Why does anything like this happen? Money.
In the BBC’s case, a lack thereof, and dependency on a government which has little regard for keeping ‘fake news’ out of the public consciousness.
Even though a large proportion of the money they do receive comes from the people, through our licence fees, they are at the mercy of a government which is able to decide on the very existence of these fees, let alone the exact price of them. I’m sure the BBC would’ve corrected their Wikipedia page if it was wrong in saying that they’re “independent from direct government intervention” (I know you’re not meant to cite Wikipedia but I feel like this quote speaks volumes), “direct” being the key word.
You know what, the decision to change the selection of the Question Time audience from one that demonstrates a “broad range of political views” to one that represents “the current political picture” may have entirely been based off of the BBC’s idea of fair representation. Even if, like The Canary says, this means Tories dominating the audience of an area which voted a Labour minister in. Maybe they didn’t forsee things like that. Or, perhaps, now I’m going out on a limb here – they want to get on the right side of the people who decide on their financing, and therefore their very existence.
I hope I’ve demonstrated so far that I’m not placing blame on the shoulders of the BBC. They may have dealt with their issues in the wrong way, but I’m not blaming them for trying to suck up to people who will, for example, allow homelessness to increase by 165% under their watch without batting an eyelid. So, they’re heartless. Or perhaps their hearts are made of wood, since they certainly have a lot in common with Pinocchio. The wooden boy himself would be impressed by the faux outrage they came out with when the BBC announced that they were going to have to scrap free licenses for the over 75s. Quite honestly, I’m more annoyed at what The Canary rightly called their “crocodile tears” than I am at the BBC for scrapping equal political representation in a show which people only really tend to watch if they’ve got rigid political views anyway.
That said, having a space in which political views get an equal chance to be heard is important. It’s just a shame that this is no longer being done by this particular broadcaster because of the government’s lack of desire to be embarrassed on a national scale. Whilst public bodies all tend to want to hide any episodes which could be embarrassing for their reputation, not all manage to succeed in suppressing the incident like the Tories did in – you guessed it – Question Time. There was apparently an editing “mistake” which resulted in the removal of a clip of laughter in the audience which followed Boris Johnson speaking of people in power telling the truth.
There was a debate going on (before coronavirus took over all our news feeds) as to whether it’s right for us to have to pay a licence fee at all – after all, young people like myself hardly ever watch live TV anymore, so we simply don’t use a large chunk of what we’re paying for. But let’s face it, the real problem isn’t really the nitty-gritty of the licence fee. It’s the source of where the funds to pay that fee come from – austerity makes the financial position of most of us worse off, but especially those who were already in a bad place. I think the homelessness figure mentioned above speaks volumes on that account.
It’s no surprise that the Public Broadcasting Service for the nation is becoming a Tory propaganda machine – there’s lots of things which shouldn’t happen but do when the Conservative government forces austerity down our throats.
I hope you, your family, and your friends are safe and well and are practising social distancing and all other measures set out by the government in order to try to stop the spread of COVID-19. I wish everyone the very best in these uncertain times.