TONY Hall’s reign as director-general of the BBC comes to an end at midnight tonight with his successor, corporation insider Tim Davie, immediately in charge.
Lord Hall of Birkenhead took his post on November 22, 2012, at the height of the corporation’s agonies over the Jimmy Savile and Lord McAlpine scandals, which showed the depths to which BBC journalism had sunk.
Last Monday, Lord Hall made a final address to staff in which he claimed he was leaving with the corporation in rude health (though of course, as always, needing more money) and on track to double its worldwide audience to one billion within the next decade.
The real story of his tenure is very different. Under his regime, the BBC has become a campaigning political organisation, especially with regard to Brexit, which the corporation fought with every sinew and continues to do so; with ‘cultural diversity’, on which it is now spending at least £100million to appease factions such as Black Lives Matter and to achieve staffing and programme quotas which discriminate in favour of ethnic minorities, and with so-called climate change, where corporation journalists have long since abandoned balanced reporting and showed favouritism to law-breaking, alarmist groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace.
Hall’s final weeks in office exposed the true nature of his massively divisive agenda, as well as his brass-necked disregard of alternative views:
· He sanctioned the ending of free licences for more than 3million over-75s, thus alienating a backbone of the BBC audience, and sanctioned the spending by the licence enforcement organisation Capita of £100million on defaulters;
· He maintained to the bitter end that the case for the compulsory financing of the BBC – despite the massive changes in the media environment – was as robust as ever, and even had the gall to suggest that instead of the licence fee, a compulsory charge should be added to household taxes on a similar basis to the council tax;
· He intervened to say, in effect, the use of the n-word by white BBC staff would not be permitted under any circumstances, thus caving in further to BAME and Black Live Matters pressure;
· He did not lift a finger over an inflammatory BBC report about Winston Churchill which disgracefully – without balancing comment – accused the wartime prime minister of being a racist who had caused the death of millions of Indians in the Bengal famine of 1943;
· Equally egregiously, he permitted executives to stage a Last Night of the Proms on September 12 in which the singing of Rule Britannia and Land of Hope of Glory will be axed, again in deference to pressure groups who maintain with jackboot certainty that any positive mentions of Britain’s imperial past must be banned.
With consummate timing, the Times this week commissioned an opinion poll from You Gov about attitudes to the BBC.
It found that 55 per cent do not agree with the Last Night of the Proms decision (with only 21 per cent in agreement). Far more ominously for the corporation, only 20 per cent of the 1,646 respondents said the licence fee should remain in its present form, and 57 per cent believe the £157.50 annual fee is not ‘value for money’. Only 35 per cent think it is.
During Lord Hall’s occupancy of the D-G’s chair, a statue of George Orwell was erected outside the Portland Place BBC HQ with the legend ‘If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear’. How ironic. Tim Davie has a monumental fight on his hands to reverse the damage wreaked by his predecessor.
In the Bank Holiday Sunday newspapers, it was floated that he, the new Director General, is determined to restore BBC impartiality, and that in any case Sir Robbie Gibb – an ex-BBC senior news executive who became Theresa May’s director of communications – is planning a new ‘non-woke’ television service which would be a counter-balance to stifling BBC bias.
But don’t hold your breath on either count. It seems that Tim Davie is as wedded to the licence fee as Tony Hall. As for Sir Robbie? He made it clear in the press coverage of his new television service that one person who won’t be involved is Nigel Farage. That sounds like his BBC instincts – and prejudice – are still very much in place.
Disturbingly, too, at the weekend he also maintained that BBC coverage of the EU referendum was balanced. It most certainly was not, as this report by News-watch conclusively shows https://news-watch.co.uk/radio-1s-newsbeat-october-2016/. The problem remains that those who have been inside the BBC ‘bubble’ can rarely see outside it.