Scrap TV bias rules

Scrap TV bias rules

Jon Gaunt

Channel 4 News is puerile, lefty biased nonsense and should not be funded out of the public purse BUT it should not be banned or taken off air.

Just as with the Guardian, I can’t stand their political stance and their clear twist on the news agenda but I read the Guardian every day and watch Jon Snow and his bunch of snowflakes every night for the pure comedy value and of course, you must always know what your enemies are thinking.

This Latest Spat With the Tories is a Classic: Boris was asked to appear in a debate about the environment with Corbyn, Sturgeon, Swinson and that Welsh bloke and the Green woman; and he refused. So, Channel 4 News reacted in a really grown-up manner by replacing him with an ice statue. To be fair they did the same to Nigel Farage as he turned down the invite too.

The Tories offered up Michael Gove but Channel 4 News wouldn’t accept him as a replacement for the PM. Why not? Amanda Dudd stood in for Theresa May in the last election in a debate. Why should Boris turn up for the debate which was only going to discuss climate change for an hour where he would clearly be the target for the other five panellists? The irony, of course, is that the Tories have the greenest manifesto they have ever written; their record on climate change is not too shabby.

When you add in the fact that Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4’s head of news and current affairs, called Boris a liar at the Edinburgh Television Festival in August, you can see why the Tories have not been putting up high profile guests for their news show and why Boris didn’t want to do this stitch up of a debate. That said, his excuse that he wouldn’t appear because Nicola Sturgeon was on the show and is not standing to be an MP was quite clearly nonsense too.

Now the Tories have complained to OFCOM, the broadcasting regulator, about the programme saying it flouted impartiality rules and was biased as they were not given a chance to participate by offering up Gove. There are also unnamed Tory sources saying that if they win a majority then they would look at Channel 4’s funding model. This whole episode is pathetic on both sides and this little spat leaves a very sour taste in my mouth as I don’t want governments of any persuasion trying to restrict the free press but by the same token the broadcasters are increasingly becoming more partisan and always biased to the left. The main reason for this is the outdated and outmoded rule on impartiality and so-called balance. Newspapers rely on their bias and their partisan support of one political view or the other to sell their product. It is the basis of their business plans but broadcasters, even in the internet and multiple platform digital world, are still meant to be impartial.

I don’t want to be rude but this position is now untenable. The only review Boris needs when he gets into power is to scrap the necessity for balance and impartiality and put broadcasters on a level playing field with newspapers and the internet. Viewers are intelligent enough to spot bias on TV and radio as they are at the newsagent or on the web.

We do not need a nanny state telling us what to watch.

There is no need for Ofcom. Of course, this would bring into question the public funding of not only BBC News but Channel 4 News too. There would be no justification for a licence fee to fund them. They would have to survive on the strength of their news reporting and journalism just as newspapers do.

Let’s be honest we have not had balanced news in about 20 years and the bias displayed on our main broadcasters has been increasing at an enormous rate these past few years with the Brexit debate. For God’s sake, BBC heavyweights and former Director Generals have even admitted this! Just like Trump, Boris is not only fighting his political opponents in this election he is also fighting the Mainstream Broadcasters.

The truth at the moment is that the soft left control the broadcast channels and they want to dictate the political agenda of this election and the Tories have now decided not to play their game. Just like Trump, they know that they can use social media and go straight over the heads of the MSM and speak to their supporters.

Meanwhile, the established broadcasters are still overplaying their hand believing they still possess real power and influence. They do not and just like the newspapers, their influence is massively on the wane. I like the idea of real debates but do we need as many as they are supplying? Why not just one debate at the beginning with the three main leaders and one just before polling day? That is surely enough? They also need to be produced and handled by a real professional. The Andrew Neil interview of Corbyn proved that point this week. If we are to have political debates they should be agreed right at the start of the election process and they should be combined with rigorous interviews of the individual leaders by the likes of Andrew Neil.

Democracy is the Loser:  However, It is disgraceful that the BBC interviewed Corbyn before they got a written agreement to do the same with Boris. All leaders should be given the same interrogation by Andrew. That is only fair and balanced.

It is clear that Boris is picking and choosing how and who is going to interview him which makes me feel uncomfortable too. He should be open to real scrutiny BUT just like Trump the MSM are not playing fair with him.

The constant digging up of his columns from years ago and the deliberate misrepresentation of his comments is disgraceful. The prime example, of course, being his Telegraph column about the wearing of the Burka. Boris was actually defending the right of people to wear this garment if they wish, even though he felt it made them look like letter boxes or bank robbers. He was not in any way attacking Muslims.

Today they have dug up a column from 25 years ago, even before he was in politics, where he had a rant about feckless fathers and single mothers. This is desperate stuff and clearly proves that they know Boris is in a commanding lead. As I said, a few weeks ago, politics and this election, in particular, is turning into TV reality show and I actually think this is turning people off politics, and democracy is the loser. However, for the record, the ice statue won the debate last night!

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