“Obviously, the BBC cannot give in to government pressure, but…” – Yes Minister
According to the news – and again due to the incompetence of people who walk around Number 10 unlike most people who keep secret documents in a safe place, and instead flash it around for all to see – the Coalition is undermining the independence of the BBC as it dangles the carrot (license fee) to influence the BBC’s coverage of the Coalition’s cuts. It’s a bit like when the Coalition spit out their dummy when they couldn’t manipulate Question Time into doing what they wanted – some of those cabinet minsters, so used to always getting what they want.
Several other things spring to mind.
Just a few days ago, Thompson was going on about how left-wing the BBC was and how impartial they now are. Maybe now we can see the real reasons for these out of the blue remarks. It might be an attempt to cosey up to the Coalition government so that they can keep their finance, or maybe it was something Thompson thought would please the Coalition as he wrestles to keep the fee, especially with Jeremy Hunt briefing against them nearly every week – or maybe I am taking the remarks totally out of context. Interesting to think about, however.
Something else this slip up by the Beeb clearly shows is that the government are fully aware of how damaging and deep their cuts will be. Yes, this is probably a fairly obvious remark to make – but it does show that the government are clearly worried about the impact these cuts will have, and are trying to cover all bases before the review comes out. It vindicates our fear for the worse (as if we needed any confirmation)!
Labour are jumping on the story – but it is probably a well-known fact that the BBC is not really that independent anyway. I think Yes Minister provides us with a useful reminder of the likely relationship the BBC and the government share: where they both completely deny any wrong doing, but then a nudge and a wink, let the independence slowly fall away to the sound of money.
Anyway, have a look at a Yes Minister clip regarding the BBC and government pressure – takes a while to get into it, but highly relevant, as most of Yes Minister is! Oh, and very funny!