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Why LBC has the BBC rattled


The former head of BBC Television News, Roger Mosey, is becoming required reading in the New Statesman. His latest piece explains why the ‘startling growth’ of the London-based talk radio station LBC, along with ‘the punchiness of its editorial proposition’, is ‘unsettling’ the BBC. He adds that ‘many of the most memorable moments of political radio in recent years have not happened in their customary home of the Radio 4 news programmes’ but on LBC. Here’s an extract:

‘The BBC is uneasy about what is happening at LBC. “Surprised” is one of the milder adjectives used by an executive when asked to assess how LBC can broadcast a regular show by an elected politician like [Nigel] Farage within the Ofcom impartiality framework. If you happened to tune in only at a particular time each day, you would hardly be getting a balanced picture – and LBC has exploited to its full the idea of “due impartiality”, which allows broadcasters to aim for impartiality across the totality of their output rather than within a single edition of a programme.

‘Among the ranks of BBC producers, there are those who find this idea more attractive than the robotic balance of “this person says yes, this person says no” that can be the corporation’s default. That’s particularly the case on 5 Live, where the figures are heading downwards. Twenty years ago, 5 Live was a reinvention of speech radio; but its audience is being nibbled away by dedicated sport and news stations – and some of its editorial rationale is lost in an age of social media. Staff there express admiration for LBC’s interaction with its audience and the strength of its personality and they muse about whether they might be able to follow suit by having, for instance, consecutive shows that represent different points of view.

‘It’s one possible response to the challenge I noted here last month about some BBC presenters displaying their political colours on social media – so why not on air too?’

Perhaps the appeal of LBC over Radio 4 is even easier to explain, though. As Harriet Sergeant commented in response to Roger Mosey’s piece: ‘Political correctness makes for boring radio. That’s why we’re shifting the dial from BBC Radio 4 to LBC.’

On which point, Rod Liddle at The Spectator has another fine piece headlined There are too many women on Radio 4 and they’re always moaning. In it he lists the type of people the social engineers at the BBC, especially Radio 4, don’t create quotas for to ensure proper representation:

  • People who want the UK to leave the European Union – 52 per cent (Source: that referendum we had in 2016)
  • People who think Islam is not compatible with the British way of life – 56 per cent (ComRes poll, 2016)
  • People who disagree with the ‘right’ of gay people to adopt children – 52 per cent (British Social Attitudes Survey 2013)
  • People who think immigration levels to this country are too high – 63 per cent (YouGov poll, 2018)
  • People who think immigration in general has had a negative impact on the UK – 71 per cent (Sky poll for the think tank Demos, 2018)
  • Europeans who want to stop all immigration from Muslim majority countries – 55 per cent (Chatham House, 2017)
  • People who believe Britain is a Christian country – 55 per cent (YouGov poll, 2014)
  • People who think, rightly, that there are just two genders, male and female – 56 per cent (Fawcett Society, 2016)
  • People who do not identify as ‘feminist’ – 93 per cent (Fawcett Society, 2016)

Rod continues: ‘Now, tell me if you think those views are proportionately represented on the BBC, and especially Radio 4? Do you think they are given equal airtime to the less popular liberal standpoints which nonetheless the BBC supports? If so, you have been listening to a very different Auntie from me over the past ten years. In almost every case quoted above, people who express those sorts of views are considered by the BBC to be antediluvian and quite beyond the pale, and the usual discussion to be had is: what can we do to make these morons change their minds?

‘Those views quoted above are simply wrong, so far as the BBC is concerned, and there’s an end to it, even when those views are in a clear majority.’

First published here and reprinted by kind permission.

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Craig Byers
Craig Byers
Craig Byers is a blogger about the BBC, focusing on the issue of BBC bias while living in Britain's finest traditional seaside resort: Morecambe (the one with the Eric Morecambe statue).

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