Why I Have Cancelled My TV Licence and Joined the #DefundBBC Campaign | Ewell Gregoor
I was stuck in a debate with friends a few months ago when the government suggested that changes to the TV Licencing model may come into effect after the next review in 2027. Firmly on the fence, I knew the BBC were sinking deeper into the rabbit hole with their divisive TV dramas (Noughts and Crosses springs to mind), and ever increasing stable of hyper-liberal news presenters. At the same time, I had some nostalgic vision of the BBC and its past world reputation for independence and high quality journalism. However, it’s all too clear that what used to be archetypal institution for British and western democracies, is now more representative of the propaganda states of the Cold War. The BBC has decayed since the polarising Brexit vote in 2016. Brexit has clearly emboldened the BBC and its workforce to step out from the shackles of impartiality and push a very obvious quasi-liberal agenda, that they no longer even attempt to hide.
The overreach of the BBC can be seen when analysing the BBC mission statement: “to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain.” Let us focus on the point of impartiality. Just three weeks ago the BBC obsessed over the semantics of whether Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham broke lock down rules. Mr Cummings was subject to blame in advance for a hypothetical second wave of Covid-19; some even attributed the breakout in the North East to Cummings’ actions. The BBC, as well as other broadcasters, were camped outside the Cummings residence, which led to public demonstrates outside his home. If Mr Cummings did commit a crime, then the trial by media and subsequent punishment on him and his family was sensationalised beyond anything in recent memory. Especially when considering just one week later, the BBC and other media outlets were praising and promoting Black Lives Matter protests across the UK, with little regard for Covid-19. The Labour MP for Brent North, Barry Gardiner, who represents a constituency with a BAME population over 60%+, whom it is widely documented are disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, tweeted ostensibly about breaking social distancing rules to join protests. You will not be shocked to learn that the BBC ran only one small story on Barry Gardiner’s rule-breaking.
It is important to consider why impartiality is engraved in the BBC mission statement and forms the basis of its five core values. The BBC is funded by the British people through the TV licence. It is curious to know why the BBC and their employees have extra scope to express their personal and institutional political agendas in ways that other public funded intuitions are more thoroughly regulated. Gary Lineker, the BBC’s highest paid star, whom the British Public’s responsibility to fund his whopping £1,750,000 per-annum salary, is anything but shy about his political beliefs. The former England striker is an ardent Remainer and campaigner for the retention of Britain’s membership of the EU. The former Tottenham Hotspurs star has used his large social media following to spread sensationalist rhetoric regarding job losses as a result of a Brexit, some of which, most recently the Nissan decision to retain its factory in Sunderland, have proven to be false. It is curious why we pay for him to preach.
Former BBC whistle blowers have exposed the institutional bias which is ravaging Britain’s 93 year old state broadcasting service. Peter Sissons, the former newsreader, told the Daily Mail prior to his death in 2019, that the BBC has a DNA in which its thinking which is ‘very much on the left’. Sissons said of the BBC approach to news:
By far the most popular and widely read newspapers at the BBC are The Guardian and The Independent. Producers refer to them routinely for the line to take on running stories, and for inspiration on which items to cover. In the later stages of my career, I lost count of the number of times I asked a producer for a brief on a story, only to be handed a copy of The Guardian and told ‘it’s all in there’.
The more troubling passage of the article by Sissons is where he talks of the clandestine way that diverse political views at the BBC would need to be hidden, so employees would not damage their chances of progression.
I am in no doubt that the majority of BBC staff vote for political parties of the Left. But it’s impossible to do anything but guess at the numbers whose beliefs are on the Right or even Centre-Right. This is because the one thing guaranteed to damage your career prospects at the BBC is letting it be known that you are at odds with the prevailing and deep-rooted BBC attitude towards Life, the Universe, and Everything.
As a super-fan of dystopian novels, and books of the horrors of totalitarian dictatorships, I can tell you that Sissons words above send shivers down my spine. If we are to learn from history, when national intuitions start believing and promoting dogmatic, single view narratives, it tends not to end well, and is often the start of something more sinister.
Despite all of the above, I had resisted the campaign to defund the BBC in the blind hope that the BBC implemented a sweeping institutional change, however this all changed last week. The only confidence I had in the BBC was tied into the BBC’s motto, which goes back to the BBC formation in January 1st 1927, “Nation shall speak peace unto nation”. Until last week, I thought, or more hoped, that the BBC failure in its mission statement and core aims could be attributed to unconscious bias and poor regulation from the government, and that at the heart of BBC there were good intentions. However, the BBC has revealed in previous weeks that it has more sinister agenda, and has opportunistically used the Black Lives Matters protests to deepen the divisions in a country that was already flirting with a culture war.
