Is new boss Tony Hall turning the BBC into the Right Wing Broadcasting Corporation?

New bosses (director-generals as they quaintly call them) don’t get an easy ride at the BBC and newly-installed DG (Lord) Tony Hall (left) is receiving his own baptism of fire.

At the weekend he had the fuss over the anti-Margaret Thatcher Facebook campaign’s Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead reaching number two on the singles charts, to the fury of the right-wing press in the UK.

He promptly caved in, playing just a five-second excerpt on the Beeb’s official chart show, despite it being the highest riser. Then played another tune put out by pro-Thatcherites, even though it’s a piss take.

Then, a couple of days later, came a much more serious affair: Panorama reporter John Sweeney’s infiltration of a London School of Economics visit to North Korea; organised by his wife, strangely enough.

This ‘access,’ which the Beeb claims was agreed with the students although some of them disagree and the LSE certainly does, was used to make a documentary showing what a benighted basket case North Korea is – which most of us knew already.

This is deception on an epic scale; one which might have put the visiting students’ freedom at risk and which will make it much harder for academics of whatever hue to visit dodgy parts of the world.

Yet the BBC’s head of news operations Ceri Thomas justified it by saying the BBC had carried out its own ‘risk assessment’ – although it’s hardly clear what right it had to do so – and that the programme ends (telling us what we knew already) justified the means.

And new D-G Hall, anxious to show he’s not as dopey as his predecessor George ‘incurious’ Entwistle, waved this one through.

Which will no doubt earn him further plaudits with the Mail, Telegraph and Sun; all of whom oppose North Korea (not a hard position to hold) and who probably regard LSE students as dangerous lefties who deserve what’s coming to them (former alumnus: Maurice Saatchi).

Well Hall is wrong on both counts.

He should have scrapped the Panormama programme and apologised, because it’s a deception unworthy of the BBC. And played the bloody record in full.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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