Last month we noted an online discussion on the topic of BBC impartiality on the House of Commons petitions committee’s Facebook page ahead of a debate in Parliament on July 15th in response to a petition on that issue.
With regard to impartiality, the overall tone of the debate can be summed up in the opening remarks of MP Helen Jones (Lab. Warrington North).
“As we have previously debated the licence fee, and with it a number of accusations of bias, I do not propose to spend much time on it this afternoon, because lots of people want to speak. But let me be clear: as Harold Wilson said, public inquiries take minutes and last for years, and they seldom solve anything—certainly nothing as subjective as perceived bias. Although the BBC sometimes gets things wrong, as any organisation does, I do not believe it is inherently biased in its news and coverage of current affairs. Indeed, we ought to remember that the BBC’s news coverage is looked at around the world as a beacon of straightforward, unbiased news reporting. As a country, we ought to be proud of that.”
The the topic of the BBC’s plan to cut free TV licences to over-75s did garner more response from participating MPs. However, one might well say that the concluding claim that “this House has considered” the issue of BBC impartiality is decidedly far-fetched.