Independent peer Claire Fox hit out at the “tone deaf” BBC during a debate on Public Service Broadcasting in the House of Lords on Thursday.
In a detailed, dissection of the public broadcaster, the former Brexit Party MEP questioned its priorities, highlighting a decision last year to announce “£25 million cuts to established regional programmes while a pledge of £100 million was made to a new diversity initiative”.
Baroness Fox claimed its obsession with catering for identity politics had “led to the crassest form of programme-making.”
“Another problem I have with a focus on diversity is that it too often neglects diversity of opinion or thought,” Fox said. “The most common complaint I hear about the BBC is that it’s partial by offering a narrow world view.”
“And often the BBC can’t hear itself,” she added. “It just doesn’t realise it’s tone deaf about diverse values and world views it doesn’t share.” Fox said this realisation became apparent to her personally in 2016 when she mentioned to producers of BBC shows she was working on that she planned to vote ‘Leave’ in the Brexit referendum, claiming her decision was “met with disbelief”.
“‘But you’re an intelligent, well-educated person, Claire!’ said one senior producer. And from then on, in studios and green rooms, a growing sneer. And that sneering was even more viscerally observed by audiences.
“The virtually unanimous view that Brexit was a foolish, backward, inexplicable idea meant that those called Public Service Broadcasters did not have a clue what the public were thinking and were totally shocked at the referendum result,” Fox said.
The peer accused the BBC of “inadvertently behaving like an activist in the culture wars”, recalling “endless examples” of times the BBC had stepped out of line, including a “bizarre statement from Countryfile about the UK countryside being a white environment”; the Rule, Britannia! saga at the BBC Proms and an episode of the BBC Sounds podcast featuring “two young women hectoring two older white women for being Karens who should educate themselves about their white privilege”.
In a stark warning to the corporation, Fox concluded her speech by claiming that if public service broadcaster like the BBC continue with their current level of complacency, “Public Service Broadcasting will never survive”.