No 10, and the question of whether Mr Blair would have got away with his falsehoods and misjudgments over Iraq – indeed, whether Britain would have gone to war at all – without the support of the Murdoch empire, is a brilliant doctoral thesis for some future media studies student.

Yes, the BBC is, in many ways, a wonderful organisation. But the fact remains that it depends for its licence fee on the British population as a whole, yet only reflects the views of a tiny metropolitan minority. If it continues with this abuse of trust, then the British people will withdraw their consent and the corporation will fall into discredit. And that would be a very great pity.


FOX  ‘TO LAUNCH POLITICAL PARTY TO REFORM BBC’: Christopher Hope (£ Telegraph 27/9) reported that the actor Laurence Fox had raised over £1 million, including ‘substantial sums from former Tory donors’, to launch a new political party to fight ‘culture wars’ and to reform publicly funded institutions ‘likely to include the BBC’. Mr Hope said the new party,  subject to Electoral Commission permission, could be called Reclaim. He quoted Mr Fox:

‘Over many years it has become clear that our politicians have lost touch with the people they represent and govern. Moreover, our public institutions now work to an agenda beyond their main purpose. Our country is now in desperate need of a new political movement which promises to make our future a shared endeavour, not a divisive one. This is now my endeavour.’

BBC Bias Digest 26 September 2020

ANDREW NEIL ‘LEAVES BBC’: Steven Brown (Express 26/9) reported that former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil, who had worked subsequently for almost 25 years as a presenter of BBC political programmes, had confirmed in a tweet that ‘with heavy heart’, he was leaving the corporation.   Mr Brown added that Mr Neil had also revealed he had been appointed editorial board chairman and flagship programme presenter of GB News, a new advertiser-funded television news channel – the main investor in which was by Discovery Inc, the US company behind Discovery Channel  and Eurosport – which would be distinguished by ‘intelligence and a more independent mindset’.  Mr Brown quoted Mr Neil:

‘Despite sterling efforts by new DG (Tim Davie)  to come up with other programming opportunities, it could not quite repair damage done when Andrew Neil Show cancelled early summer + Politics Live taken off air. But I leave with no animosity or desire to settle scores. I look back on my 25 years doing live political programmes for the BBC with affection.’


ANDREA JENKYNS: “BBC FOMENTS DIVISION”:  The Morley and Outwood Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns (£ Telegraph 24/9), in a comment item,  argued that, because the BBC was breaching its Charter by ‘fomenting division through questionable and blatant political positions’ in its programmes,  defunding the Corporation  ‘cannot come soon enough’. She wrote:

‘Not only is the BBC teetering on the precipice of a full embracement of “cancel culture” – which it fortunately stepped away from on the Rule Britannia chaos, even if it was after heavy pressure – but it often appears that there is an inherent leftwing agenda in its political coverage, be that interviews with a clear bias or reports that stem from a particular left of centre political position. . .

‘This political slant has become even more clear during this pandemic. . . The BBC’s charter obligates them to support the country’s social cohesion – to be a beacon of hope for our United Kingdom, but this can often see like a pipe dream as at every level the BBC is fomenting division – through questionable and blatant political positions in its educational content or Countryfile reports essentially labelling the countryside as white privilege.

Ms Jenkyns concluded:

‘These are just some of the reasons why I am adding my support for the Defund the BBC campaign to decriminalise the non-payment of the license fee. The legal privilege for the BBC regarding its licence fee is deeply regressive. It hits those who are most vulnerable hardest, with those who are less well-off or older being most likely to be challenged and end up before the magistrate. These cases are frankly unnecessary and, even if it is a minor impact to the huge overall workload of our legal system, any reduction in the legal workload is beneficial and allows for more time to be spent on meaningful cases.

‘Taxpayer money should not be wasted on chasing non-payment, and it certainly should not involve a multi-million pound contract to chase those who haven’t paid. I fully support Boris Johnson’s move for a roadmap to licence fee reform – we have a strong government majority and so now is the time to tackle these issues. Frankly, if the BBC is unable to shape up on its own, the government should force the issue and withhold the licence fee. The BBC and the country can only benefit from an end to taxpayer funding as it is then forced to compete in the open market – improving content and stripping out waste. Defunding the BBC cannot come soon enough.’


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 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 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 ‘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.


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.


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.