MPs unite to save ‘critical’ Politics Live programme from BBC axe

Cross-party group write to broadcaster warning against cutting show which ‘holds government to account’

Adam Forrest
Friday 10 July 2020 13:04
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More than 100 MPs and peers have united to demand the BBC spares the Politics Live programme from the axe, as the broadcaster looks to make savings.

The cross-party band of 106 politicians have written to the Beeb to warn that dropping the show would “seriously harm the ability of the BBC to scrutinise and explain the consequences of policy announcements”.

Earlier this month broadcaster announced a plan to cut costs by £25m over the next two years, and reports have suggested the future of Politics Live “hangs in the balance” as a result of the shake-up.

Acting Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey and former Labour culture secretary Ben Bradshaw are among those to sign the letter calling for a “firm commitment be made to the future” of the lunchtime politics programme.

Others giving it their backing include Green MP Caroline Lucas, Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts and former Tory vice-chairman Ben Bradley.

The show, presented chiefly by Jo Coburn, has recently returned once a week after production was paused during the Covid-19 crisis. It was revamped in 2018 and given a new title, having previously been known as Daily Politics.

If it were to be given the chop, it would be the second current affairs programme fronted by a woman to be cancelled by the broadcaster this year, after it was announced in January that the Victoria Derbyshire show is to be taken off the air.

Lib Dem MP Daisy Cooper coordinated the letter, addressed to director general Tony Hall and his successor Tim Davie. “Politics Live has played a critical, daily role in holding the government and politicians in Westminster to account,” it states.

“The loss of this programme, particularly given the context of the coronavirus pandemic, would seriously harm the ability of the BBC to scrutinise and explain the consequences of policy announcements.

“Moreover, it is deeply concerning that the consequences of cutting this programme would see the loss of yet another show fronted by a woman at a time when the BBC should be doing more to promote diversity.”

The letter comes as the BBC announced that, from August, the licence fee will only be free to those who receive pension credit.

The change had been due to come in from June but was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. It means millions of those aged 75 and over will have to start paying for the £157.50 TV licence.

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