Leading article: Not the way to preserve BBC independence

 

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It was bad enough when Boris Johnson suggested – apparently in all seriousness – that the new boss of the staunchly apolitical BBC should be a Tory. Evidence that journalists working for the corporation's Global News arm are being directed to think up money-making schemes is more alarming still.

True, a squeeze on the licence fee has slashed the BBC's budget by a fifth. And the Global News division is a private company that exists specifically to further the corporation's commercial interests. Moreover, the BBC denies that the plan will compromise its values.

But the corporation is already under investigation by Ofcom over commercial influence on some World News programmes. And pressure on staff, through the appraisal system no less, can hardly not have an effect. For an organisation prized, above all, for its independence, it would be difficult to set a more wrong-headed course.

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