An excellent piece in today’s Telegraph:
Momentum is building across Parliament and across the country, attitudes towards the BBC are changing – but not because people have changed, but because the BBC has held its overbearing, unchanging monopoly for too long. The BBC has become too certain in its position as the monolithic arbiter of truth and too secure in comfortable taxpayer funded existence.
However, this cannot and must not carry on.
As an MP, I am aware of when issues strike the public attention as a flash in the pan or become a genuine wellspring of concern. How do I know? I receive a large volume of correspondence on various issues but it is the BBC that has increasingly dominated the thoughts and concerns of my constituents. These messages mostly convey frustrations with both the expansion of the licence fee as well as concerns over the substance, quality, and tone of the BBC’s content.
In my view, the BBC is increasingly out of touch with the majority of its viewers. We saw that recently with the frankly outrageous and confected drama about music at the Last Night of the Proms. Under reasonable management this should never have blown into the major news story it became because the sensible decision would have been to never considered banning Rule Britannia and others from being played in the first place.
Not only is the BBC teetering on the precipice of a full embracement of “cancel culture” – which it fortunately stepped away from on the Rule Britannia chaos, even if it was after heavy pressure – but it often appears that there is an inherent leftwing agenda in its political coverage, be that interviews with a clear bias or reports that stem from a particular left of centre political position. One example of this, as popular website Guido Fawkes has often highlighted, is the strange ability of the BBC to present leftwing guests as apolitical when even the most cursory examination or scrutiny can reveal their political positions and active campaign roles. In contrast, those on the right are almost always identified as such.
This political slant has become even more clear during this pandemic. At every opportunity, the BBC seemed to suggest that lockdown or state control has not gone far enough. Instead of assessing the merit and the impact of Government policies, from the start they appeared to question the ability and the legitimacy of a Government that was just elected a few months before with a landslide victory.
The BBC’s charter obligates them to support the country’s social cohesion – to be a beacon of hope for our United Kingdom, but this can often see like a pipe dream as at every level the BBC is fomenting division – through questionable and blatant political positions in its educational content or Countryfile reports essentially labelling the countryside as white privilege.
These are just some of the reasons why I am adding my support for the Defund the BBC campaign to decriminalise the non-payment of the license fee.
The legal privilege for the BBC regarding its licence fee is deeply regressive. It hits those who are most vulnerable hardest, with those who are less well-off or older being most likely to be challenged and end up before the magistrate. These cases are frankly unnecessary and, even if it is a minor impact to the huge overall workload of our legal system, any reduction in the legal workload is beneficial and allows for more time to be spent on meaningful cases.
Taxpayer money should not be wasted on chasing non-payment, and it certainly should not involve a multi-million pound contract to chase those who haven’t paid.
I fully support Boris Johnson’s move for a roadmap to licence fee reform – we have a strong government majority and so now is the time to tackle these issues. Frankly, if the BBC is unable to shape up on its own, the government should force the issue and withhold the licence fee. The BBC and the country can only benefit from an end to taxpayer funding as it is then forced to compete in the open market – improving content and stripping out waste.
Defunding the BBC cannot come soon enough.
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