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New BBC Charter

The White Paper about the new BBC Charter arrangements, a document called "A BBC for the future: a broadcaster of distinction" has now been released:

The Conservative government has unfortunately squandered the opportunity to get rid of, or substantially reduce, the licence fee funding arrangement, though of course they didn't say they were going to make any major changes to the licence fee arrangement in the 2015 Manifesto. But I'd be surprised if The Conservatives, even with Cameron as leader, haven't tried to do something in the White Paper about the BBC's lack of impartiality, as addressing this issue might help the Conservatives win future general elections.

One thing, that I don't think is very well-known, is that in 2006 the Blair government encouraged the BBC to be even more biased through introducing the idea of "public purposes" to what the BBC does in the current BBC Charter which runs from the end of 2006 to the end of 2016:

Current public purposes
1) sustaining citizenship and civil society

2) promoting education and learning

3) representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities

4) stimulating creativity and cultural excellence

5) bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK

6) in promoting its other purposes, helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services and, in addition, taking a leading role in the switchover to digital television

The whole idea of the BBC being impartial is potentially compromised by public purpose No 1, the vague idea of "sustaining citizenship and civil society", which a BBC employee could easily interpret as being encouraged to make the whole country just as Metropolitan Liberal as the BBC is. Politically incorrect views on multi-culturalism, the EU, climate change, renewable energy and so on could be argued to deserve being suppressed as these views may not be helpful to the principle of "sustaining citizenship and civil society".

The White Paper has now come up with a new set of public purposes:

New public purposes
1)Providing impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them
The BBC should provide accurate and impartial news and current affairs to build people’s understanding of all parts of the UK and of the wider world. Its content should be provided to the highest editorial standards. It should offer a range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other UK news providers, using the highest calibre presenters and journalists, and championing freedom of expression, so that all audiences can engage fully with major UK and global issues and participate in the democratic process as active and informed citizens.

2)Supporting learning for people of all ages
The BBC should help everyone learn about different subjects in ways they will find accessible, engaging, inspiring and challenging. The BBC should provide specialist educational content to help support learning for children and teenagers across the UK. It should encourage people to explore new subjects and participate in new activities through partnerships with educational, sporting and cultural institutions.

3)Showing the most creative, highest quality and distinctive content
The BBC should provide high quality output in many different genres and across a range of platforms which sets the standard in the UK and internationally. Its services should be distinctive from those provided elsewhere and should take creative risks, even if not all succeed, in order to develop fresh approaches and innovative content.

4)Reflecting, representing and serving the diverse communities of all the UK’s nations and regions
The BBC should reflect the diversity of the UK both in its content and as an organisation. In doing so, the BBC should accurately and authentically represent and portray the lives of people across the UK, and raise awareness of the different cultures and alternative viewpoints that make up its society. It should ensure that it provides content and services that meet the needs of the UK’s nations, regions and communities. It should bring people together for shared experiences and help contribute to the social wellbeing of the UK.

5)Reflecting the UK, its culture and values to the world
The BBC should provide high-quality news coverage to international audiences, firmly based on British values of accuracy, impartiality, and fairness. Its international services should put the UK in a world context, aiding understanding of all parts of the UK. It should ensure that it produces content which will be enjoyed by people in the UK and globally.

So it looks like the White Paper has dropped the vague idea of "sustaining citizenship and civil society", and made impartiality a central idea in the new public purpose No 1.

The White Paper also proposes to change the BBC's historical mission statement (devised by John Reith) "to inform, educate and entertain” to become the more complicated statement "To act in the public interest, serving all audiences with impartial, high-quality and distinctive media content and services that inform, educate and entertain." So impartiality is now in the mission statement as well, together with the completely new idea of the BBC being required to be distinctive.

From the point of view of submitting complaints to the BBC that are then taken seriously about their climate change coverage and other matters, I suppose the more upfront emphasis on the idea of impartiality helps. Also getting rid of their sympathetic regulator, the BBC Trust, probably helps.

Re: New BBC Charter

Another thing I've noticed about the White Paper is that it sets tough new diversity targets for the BBC, including what I think is a virtually impossible target for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) of 10% representation in the workforce. This Breitbart article gives the details:


I went through the issue of LGBT figures in some posts in the "Gay Statistics" thread. The 10% is an often-quoted figure but is based on 1940s junk science by Alfred Kinsey. The Office Of National Statistics in the UK carried out a survey of 180,000 people in 2013 and came up with LG as being just 1.1%, LGB as 1.5%. LGBT could be reasonably taken as being virtually the same as LGB, 1.5%.

The diversity targets to be met by 2020, set on page 41 of the White Paper, are 10% LGBT, 15% BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) and 8% disabled for the whole BBC workforce, and 15% BAME and gender-balanced (which presumably means 50% female) in senior leadership roles in the workforce. In front of the camera, 15% of lead roles are to go to BAME actors and 50% of lead roles to females.

I've got a feeling that the overall effect of these targets will be to make the BBC less competitive. I think "Have I got news for you" has suffered from some BBC executive's arbitrary decision a few years ago to have at least one female on the show, either as a guest or host.

Re: New BBC Charter

Even with more or less correct statistics, positive discrimination never delivers positive results.
The primary criteria for delivering quality programs is to employ the people able to meet that objective. Can you imagine putting together a football team on such a basis?
Then too what it does encourage is the belief, often probably true, that someone only has their job because they meet some quota rather than being fit for the job.

Of course, on the other hand where there are so many "luvies" I suspect they'll have no difficulty meeting their GLTB targets . But, the problem is that while Kinsey may have come up with a nonsense figure, the problem is that even if true, how does the BBC or any other organisation know if they have recruited someone who ticks that box? Are they allowed to ask about sexual tendencies? About religion and ethnic background? These are some of the private features of our lives that many people prefer not to comment on.
Mind you, if you want a job at the BBC just claim to be gay or ethnic minority and you'll probably get the job whether you are qualified or not.
Or they may put you down as a minority if they really want you.
It is a pointless exercise open to all sorts of abuses.

But then, what do we expect of a whiter paper that's sole purpose would seem to be window dressing. (Unless, of course, it is borrowed from some EU proposal on national broadcasting intended to homogenise broadcasting across the EU so that when the day comes and there is only the Brussels Broadcasting Company with the BBC acting only as a regional relay station carrying EU propaganda......I wonder if the BEEB realises this is exactly what they are setting themselves up for with their support of the EU. Well, I don't suppose the fat cats at the top care. The EU will see them right.