THE campaign to raise cash to fund a judicial review against the BBC got off yesterday to a flying start with £5,000 – a sixth of the total £30,000 target – pledged in the first five hours.
Many of those who responded to the launch blog on TCW suggested that a better way of challenging the BBC would be simply by not paying the licence fee. They are, of course, entitled to their opinion as well as their right to stop watching television – whether on a TV set or via a computer – but the fact remains that watching terrestrial television without a licence remains a criminal offence, and there is a huge nationwide operation to catch and bring offenders to court.
This is arguably an anachronism, and unjust, but the system was set in concrete for the next decade by George Osborne when the BBC Charter was renewed during 2015-16, despite the massive pressure for change.
Because of the legal framework, many people – though clearly resenting the forced payment of the licence fee – comply with it because they do not want to run the risk of acquiring a criminal record, and it is the point of entry to watching all other channels.
In this context, and in practical terms, a judicial review is one of the best available avenues to challenge the BBC. Although the process is expensive for an individual to bear, the sums involved are relatively modest and open up the chance that well before the next Charter renewal, the BBC will be held to account in a core area of operations, namely its persistent, glaring bias.
The review case is based on a relatively simple premise: that the internal processes of the BBC are not robust, independent or transparent enough to ensure impartiality. The judicial review application will, of course, not guarantee change, but it will require the Corporation to think very hard about this whole domain and to justify their conduct. This is what we need your help in calling them to account this way.
You can donate here.