BBC TV Is Now Under British Government Takeover: Tony Hall Issues Independence Warning

BBC TV is under a government takeover in the wake of allegations that its programming is not distinctive enough and too much like mainstream commercial TV networks. Charlotte Moore, the controller of TV channels and iPlayer, refuses to recognize claims that current BBC programming lacks any of the distinctive British qualities that originally made BBC great. She insisted that the public would agree with her. She wishes things to continue as they have in the past.

Concerning the BBC TV government takeover, Lord Tony Hall, Director-General of the British Broadcasting Corporation, is very alarmed about many of the changes and potential for change in the iconic network. He fears state-run broadcasting and any censorship that may invite. He seems to feel he is making his remarks while he still can, as he released a warning statement to BBC News today.

“Proposals to allow greater government say over the running of the BBC risk it being seen as a state broadcaster. Unlike any previous governing body, this unitary board is the very board that will set the editorial direction of the whole BBC. It will make key decisions on programmes and services, and it will work with me – as editor-in-chief – on how we manage our impartial journalism.”

The BBC TV government takeover has made recommendations for the replacement of the British Broadcast Corporation Trust with a board of directors. Nearly half the new board will be appointed by government ministers. This board does not exist yet, and so logically, the best time to stop them would be now before people are appointed to the task. Lord Tony Hall seems very determined to do just that. Lord Hall rails against the idea of creating a partially-government-appointed board in his warning today.

“It doesn’t feel to me that these tasks should be undertaken by government-appointed board members. The BBC is one of the world’s great public service broadcasters – not a state broadcaster. When it comes to appointing the members to the new unitary board – the BBC’s editorial board – we will be arguing for a transparent and independent process, at arm’s-length from the government.”

The government takeover of BBC would be held accountable for their budget, and perhaps content would be influenced if not controlled by the government. In addition to a massive power shift within BBC, there will also be budget cuts. These budget cuts could easily impact the quality of British Broadcasting Corporation programming, both by reducing the budget of programs and by reducing administrative expenses. This could mean lower salaries, personnel cuts, and cheaper program budgets, which could result in the BBC not being able to afford as many unique programs. It could even mean the loss of key programs and television stars to other networks that would pay more.

BBC programs such as Dr. Who could be negatively impacted by budget cuts and policy changes. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Many people around the world enjoy British Broadcasting Corporation programming, so it isn’t just the British people who will suffer the losses if the government takeover of BBC TV causes a compromise in its quality. It would also be a blow to free press worldwide, as a mighty icon is perceived to have been taken down in a government takeover in the free world. What hope would that give to independent and perhaps underground news and programming channels in more oppressive nations?

“In the next few weeks, (head of news) James Harding’s team will begin reporting back on their three-month review of everything we do in news. They have already set out £5m of savings, but now they are looking for around £80m more.”

Director General Of The BBC Tony Hall
BBC Director General Lord Tony Hall (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Is the government takeover of BBC TV politically motivated, financially motivated, or is it really all about the quality and style of programming? The Telegraph seems convinced it is all about money, fees, and the right of the government to judge expenses and set salaries for stars of British Broadcasting Corporation programs. Government reports criticize the current culture of the BBC, claiming they lack credibility and public confidence and accusing them of arrogance and an overly introspective commentary. The current staff of BBC is dumbfounded by these insulting and subjective allegations.

BBC TV under government takeover could, as Tony Hall suggests, harm the perception of British Broadcasting Corporation as a free press in the eyes of the world.

[Photo by WPA Pool/Getty Images]