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BBC bias challenged!

The petition 'Public inquiry into the bias in the BBC' attracted 105,422 signatures and was debated by the Commons Petitions Committee on 15 July 2019 along with two other petitions about the BBC that had reached 100,000 signatures i.e. abolish the BBC television license and that BBC continue to fund free TV licences for the over 75 in the future.

The debate was felt necessary as the impartiality of the BBC is in question and needs addressing so as to protect its charter.

Key illustrations of BBC bias include how EU referendum and Brexit has been approached, the Labour party positions on many socio-political matters have been appropriated, the Labour party has been treated less favourably and the latest Panorama programme that hits Labour hard, or the way certain Middle East situations are covered.

The debate helped to raise the profile of the campaigns and though could influence decision-making in Government and Parliament but it cannot directly change the law or result in a vote to implement the requests of the petitions.

Government’s typical response as expected was: ‘The BBC has a duty to deliver impartial, accurate news coverage and content under its Charter. Perceived editorial bias at the BBC is a matter for Ofcom as the independent regulator, not government’.

A group of private individuals is bringing a case for judicial review of the way the BBC measures impartiality. They believe that opinion polling is not a suitable mechanism to determine whether in fact the BBC is impartial.

The BBC is duty bound to assess its own performance, and this by definition means that there has to be a far more structured approach to assessing impartiality based on objectively ascertainable facts, not asking others how they think the BBC is doing.

The group believes there is a strong argument that the BBC is in breach of its obligations under its Charter and Framework Agreement.

They believe that the only way the BBC can be seen to be impartial is to have an independent, objective system of measurement - not one that the BBC runs against itself. Then and only then can it really be called impartial.

The group is raising money for a judicial review process; to help them challenge the way the BBC itself measures its own levels of impartiality.  They have instructed McCarthy Denning, a specialist legal firm with a wealth of experience, to fight their case.