Government forces BBC to fund political policies – then demands biased news reporting


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?

Would the real reason have anything to do with your friend, Mr Murdoch?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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24 thoughts on “Government forces BBC to fund political policies – then demands biased news reporting

  1. jeffrey davies

    they followed their masters now their masters turn better if they did true news then pehaps the people would be behind them

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Yes. The Tories have kept it because it keeps pensioners on-side.
      The former chairman’s comment makes it clear whose policy it was.

    2. Ian Buchan

      Absolutely correct Mike the BBC should never be involved in any form of admin or policy of the State. Surely it will be an added cost to the Beebs administration.

      1. Joan Edington

        I’ve not been a great fan of the BBC lately, due to their obvious Tory bias on many issues from NHS and Welfare policy to the Scottish referendum, but I don’t see why they should be made to roll over and pay the license fees for the over 75s. Whether or not you agree with the payment, it is made as a governmental benefit. As such, if the government now don’t want to pay it, they should openly state the change of policy and it should cease to be paid, pensioner votes or not. No way should the BBC take this cost on board since it has absolutely nothing to do with them who actually pays the licenses as long as they are paid where required.

      2. Chris Kitcher

        We need to press for the BBC to be the body that decides on who gets a free licence. If the government want it to get votes then they must pay for it. Shame on the Tory DG for agreeing to this.

        I for one from now on be looking to other news networks to see unbiased reporting.

  2. chriskitcher

    I’m writing to my Tory MP, Bernard Jenkins, objecting to having to fund free licenses for rich pensioners. I’ll report his reply here.

    1. Ian Buchan

      Just the over 75’s get free license and there are less of them than we are all led to believe. Most are not rich , most have paid taxes and contributions for far longer than many of working people. Really are there many working people who object to helping their own in laws out with a few pence a week for a license. This is about what it all boils down to. We need to remember that we will all be old one day and will need some help and some care – that is, of course, unless one is a Conservative and too rich to care about anyone other than themselves.

      1. chriskitcher

        Those that can afford to pay should pay. Many pensioners are reasonably well off and can afford it, to want it for free in such circumstances is sheer greed, nothing else. As for having paid taxes for all their lives they undoubtedly if well off now have reasonable pensions and should be proud to help the less well off and give up on their greed.

        It will cost a lot of money so there are many over 75s and will affect programme quality and lead to another dumbing down of the UK.

    2. Ian Buchan

      Chris, thank you for view, happily the majority disagree with that. All the pensioners that I am aware of have paid much more in taxes and contributions than the moaners of today and still pay a very large share. I do not know exactly how much it costs to fund the over 75’s TV license but I suspect it is a lot less than the well off cream off the top. I cannot and will not agree with this mean spirits of today and will happily continue to contribute to those less well off, elderly and infirm for whom most Television is the only entertainment that they can receive and look forward to. This society is quickly becoming degenerate and the only comfort gained is that it will reap its own Harvest in time and I shudder with the thought of what that will be.

      1. chriskitcher

        The cost of the free TV licence is over £600 million, not an insignificant amount. I have no problem with poor pensioners having a free licence but I know some pensioners on over £40,000 per year, in addition to the state pension and these should not have a free licence.

        This even more so when as the sixth largest world economy in the world we have children living in poverty and people forced to rely on food banks.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Means testing is the fast way to get rid of a benefit altogether.
        The fact is, this is a government policy to keep pensioners voting for the current administration – it isn’t the BBC’s business to fund political choices.

  3. Joan Edington

    “During the Second World War, the BBC was a beacon of fact, it was not expected to be impartial between Britain and Germany,” Granted that it would be hard to find much in the Nazis’ favour during the war, this sentence makes absolutely no sense at all.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      But then, it was said by Chris Grayling – so we should not expect it to be sensible.

  4. Ian

    I don’t want the BBC to take ‘our’ side, thank you very much. I want the BBC to report he truth. Actual facts. I don’t want this phoney ‘balance’ they insist on which draws an equivalence between the Israeli government and Palestine whenever there is bloodshed in the region. Israel are always portrayed as reacting to Palestinian violence, for instance. Israel cannot be defending itself when it is the original and main aggressor and is actively occupying Palestine. You won’t hear that on the BBC news, though.

    Also, Nick ‘Tory Boy’ Robinson stitched up Alex Salmond during the referendum campaign, filing a hugely slanted and downright dishonest report; the BBC completely negcted to cover a 60,000 strong protest against the NHS privatasation, even though the march was in Manchester and went *directly past* the Tory party conference. They also had IBS on Question Time and never allowed one mention of the many and varied scandals involving him and his department. Not one.

    And now the government want even more? If the BBC had stood up to them in the first instance this might not be happening. Never concede ground to bullies.

  5. Michael H

    Disconnecting from the TV/Live broadcasting seems to be a huge step in avoiding such biased and restricted news. I am glad I don’t watch TV anymore. The BBC needs to report all important news and share equal policies otherwise it doesn’t serve any purpose to us. Otherwise people are paying out £150-160 a year to listen to tory dribble

  6. stevecheneysindieopinions4u

    License fee has been frozen for five years, hasn’t it? So they already made real-terms “cuts”.

  7. hstorm

    George Orwell worked at the BBC in the Second World War, writing shameless jingoistic propaganda for broadcast around the Empire. He stated afterwards that the falsifications he had to write were so barefaced that it made him feel dirty, hence he left. If that is the sort of outlook Grayling wants to bring back, we have to ask ourselves what sort of mind should we agree with?





    Tough call.

    Orwell’s BBC office, by the way, was Room 101.

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