It does seem that the BBC, our past employer and a national institution that we treasure, is fair game for the media and Government alike. In the wake of his victory in last month’s General Election, the Prime Minister has said that he is seriously considering decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee. This issue was first considered in 2014 and the Government was defeated in 2015 after peers voted for an amendment backed by former BBC chairman Lord Grade preventing decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee before 2017. At that time the BBC said that the financial impact would be £200m. When the Royal Charter was granted starting on 1st January 2017 there was no mention of decriminalisation. Instead, perhaps, the responsibility for over-75’s licence fees which now falls to the BBC was substituted for it.
The Conservative party has accused the BBC of anti-Tory bias, although the Labour Party has also accused them of this. Ministers of State have been ordered to boycott appearances on Radio 4’s Today programme and possibly Newsnight, with the news that it has hired a former Labour activist as their policy editor. There is nothing new in ‘Beeb-bashing’, particularly in the mainly right-wing Press. As Polly Toynbee wrote this year ‘Attacks from both sides don’t mean the BBC gets it right. But they do mean the BBC has too few defenders now it is under serious threat from government’.
If you would like to do something to help and support the BBC there is currently a petition called ‘Hands Off Our BBC’ organised by change.org. To view the petition click here
To read Polly Toynbee’s article in the Guardian about the Tory attack on the BBC click here