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CB: But I do deny it. I think you're mistaking a very inquisitorial style for a parti pris position by the inquisitor. I genuinely think that isn't the case. It was Today that, with all its flaws, exposed the government's sexing up of the Iraq dossier — and this is an allegedly liberal, left-leaning organisation.

CM: But that's a perfect example of what I'm talking about — it did it from a left-liberal position. It had grossly inflated Blair as a hero when he came in because he was supposed to represent a left-liberal government against a Tory government and it was bitterly against the Iraq war for normal left-liberal reasons. So those of us who supported the war thought that the way the BBC covered the dossier, and the way it attempted to undermine the government by attacking it in this respect, was outrageous. And it did it from a left liberal position.

CB: I don't think that's right. Today was trying to find out what had actually happened. And what had actually happened was egregious interference with that dossier, and you couldn't support that however much you supported the war. At the time, I supported the war. I no longer do, but I still think the BBC did an outstanding job in pointing out the very flawed basis on which it turned out we'd gone into it.

CM: What was very clear was that they were out to get the government because they were against the Iraq war. And it went on and on, and that's why quite rightly [Greg] Dyke had to go, and the Hutton report [on the BBC and the Iraq war] did its work.

CB: The Hutton report was a complete whitewash!

CM: I don't agree with that. My point, the dossier point, is that it's an absolutely classic example of the BBC imposing its left-liberal views on the news agenda. 

CB: That simply demonstrates that you're always going to see whatever the BBC does through a rather strange set of lenses.

CM: But do you really think there's nothing in this? The burden of my case is not only political bias. That's why I'm acting on the basis of Ross. But nevertheless do you really think it is pure fantasy that it's the conservative commentators in newspapers who are more worried about the BBC than, say, the Guardian? Are they just completely wrong?

CB: The Guardian is frequently worried about the BBC.

CM: Surely, Christopher, this is silly. The Guardian is essentially trying to defend the BBC. Papers like the Mail or the Telegraph or the Sunday Times are much more critical, and that reflects the political views which tend to be reflected by the BBC. 

DJ: Is it the case that the licence fee, the quasi-monopolistic funding system that we have, has created an institutional culture at the BBC which is monolithic and over-mighty, as for example James Murdoch has suggested recently, at Edinburgh? Is Charles completely wrong to see this as rather sinister — the word James Murdoch used was "chilling"?

CB: I'm a good deal more chilled by James Murdoch than I am by the BBC. I think that his MacTaggart lecture was very poor and ill thought-out. An organisation that kicked the BBC off the Star satellite in order to please the Chinese, and failed to publish Chris Patten's memoirs for the same reason, was a very odd source for concern about the BBC as a state-sponsored monopoly of news. 

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jose
December 22nd, 2009
4:12 AM
is that guy trying to demostrate the BBC is not liberal?

Sue
October 15th, 2009
10:10 AM
When are so called conservatives going to stand up and speak the truth to and about the likes of Russ Limbaugh and the other raving-loonies who are now the public face of the GOP in the USA.

Valentinus
October 12th, 2009
9:10 PM
IIt is always much better when Charles Moore's strange views about the BBC are out in the open rather than working corrosively and without scrutiny to undermine public service broadcasting. When he is subject to proper examination, the transparent ideological bias of his position is routinely and drearily exposed. There is a simple task for Charles Moore: Charles, close thy Telegraph and open thy Radio Times. Do what I do. Take about 1 hour on a Saturday morning and look, just look, at what you get for your license fee over the course of 7 days. Then look us straight in the eye and try telling us that we can get this cornucopia of culture, sport, news, drama, music, current affairs and entertainment for anything like that cost base and efficiency. In fact, Charles, we can't get it at all, even if we paid ten times the license fee. My father pays the equivalent of my license fee for three months of a couple of Sky Sports and movie channels, nothing more. I might have said the equivalent of HIS license fee, but he is over 75 and gets the BBC (all of it) for nothing. Yes, nothing. And you know? Two thirds of what he watches, listens to and enjoys never comes near me. And three quarters of what I watch, listen to and enjoy never goes near him. Welcome to the BBC. I have noticed, in short, a common thread among anti-BBC ideologues: they don't actually know what's on. This seems a curious position from which to attack anything and explains why they need daft episodes such as L'Affair Ross on which to hang their opposition. I do wonder if guys like Charles actually know this deep down and that's why they evade it. For dull cultureless people with year-round tans like the Murdochs it is in a sense a much more honest conflict: their implacable hatred of the BBC originates in the obstacle public sector broadcasting presents to the expansion of their wealth and global power. But my advice to Murdoch Junior would be the same: close they Friedman, open thy Radio Times. I guarantee you'll find something to assuage the unbearable lightness of being. And it will probably cost you about 14p. As for the rest of the so-called argument? Bring it on.

IC
September 27th, 2009
4:09 PM
It is not surprising that the BBC's head of comedy is gloomy. Most BBC "comedy" programmes nowadays are puerile or revolting, without wit or humour - compare these with the shows that the BBC used to make, or the sharp US comedies shown on other channels.

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