BBC faces backlash as MPs attack broadcaster for bias – ‘Not about personal opinion!’

Dozens of MPs took part in a debate over the role of the public broadcaster after three separate petitions launched by members of the public received over 100,000 signatures. One petition demanded a public inquiry into BBC bias, another called for over 75s to continue to receive free TV licences and a third asked for the Government to abolish the licence fee altogether. Speaking this afternoon in the debate on the role of the broadcast, DUP MP Jim Shannon slammed the BBC for bias and demanded reform.

He said: “The BBC today doesn’t have the impartiality it used to have and a reform is needed for it to go back to the good old days – as we often say – of unbiased reporting of fact and not personal opinion.”

Mr Shannon specifically attacked BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme as one of the worst offenders for biased coverage.

His remarks sparked a fierce clash as Labour MP Helen Jones, who was chairing the debate, let to the broadcaster’s defence.

Ms Jones accused BBC complainers of “confusing bias with being told things they don’t want to hear”.

Ms Jones had earlier said: “While I think that the BBC does sometimes get things wrong like any organisation does, I do not believe it is biased in news and current affairs coverage.”

However, the Labour MP’s attack on Mr Shannon sparked outrage with Conservative Party MP Andrew Bridgen blasting her as a BBC “apologist”.

Addressing the room, he said: “She’s letting the BBC off the hook and acting as an apologist for them.”

Later the debate turned to the eye-watering salaries of top earners at the BBC such as Gary Lineker who gets paid £1.75million, and Graham Norton, who on £900,000 scoops £1,800 a minute on his chat show.

Ms Jones said: “I think some of them are overpaid and some of the so-called talent have no talent at all”.

It was announced earlier this month the wage bill for stars employed by the broadcaster had increased by £11million.

The massive increase was announced just weeks after the broadcaster said it was planning to scrap free TV licences for over 75s from next year in order to cut costs.

Ms Jones blamed the Government for the BBC’s decisions, calling it the “most mean spirited of government cuts”.

Going forward, only households where someone receives pension benefit will be entitled to the concession.

Defending the decision to scrap the free TV licence at the time, BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi said: “Copying the current scheme was ultimately untenable.

“It would have cost £745 million a year by 2021/22 – and risen to over one billion by the end of the next decade.

“£745 million a year is equivalent to around a fifth of the BBC’s spending on services.The scale of the current concession and its quickly rising cost would have meant profoundly damaging closures of major services that we know audiences – and older audiences in particular – love, use, and value every day.”


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