Nobody should be forced to pay for a state broadcaster that mindlessly peddles a tired ideology and doesn’t even have the decency to admit it. As such, if the BBC can be found beyond doubt to be partisan, there is no way the licence fee can continue to be justified. So, just how bad is the bias at the Beeb?
A report by the Centre for Policy Studies released in August this year found ‘the BBC has a left-of-centre slant in its reporting.’ This conclusion was reached after studying hundreds of think tank citations regarding the BBC’s reporting on think tanks as ‘independent’. More think tanks found to be left of centre, such as Social Market Foundation and Demos were reported as independent compared to think tanks espousing right wing views. The comparison was made by finding the BBC’s think tank citations correlated more closely with those of The Guardian than of The Telegraph.
Having found clear empirical evidence of a lack of impartiality prevalent at the BBC, the report then correctly summated ‘If [The BBC] systematically undermines the statements of right-of-centre voices while reinforcing those of left-of-centre voices then this is likely to have an effect on public outlook.’ In short, the BBC is failing in its duty as a public service provider of information, and so there is no way the licence fee can continue to be justified.
A Freedom of Information request in 2012 by The Commentator revealed the BBC had spent £335,000 covering Labour Party events in the preceding 10 years, £295,000 covering Liberal Democrat events and just £96,000 covering Conservative Party events. Given that Labour were in power for 8 of the 10 years covered in the data provided slightly higher expenditure on Labour events would have been understandable, but the extent to which the results disparage certainly suggests the BBC has a bias to ideas and party’s left of centre.
The anecdotal evidence is just as strong: former BBC news anchor Peter Sissons called the left wing attitude a ‘mindset’. In fact Sissons went further, admitting ‘at the core of the BBC, in its very DNA, is a way of thinking that is firmly of the Left.’ Sissons perception that bias at the BBC is an inherent culture is supported when we look away from purely news programming: Mehdi Hasan’s anti- Daily Mail tirade on Question Time in the wake of the Ralph Miliband hatchet job was met with rapturous applause and delight from the audience. It all seems left wing ideas are valued rather highly at our state broadcaster.
Then there was Mark Thompson, former Director General, who remarked in 2010 ‘there was a massive left wing bias at the BBC’. In his defence, the BBC’s entertainment programming certainly seems to point that way. The list goes on and on: Have I Got News For You referring to an event Nigel Farage was speaking at as a ‘lunatic fringe event’, Marcus Brigstocke on Radio 4 mocking the Daily Mail and the Spectator, Radio 4 recorded as having five times more jokes at the expense of the Conservative Party than the Labour Party. It all rather begs the question, why should we be forced to pay for a corporation that makes a mockery of their own promises of impartiality?
Let’s make it perfectly clear: when licence fee payers part with their cash, they are signing up to an impartial BBC, as stipulated in the Beeb’s own guidelines. ‘News in whatever form must be treated with due impartiality, giving due weight to events, opinion and main strands of argument.’
The above evidence surely shows that the BBC is failing to comply with its own regulations, something the BBC Trust remains oblivious to, concluding in July this year that in fact ‘The breadth of opinion reflected in BBC output is remarkable and impressive.’
The BBC’s own estimations aside, in a world of instant news and social media it is archaic to still have to pay £145 to any news institution, least of all one that has abandoned impartial coverage. It’s time we wave goodbye to the licence fee.