David Keighley: MPs fluff the chance to hold the BBC to account

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee has spent six months considering reform of the BBC in connection with the imminent renewal of its Royal Charter.

Its report – published last week with little fanfare – contains some half-decent proposals, such as abolishing the current Trustees and replacing them with a regulatory Board with real teeth, including checks on the currently unfettered powers of the Director General.

That said, the strength of such a body would depend on the appointment of members with genuine independence and a real desire to make sure the Corporation is properly impartial and provides distinctive programmes that justify the £4.5 billion public funding.

And the reality of British public life now is that taxpayer-funded bodies are staffed and run by individuals who are to a man and woman followers of liberal-left, right-on ideology. Nothing the Conservatives have done over the past six years has changed this one iota; if anything David Cameron has made things worse.

What is being recommended, therefore, is likely to lead to more of the same: an expensive and fruitless exercise in re-arranging the deck-chairs.

In one fundamental respect, too, the culture select committee might never have bothered with their inquiry. They have totally botched their approach to complaints handling. What they propose in this vital arena will make matters worse, not better.

The rot at the heart of the Corporation is that every aspect of its output is locked in liberal-left thinking. The staff are virtually all so like-minded that they incapable of seeing it.  As a result, the BBC is on an unrelenting, no-holds-barred crusade to ram down our throats the importance of the EU, multi-culturalism, feminism and a whole lot more.

This is massively obvious to anyone who listens or watches. But the BBC, from the Trustees downwards, deny it, and they justify their stance using bizarre rules of ‘due impartiality’ which allow Corporation executives and editors to interpret balance entirely on their own terms.

The current complaints-handling system is a department of the BBC. The vast majority of what they receive is rejected. It defies belief that the culture committee have recommended this continues in its present form.

The only proposal for change is in dealing with complex complaints that are currently pushed upstairs to a unit of the Trustees, the Editorial Standards Committee. This is chaired by trustee Richard Ayre, who worked at the BBC for 30 years. A key lieutenant is Mark Damazer, a former controller of Radio 4 who made it the temple of right-on orthodoxy that it has become.

The culture committee has accepted the blindingly obvious, that this is the equivalent of having foxes in charge of the hen house, but their solution defies belief. They propose that responsibility is passed over to the content board of Ofcom, the body which regulates commercial broadcasting.

How can this improve things? – if anything, it will make matters worse. For starters, the Board is chaired by European Union fanatic Bill Emmott, who is so determined to prevent Brexit that he makes propaganda films showing the nasty outcomes that he believes will inevitably occur if the British electorate has the temerity to disagree with him. Ofcom itself is so worried about his fanaticism that they can’t trust him; they have stated that he will take no part in discussions about anything to do with the EU.

Scratch the surface, and it also emerges that almost every member of the Ofcom content board has worked in some way for the BBC. This TCW item observed:

‘What makes Emmott’s appointment so utterly damaging is that the rest of the Ofcom content board – in step with Quango Land generally, are like minds and like spirits; right-on ‘liberals’ to the core. The full list of 10 is here. What leaps out from their CVs is that all but two have worked for significant parts of their careers at the BBC. They write papers about how wonderful and important the BBC is. Many are closely linked to a BBC-favoured propaganda organisation called the (Reuters) Oxford Institute of the Media – which last November held a seminar about ensuring ‘fair’ coverage of the EU. Guess who chaired it? Bill Emmott!

One of the two content board members who has not worked at the BBC is Dr Zahera Harb, who began her career in journalism in the Lebanon, and is now a board member of the worthy-sounding Ethical Journalism Network. Don’t be deceived by such Orwellian double-speak. Its main concerns include attacking the ‘hate speech’ of Donald Trump and ensuring that the Palestinian Authority – along with immigration generally – gets better coverage in the media.’

And there we have it. The culture select committee’s proposal can only be described as bonkers. It is also a dereliction of duty. Their report only mentions ‘complaints’ 13 times, contains no discussion about the shortcomings of the current system, and no suggestion that they looked at alternatives.

What they propose won’t make a whit of difference to the BBC’s output – if anything, it will reinforce the already blatant bias because in future, editors and senior management will claim they are ‘independently’ monitored.

What’s doubly concerning is that no-one in the media has seen the need to comment on this. Charter renewal is a once in a decade opportunity to reform the BBC. It’s now clear that MPs aren’t prepared to tackle – or worse, don’t understand – what is required to halt the unrelenting stream of propaganda that is poisoning our culture, our civic life and our politics.

David Keighley

  • Shaunr19

    The MSM in general has been hi-jacked by liberal progressives for some time now. Anyone wanting real news is forced to look for it in less well-known internet sites. The BBC needs to be destroyed: like the EU, it is unreformable.

