For the last year or so, the allegedly neutral BBC, funded by license fee and ostensibly free from political bias, did some very odd things. It gave a great deal of airtime to rightwing party UKIP, despite that (when they started doing this) UKIP had no MPs, while at the same time steadfastly ignoring the Green Party (1 MP). Many of us protested over this. It made no odds. We weren’t the only ones protesting, and there were other issues people marched over last year, but on these other subjects of protest, the BBC was strangely silent. It also repeats government statistics without question or analysis, and some of the stats we’re being fed really need prodding.
With hindsight, it is possible to see reasons for this. The BBC is not iron clad. Take away its license fee, and you break it. Parts of it might survive in other forms, but it would cease to be the institution it currently is. I imagine there are people who think that institution is worth preserving. Perhaps even at the expense of political neutrality. Could it be the case that the BBC supported the right, stayed out of debates, avoided asking difficult questions, did not mention protests and generally stayed away from anything that might offend those in power as much as it possibly could in a desperate bid to survive?
If that’s true, then by doing so, it helped get the current government re-elected. People who are not massively involved with politics tend to rely on BBC reporting to get a sense of how things really are. Traditionally, we’ve tended to trust our unbiased British Broadcasting Corporation. But for at least a year, they’ve not questioned, they’ve not given fair representation to all parties, they’ve not, in short, been neutral.
What has it got them? A culture minister who is opposed to the license fee. The people who would have fought to defend them – the left – aren’t feeling much love for the BBC right now, because the BBC hasn’t been playing fair. Will there be a popular uprising to defend them? And what are we fighting for if we do? It’s hard to rebuild a damaged reputation.
The thing about appeasing tyranny, is that it doesn’t work. If someone threatens to hurt you if you don’t do what they want, and you do what they want, then when they no longer need you, it’s not going to go well. You will be thrown away, if you are lucky, broken if you are not. Appeasement doesn’t work, as the BBC may well now be finding out.