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 Post subject: The out of control BBC
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:43 am 
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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.


So there we have it. Not even their own executives make even a pretence of neutrality anymore.

It should be abolished forwith.

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 Post subject: Re: The out of control BBC
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:27 am 
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I don't care one way or the other as I do not typically watch BBC (even though some BBC is available on my cable system program package).

I do give Ben Stephenson credit for having the stones to publicly admit and advocate what many people have long suspected, that the BBC was not adhering to being "independent in all matters concerning the content of its output".

While the same thing happens to some extent here in the US with taxpayer subsidized PBS (TV) and NPR (radio), I believe that the amount of money is a mere pittance compared to the amount of money that the BBC receives in mandatory fees from the British public.
(FY 2009 has about $400 million from the federal government, most of which was channeled to PBS. As of 2005, less than 50% of PBS's budget came from the a combination of federal, state & local government and approx. 2% of NPR's budget came from the federal government. Some of their funding comes from corporate donations and, for NPR from "underwriting spots" paid for by public corporations. The remainder comes from periodic "pledge drives" where PBS stations have fund raising drives on the air where they grovel for "Viewers Like You" to send them money).

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 Post subject: Re: The out of control BBC
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:47 am 
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chijohnaok wrote:
I don't care one way or the other as I do not typically watch BBC (even though some BBC is available on my cable system program package).

I do give Ben Stephenson credit for having the stones to publicly admit and advocate what many people have long suspected, that the BBC was not adhering to being "independent in all matters concerning the content of its output".

While the same thing happens to some extent here in the US with taxpayer subsidized PBS (TV) and NPR (radio), I believe that the amount of money is a mere pittance compared to the amount of money that the BBC receives in mandatory fees from the British public.
(FY 2009 has about $400 million from the federal government, most of which was channeled to PBS. As of 2005, less than 50% of PBS's budget came from the a combination of federal, state & local government and approx. 2% of NPR's budget came from the federal government. Some of their funding comes from corporate donations and, for NPR from "underwriting spots" paid for by public corporations. The remainder comes from periodic "pledge drives" where PBS stations have fund raising drives on the air where they grovel for "Viewers Like You" to send them money).


They have an obligation to be politically unbiased, one which they have binned. Given this why on earth should anybody who isn't a left winger be forced to pay for it if they want a TV?

They've been referred to as 'Pravda' derisively for some time, now they have admitted to be literally that.

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 Post subject: Re: The out of control BBC
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:21 pm 
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EUBanana wrote:
They've been referred to as 'Pravda' derisively for some time, now they have admitted to be literally that.


I have heard Putin, Mugabe, and others praise the BBC as their model.


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 Post subject: Re: The out of control BBC
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:25 pm 
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EUBanana wrote:
chijohnaok wrote:
I don't care one way or the other as I do not typically watch BBC (even though some BBC is available on my cable system program package).

I do give Ben Stephenson credit for having the stones to publicly admit and advocate what many people have long suspected, that the BBC was not adhering to being "independent in all matters concerning the content of its output".

While the same thing happens to some extent here in the US with taxpayer subsidized PBS (TV) and NPR (radio), I believe that the amount of money is a mere pittance compared to the amount of money that the BBC receives in mandatory fees from the British public.
(FY 2009 has about $400 million from the federal government, most of which was channeled to PBS. As of 2005, less than 50% of PBS's budget came from the a combination of federal, state & local government and approx. 2% of NPR's budget came from the federal government. Some of their funding comes from corporate donations and, for NPR from "underwriting spots" paid for by public corporations. The remainder comes from periodic "pledge drives" where PBS stations have fund raising drives on the air where they grovel for "Viewers Like You" to send them money).


They have an obligation to be politically unbiased, one which they have binned. Given this why on earth should anybody who isn't a left winger be forced to pay for it if they want a TV?

They've been referred to as 'Pravda' derisively for some time, now they have admitted to be literally that.



He claims that what he meant was "leftfield" thinking, i.e. out of the ordinary, against the grain - which fits in with the other adjectives hes quoted as saying.

Whether you accept that I suppose depends on your political slant more than anything.

The guy is anyway a Birtesque executive type producing drama, rather than factual output.


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 Post subject: Re: The out of control BBC
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:21 pm 
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Yeah... my take on that was about the same as Jim's.
I take it that's the Telegraph article.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/news ... nking.html

For a minute I thought it might have been the New Statesman stirring up shit again by making a story from nothing - remember the 'political party questioning' by banks?

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 Post subject: Re: The out of control BBC
PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 7:31 am 
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redjames wrote:
He claims that what he meant was "leftfield" thinking, i.e. out of the ordinary, against the grain - which fits in with the other adjectives hes quoted as saying.


Mmmhmm.

Quote:
Whether you accept that I suppose depends on your political slant more than anything.


If support or lack of support of the BBC is nowadays a political question, then it seems to me the BBC has failed already in its quest to be 'neutral'. It shouldn't be political question, by definition, yet it has become so after a decade of bias, a lot of which is admitted by their own staff every so often.

