Yesgovernments and the opposition have always complained that BBC Very generous on the other hand. In the past, this allegation has not been sustainable long enough to lead one to think that the corporation is systematically failing at fairness. Its news output is generally fair and balanced, especially when compared to the frothy partisanship at many newspapers. This is not part of Kingdom propaganda. This independence is maintained by regulation and internal rules, but none of those mechanisms are sufficient without a wider political culture that values the BBC on its own terms and does not seek to undermine it.
The current Conservative government is unreliable on that score. Evidence of capitulation to political pressure, reported by the Guardian this week, demonstrates the danger. Senior editors on orders from Downing Street discouraged the corporation’s news outlets from using the word “lockdown” to describe social restrictions at the start of the pandemic. Instead alternative words were used on the BBC website. leaked message Show editors passed on a government request that newsrooms “revert skepticism” about Labour’s pandemic response. Others urged a liberal interpretation of Boris Johnson’s comments, which compared Ukraine’s resistance to Brexit to Russian aggression, and to avoid a story about Mr Johnson’s alleged affair with Jennifer Arcuri. Congratulations to the employees.
The extent to which journalists adjusted their work to meet each demand is unclear, although some chilling effect is certain. It is demoralizing even for staff who pride themselves on their professional integrity, receiving barely filtered editorial instructions from the Prime Minister’s Office.
It is a failure to uphold basic standards of fairness. It also sits curiously with last week’s decision, later reversed, to take Gary Lineker Off Air For tweets criticizing government rhetoric towards refugees. Mr Lineker is not a news reporter and his comments were not broadcast on the BBC. It would have been easy for the Corporation to dismiss the controversy as a politically motivated, distraction from the real issue – a bill in parliament, the material of which received less airtime than the arguments over the presenter of Match of the Day. It is doubtful that this would have happened if Mr. Lineker’s remarks were in consonance with Government policy. Other BBC entertainers declared pro-Tory views and escaped censure.
It hardly helps that the current chairman of the BBC is Richard Sharpe. tampered with As the guarantor of the liberty of the corporation. Mr Sharpe is a former Tory donor. She was appointed to her current role while Mr Johnson joined the private loan facility to help bridge the gap in his chaotic personal finances. This record is inconsistent with the need for public trust in fairness at the top, undermining the rest of the organization.
A test that holds true for decency and self-respect around venerable British institutions is to imagine what the arrangement looks like from abroad: the chair of the national broadcaster was the former prime minister’s favorite candidate and also his debt arranger. This should not have happened and must be undone to protect the reputation of the BBC.