BBC Accuses Boris Govt of ‘Trumpian’ Tactics Amidst Impartiality Row

SALISBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 3: Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a Christmas market whilst campaigning on December 3, 2019 in Salisbury, England. UK voters are set to go to the polls on December 12 in the country's third general election in less than five years. (Photo by Hannah McKay …
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A BBC editor has complained that Number 10’s boycott of Radio 4’s Today programme is a “Trumpian” plot to “delegitimise” the broadcaster.

Ministers in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet have been noted for their conspicuous absence from the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme. Sources speaking to The Telegraph shortly after the Conservatives won their biggest majority since 1987 accused the BBC of biased coverage during the election and called on the taxpayer-funded broadcaster to launch an internal investigation into its coverage.

“The BBC speaks to a pro-Remain metropolitan bubble in Islington, not the real world represented by Wakefield and Workington,” the source had said, while another source told The Times that the show was simply “irrelevant”.

Sarah Sands, who has edited the BBC Radio 4 show for the last three years, told the station’s own Feedback programme that the popular government was acting in the manner of U.S. President Donald Trump, who frequently calls out the mainstream media for fake news and bias.

Asked whether the boycott would last, Ms Sands said: “At the moment, that’s the policy.”

“The government won a big majority, it sees Labour in disarray, it thinks it’s a pretty good time to put the foot on the windpipe of an independent broadcaster. So the strategy is quite Trumpian: to delegitimise the BBC,” she added.

A 2017 report by News-Watch found that the Today programme was “strongly biased against Brexit”, while a study the following year from the think tank Civitas found that the show had suppressed pro-Brexit opinions over the years.

The Conservative government has been pushing back against the broadcaster, with the prime minister saying on the campaign trail earlier this month that he would look into abolishing the licence fee.

“How long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of channels?” Mr Johnson had said.

Rishi Sunak, chief secretary of the Treasury, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr this month that the new government will look into ending criminal prosecution of people who do not pay their licence fee, with the broadcaster complaining it would lose millions in funding if rendered powerless to threaten the public with prison for non-payment of their TV tax.

It is not just the government which perceives the broadcaster as biased or untrustworthy, with two separate recent polls finding most Britons do not trust BBC journalists to tell the truth and two-thirds believing it is biased.

The BBC is putting on a woke show for Christmas this year, inviting climate wunderkind Greta Thunberg to guest edit an episode of the Today programme, where she will likely lambast Western countries for failing to downgrade their economies and living standards for climate change. While grime rapper Stormzy, who sung “fuck the government, fuck Boris” during his headline performance at Glastonbury, will be reciting a passage from the Bible on a Christmas day show.

Despite these efforts to make the BBC appear relevant to current culture, the future of the broadcaster’s relationship with the youth remains in question after figures revealed that fewer than half of 16- to 24-year-olds say that they watch or listen to BBC content at least once a week. With a generation of Britons who do not see the BBC as a staple of their media intake, it will make justifying the licence fee harder in future. As a result, Ofcom warned in October that the “BBC may not be sustainable in its current form”.

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