So there we have it. Not even their own executives make even a pretence of neutrality anymore.
BBC executive says corporation should foster 'left-of-centre thinking'
A senior BBC executive has claimed that the corporation should foster "left-of-centre thinking", leading to accusations of political bias from the Conservatives.
By Jon Swaine
Published: 7:00AM BST 21 Jul 2009
Ben Stephenson, the controller of BBC drama commissioning, said that the corporation should encourage "peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, stubborn-mindedness, left-of-centre thinking."
According to its own royal charter, the BBC must "be independent in all matters concerning the content of its output".
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Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary, said: "What Ben Stephenson said was a clear breach of the BBC's impartiality obligations.
"No journalist or editor should be following a political agenda, let alone someone as senior as a controller."
Mr Hunt said that he had written to Mark Thompson, the BBC Director General, "asking for an immediate retraction and apology".
Peter Whittle, the director of The New Culture Forum, a right-leaning think tank, said: "The political slant in the non-news output of the BBC is for many harder to detect but is actually far more insidious and damaging in the effect it has on our cultural drift."
Mr Stephenson made the comments in a newspaper article in which he responded to criticism from Tony Garnett, a television producer, who accused the BBC's drama department of changing "in ways which have coarsened both it and wider culture."
He wrote: "If we didn't all think differently, have different ideas of what works and what doesn't, wouldn't our lives, and more importantly, our TV screens be less interesting? We need to foster peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, stubborn-mindedness, left-of-centre thinking."
He later denied that he had meant the comment to have a political meaning.
"Like 'left-field', it is a phrase that I use with frequency when talking to the creative community to encourage them to develop and approach their ideas from a completely new perspective," he said.
A BBC source said that executives believed that their casting of Boris Johnson, the Conservative Mayor of London, in an episode of EastEnders, proved that they did not have a left-wing bias.
Meanwhile, a report yesterday said that the licence fee should be shared with other broadcasters, because the BBC was failing to fulfil its public service remit.
The paper, by Frank Field MP and David Rees, argued that the licence fee should be put in the hands of a new independent commissioning body.
Broadcasters, including the BBC, would then pitch ideas for public service programmes to the body and be awarded funding accordingly.
BBC One, BBC Three, Radio 1 and Radio 2 should all be put up for sale, it added.
It should be abolished forwith.