BBC MUST ‘URGENTLY CHAMPION IMPARTIALITY’: Dan Sales (Mail online 3/9) said that new BBC director general Tim Davie, in his first address to staff, had asserted that if they wanted to be opinionated columnists or partisan campaigners on social media, they should not be working at the BBC, and that the corporation needed to urgently ‘champion and recommit to impartiality’. He had insisted his drive was about being ‘free from political bias, guided by the pursuit of truth, not a particular agenda’, and asserted:
‘If you work here, nothing should be more exciting than exploring different views, seeking evidence with curiosity and creatively presenting testimony. Making use of our own experiences but not driven by our personal agendas. I wonder if some people worry that impartiality could be a little dull. To be clear, this is not about abandoning democratic values such as championing fair debate or an abhorrence of racism. But it is about being free from political bias, guided by the pursuit of truth, not a particular agenda. If you want to be an opinionated columnist or a partisan campaigner on social media then that is a valid choice, but you should not be working at the BBC.’
Mr Sales reported that Mr Davie had also told staff that there was no room for complacency about the BBC’s future and must evolve to protect what was cherished because if current trends continued ‘we will not feel indispensable enough to all our audience’. He added that Mr Davie believed the corporation had spread itself too thinly amid competition from streaming services, which could mean it was time to stop making some shows, to stop navel-gazing, and maybe close down some services, stating that the end had come of ‘linear expansion for the BBC’.
Mr Sales also said that Mr Davie had made it clear that he opposed the idea of a subscription model of revenue generation in future, but had not spelled out what other options might be favoured.
Steven Brown (Express 3/9) said that Mr Davie, in his address to staff, had said that the future of the corporation was in doubt if it could not regain the trust of the public. He had also said that the corporation must explore new ways of delivering impartiality, including seeking a wider spectrum of views, pushing out beyond traditional political delineations and finding new voices from across the nation. Mr Brown added that he had warned staff that he would be taking action in the coming weeks, including new guidance on how to deliver impartiality, and affecting a ‘radical shift’ in the focus of the BBC to reconnect with those who felt alienated by the corporation.
Ti Davie’s full speech can be read here.
NEW BBC DG ‘IN TOUCH WITH ORDINARY PEOPLE’: Robert Hardman(Daily Mail 3/9), stressing that he wanted the BBC to thrive, argued that in the row over the last night of the proms, new director general Tim Davie – who had announced that the sung version of Rule, Britannia would be included – had been handed a very simple, headline-grabbing and cost-free means of making his mark on the corporation, and in tune with ‘ordinary people’. Mr Hardman claimed that the decision would be welcomed by most ‘level-headed’ people in the country, though he said that the announcement about the change of heart over the proms was ‘both condescending and nonsensical’ in claiming that the problems had been thrust on the BBC by the problems of Covid-19 rather than being of their own making.
Leo McKinstry (Express 3/9) claimed that the decision by Tim Davie over the proms represented an extraordinary defeat for the ‘social justice warriors’, and that if Mr Davie continued in the same way, he would ‘transform the corporation for the better’. Mr McKinstry suggested that the new director general was the ‘antithesis of the progressive mandarin’ who had worked in the commercial world and in the 1990s had been a Conservative activist.
BBC’ SHOULD PROVIDE COMEDY THAT IS FUNNY’: Rod Liddle (Sun 3/9), noting that new BBC director general Tim Davie had reportedly suggested that BBC comedy was too ‘left-wing’, argued that the real problem was that jokes told on air – involving often, for example, that Donald Trump had an orange face – were not funny. He asserted:
‘Listen in now and you get panels of people who all think the same thing, making the same jokes, over and over. It is stultifying. Luckily, the new director-general of the BBC has noticed this. Tim Davie has said he wants a few more right-wing comics on those panel shows.’
Mr Liddle argued that the solution was not to choose comedians simply because they were right-wing, but ‘comics brave enough to tackle subjects the BBC staff think are sacred cows’.
‘One more thing, D-G. I hope you are including Newsnight in your list of comedy programmes that need an overhaul. And ridding of leftie bias. Get shot of Emily Maitlis for a start. That would give us all a laugh.’
‘CONSERVATIVE VIEWS OMITTED FROM BBC NARRATIVE’: Nicholas Burnett (The Conservative Woman 3/9), discussing BBC bias, observed that throughout the summer, in the ‘midst of racial tension stocked by Marxist agitators’ (referring to the Black Lives Matter protests), the BBC had chosen to amplify individuals’ claims of racism against the police ‘without challenge or context’. He added:
‘The same sense of grievance plays out in much of the ‘woke’ narrative too often consuming BBC News output. Many black people don’t feel deeply offended by white society. Many gays feel awkward with train carriages painted in their name. Many women roll their eyes when the next round of gender-pay grievance figures is headlined. Conservative views are omitted from the BBC’s narrative as it gives credence to ‘strong feeling’ over balanced rational coverage. Britons do care about fairness, tolerance and equality but not the version pushed by activists.’
Mr Burnett argued that the BBC’s pursuit of ‘more diversity’ had led now to the assumption that race, sexuality and gender were primary factors in the worth and measurement of people , and that – in effect – was bouncing back on them with reported claims of institutional racism within the BBC, with employees of the Africa service complaining that having a white manager was akin to ‘working the cotton plantations of old’.