Saturday, 5 April 2008

One Man's Truth Is Another Man's Bias

Johann Hari's latest article is only the latest broadside in the simmering debate over which way, if at all, the BBC is biased.

Hari suggests in the column that originally appeared in Thursday's Independent that the BBC's current affairs coverage is "being corrupted", citing the prominence of ex-Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil in political programming. Hari has previously asserted that "bias...skews the [British Broadcasting C]orporation to the right.". Similar sentiments have been expressed by left bloggers including Dave Hill and Sunny Hundal.

Of course, on the other side are blogs including the British blogging institution Biased BBC, and its more recently established competitor (imaginatively named BBC Biased), dedicated to highlighting what the authors and contributors consider to be political skew to the left at the BBC.

As Hundal wrote in the above-linked CiF piece, the BBC has always come under attack from the political right and left for its supposed bias towards the other side. He then goes on to argue that 'we' (left-liberals) should 'stop supporting' the BBC because of its 'rightwing bias'. The Biased BBC contributors would no doubt concur with the 'stop supporting' part, but for rather different reasons.

Trouble is, we don't actually have the choice to stop supporting the BBC, no matter how we feel about the impartiality or otherwise of its political coverage, or indeed the quality or otherwise of its entertainment broadcasting! All of this bluster about bias, from either side of the political spectrum, is just demonstrating why compulsory public funding of the BBC in the form of the TV license is such an inappropriate funding model.

If the TV license were abolished, and broadcasters made to compete evenly for viewers, people would have the choice of watching the news and politics coverage that suits their views, and this entire, irreconcilable debate will become irrelevant. And we'll all breathe a big sigh of relief.

Incidentally, while researching for this post I discovered that is no longer taken, and I grabbed it (the well-known Biased BBC site uses virtually the same address but including a hyphen between 'biased' and 'bbc'). If anyone is interested in making use of it, e-mail me (


Doctor Ken's Sonic Screwdriver said...

Perhaps one might argue that the fact that the BBC can legitimately be criticised for being biased in favour of both the right and the left shows it must be doing something right?

One would hardly wish to see a situation where TV and radio news were as obviously led by their political agendas as middle-market newspapers are?

Oh, and as for abolishing the licence fee, I can only say that you can have Doctor Who when you pry it from my cold, dead hand...

QT said...

I'm sure Doctor Who has enough dedicated fans prepared to subscribe to it without needing general public funding.