BBC too big, too left-wing and ignored critics of immigration and Brussels, former news head admits

  • Roger Mosey said  more of the licence fee should be open to rivals
  • BBC has 70%  market share for news, squeezing out alternatives
  • Corporation-wide  policies create the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to cover  issues

  By Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor – 8  November 2013

The BBC is too big and too left wing and  should lose some of its licence fee, the Corporation’s former head of TV news  has warned.

Roger Mosey claimed the BBC  had wrongly kept critics of Brussels, benefits and immigration off the airwaves  and veered to the left on many issues.

He said it would ‘enrich the nation’ if rival  commercial broadcasters had access to some of the licence fee to take on the  BBC’s dominance.

Warning: Roger Mosey, a former head of news at the BBC who oversaw the London Olympics coverage, said the Corporation had become too big and the licence fee should be shared with other broadcastersWarning: Roger Mosey, a former head of news at the BBC  who oversaw the London Olympics coverage, said the Corporation had become too  big and the licence fee should be shared with other broadcasters

There has been growing pressure on the BBC  over the £145.50, with 70 per cent of viewers saying they want it cut or  abolished.

Tory ministers have warned it could be cut or  opened up to other broadcasters if the BBC cannot repair the damage to its  reputation caused by the Savile abuse scandal and huge pay-offs to senior  managers.

Mr Mosey, who was head of BBC Television News and oversaw the BBC’s coverage of the London Olympics, said there should be a debate about how the next licence fee settlement ‘helps pluralism and diversity’.

Writing in The Times, Mr Mosey said that while the corporation faced  widespread competition in network television, its market share of 70 per cent of  all news consumption on both TV and radio was something that ‘even long-term  loyalists find uncomfortable’.

He suggested that while the BBC’s stance of  co-ordinating its editorial content across the organisation was a good thing, it  can ‘lead to homogeneity’ and conformity.

Mr Mosey said: “On the BBC’s own admission,  in recent years it did not, with the virtue of hindsight, give enough space to  anti-immigration views or to EU-withdrawalists; and, though he may have  exaggerated, the former Director-General Mark Thompson spoke of a ‘massive bias  to the left’ in the BBC he joined more than 30 years ago.

‘I share Mark’s view that there was more  internal political diversity in recent times, but that isn’t enough unless it’s  evident in a wider range of editorial view on air.’

BBC-wide policies on news programmes created 'homogenity' on the right and wrong way to cover issues like benefits and immigration, Mr Mosey warnedBBC-wide policies on news programmes created  ‘homogenity’ on the right and wrong way to cover issues like benefits and  immigration, Mr Mosey warned

Editors’ views are ‘influenced by like-minded  peers’ and co-ordination of policies across programmes can lead to homogeneity,  he warned.

‘That can be intensified by  regulation that sees there being “right” and “wrong” answers.

‘The BBC Trust speaks the language of  diversity but in its edicts it promotes conformity, whether it’s about an agreed  approach to the science of climate change, “correct” terminology in the Middle  East or the way a documentary about benefits should be constructed.’

Mr Mosey said this was not an argument to  take a ‘wrecking ball’ to the corporation, but to examine how the licence fee  can bring about diversity in broadcasting.

He pointed to a past attempt by Channel 4 to  launch a radio service to rival the BBC.

‘If that couldn’t work as a commercial  enterprise, might it enrich the nation if similar bids were open to funding by  the licence fee?

‘A properly resourced service independent of  the BBC could provide bracing competition and increase choice for  audiences.’

He called for the BBC to still have the ‘dominant slice of the licence-fee pie’, but added: ‘The hard question for the  corporation is why in a digital age it should have the whole pie to itself  forever – when doing something different might be better for the public  good.’

This week BBC  Director General Lord Hall warned the BBC must  end its big spending culture and return to the low-pay era of Morecambe and  Wise.

He said staff had to get used to the idea of  spending the licence fee money ‘as if it were our own’ and not an endless supply of cash.

He said BBC employees also had to remember  their job was to provide programmes which could not be found anywhere  else.

Culture: Lord Hall said staff at the BBC had to treat the licence fee as if it were their own moneyCulture: Lord Hall said staff at the BBC had to treat  the licence fee as if it were their own money

It is thought stars like Graham Norton and  Gary Lineker both earn about £1.5million a year at the BBC.

But Lord Hall called for a return to the  culture of the 1970s and 1980s,  when the BBC had a reputation for being tight  with money and paying in ‘small cheques’.

Speaking at the CBI annual conference in  London, he said: ‘We are owned by  householders who pay the licence fee in this  country and we have got to  remember that every time we spend money.

‘There was a Morecambe and Wise sketch on  quite regularly in the 70s and 80s  on the BBC, where Wise would say to  Morecambe “Nice suit”.

‘And Morecambe would say to Wise “It’s a BBC  suit – small check”. It still works.’

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Speaking of “nice suit” reminded me of the following:

“Peter Horrocks: BBC news director claimed £81 suit hire for Buckingham Palace reception
A senior BBC executive, Peter Horrocks, claimed £81 on his expenses for “specialist clothing” to attend an official event at Buckingham Palace. (his salary – over 200,000 pounds)”
“The BBC not only defended Peter but promoted him to Director of the BBC World Service conglomerate.”

BBC Radio was started in the early twenties by companies aligned with intelligence from the UK/US/France. Marconi unfortunately didn’t get to keep the name – bought out eventually by I think Ericsson and BAe. Marconi was not only a genius but one of the good guys.

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