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BBC Mid-term Review

Volume 745: debated on Thursday 22 February 2024

1. Whether she has had recent discussions with the BBC board on the implementation of recommendations in the BBC mid-term review. (901480)

The BBC is a hugely valued institution, and the mid-term review seeks to ensure that it continues to provide an outstanding service by improving its processes in relation to both impartiality and complaints. I regularly meet the BBC’s chair and director-general, and I will continue to use those meetings to raise these important issues.

I started my career as a BBC reporter, and I firmly believe in the importance of our national broadcaster being both independent, particularly at moments and eras such as this, and completely impartial. However, every year, many people complain that the BBC is not as impartial as it should be, even that it is biased, and the BBC then dismisses the vast majority of those complaints. Does my right hon. and learned Friend think that the public would perhaps have more confidence in how those complaints are investigated if they were investigated independently from the outset?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The public rightly expect the BBC to be an exemplar of impartiality. Our review highlighted issues in relation to both impartiality and complaints. As a result, the BBC will undertake significant reforms on both impartiality and complaints. At the charter review, as I have already said, we will examine whether the BBC first process remains the right complaints model.

My innate lack of deference has probably not got me far in this place over the past 22 years, but it is good to see you in your rightful place this morning, Mr Speaker.

The BBC is a great British institution, as the Secretary of State says. In considering the mid-term review, will she reflect on the importance, in this era of fake news, biased comment and social media, of having a space in which information and news are presented impartially and in accordance with editorial guidelines? The BBC is criticised from the left and the right, which probably reflects the fact that it generally gets things right.

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that the BBC plays a critical role. It is extremely trusted not only here but across the world. The BBC is an important institution, which is why it is so important that it remains impartial. I know that the director-general agrees and, like me, thinks there is more to do. That is why, in the mid-term review, we set out things that the BBC continues to need to look at. The BBC agrees with our mid-term review and has accepted all our recommendations.