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  • Stuart Fairney

    I’ve long ago given up on the establishment reforming the establishment, they simply have no interest in doing so. Technology on the other hand is starting to crush them and their TV licence junket. They will stagger on for a few years yet, but their days are numbered, who watches TV any more? Like dinosaurs puzzled at the approaching asteroid, they don’t understand the technology and its far reaching implications. They will soon be obviously, palpably, inescapably rendered obsolete.

    • snaps35

      you are correct Sir , “technology has started to crush them ” a short search on the internet will disclose any number of free ways of watching world wide tv ,(bbc included )without any licence fee.

  • geordieboy

    Whatever happened to the bonfire of the quango’s?

    • ReefKnot

      Eric Pickles pi55ed on it.
      A tiny number of Quangos were wound up, a few were absorbed by existing Quangos ( same people, same culture, different letter-heads ), but the vast majority just carried on, completely untouched by any hint of reform.
      A farcical exercise in futility.
      And to think I voted for these people.

      • St Louis

        Let’s hope you won’t do that again.

    • Johnnymcevoy

      Dave didn’t realise how much a part of the Entitlement Culture they are at the top.

  • Kingbingo

    The BBC funding model already looks absurd in 2016 with over the top subscription models becoming the norm. People are consuming the media they want, when they want, from a hugely diverse array of providers. By 2026 it will be beyond parody in terms of its absurdity.

    The fact that a Conservative government is unwilling to rein in the out of control liberal BBC goes to show that under Cameron the Conservatives are no longer a part on the right at all.

  • lojolondon

    Thank you for this great article on the realities of the Biased BBC – who’s self-created role as the most effective opposition to the Conservative Party has certainly cost the Conservatives elections in the past, and will do so again. Somehow, the Conservative party has always lacked the courage to tackle this opposition head on, and has for many years tried to ‘appease’ the broadcaster. Right now, I firmly believe that Camoron is hoping their one-sided output will win the ‘IN’ vote for him. The fact is that the BBC is deeply, dangerously prejudiced, and swings a weight that is downright undemocratic.

  • JP Janson De Couët

    If the Govt had any guts they wouldn’t be “holding to account” (sic) our BBC, which we don’t want destroyed by right wingers merely because it is a state service. If the Tories had any guts, they’d start Leveson 2.

    • Thomas Katz

      Levenson would, if he was honest, have to find it “Institutionally Liberally Left wing” another reason to close/privatize it

      • JP Janson De Couët

        That’s ideological twaddle as, of course, you know.

        • The Patriarchy

          It’s the depressingly low standard of the modern pinko troll that is so revealing : once they could bore for England; now the sanctimonious runts can barely manage a sentence.

      • twinscrew

        I take it you are no relation to Ian Katz of Newsnight infamy.

    • Matt

      If it’s “your BBC” then pay for it yourselves. Why must people that don’t watch BBC, pay for BBC?

      • Shaunr19

        Haha! Sorry, but your post wasn’t visible when I wrote mine.

      • Johnnymcevoy

        I watch it. But I won’t pay for rubbish.

      • JP Janson De Couët

        Why should we destroy the BBC for people who want a free ride watching TV?

    • Shaunr19

      That’s fine: let’s have left wing progressives fund it with voluntary payments, and the rest of us can ignore it?

      • JP Janson De Couët

        What an ignorant comment. The people of Britain of whatever political hue love the BBC.

        • Shaunr19

          ‘What an ignorant comment.’
          My comment is a balanced and fair answer, and was not impolite in any way. Those who want the BBC can pay for it. What is so bad about that?

          ‘The people of Britain of whatever political hue love the BBC.’
          This is either irony, deliberate trolling or wilful ignorance of the truth. I live in hope that it’s irony.

          • JP Janson De Couët

            Still ignorant I’m afraid.

          • Shaunr19

            This is ignorant – take your faux indignation and get stuffed, because I don’t care what a moron like you thinks.

        • Colonel Mustard

          You don’t speak for “the people of Britain”.

  • Barry

    I sampled the BBC’s complaints procedure some years ago, and was disgusted by the way it operated. The response came from the very person whose action had given rise to it. Despite being a manager, he failed to inform me, as he was required to do under the system, what to do if I was dissatisfied with his response. I then wrote direct to the BBC’s complaints unit, and received his response again , word for word. It turned out that at that time the BBC had outsourced the responsibility to a separate body (from memory CAPITA). I wrote again complaining that the matter had been mishandled, and was advised that I had no right to complain because I lived in France and didn’t have a UK TV licence. Since I was complaining about a radio programme this was a lunatic response. Eventually the matter went to the BBC Trust, a toothless body. The whole thing should be scrapped.