This is hardly the first time, is it.

Quote:
"I do remember... the corridors of Broadcasting House were strewn with empty champagne bottles. I'll always remember that"
Jane Garvey

BBC Five Live, May 10th, 2007, recalling May 2nd, 1997.


Luckily for the BBC, they are now an 'institution' which means the Tories will be very unlikely to do something horrible to them.

Quote:
The guy is anyway a Birtesque executive type producing drama, rather than factual output.


So what?

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 Post subject: Re: The out of control BBC
PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 3:09 pm 
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EUBanana wrote:
Quote:
"I do remember... the corridors of Broadcasting House were strewn with empty champagne bottles. I'll always remember that"
Jane Garvey

BBC Five Live, May 10th, 2007, recalling May 2nd, 1997.



Well that was pretty much the entire country at that point.
Those people who consumed those bottles of champagne at the BBC will have come to the same horrible conclusion as the rest of us by now.

"Shhhhhit! New labour is just as bad as the bloody Tories - except slightly slimier - if it's possible?"

Any slant form the BBC usually comes by way of the Government.
Remember... I keep mentioning about Thatcher solving her problem with the BBC by having her own man put in charge.

A few years ago I would have said the BBC was fawning over New Labour and Tony Blair. But well before the end of his reign, I think they started to get back on track. Alastair Campbell's bullying tactics and the party's media stranglehold were hammered pretty hard by people in the BBC. Nicholas Jones brought out a book that pissed them off no end. The Control Freaks: how New Labour gets its own way. Published in 2002.
"Thank God for Mr Jones" Bernard Ingham
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Control-Freaks- ... 487&sr=1-4

If anything I'd say the BBC's position might have made it possible not to buckle to Campbell's ways. If a reporter wrote a bad article about the party they wouldn't be invited to any more press briefings - until they towed the line of course. A journalist from a commercial source would realise that their editor wouldn't put up with that for too long. No story, no sales.
The BBC could easily afford to say, "OK! No problem. Fuck 'em! No coverage for their shiny new piece of shit policy".

Part of the problem lies with the Tories though. You've got to admit for about 8 years there they were absolutely useless. If the opposition can't come up with anything worthwhile to say, no media is going to give them any decent coverage. The best they could manage was fumbling around looking helpless. All the media outlets were lapping up New Labour at one point. Even The Mail etc must have been tearing their hair out at the lack of any worthwhile opposition.

I recommend that book btw. I got about half the way through it.
The other one on that page 'The Spin Doctor's Diary' by Lance Price was pretty good too. He was Head of Communications for No.10 for a couple of years. Eye popping stuff!

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 Post subject: Re: The out of control BBC
PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 6:53 pm 
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fronswa wrote:
Well that was pretty much the entire country at that point.


Speak for yourself, old bean.

Quote:
Any slant form the BBC usually comes by way of the Government.


Obviously not given who was in power in 1996, and the champagne bottles in 1997.

Quote:

Remember... I keep mentioning about Thatcher solving her problem with the BBC by having her own man put in charge.


...which is hardly an improvement, is it. I'm sure Destiny Dave will do what he can to stack the deck in his favour when he gets the chance, thats a given.

Quote:
A few years ago I would have said the BBC was fawning over New Labour and Tony Blair. But well before the end of his reign, I think they started to get back on track.


Sure, they anticipate a change of government, and they aren't stupid. If they were die-hard anti-Tories amidst a Tory election landslide that really wouldn't bode well for their future.

Quote:
Part of the problem lies with the Tories though. You've got to admit for about 8 years there they were absolutely useless.


It is true that they were aping Blair... but I also think it's true that if they said anything remotely 'conservative' they'd have been shot down in flames, in fact they were shot down in flames in the years immediately after 1997. And lets be honest. For those with eyes to see, Blair was an obvious scumbag. The Ecclestone business happened pretty damn soon after the election, and I remember the coverage that Blair got back then. Not exactly damning, even tho his whiter than white government was shown up as dodgy practically while the removal men were still working in Number 10.

Why do you think Cameron keeps his cards close to his chest and limits his public statements to vague statements of niceness? If the Conservative Party learned anything in the past decade, they learned to shut up. It is a lesson they have taken to heart. Tory cuts, Tory splits, Tory whatever. They've ceased to attempt to argue for obvious reasons, seems to me.

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 Post subject: Re: The out of control BBC
PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 11:18 pm 
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EUBanana wrote:
Why do you think Cameron keeps his cards close to his chest and limits his public statements to vague statements of niceness? If the Conservative Party learned anything in the past decade, they learned to shut up. It is a lesson they have taken to heart. Tory cuts, Tory splits, Tory whatever. They've ceased to attempt to argue for obvious reasons, seems to me.


Yyyuup.

The Ecclestone thing did make a pretty big splash btw. The "Whiter than white" quote was banded about quite a lot.
Everyone realised at that point that things were not quite what they seemed to be with Tony. Even die hard Labour supporter, like myself at the time, found that quite disturbing.

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