The Beeb bites back: A heartening response to the Corporation’s critics


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The Independent Online

Corporation tea and coffee are indistinguishable from each other, as anyone who has been in a BBC audience can testify. Whatever it is, someone has put something in it.

BBC bosses seem to have suddenly acquired confidence, self-belief and a bit of fight. “I don’t think we should be meek or timid in putting the BBC’s case,” Alan Yentob, its Creative Director, tells The Independent today.

Last week, the BBC responded to an editorial in The Sun that claimed the number of highly paid BBC executives was still rising with a point-by-point rebuttal online and on social media. At the weekend, James Harding, the head of BBC News, defended the Corporation’s reporting of the Autumn Statement, after George Osborne, the Chancellor, called it “hyperbolic”. Mr Harding noted that the election campaign had, in effect, begun, and promised: “The BBC will, undeterred, do its job. A meek BBC wouldn’t be fulfilling its role for the public.”

This is how the BBC should be: big enough to admit mistakes (Mr Harding accepted that the reference to George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier was “a tad strong”), but robust enough to resist political pressure. Especially from Rupert Murdoch’s businesses, which have long campaigned against the licence fee that sustains what is, for all its flaws, the world’s best public-service broadcaster. We know what The Sun is up to. It is pursuing a campaign for Mr Murdoch’s commercial interests. And, as Mr Yentob says, its recent attacks on BBC profligacy were a “swipe back” against the BBC Panorama coverage of Mazher Mahmood, the Murdoch empire’s favourite undercover journalist.

How heartening it is to see the BBC’s leaders standing up for the principle of impartiality in its mission to educate, inform and entertain.