Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 14 November 2012

Attacks on BBC reach fever pitch

Judy Beishon, Socialist Party executive committee
BBC NUJ strikers, 1.8.11 Sheffield , photo Andy Kershaw

BBC NUJ strikers, 1.8.11 Sheffield , photo Andy Kershaw   (Click to enlarge)

Any sympathy for George Entwistle following his resignation as BBC director general after just eight weeks in the job was tempered by anger at his 450,000 pay-off and estimated 877,000 pension.

Entwistle, and two other BBC senior managers, had fallen victim to an avalanche of attacks on the BBC following the Jimmy Savile scandal and more recently a Newsnight programme that fuelled false accusations of Tory Lord McAlpine sexually abusing children in north Wales care homes.

Ironically, the ill-fated Newsnight decision to go ahead with the care home broadcast seemed partly an attempt to make amends after the earlier much criticised withdrawal of a Newsnight exposure of Savile's deeds. It was also a consequence of BBC management turmoil in the wake of that backlash.

Both incidents were a gift to the BBC's right-wing enemies and media competitors, many of whom detest the fact that the BBC receives 3.6 billion a year of public money. Leading the bandwagon of condemnation was billionaire Rupert Murdoch, still reeling from the exposure of News of the World's phone hacking crimes and his resulting failure to take over BSkyB.

Murdoch's mates

The Tory leadership's views and links with Murdoch and other press barons were shown during the Leveson inquiry, from former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt's expressed support for Murdoch's agenda, to Cameron's socialising with editors of News of the World.

Entwistle appeared inept during the Radio 4 interview that led to his resignation. But many people sprung to his defence. They included Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman who brazenly said Entwistle had been "let down by cowards and incompetents" and blamed "a series of cuts on programme budgets, while bloating the management".

There are many excellent, relatively low-paid (compared to senior managers and presenters like Paxman) journalists at the BBC who have been reported as 'tearing their hair out' at the way management handled the Newsnight dilemmas.

Newsnight's budget has been halved over the last five years and Entwistle's predecessor Mark Thompson presided over the axing of 7,000 jobs across the BBC in the years after he became head of the corporation in 2004. The cutting of a further 2,000 jobs, including about 800 in news, is planned by 2016 following the government's freezing of the television licence fee in 2010.

The cuts, partly stemming from pressure originated by profit-making media companies like Murdoch's, are very damaging to quality, investigative journalism. They reduce the pool of expertise and the time to investigate and check stories, and increase reliance on outside firms - the non-BBC Bureau of Investigative Journalism fronted the Newsnight report that caused the McAlpine storm.

Publicly owned

As a publicly owned corporation the BBC built up a reputation over decades for being a more reliable source of information than the media owned by big business. In June 2012 Ofcom reported a survey in which 65% of UK adults named BBC One as one of their news sources, while only 37% named ITV, 23% Sky, and the highest figure for a newspaper was 16% for the Sun.

However, although the BBC has the major advantages of not being influenced by advertisers and not lining the pockets of shareholders (except via privatised sections and partners), it is far from having the political independence, accountability to the public and openess called for by socialists.

Unelected Trust

Its governing Trust is not elected but is appointed by government ministers, with the present powerful Trust chairman being former Tory minister Chris Patten.

An indication of the attitude of ordinary people to Patten is that he was voted out of parliament in 1992, but not before he had done Margaret Thatcher's bidding by privatising the water industry and introducing the doomed poll tax. He then became the unelected governor of Hong Kong, paid more than the British prime minister and in his own words had "a fleet of cars, a yacht, a helicopter and scores of staff".

After that there was a spell as an unelected European Commissioner, followed by supporting the introduction of student tuition fees as chancellor of Oxford University. Say no more to reveal the nature of the BBC's top leadership, affecting its news coverage and all else!

Nevertheless, despite their deficiencies and inbuilt bias - including disgracefully that they don't allow the anti-austerity voice of organisations like the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to be heard - programmes like Panorama and Newsnight can provide useful and interesting news, discussion and sometimes exposure. There is a danger that the sex abuse scandals will be used to undermine them and much else that is informative or entertaining from the BBC.

We must oppose all cuts in the BBC's funding and inroads of privatisation, and defend its existence as a publicly owned and run broadcasting company. A socialist government will need to release journalists from commercial, financial and political pressures and put the BBC (and other major media resources) into the hands of democratically organised workers' control and management.

Then, the media can serve the interests of the overwhelming majority in society, giving democratically decided time and space for the expression of minority views and for a flowering of debate, communication and culture.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 14 November 2012:


Home   |   The Socialist 14 November 2012   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  

Related links:


triangleOctober 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleBBC yawning pay gaps revealed

triangleLondon: Cuts Cost Lives #ToriesOut national demonstration


triangleObesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

triangleYoung people being strangled by debts

triangleShocking insight into Isis

triangleNew documentary asks women how their bodies are sexualised and policed


triangleNorth London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

triangleNo cuts - hands off King George A&E!

triangleTories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!


triangleFight the Sun's bigoted lies

triangleNewsquest strike: "It's impossible to do our jobs"

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



Hundreds of torture victims wrongly detained



Tories torn - bin them now


What we saw

What we saw



Obesity epidemic: end food market anarchy



Tories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!



Young people being strangled by debts



The end of the Tories?



Nasty party out the Tories


Black history

The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity



Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right


Universal Credit

Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty


Them & Us

Them & Us



NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts



IMF helps cause inequality it slams



Tories wreck our NHS

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice