I have always, until very recently, been a passionate supporter of the BBC TV licence. I believed that the licence fee was a price well worth paying for TV and radio programming that was intelligent, impartial, and not beholden to commercial interests.
My trust, however, in the BBC’s output has been steadily eroding for a number of years. As a long-time reader of the BBC News website, in recent years I have observed what seems a precipitous decline in the impartiality of its output.
“For me, there came a moment two days before the General Election where enough was enough. What broke the camel’s back was what I consider a comparatively minor infraction, something which on its own terms is not even worth mentioning. A Newsbeat article on the BBC website failed to find a single Christian voice to explain how faith would affect their vote.”
Of course, you see this only in subtle ways. A story promoted to a prominent position here, a converse story relegated to the recesses there. All very subtle, all very unaccountable. And too subtle for the regulator to take the BBC to task for violating its Royal Charter. But over time, and over a succession of small instances, the trend is there to see very clearly. The former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, recently wrote in the Times on how the BBC was “digging its own grave with its liberal bias.”
For me, there came a moment two days before the General Election where enough was enough. What broke the camel’s back was what I consider a comparatively minor infraction, something which on its own terms is not even worth mentioning. A Newsbeat article published on the BBC website entitled “General election 2019: ‘Faith is the number one thing influencing my vote,’” interviewed two Jewish students and two Muslim students about how their faith influenced their voting decisions. As far as these students’ voting decisions, and their respective religions, were concerned, I felt the article was well balanced. And I certainly have nothing against Jewish and Muslim students, or their representation on the BBC.
The problem was the glaring failure to find a single Christian voice to explain how faith would affect their vote. It’s not difficult to do; I know practising, committed Christians who, for reasons driven by their faith, voted on both sides of the political spectrum. But it feels like, for the BBC, Jews and Muslims are ‘people of faith;’ Christians simply don’t exist. Except when they’re to be mocked.
For my wife the same, scales-falling-from-the-eyes moment came at the weekend. We’re not particularly fans of Doctor Who, but we’ve been watching the current series. Watching a back episode on Saturday, the tiresome and diaphanously-veiled ‘woke’ subtexts that have been a feature of this series were finally too much for her. People tune in to Doctor Who to watch entertainment, not propaganda. The Corporation which has spent decades mocking Christians for being ‘preachy,’ is now the preachiest entity in UK mainstream media.
“I don’t believe we need the BBC in order to hold the government to account. The Corporation has only existed for a hundred years. Who held the Government to account before the BBC? — the press did. Be it remembered, the UK is a mature and resilient democracy.”
It’s not that I don’t enjoy much of the BBC’s output, particularly Radio 4. And I have a great deal of respect for many people at the BBC: broadcasters such as Justin Webb, Nick Robinson, John Sopel, Mishal Husain, Mark Pougatch (recently ejected) and Mark Chapman, as well as the people behind the scenes who make these programmes tick. I bear them no ill-will. But the Corporation itself needs to die.
A friend suggested to me at the weekend that the attack on the licence fee was a ploy by BoJo, Cummings & co. to cement their power and stop the Corporation holding them to account. Who will hold the government to account if the BBC is severely weakened?
But I don’t believe we need the BBC in order to hold the government to account. The Corporation has only existed for a hundred years. Who held the Government to account before the BBC? — the press did.
Be it remembered, the UK is a mature and resilient democracy: very possibly the most resilient democracy in Europe. It has had a free press that has operated successfully for centuries. It can certainly survive (and arguably may be healthier) without the state-sponsored liberal propaganda machine masquerading as an impartial broadcaster that the BBC, sadly, has now become.
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Graham is an evangelical Christian believer living in Sussex, UK. He is passionate about helping people to understand what the Bible really says, and about explaining what the Christians of the early centuries believed and taught.