Former BBC chairman Sir Christopher Bland is right to warn that the corporation is fast becoming an arm of the Conservative Government.
He was referring to the Tories’ plan to make the BBC fund their policy of free TV licences, which follows the transfer of the cost of the BBC World Service and BBC Monitoring to the Corporation. According to The Independent, it amounts to shifting £650m from the Government’s Budget to the BBC.
Not only that, but the Conservative Government has asked the BBC to change the way it reports stories about the militant group Isis – introducing overt political bias into its newsgathering.
Chris Grayling, Leader of the Commons, said the BBC should take the side of the UK – meaning the Conservative Government – in international conflicts.
“During the Second World War, the BBC was a beacon of fact, it was not expected to be impartial between Britain and Germany,” he told parliament.
“Rather subtly and unattractively it draws the BBC closer to becoming an arm of government which is always something that the BBC and government have resisted,” Sir Christopher told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend.
“It’s the worst form of dodgy Whitehall accounting. It’s transferring social policy onto the licence fees and it’s shifting from direct taxation where it properly belongs the cost of a Gordon Brown giveaway that was doubtful in the first place anyhow.” [In his opinion]
George Osborne, speaking to Andrew Marr, came up with a pitifully weak defence of this offloading of responsibility onto the BBC: That it is publicly-funded.
He said: “The BBC is also a publicly funded, public institution and so it does need to make savings and contribute to what we need to do as a country to get our house in order.”
It doesn’t work like that, George!
If you want the BBC to pay for your policies – in effect, charging our public service broadcaster a tax to provide government policies – you need to give the BBC a say in what those policies are.
The principle is simple: No taxation without representation.
Otherwise, you should leave it alone.
The principle of public funding is intended to ensure that the BBC remains impartial, but you are trying to undermine it. Why?
Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike
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