BBC LICENCE FEE PAYMENT ’TO BE DECRIMINALISED’: David Maddox (Sunday Express 12/7) said that, following a public consultation announced earlier this year, government sources – said to include ‘a minister’ – were suggesting that payment of the BBC licence fee would be decriminalised, meaning that the Corporation was facing a ‘black hole’ in its finances of up to £1 billion over five years. Mr Maddox, also noting that a Defund the BBC campaign had attracted thousands of followers, said that critics of the Corporation believed the figure could be even higher. He also suggested that the government could be ready to act because of the outrage generated by the decision by the BBC this week to renege on its pledge to provide free licence fees for the over-75s.
Mr Maddox also noted that the Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns, writing in the Sunday Express, had outlined wider concerns about the BBC amid continuing allegations of biased news coverage. She had said:
“Arguably the single biggest threat to the BBC is not it going back on its word about the licence fee, but rather its own internal bias. The BBC is meant to be an impartial organisation, but despite this, even figures that we consider faces of the BBC acknowledge this is not the case.
“The BBC’s handling of recent events has only served to reinforce this further. Who can remember a time where the majority of a Question Time panel voted to leave the EU, despite the majority of the British people voting to do so? Who can forget the openly biased attack launched by Emily Maitlis against the Government on Newsnight a few weeks ago?”.
FARAGE: ‘BBC’S DAYS ARE NUMBERED’: Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit party, had warned in a social media video that the BBC’s days were numbered because trust in it was collapsing, according to a posting on Breitbart Europe (11/7). Victoria Friedman reported that Mr Farage had said:
“. . . trust in the BBC, according to the Reuters Institute, has fallen by another 20 per cent since 2018. There is a massive change going on in this country. Whilst the BBC may be respected all over the world. . . the BBC with every crisis that we face shows it to be totally London-centric, as far away from middle England as ever it could possibly be.
“I think its days are numbered. I think the idea that we’re all going to go on paying over £150 a year for this thing is for the birds. It’ll take time for it to go because the status quo is a very powerful thing. Trust in the BBC is disappearing. I think what you’re going to see are media challengers to the BBC and others that will spring up over the course of the next year or two.”
Ms Friedman also reported that most Britons now said they do not trust BBC journalists to tell the truth, with some two-thirds thinking the broadcaster was biased. She added that a Civitas study (by News-watch) from 2018 had found that Eurosceptic voices had been suppressed over the years on the Today programme, BBC Radio 4’s flagship news programme. `further, half of Britons thought that the BBC should earn its own money either through advertising or a subscription service, while another poll had said that nearly three-quarters of Britons want the TV licence abolished entirely.
BBC ‘HASTENING ITS OWN DEMISE’: Madeline Grant, writing in the Telegraph (£ 12/7) under the headline ‘The BBC decision to snub its core audience will only hasten its demise’, attacked the Corporation’s ‘mind-boggling priorities’. She instanced a range of problems, including the decision to slash local and regional journalism jobs, announced on the same day as the spending of £100m extra on diversity targets, even though BAME contributions onscreen were already at 23 per cent when the proportion of BAME people in the national population was only 14 per cent; a No Country for Young Women podcast – said to be part of a ‘vapid identitarian drift’ – which had featured three millennial contributors advising white women how to avoid being ‘Karens’ by ‘educating themselves and avoiding being loud’; the decision to scrap free licence fees for the over 75s and focus instead on ‘yoof’, exaggerating the sense of skewed values; and a sense of sanctimony in news and current affairs, drama and comedy, with Newspeak masquerading as impartiality, for example in the description that a bus ‘exploded’ (rather than being the subject of a terrorist attack) during the 7/7 London Islamic terrorist attacks. Ms Grant concluded:
“Is the BBC beyond redemption? Appointing Tim Davie as Director-General – a conservative numbers man, not a typical programme-making exec – suggests some, at least, in the corporation understand the scale of the problem…Ironically, supporting robust local journalism would probably do more to foster the type of diversity the BBC lacks (ideological, regional and class-based) than any number of gimmicky internal audits. The corporation’s London focus has already created a mandarin broadcasting clique that tends to play to its peers, rather than to the rest of the country. The cushion of the licence fee, though designed to protect public service journalism, has more often generated complacency and given producers carte blanche to ignore majority opinion. Insiders may claim that, like the NHS, the BBC still enjoys an iconic place in the national psyche. They forget that, to endure, loyalty and respect must continue to be earned.”
BBC NEWS “AGGRESSIVELY BIASED: Stephen Daisley (£ Spectator 10/7) argued that, in its reporting of race in particular’, the BBC had become openly and aggressively biased and the mouthpiece for ‘one side of a culture war’. It was not merely taking sides, but also ‘failing to realise that there is another side’. Mr Daisley laid out that this was especially manifest in an episode of the podcast No Country for Young People (also mentioned above), in which it was asserted (without balance) that white women who were ‘Karens’ – whose greatest sin was that they were white – wanted to be treated in a special way and should refrain from attacking black voices. He also noted that the historian Dinyar Patel was part of a series in which ‘white privilege’ had gone from campus supposition to the status of a ‘universal truth’. Mr Patel had also asserted that the current crop of Asian MPs included ‘recalcitrant Brexiteers with muddled perspectives on Britain’s imperial history’. Mr Daisley concluded that unless the BBC changed, it would end up alienating the mainstream with the result that support for the licence fee would be lost.
BBC SERIES ‘TRASHES MURDOCH”: Chris Hastings (Mail on Sunday 12/7), in an article about a three-part BBC Two documentary series about the Murdoch family due to be shown from July 14, said that the Corporation was under fire for ‘allowing three controversial critics of Rupert Murdoch to trash his reputation’, without including balancing opinion from figures more sympathetic to the media tycoon or explaining properly the dubious backgrounds and track records of his critics. Mr Hastings said the critics were former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, Max Moseley, the son of fascist politician Oswald Moseley, and the actor Hugh Grant.
GERVAIS: ‘BBC TOO POLITICALLY CORRECT”: The comedian and writer Ricky Gervais, speaking on Talk Radio, has said that programmes like his 2001 mockumentary series The Office would no longer be commissioned by the BBC because – as a result of pressure from Twitter and social media ‘outrage mobs’ – it had grown more ‘politically correct and cautious’. Kurt Zindulka (Breitbart 12/7) said that Mr Gervais had also hit out at online ‘fascists’ who were shutting down freedom of speech on the false pretext of preventing so-called hate speech, and had noted that someone who was mildly conservative was now branded as Hitler.