John Whittingdale must think we’re all too stupid to see the contradiction in terms he has written into his White Paper on the BBC.
He reckons the BBC needs a new mission statement: “”To act in the public interest, serving all audiences with impartial, high-quality, and distinctive media content and services that inform, educate and entertain.”
But he also wants to dissolve the BBC Trust, replacing it with a new unitary board including some members appointed by the government – so that’s impartiality out of the window before his new version of the Beeb even gets going.
Some might say the BBC is already biased towards the Tories – we only have to look at the protests against arch-Tory Laura Kuenssberg in her role as political editor at BBC News – but this would instill that bias at an institutional level.
And how can the BBC serve “all audiences” if Whittingdale wants it to be “required to give greater focus to under-served audiences, in particular those from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, and those in the nations and regions”.
He wants the BBC to become a minority-interest broadcaster when in fact it should be the public-services broadcaster catering to the widest possible taste.
Minority-interest television would be better left to commercial firms, in the opinion of This Writer.
The plan to retain the licence fee, increasing it in line with inflation, is likely to be controversial. I know many Vox Political readers disagree with the fee; personally I don’t have any objection – unless there’s an app that can ensure you only pay for what you watch?
Apparently Labour’s Maria Eagle is saying that Whittingdale’s “wilder proposals” had been ditched by Cameron and Osborne.
Considering the state of this man’s personal life, that’s probably for the best.
The White Paper states that the trust governing the BBC is being abolished and a board will be set up to run day-to-day matters, while Ofcom will become the corporation’s external regulator.
The licence fee, which has been frozen at £145.50 since 2010, will now rise with inflation from next year.
◾A new mission statement for the BBC: “To act in the public interest, serving all audiences with impartial, high-quality, and distinctive media content and services that inform, educate and entertain.”
◾A new unitary board which will govern the corporation, replacing the BBC Trust.
◾The BBC will have the ability to appoint the majority of its board, independent of government
◾Editorial decisions will be explicitly the responsibility of the director general
◾Ofcom will be given the power to regulate all BBC services
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