BBC MIGHT DROP ‘RULE BRITANNIA FROM LAST NIGHT PROM’: Faith Ridler (Mail on Sunday 23/8) said that, under pressure from 35-year-old Finnish conductor Dalia Staseveska, the BBC was considering dropping both Rule Britannia and Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory from this year’s last night of the proms, due to take place on September 12. Ms Ridler said that Ms Staseveska, said to be a big supporter of Black Lives Matter, believed that this year’s concert – being performed without an audience and with a reduced complement of musicians – was a ‘perfect moment to bring change’. Ms Ridler said that Jane Younghusband, head of BBC music commissioning on television, had confirmed that the content of the last night prom was under review, and had claimed the reduced number of instruments could mean it was not possible to perform Rule Britannia. Ms Ridler also noted that last month BBC columnist Richard Morrison had said Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory should be dropped from the proms because they were ‘crudely jingoistic’ and were ‘a toe-curling, embarrassing, anachronistic farrago of nationalistic songs’ which should be replaced by something which did not ‘create offence or ridicule’.
Craig Byers (Is the BBC Biased 23/8) said that, according to a poll conducted by You Gov, 69 per cent of respondents wanted the proms to continue as they were now, while only 11 per cent wanted the axing of the songs.
BBC ‘COULD SCRAP WORD TELEVISION FROM ITS BRANDING’: Kate Dennett (Mail online 23/8) said that BBC was considering plans under which BBC Television could drop the word ‘television’ from its title in a rebranding exercise designed to attract younger viewers in the 18-34 age group. Isaac Crowson (The Sun 23/8), reporting on the same theme, said that ‘television’ would be replaced by ‘BBC screen’ in moves which could cost the corporation ‘well over £1 million’. He added that BBC Radio’s programming department had already made a similar move, and was now known as BBC Audio. Ms Dennett said that bosses were reportedly relaunching the services to appeal to a younger demographic, who, it was claimed, tended to veer towards newer streaming services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix.
NEW BBC CHAIRMAN ‘MUST SORT OUT IMPARTIALITY’: Harry Yorke (Telegraph 23/8), discussing the forthcoming appointment of the new BBC Chairman in succession to Sir David Clementi, who would stand down in February 2021, claimed that government sources had told him that there was ‘mounting frustration’ about a lack of impartiality in the corporation’s news programmes, including Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis’s recent attack on Dominic Cummings. He also said that the sources had played down the idea that there was a firm favourite to land the job, insisting that ministers were waiting to see the field of applicants before deciding. Mr Yorke – after observing that ministers believed that new director general Tim Davie was in the ‘mood to be radical’ – quoted the source as saying there was ‘considerable concern’ around impartiality and objectivity’, not because of overt bias towards Labour, but because news programmes seemed only to be interested in picking holes in the government or digging up embarrassing quotes. Mr Yorke also noted that Conservative MP Mark Jenkinson had urged colleagues not to appear on the BBC in protest about the corporation’s decision to charge over-75s for their licence fees.
BBC ‘TO SPEND £100M TRACKING DOWN LICENCE FEE DODGERS: Liz Hull (Daily Mai 21/8) reported that the BBC had said it would spend £100million in the coming year chasing TV licence fees and pursuing non-payers via the court system. She explained that the existing evasion budget of £59 million was being boosted by a further £38 million following the decision that from August 1, the over-75s, who previously had been exempt from payment, would now have to buy a licence. Ms Hull described as “shocking” the amounts being given to licence fee collection subcontractor Capita, and reported that older people’s groups had said it was ‘sickening’ that dealing with the over-75s entailed the hiring of an extra 800 staff. Ms Hull added that TV Licensing, on behalf of the BBC, responded that the extra staff were working to provide over-the-phone support to older customers
ITV NEWS BULLETINS ‘WON’T BE AXED’: Anita Singh (£ Telegraph 22/8) said that Mike Jermey, director of news at ITV – reacting to a prediction by BBC director of news Fran Unsworth that television news bulletins would be axed within a decade – said that by contrast, those on his channel were here to stay. Ms Singh said that Mr Jermey, in a letter to her newspaper, he had asserted that television was the main source of news for most Britons and millions ‘value the curated news programmes that sit alongside entertainment and drama’.
BBC ‘REPORT ISRAELI-ARAB DEALS WITH OPPOSITE OF ENTHUSIASM’: Craig Byers (Is the BBC Biased? 22/8) said that the BBC’s low level of coverage of deals between the UEA and Saudi Arabia was ‘something to behold’. He noted that the BBC’s middle east editor Jeremy Bowen had tweeted about the developments ‘with the absolute opposite of enthusiasm’.
BBC COVERAGE OF KEY ISSUES ‘INSULTING’: Jeff O’Leary (The Conservative Woman 21/8) claimed – in a letter to BBC director general Lord Hall – that the poor standards of BBC reporting of the A-level grades issue, the Covid-19 pandemic and the Beirut bombing were matters of major concern. He asserted:
‘Why do I feel so strongly? I’m a geologist with a PhD in applied statistics. I have worked as a maths teacher in a secondary school in Bermondsey, as the reader in my subject and later as visiting professor at Imperial College, as chief geologist at Rio Tinto and as a managing director of one of HSBC Investment Bank’s industry teams. Following my retirement I served on the boards of a number of LSE listed companies. So I believe I am well qualified to comment, but more importantly I believe I should not be subject to the awful coverage offered by BBC news. I feel patronised and insulted by unprofessional would-be scientists feeding me biased and often downright incorrect information.’
BBC ACCUSED OF ‘AIRBRUSHING’ VIP PAEDOPHILE FANTASIST PROGRAMME:
Glen Keogh ( Daily Mail 21/8) reported that ‘furious’ victims had forced the BBC to ‘hastily re-edit’ an upcoming BBC2 documentary dealing the case of VIP abuse fantasist Carl Beech (known as ‘Nick’). Mr Keogh said that those accused by Beech had complained that the programme had ‘airbrushed’ out the alleged role of the former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson in ‘whipping up hysteria’ over VIP paedophile ring claims. Mr Keogh quoted Harvey Proctor, one of Beech’s victims:
‘Not including Tom Watson is like writing Hamlet without Hamlet. Tom Watson set the hare running when he put his question to Parliament about the existence of a VIP paedophile ring’.
Mr Keogh added that it was understood that the former MP would now be mentioned in the final version, which was broadcast on August 22.