Tim Gardam former head of current affairs at the BBC and of television at channel 4
‘…It is a far wider issue of the right relationship between impartiality and editorial independence…
‘…ITC research showed that 63% of viewers found the BBC’s coverage fair to all; 25% found it biased towards Britain and America; and only 12% biased towards Iraq or the antiwar lobby…
‘…what constitutes impartiality in a world of increasingly deregulated news provision…
‘…But it would be a mistake for the BBC to seek survival in a culture of obedience. The BBC is an extraordinarily rare thing, a stateowned asset, funded by a universal tax, licensed to exercise scepticism at the workings of the government. How can the BBC’s journalism maintain its freedom to analyse and question at the same time as arriving at robust definition of its difference of approach that its compulsory levy and duty to impartiality requires? This will be one of the main debates in the renewal of the charter during the next year.’
‘So hats off to the Economist editorial that skewered Gilligan for a report that was “typical of much modern British journalism, twisting or falsifying the supposed news to fit a journalist’s opinion about where the truth really lies.
‘…Bravos too for the Financial Times editor Andrew Gowers, “…wakeup call for British journalism” which “should prompt us to rediscover the virtues of accuracy, context and verification.”
‘…as Mark Byford said, “Mostly right isn’t good enough for the BBC.”
‘The threat to modern journalism is real…it comes from the media’s disrespect for facts, the avoidable failure to be fair, the want of explanation and the persistent desire for melodrama that are spin’s flip side.’
Polly Toynbee: ‘Now Labour must show magnanimity in victory’ Guardian correspondent.
‘So what went wrong at the BBC? Alastair Campbell’s unreasonable barrage blinded them. After all why didn’t he sue the Mail on Sunday, where Gilligan’s article was a far greater affront than on a 6:07 am broadcast? Why take on the BBC, whose war coverage is proven to be the most evenhanded? Sadly, Labour has never confronted hostile newspapers, although the British press, 75% Tory, is one of the nastiest and least honest in the world.
‘Labour should have created a statutory Press Complaints Commission, giving its code teeth: selfregulation is a farce….Given the government’s craven behaviour towards newspapers, it was cowardly to vent their fury on the BBC – the only bit of the media they dared to bully.
‘Enemies argue; hand it over to Ofcom…They know that Ofcom would indeed level down the BBC, chip away at its unfair market position. But the BBC is not in the market place. It is a mighty national institution in another realm. It should be allowed to stretch its wings as wide as it can in the public interest, with no commercial agenda. It belongs to the nation and others can find their commercial niches around it where they can. Let it dominate if it can, in the name of citizens, for their good.
‘The BBC governors may look quaint but their sole duty is to protect public service broadcasting…. In no time, the BBC would be where Murdoch wants it – broadcasting worthy stuff no one else wants, diminished and marginalised.
‘Meanwhile new leaders need to steer the BBC further away from the contaminating stink of tabloid news agendas. Break with the prevailing cult of hunting politicians down as criminals…’