I’ve been invited to the BBC to take part in an internal debate tomorrow on whether the BBC should embrace ‘radical impartiality’. This was a term coined by its current head of TV News, Peter Horrocks, in a recent speech to the Reuters Institute at Oxford. He explained:
So, the days of middle-of-the-road, balancing left and right, impartiality are dead. Instead I believe we need to consider adopting what I like to think of as a much wider â€œradical impartialityâ€ – the need to hear the widest range of views â€“all sides of the story.
So we need more Taleban interviews, more BNP interviews – of course put on air with due consideration â€“ and the full range of moderate opinions. All those views need to be treated with the same level of sceptical inquiry and respect.
The Daily Mail called it ‘political correctness called mad’ – nothing new there. But is Peter Horrocks right in his assessment? Part of the BBC’s problem is that it gets it in the neck from all side, especially over the Middle East. Globalisation and increasing proliferation of media makes it difficult for them to compete with organisations that preach to the converted. Fox News is perhaps the best example.
A few months before Horrocks’ speech, I coincidentally wrote an article titled The death of debate for CIF on the same issue, disagreement with the jist of what he was to say (hence the reason for my invitation). I did say, almost rhetorically, that they should invite the BNP on more regularly ‘for balance’ because they keep extending the courtesy to Al-Muhajiroun types, but the point is of course that I’d prefer neither were.
What do readers think: should the BBC change or stay the same? Is ‘radical impartiality’ a silly buzzword or a necessary direction? Would like to hear your thoughts. I may even feed them into my debate.
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