Following the resignation of the BBC Director General, George Entwistle, in the wake of the Corporation’s mishandling of child abuse issues, Lord Patten, Chairman of the BBC Trust has been speaking.
Twice in one interview he mentioned New International in unfriendly, if not hostile, terms. Since that group publishes the Times, Sunday Times, the Sun, and broadcasts Sky TV, such comments might not seem appropriate from the Chairman of a publicly-funded broadcaster required to be impartial.
Lord Patten also spoke of the BBC’s vital role in investigative reporting, and seemed to think this was the main reason for its one-time reputation. In fact traditional support for the BBC is more likely to have arisen from its role as an unbiased reporter of events, rather than as a campaigning organization doing investigative work. People valued the BBC’s level take on national and world events, and trusted it to be accurate.
That reputation was undermined not by the incompetence of its investigative teams, but by the way it allowed what some call the left-wing mindset of its culture to bias its reporting. Its enthusiastic endorsement of all things pro-EU, its hostility to business and enterprise, its refusal to use the word ‘terrorist’ to describe those who murder civilians in causes it approves of, and its selection of news to highlight on the basis of a pro-state intervention agenda, have systematically alienated those who used to trust it and support it as the embodiment of all things British.
It might be more than the “thorough, radical and structural overhaul” called for by Lord Patten that the BBC needs. It might also need a change of culture, and that comes harder to achieve.
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