Tens of thousands of people have joined a campaign the defund the UK’s public-funded broadcaster as the backlash grows against the media outlet’s supposedly ‘impartial’ reporting.
Over 40,000 people have joined the Twitter campaign #DefundTheBBC in the past week alone, following intense criticism and ridicule over the broadcaster’s coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests in London.
The BBC unironically characterised the protests as “largely peaceful”, despite admitting that 14 police officers were injured during the demonstration. The article also featured a photograph of a female police officer lying on the ground after being thrown from her horse amidst the fighting outside Downing Street on Saturday.
27 police officers injured during largely peaceful anti-racism protests in London https://t.co/vIq1VL1aiT
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) June 7, 2020
James Yucel, the university student who started the #DefundTheBBC campaign, wrote in a Westmonster opinion piece: “Defunding the BBC is a vital step in restoring the people’s trust in our media and it is one that we must work together to achieve.”
“Ultimately, the BBC is not impartial. It refuses to tell its audience the political background of its guests, allowing many Labour activists to present themselves as a balanced view, despite holding a deep-seated hatred for the government,” he added.
40,000 followers in 20 hours.
— Defund The BBC (@DefundBBC) June 8, 2020
Yucel, who launched the campaign last week, called on people to refrain from petitioning the government or writing to their Member of Parliament. He instead urged people to simply stop paying the licence fee that funds the BBC by “legally and peacefully” filling out a form that will cancel the TV licence.
“Many have tried for reform but it is now strikingly clear that they just won’t change. Therefore, it is with regret, that I feel the only solution is to scrap the Licence Fee and allow them to adapt a Sky or Netflix subscription model, where the people of this country are not forced to pay for television or, in fact, their right to a balanced view,” Yucel remarked.
A 2018 study from the think tank Civitas and a report of News-Watch in 2017 found that BBC Radio 4’s flagship news and currents affairs show, the Today programme, systematically repressed pro-Brexit and Eurosceptic opinions, bolstering the accusations of media bias within the broadcaster.
BBC Bias: No Apology from Maitlis for Anti-Cummings Rant, But ‘Big Thank You’ to Supporters https://t.co/7S8pFLAKQe
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 28, 2020
In December, a poll conducted by Norstat found that nearly two-thirds of the British public believed that the BBC was biased. Another found that just 48 per cent of the British public trust BBC journalists to be truthful in their reporting, compared to 44 per cent who did.
With many people, especially younger people, eschewing traditional broadcast media in favour of internet streaming services, half of the country now believes that the broadcaster should fund itself and ditch the TV licence fee model that charges £154.50 per year.
The Communications Act 2003 mandates that anyone in the country who watches live television or uses the BBC iPlayer must pay a tax to the government to prop up the BBC. Those who are found to be using the services without paying the tax face fines of up to £1,000 fine, a court appearance, and even possible jail time.
In 2018, 121,000 people were convicted of evading the tax, leading to the imprisonment of five people in England and Wales.
BBC Could Go Way of Blockbuster, Minister Says as Govt Considers Decriminalising Non-Payment of TV Tax https://t.co/JdS6Sbh11f
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 5, 2020
Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka