The BBC is far from perfect, and sometimes bad decisions are made. But there's no corporation-wide conspiracyby Catherine Neilan / April 6, 2018 / Leave a comment
The Brexit debate was in many ways a low point in recent British democracy, and it’s no surprise that nearly two years on from the referendum we are still a nation torn in two.
Meaningful dialogue appeared to collapse during that time: instead of a conversation between opposing views, we saw bubbles forming in which both sides were utterly convinced of the strength of their argument and equally convinced they would win. That was fuelled by the rise of alt-right and alt-left blogs, who scorn the idea of unbiased reporting in favour of campaigning for what they believe.
Since the 2016 vote, the BBC—trying to maintain a level of almost quaint bias-free reporting—has come under attack by pro-Remain groups who believe there’s a plot afoot to push Brexit through without a fight.
Conspirator-in-chief is former minister and Labour peer Andrew Adonis, who has been tweeting up a storm about what he calls the “Brexit Broadcasting Corporation.”
The truth about “Ed Pol”
In particular, the ex-transport secretary has “uncovered” the BBC’s Editorial Policy unit, which Adonis describes as a “shadowy BBC Censor [which] vetoes Brexit related programmes likely to offend No 10.”
Of course, it does no such thing. Ed Pol, as it’s known, has existed for years and acts as a guidelines advisory service for programme-makers. There are legitimate criticisms to be made: in the past, it has been blamed for engendering an environment of caution, particularly among documentary makers, through lack of support, excessive red tape and “the Daily Mail factor.”
But what it doesn’t do is stipulate how a news story should be covered because it’s worried out licence fee funding.
While the BBC—along with pretty much all mainstream outlets—has decided to stop covering “the binary choice” offered during the election, it’s still demonstrably covering the consequences of the vote.
Editorialising has its place
Remainers—and I speak as one myself—might not like the fact that the vote went against them, but the government has made it clear there will be no second referendum. If that were to change for some reason, no doubt the BBC would cover it: as it has done with the Gina Miller appeal, the proposals for various forms of Soft Brexit, and yes…