BBC peer in swipe at ‘working class distrust’ of corporation: ‘Do they understand?’ | UK | News (Reports)


BBC licence fee increase is slammed by hosts

The BBC TV licence fee is due to be raised again this year and a new fee of £159 will be levied against the public. The price has risen by £13.50 within the last decade, an increase of nine percent, which was argued to be in-line with inflation. The licence fee increase followed a report that working class subscribers had less trust in the BBC’s judgement than in previous years.

Prior to stepping down, Lord Hall spoke out about the difficulties faced by the BBC on Radio 4, before his successor Tim Davie took over in September last year.

He revealed that the corporation had looked into a number of different ways to charge the licence fee but had not made any changes.

Lord Hall considered options including a means-tested charge, adding the fee to council tax to reduce the cost of pursuing fee evasion and other ideas.

He concluded: “The thing you can’t get away from is, if you want to have something good, a public service, available to all, then it has to be funded by all and not just by a portion or behind some paywall.”

The BBC’s Media Editor, Amol Rajan, countered that the charge may be harder to justify for some after a report found there was a decline in trust of the BBC.

bbc tv licence fee trust tony hall uk charge cost

Lord Tony Hall – the BBC’s former director general – explained the difficulties facing the BBC (Image: GETTY)

bbc tv licence fee trust tony hall uk charge cost

The BBC TV Licence fee will be raised to £159.00 this year (Image: GETTY)

He cited a 2019 YouGov poll that found “only 44 percent of the public trust BBC journalists to tell the truth”.

Mr Rajan also argued that the figure was considerably lower when it came to working class subscribers from the C2DE bracket.

Lord Hall told The Media Show: “It’s a very high figure of trust when you look at other media organisations.

“We are the most trusted media organisation by a good country-mile and I think you see that during the Covid crisis.”

Lord Hall explained that “very large numbers” had come to the BBC for “news and information they could trust” during the pandemic.

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bbc tv licence fee trust tony hall uk charge cost

Tim Davie took over as BBC director general in September last year, after Tony Hall stepped down (Image: GETTY)

He continued: “You also can kind of see that when people are asked, ‘What is a news source you trust the most?’, again the BBC comes out very very high.”

Mr Rajan interjected: “But it’s declining isn’t it? … Forgive me, it’s declining and it’s actually declining faster for people who are working class. 

“Only 37 percent of C2DE adults trust the BBC to tell the truth, yet for middle class people, the figure is 49 percent.

“Why does the BBC appeal to the middle-class rather than the working class?”

Lord Hall, who served as director general for eight years from 2012, argued that the public misunderstood the BBC.

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BBC TV licence fee compared with others around the world (Image: EXPRESS)

He said: “I think you need to ask yourself all the time, ‘Do people understand the values we stand for?”

Online the BBC defines its “trust” values as “independence, impartiality and honesty”.

Lord Hall continued: “Do they understand and feel that the news is dealing with issues in a way that they can understand and make sense to them?

“Are the voices there representing the communities that they serve? 

“These are the things that are constantly – constantly – in the upper minds of people running news and they should be.”

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Lord Hall argued that the BBC “comes out on top” for respondents asked about news sources that are “trusted globally” and said that was “really important”.

His argument came amid claims that the BBC was “out of touch” with some members of the public – especially when it came to Brexit.

Mr Rajan cited remarks from David Jordan, the director of editorial policy and standards, who spoke out at a House of Lords committee in July last year.

Mr Jordan said: “We have had issues, for example, about tracking the rise of Euroscepticism – across the BBC, did we do that adequately? No, we didn’t.

“We had issues around tracking the growth of concern about immigration.”

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Lord Tony Hall served as BBC director general from 2012 until 2020 (Image: GETTY)

Mr Jordan hoped the BBC had “learned from those experiences” and admitted that they had put in measures to improve.

He continued: “We are applying them now to making sure we do understand what people right across the country in every part of the UK think.”

Mr Rajan argued that the BBC “had issues” because there were not “enough working class people at the BBC” and there were “too many… middle class, Remain-voting graduates”.

Lord Hall conceded that it was “a really interesting question” and expressed his belief in “social diversity” to ensure different views within the BBC’s ranks. 

He believed social diversity was the “next diversity issue” for the BBC to face but stated that they had already hired more apprentices in a bid to resolve that issue.

bbc tv licence fee trust tony hall uk charge cost

The BBC has upped their TV licence fee in-line with inflation – a rise of £1.50 (Image: GETTY)

Lord Hall felt that it “mattered” because it allowed the corporation to bring in “different people” without a university education.

He said: “I believe diversity of thought generates great programme ideas, you don’t know where some talent could be.

“It could come from university, it could come from some other means as well. 

“Diversity of thought, diversity of capture and bringing people into the organisation really, really matters and it could be one of our strengths.”

Lord Tony Hall featured on The Media Show, which aired on BBC Radio 4 on August 26, 2020. It is available here.


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