It seems that the political annihilation of the BBC is almost complete. Because a report in the Times showed that Boris Johnson may as well have signed its death warrant. He’s reportedly considering making a former Tory MP or possibly Andrew Neil the BBC‘s new chair. And it shows that any notion of impartial broadcasting has gone out of the window.
The BBC: mired in scandal
The UK’s public service broadcaster has been mired in controversy for decades, and not least during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. From its defence of Dominic Cummings’ ‘corona road trip’, to Rishi Sunak wearing his underpants on the outside (the infamous “Superman” cartoon), to its dire coverage of virus testing – the BBC has been behaving more like a state-sponsored broadcaster than a public service one. But as The Canary previously reported, it seems to be doing it on purpose – with a senior journalist effectively admitting the organisation was on a ‘war footing’. They said:
The BBC does have a responsibility to provide what the nation needs… It needs to know what’s being done about testing [for coronavirus]. It doesn’t need a great bust-up about what’s gone wrong in the recent past… the bosses are keen that we come out of this with the sense that we looked after the interest of the nation, not just our journalistic values.
But if the rot at the BBC wasn’t already deep enough, Johnson is about to embed it further.
As The Canary‘s editor-at-large Kerry-Anne Mendoza tweeted:
Two more Tories for the Ministry of Information
— Kerry-Anne Mendoza (@TheMendozaWoman) August 9, 2020
Insiders say Johnson wants to “get on with it” and line up by the autumn a chairman to replace Sir David Clementi, whose three-year term expires in February.
Candidates allegedly include former Tory MPs Nicky Morgan and Amber Rudd and BBC presenter Neil. The news left people on Twitter unimpressed – but also unsurprised:
This has really confused people who have been saying the BBC are left wing.
— Onymous Nigel (@AnonymousNigel) August 9, 2020
they seem determined to descend into oblivion as fast as possible
— Steffi Thompson (@SteffiThompson) August 9, 2020
Neither Morgan, Rudd, or Neil need much introduction. Also, the Times‘ rumour is endemic of the problem of cronyism within the Tory government. But towards the end of the Times article, one quote perhaps hinted at another reason Johnson may want to put a friendly face in as BBC chairperson.
It wrote that:
a senior government source said Johnson was keen for the new chairman to help the BBC be more proactive in making use of its international reputation. ‘The prime minister believes the BBC is one of Britain’s best assets, with the soft power it projects abroad. He thinks it can do more of that.’
The phrase “soft power” is key. As The Canary reported in 2017, the government ploughed millions into the BBC‘s foreign broadcasting. Specifically, it funded the broadcaster to operate in former USSR countries and North Korea. The government gave some of the money to it after a BBC report warned that:
If the UK wants the BBC to remain valued and respected, an ambassador of Britain’s values and an agent of soft power in the world, then the BBC is going to have to commit to growing the World Service and the government will have to recognise this.
The BBC: just as bad as the Russians
Essentially, the-then Tory government was paying the BBC to distribute Western corporate capitalist propaganda as a ‘weapon of soft power’. Now, we see that Johnson’s regime wants to expand that further with an ally in charge of the BBC to push this. Meanwhile, Russian TV station Russia Today (RT) has been branded by Twitter as a “state-affiliated media outlet” – without labelling the BBC as the same.
As The Canary wrote in 2017:
There is no doubt that Russia’s manipulation of the media to further its own ends is a threat to democracy. But is it really any worse than the West’s manipulation?
Given this latest revelation about the future of the BBC and the current geopolitical posturing with Russia and China – probably not. The BBC has completely lost its impartiality and credibility, now.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?