Tuesday, June 2, 2015


There's a very important point in James Harding's speech to the Voice of the Listener and Viewer Conference today. The BBC Director of News was ruminating on his first General Election experience since joining from The Times.

"I was, I admit, quite astonished by the ferocity and frequency of complaints from all parties. More often than not, it was some version of a politician saying either I want “more me on the BBC” or “my side of the story is the story”. And this being my first election at the BBC, I was struck by how many politicians and spokespeople paid lip service to the idea of the BBC’s editorial independence, but, nonetheless, did think it was their place to say what should be leading the news, what questions should be asked and how, how they wanted audiences to be chosen for programmes."

"I’ve been asked whether politicians made the link between the BBC’s election coverage and the future funding of the BBC? Mostly, not. But, along the way, there were people from all parties who made the connection between their dissatisfaction with the election coverage and the fact that the next government will set the licence fee and the terms of the Royal Charter. Some did so explicitly. Nigel Farage, for example, said he was unhappy at UKIP’s treatment on the BBC and proposed cutting the licence fee by two thirds. Others left it hanging in the air."

The point is, that with fixed term parliaments, it's now even harder to untangle BBC funding decisions from the rough and tumble of politicians attempting to exert pressure on Auntie accompanied by veiled or unveiled threats about clipping of wings in the future. If we move from the traditional licence fee, can we have a standing commission to determine public service broadcast finance in the future ?

1 comment:

  1. Now that Ben Bradshaw has gone (hurrah!) it would seem that the Labour Party are playing "good cop" to the Tories bad - or could it be that they're just trying the Ryanair technique of being nice, at least to the Beeb....
    "Licence fee decriminalisation could mutilate BBC" says Chris Bryant


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