The British Broadcasting Corporation, or the BBC, is the largest television network in the world. It has a massive outreach both within the UK and the rest of the world. It has built its reputation as a reliable service and it’s often the most popular source for news for many people. But its success has been overshadowed by a series of controversial events and decisions by the BBC management seen as too close to the British government.
Firstly, the BBC is funded by the government through the British taxpayer. The BBC World Service is funded by the British Foreign Office. The Chief executive of the BBC, or Director-General, is responsible for managing its services. The Director-General is elected by a governing body, called the BBC Trust, who is directly appointed by the Queen on the advice of government ministers.
Back in the 1920’s the first ever Director-General, John Reith, envisioned broadcasting to be a public service, to provide information as well as entertainment to educate the masses. More importantly it was to be impartial and independent. But over the years, it has not been as simple as that. Governments and lobby groups have tried to put pressure to influence the BBC’s output.
In January 2009 the BBC sparked outrage when it refused to air the DEC appeal to help the people of Gaza during Israel’s invasion on the tiny coastal enclave. Experts have revealed how intense campaigning from pro-Israeli lobby groups led the BBC management to buckle under the demands from Tel Aviv.
Two years later BBC radio censored the word ‘Palestine’ live on air when a rap artist tried to say the words ‘free Palestine’. And that is just a sample of many instances where the BBC’s management failed to uphold principles of impartiality and independence from political pressure.
The BBC is accountable only to itself, and it is the only media platform in the UK that doesn’t’t get regulated by Ofcom. Experts believe there needs to be a greater level of transparency and accountability if the BBC is going to provide better services, and have greater freedom from political interference.