If you had watched the BBC news channel, or followed the BBC news website over the past two weeks, you would be mistaken for thinking Britain was an apartheid state. Such is the hysteria around race relations in the UK. The media in this country have developed a fondness for reporting half-truths, and feelings over facts. Social progress made by Britain over the past two decades is higher than any other western democracy. Pew Research, 2018, found that Britain are at the top of the polls for European Countries when asked, ‘are you in favour of increased diversity in society’. This is of course good news and something we as a country should be widely celebrating. Research published last week on social progress, by Ipsos MORI, compared social attitudes in Britain in 2008 with 2020, the question, ‘I would be happy for my child to marry someone from another ethnic group’, showed a remarkable change. The 2020 stats showed a 29% increase in those who, strongly agreed. The same study also asked, ‘To be truly British you have to be white, whilst just over 50% disagreed in 2006, thankfully, nearly 80% disagree in 2020. This hardly shows a country in crisis, and blasts holes in the many accusations of systemic racism in Britain over the past two weeks.
It is also curious why the BBC have not pushed back on the claim of police brutality against black people in the UK, given that the evidence actually show that you are in fact at a higher risk of dying in police custody if you are white. BBC news reported this month that Chinese and Indian ethnic groups are the highest earners in the U.K., whilst white people are fourth. What this explains is that the salient factor for the ethnic pay gap disparity cannot be attributed to race alone. It is striking that, considering the BBC are aware of this evidence, it all too often allows guests and reporters to push racial narratives that lack any factual basis.
Worst of all has been the BBC reporting of the Black Lives Matter protests across the world and subsequent counter protests. The BBC was has afforded the benefit of doubt to BLM protesters, offering a caveat to every negative action. We all remember the headline, “27 Police Officers injured in largely peaceful protests”. Do we really think the same leniency would be afforded to any other group or event? The following week the Democratic Football Lads Alliance took part in a counter protest with the aims of protecting statues, something the police had failed to do. Like the Black Lives Matters protests the week before, pockets of violence broke out and sadly police officers were injured, albeit much fewer than the 27 the previous week. Six officers were injured in the line of duty on the much documented Saturday past. The BBC ran with the headline, ‘Violence in London’. No caveat. No attempts to hide their bias.
Let us remind ourselves of the BBC Motto, ‘The Nation shall speak peace unto a Nation’, and then remind ourselves of the BBC’s actions in the week leading up to counter protests, which played out as some kind of race war akin to the riots of the 1960’s. The BBC used the easy and un-evidenced tag line ‘far right’, to describe what I would call, the patriotic white working class. A generation removed from the steel workers and miners in the former industrial Labour Heartlands. The idea that this group is on the right of British politics is laughable, never mind the ‘far right’. Far-right has become the new word to describe the perceived less desirable elements of our lower social classes, much like ‘CHAV’ did in the early 2000’s. The BBC seemed happy to give a platform to anyone willing to slander perspective counter protesters, including veterans, as far right, whilst never challenging that view. After the Edward Colston statue was pulled down in Bristol, the Churchill statue in London was soon vandalised and a failed attempt to set the cenotaph on fire, the silent majority in Britain were worried, just 13% of people approved of the actions in Bristol. Large swathes of British people felt as if their very history was under threat. This was not helped by the BBC’s reactionary, poor timed, decision to remove traditional British TV shows from its streaming service. The BBC announced that the popular shows, Little Britain, and Come Fly with Me, would be taken down due the show’s black characters. Later in the week, the iconic British TV show, Faulty Towers, was censored, a decision that has now seen a reverse, such was the backlash. However, by this point the damage was already done, in the wake of the Faulty Towers news, a friend had told me that he thought, ‘they are trying to destroy my culture’. I am perturbed by the decision to make such reactionary, divisive, cultural decisions in the midst of a culture war and civil unrest on the streets. The BBC did not speak peace unto the nation, it stoked the fire and fanned the flames.
The BBC have cause to worry; the official @DefundBBC Twitter account was set up last week and already has over 70 thousand followers. There was hope that the BBC would challenge their liberal orthodoxy when it announced it was hiring an impartiality adviser. However, it transpired, that the new impartiality adviser, Richard Shambrook, may not be best placed to judge impartiality. Guido Faulks, uncovered a series of tweets from Shambrook that claimed, ‘Brexit is like a Premier League team wanting to be relegated’, as well as unsavoury tweets about Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. Shambrook’s appointment is nothing more than an ostentatious attempt to quell the claims of political bias. However, the appointment really shows the BBC simply aren’t listening.
The events of the last week have left me with no choice, I have leapt off the fence, cancelled my TV licence and joined the campaign to defund the BBC. Cancelling your TV licence is the most direct way of demonstrating against the liberal establishment without adding to the civil unrest on the streets. In the words of the BBC when justifying the removal of Little Britain. ‘Times have changed’, and the licence fee must go!
Photo by Rourkeor on Flickr.