The BBC has long been a broadcasting institution set far above the tawdry tabloids and the corruption of the Murdoch Empire; it has consistently commanded the implicit trust of the British people for almost a hundred years. However, this is all set to change. Recently, there has been somewhat of a backlash against the BBC, with journalist George Monbiot claiming that the BBC is a ‘mouthpiece of the elite’. He is of course absolutely right and his comments perfectly reflect a feeling palpable across the UK: the BBC is failing us.
Unfortunately, it seems that this feeling more than just mere sentiment, as there are a host of facts and figures to back up this worrying trend. For example, a study by the Cardiff School of Journalism found that the coverage of the 2008 banker’s bailouts by the BBC was absurdly biased. Contributors to the reports were almost exclusively hedge fund managers and executives. Civic voices without a vested interest in the financial sector were curiously ignored in interviews and the elite continued to dominate the platform. The study also found that business representatives outnumbered trade union members by an astonishing nineteen to one. It seems the pillar of journalistic neutrality is actually peddling a very pointed, Conservative agenda.
Further evidence of this can be found more recently in the BBC coverage of the European parliamentary elections. Tellingly, the BBC chose not to include the Green Party in its televised debates on the grounds that they did not command enough support. However, it was deemed that UKIP – who are of a similar standing as the Greens – should be included in the debates. The BBC devoted hours of coverage to UKIP events and policies while persistently ignoring those of other parties of a similar size. During the EU elections, the BBC received 1,190 complaints of a bias in favour of UKIP. Despite the outrage this caused, the BBC pressed on, continuing to broadcast its own personal agenda.
Ultimately, the fact that the BBC is not impartial surely cannot be a great surprise. Human nature demands partiality; we adapt to our social surroundings and act in our best interests. Obviously, the BBC cannot be exempt from this. To insist on this pretence of neutrality over the rest of the media is just symptomatic of the elitist thought that is so prevalent within the BBC. It stands to reason that an organisation predominantly run by upper-middle class executives would have a very clear bias – a problem only arises when that organisation refuses to come clean and accept this fact. We can no longer cling to this naïve belief that the BBC feels indebted to the public for ensuring its survival when, quite clearly, it is more concerned with protecting the interests of the people at the top. In theory, the idea of a neutral broadcasting service is laudable, but in practice it just can’t work. Ultimately, we might all do better to just wake up and accept that the impartial BBC as we know it is dead.