  • JB

    One of the first things a genuine conservative government would do upon getting into office, would be to defund and privatise the BBC. In what way is TV an essential public service? At best
    it is frivolous entertainment. At worst, as we see with the BBC, it is a vehicle for propaganda.

    Of course, the ‘Conservative’ Party is conservative in name only, and it is in agreement with the BBC’s agenda.

    • Jen The Blue

      Nail on head. The Tory Party has not been Conservative since Thatcher was deposed. It is left of centre.

  • Colkitto03

    Anyone who doubts David Keighley’s point should read about Huw Edwards nine second news report on the Cologne sex attacks. Not only did it come days after the incident it completely failed to disclose any information on the perpretators. This left viewers more confused than enlightened. It was obvious that night that the news editors had decided they could not longer not report the incident but chose not to disclose information on the attackers. This whole shameful episode finally convinced me that BBC news is pointless. There is absolutley no way to hold the BBC to account for this. In time BBC news will die off, as increasing young people dont watch television news and older people are switching off when, like me they realise they are being manipulated.

    • Jen The Blue

      It was one of the most disgraceful incidents in BBC news coverage. It is still happening…..there are loads of examples of Muslim migrants sexually assaulting women and boys all over Europe each day which the BBC happily refuses to report.

      • Colkitto03

        Absolutely Jen, I now choose to get news from internet sources. So much is covered up. Its also frustrating that these publicly paid BBC news editors are answerable to no one. They must think they are so much more enlightened than the rest of us.

        • WuffoTheWonderDog

          They must be more enlightened because they receive more money than you.
          Since its your money in the first place, if you’re foolish enough to pay the TV tax, then they really are more enlightened than you.

  • twinscrew

    Increasingly the BBC and the EU are seen to be relics of the past, both struggling from the weight of historical bureacracy and inefficient management, unable to change quickly enough to meet the demands of a digital and more educated audience. they will naturally die, hopefully our exit from the EU will hasten this demise.

    • Johnnymcevoy

      But still rolling in public cash…..

  • Malcolm Marchesi

    The BBC will go the way of all monopolies . It will steadily resist any meaningful change and will effectively ignore all criticism and when , as is inevitable , it becomes so extreme that it is no longer tolerated , it will be surprised by the hatred of it that it has itself created . It was ever thus !

    • Jen The Blue

      The the BBC has ignored all criticisms for years. I wish I had your optimism about the BBC’s fate.

      But there is no way the government is going to allow the BBC to be damaged before it has helped it win the referendum with its blatant pro-EU bias.

    • WuffoTheWonderDog

      Stop paying the TV tax and hate them in the only way they understand.

      I haven’t paid it for years. I enjoy returning the threatening letters their agents at Capita.

  • Matt

    I often wonder if the biggest obstacle to ending the BBC is it’s unsustainable pension pot? Most other large organisations have either cut or closed their pension schemes due to the Brown/ Labour raids.

    If the BBC were ended tomorrow the government would no doubt have to pay in to keep the pension scheme afloat. Anyone see any signs of the BBC being made financially responsible for the sake of future generations?

    • Johnnymcevoy

      They asked me for some money. I told them to take a jump.

  • Tim Knight

    They can do what they like with it as long as they don’t want me to fund this commie, paedophile protecting, anti democratic mob. Let them stand on their own two feet and ban the TV tax.

  • The Patriarchy

    When will things get any better?

    Soon. Vote BREXIT, and be rid of not only the EU, but Cameron and his immigrant-loving social democratic idiocy.

    Excellent article, by the way!

  • PaulClieu

    It’s now clear that MPs aren’t prepared to tackle – or worse, don’t understand – what is required to halt the unrelenting stream of propaganda that is poisoning our culture, our civic life and our politics.

    Absolutely correct. Excellent article.

  • Johnnymcevoy

    MPs have the utmost respect and allegiance to any organisation that is able to dish fat emoluments without scrutiny, and will defend their right to do so.

  • Allyup

    Privatisation drives out the loony left because you have to make a profit to survive.

    The whole problem with the public sector is it is not driven by the balance sheet so becomes the home for liberals looking for the easy life on high pay because financial success is not a driver.

    Those at the top in a private business have to be business-minded with a focus on the balance sheet. This doesn’t leave much space for defocussed liberals touting their ideology and principles because this is no way to make money and more likely to be spendthrift. Those at the top will select achievers to work for them rather than on the basis of sharing a liberal ideology.
    If the BBC was privatised the top management would have to change and this would change the whole BBC..