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Protect BBC independence

June 7th, 2012 by

BBC Testcard

Over the next few days, the BBC Board of Trustees could be deciding who to appoint as the next Director General - one of broadcasting’s most important jobs.

The media have already begun to take bets on who the successful candidate will be, whilst outspoken politicians have already started point scoring by suggesting the job should go to a candidate who is party political.

Lord Patten and the rest of the BBC Trustees have the final say on who gets the job. Let’s show them we won’t stand for political game-playing when it comes to such an important choice.

38 Degrees members have said that one of the most valuable things about the BBC is its independence. Together we can show Lord Patten that we’d like him to keep it that way.

Please add your name to the letter to Lord Patten now.

The BBC is famous all over the world. People rely on its news reporting. Its programmes are enjoyed in countries thousands of miles away from the UK. The new Director General will be in charge of it all. It’s vital the right person ends up in the job – and that means someone who understands that the BBC’s independence must never be compromised.

We know that 38 Degrees members can influence the BBC’s decisions. Two years ago we helped save 6Music by convincing bosses to drop their plans to close the station. And BBC bosses must be glad we saved the station now – 6Music just won “UK Radio Station of the Year” at this year’s Sony Awards.

Lord Patten knows that the BBC Trustees must protect the BBC from political interference. But he doesn’t know how many of us want him to make sure that’s a top priority when the new Director General is chosen.

Write to Lord Patten now. 

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  • http://twitter.com/BBCRadioForum BBC Radio Forum

    Hi Becky, great idea, is there anyway we can contact you?

  • Becky J

    You can call 02079706023

  • Anonymous

    I’m all in favour of independence, but if that’s code for wishing to preserve its left wing bias then I can’t subscribe to your plan.

  • Pipeman9

    Dear Trapezium,
    You may perhaps suspect “preserving independence” as code for “preserving a left-wing bias,” but a political appointee will have the bias of the prevailing party. If we create a precedent for political appointees, whenever the Govt changes (i.e. when a new one is elected), they will find a reason for removing the incumbent, and put in their own political appointee. Bias will be left AND right, depending on who’s in power at any given time. This is a slippery slope. Both extreme left-wing and extreme right-wing nations have, over the  years, have had “political appointees” running their media, whether Goebells in Nazi Germany, or present day Mainland China. TASS was the old Soviet news agency, Britain cannot start a system of political appointments to the media. Britain is happily a civilised and democratic nation, but even the most civilised and democratic nation should never have governmental control of its media. There is enough spin and manipulation by political parties without offering them the Nation’s TV network, and I can’t see any of our political parties being able to resist the temptation to make use of such a wide media coverage. 

    You may see the BBC as having left-wing bias, but I have heard both Harold Wilson and Norman Tebbitt, politically light years apart, criticise the BBC for bias, which suggests a balance somewhere! And if you object to BBC left-wing bias, do you have similar objections to right-wing bias in much of the press? Newspapers are allegedly organs for objectively reporting news, but (over and above their editorials) they nevertheless place a slant on it in accordance with the political views of its proprietors.

    The BBC must remain independent and free of political independence    

  • Pipeman9

    Sorry – that last sentence should have read “free of political interference.”

  • Anonymous

    I worked that out :-)

    To answer some of your earlier points: 

    1) If we allow political appointees, we’ll allow both right and left bias.

    My view is that the BBC has a permanently left wing bias, so you’ll understand why I would regard “both left and right wing bias” as neutral or even a slight improvement. To my mind, this campaign is fighting to preserve the status quo – a left wing BBC.

    2) Do I object to right wing bias in the press?

    Insofar as it exists, no. The press is private and I don’t have to pay for it if I don’t want to. The BBC is a special case – it’s funded by means of a levy raised regardless of whether or not we watch it, and if you don’t pay the levy the state can use violence to make you pay it (and it does occasionally, even if it prefers not to).

    3) You close with “The BBC must remain independent and free of political interference”. But as you’ve probably guessed, I don’t recognise your basic assumptions that it’s currently independent and free of political interference.

    In broader terms… in my view, you reached for the Nazi comparisons too early. I would gently remind you of Godwin’s Law.

    And on the whole, I don’t believe in slippery slope arguments, on the grounds that human beings can make choices at any stage of events. Although we’re subject to powerful external forces (such as those created by slippery slopes), we remain captains of our fate.

    So you see… there’s a considerable distance between us :-)

  • Soho

    not OVER FOR NHS YET ! chip in money to 38 degree’s and get a nursing poll,or nhs poll done,,,,on message sheets,,is new nhs in your interst ?  we neeed a public poll too….im sure kind polling agencies would do this for free,it is important…like a charity…..

  • Emdubble

    Some interesting points raised by Pipeman9 and trapezium and on the whole I’m inclined to agree with both of you, However, I do not believe for one minute that the BBC is anything like independent and as for being left-wing, I think it depends on whose toes are in the slippers at the time. Watching Dimbleby’s treatment of Liberty’s Shami Chakrabarti made me think twice about leftism but more than that, every major media outlet in the world has some political bias. Whether this is because of who funds it or the political leanings of the CEO or the popular agenda at the time, it is there. As for living in a democratic Britain, don’t make me laugh. One needs only look at some of the marches that have taken place over the last 10-15 to see that ‘democracy’ is merely an illusion created for public consumption. I would point you both to Gramsi’s theory of Cultural Hegemony to see what we are really living with.