ANDREW NEIL ‘LINED UP’ TO BECOME BBC CHAIRMAN: Steven Brown (Express 9/8) suggested that as part of a bridge building with the BBC, Boris Johnson was lining up former Sunday Times editor and BBC presenter Andrew Neil to succeed Sir David Clementi as chairman of the corporation. Mr Brown also said that Mr Johnson had reportedly held peace talks with Lord Hall, the outgoing director general, following a year of ‘tough exchanges’. He added that other frontrunners to succeed the current chairman when he retired in February included Nicky Morgan, the former culture secretary, Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph, former Chancellor George Osborne, and Amber Rudd, the former home secretary, although the latter was likely to be opposed by senior Boris Johnson aide Dominic Cummings. Mr Brown quoted a senior government source as saying:
“The Prime Minister believes the BBC is one of Britain’s best assets, with the soft power projects abroad. He thinks it can do more of that.”
Tim Shipman (£ Sunday Times 8/8) also reported that Mr Neil was being considered as the next BBC Chairman. Glen Owen (Mail on Sunday 9/8) said that it could be revealed that Lord Hall, the BBC’s director general who was retiring at the end of the month, had held ‘peace talks’ with Boris Johnson, and was believed to have argued that number 10 should adopt a ‘less aggressive’ stance to Tim Davie, his predecessor. Mr Owen said the prime minister was said to have adopted an ’emollient’ tone, saying he wanted to use the BBC’s global reputation to project British ‘soft power’ around the world, but stressing the need for ‘efficiency and savings’. He added that both Downing Street and the BBC had declined to comment about the talks.
BBC WHITE PRIVILEGE ‘DEATH WISH’: Tom Slater (Spiked! 7/8) said that ‘in its latest expression of its apparent death wish’, the BBC had put out in its schools education Bitesize section a clip on social media of psychologist and former basketball player John Amaechi ‘waxing lyrical’ on the subject of white privilege. Mr Slater, observing that the corporation – barracked by accusations of bias and campaigns to defund it – appeared to want to troll its critics, claimed that the Aamechi video seemed ‘particularly cheeky’ in that teenagers ‘can now get woke one the same site as they revise for their French GCSE’, and in showing how orthodox ideas around identity politics and privilege have become at the BBC.
OVER-75s ‘BEING PUSHED BY BBC INTO OVER-PAYING FOR TV LICENCE’: Rosamund Urwin (£ Sunday Times 9/8) claimed that poor design on the BBC licence-fee website was pushing over-75s into paying for their TV licences in six months rather than the 12 that they were allowed. She said Caroline Abrahams of the charity Age UK had stated that it was ‘alarming just how clunky and counterintuitive the TV Licensing website is turning out to be’. Ms Urwin also reported that requests under freedom of information laws had revealed that more than a million Britons had been prosecuted for licence fee evasion since 2014, with nearly three-quarters of those prosecuted last year being women.
Glen Owen(Mail on Sunday 9/8)said that Tory MPs had warned the government about the ‘palpable anger’ of voters of the BBC’s decision to scrap free television licences for the over-75s after figures had shown that in some of their seats, nine out of 10 constituents who currently enjoyed the perk would have it taken away. Mr Owen said that in a total of 110 Conservative-held seats, at least 85 per cent of over-75s households would have the perk taken away. Mr Owen quoted the MP Julian Knight, chair of the Commons DCMS committee, who had said: ‘It shows the scale of harm the BBC decision has caused to our voters. The question will be does the BBC get it in the neck or the government?’