Tuesday, 6 October 2015

John Whittingdale: BBC to lose power to address claims of political bias per The Guardian

The Guardian, the closest thing there is to a BBC house newspaper, reports that:

'John Whittingdale, the UK culture secretary, has confirmed that the BBC will be stripped of its power to adjudicate on allegations of political bias in its coverage.

Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, he said the public should have confidence that complaints are examined independently and carefully. He said it must no longer be the case "that if you make a complaint against the BBC, the decision on whether it is justified is taken by the BBC".'

As someone who has had a couple or more complaints of BBC bias dismissed by the BBC Trust, I welcome this step in the right direction. I'm fed-up with being told that the BBC got it about right and that's the end of it. 

Hopefully a properly independent body would be willing to find against the BBC and require the BBC to make an apology that is equally prominent as the original story.

However two things strike me, first that the original bias will have had its effect long before the BBC is found to have been biased and so a stinging financial penalty is needed to ensure that the BBC doesn't just carry on with its biased reporting. I suggest a sliding scale of fines, from 1% of the licence fee upwards, depending upon the seriousness of the bias. These fines to be deducted from the next year's licence fee or paid to the BBC's rivals. That should concentrate the BBC to avoid any bias in their reporting.

The second thing is to define political bias. This has to include tackling the BBC's institutional anti Israel bias that is helping to create the rise in anti Semitism in the UK. Maybe a future complaint to the new body of BBC anti Israel bias could result in the publication of the Balen Report which the BBC has been so desperate to keep secret for so long. 

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