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Monday, 14 March 2016

Tories Want Soviet-Era BBC

When the Turkish Government moved to hobble opposition newspaper Zaman recently, taking it over and forcibly changing its editorial line to one that supported Recep Tayyep Erdogan and his party, there was widespread condemnation: this was authoritarian, something that would never be allowed in a genuinely free society. It was the kind of thing that would only have happened in the former Soviet Union.
That's a most unfortunate hand gesture

Moreover, it would not get Turkey anywhere near its goal of becoming an EU member state, what with all those curbs on freedom of expression. But that does not appear to have troubled Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, who is proposing to turn the BBC from a national broadcaster into a state mouthpiece by first replacing the BBC Trust with a unitary board, and then packing that board with his cronies.

The idea of a unitary board to replace the BBC Trust was welcomed by Director General Lord Hall-Hall, but he had concerns about the way Whittingdale planned to use it, and last week “set out his concerns about plans for the chairman, vice-chairman and four non-executive directors of the proposed BBC board to be appointed by the government”. In fact, Whittingdale wants to appoint all the non-executive directors.

As the board would comprise 14 directors in all, and only three of those would be from the BBC, with the rest being non-execs, the effect would be to give the Government of the day total control of the Corporation - the BBC’s editorial direction would be set by that board. At the Guardian, Peter Preston has observedWhittingdale, solemnly advising BBC1 which programmes he approves of, is the day and night manager no one would choose”.

Even the Telegraph - no fan of the Beeb - has run a piece today telling “Helen Boaden, the BBC’s director of radio, will liken proposals made by John Whittingdale, the culture secretary, to an Eastern European-style government takeover of the corporation, as she accuses the minister of a ‘cycloptic’ obsession with ‘needlessly diminishing’ the BBC’s services, ‘to the benefit of its competitors’”.

Those competitors would, of course, include Sky, and with the Tories beholden to Rupert Murdoch to an unhealthy degree, the prospect of stitching up the Corporation in exchange for continuing favourable coverage in the Sun and Times is ever-present. Whittingdale’s excuse, to airily museI don’t think the government appointing the BBC non-execs would compromise their independence”, is just crap.

Concerns over BBC reporting have already been voiced recently, especially the way in which the Government was given a clear PMQs advantage by the timing of a junior Labour minister announcing his resignation live on air. The fixation by the host of The Andy Marr Show (tm) on whether senior Labour figures are Marxists does not help. What we do not need is the Corporation turning into a propaganda arm of the governing party.

Whittingdale’s idea is a non-starter. He should show some common sense and bin it.


SimonB said...

I dunno. We're probably very lucky to have people among us who were born to rule. We could even do away with that tiresome democracy thing.

Anonymous said...

Just another step further to the far right, the kind of evil that has reduced this country to a vile profiteering authoritarian rat hole promoted by media glove puppets.

They'll keep pushing even further to the right as long as people allow it. Organised evil is always osmotic.

Umberto Eco labelled it "ur fascism."

Matters will get worse.

wildcat said...

Can't see how this will make any difference, it's been nothing more than a government propaganda machine for years. If this change hastens its demise, so much the better.