The alarming decline in the national broadcaster’s impartiality means I can no longer justify paying the licence fee
PO Box 1922
Thursday 15 February 2018
To whom it may concern,
I have been a loyal and appreciative viewer of the BBC’s TV output, across all its channels, and an occasional listener to its radio services, for most of my 48 years. I have on the whole been very impressed with, and proud of, the broadcaster’s programmes. And during that time, I have always paid my licence fee, or my share of the licence fee, in full.
Viewing habits are changing rapidly. In my flat we now spend so much time watching the likes of Netflix on our computers that we didn’t turn our TV on for a year. When it came to arranging a new phone/broadband/TV package a couple of years ago, therefore, we didn’t bother signing up for a TV service. So while we still have a television set, it now receives no signal — we have no means to pick up transmissions. For the past year, I have continued to pay the licence fee, because I occasionally watched programmes on my laptop via BBC iPlayer, and because I wanted to support the national broadcaster in its work.
In recent months, however, I have noticed an alarming decline in the BBC’s impartiality. Representatives of the far-right party Ukip, as well as members of even more extreme political groups, seem to be invited on to every political programme, even though they have no MPs and a dwindling membership. Pro-Brexit voices seem to outnumber pro-Remain at every turn. Appearances by members of the shadowy hard-right Tory subgrouping, the European Research Group, outnumber those by moderate Tory MPs, even though they make up less than 20% of the party. And barely a week goes by without a story about the Question Time audience being infiltrated by Tory councillors or Ukip rent-a-bigots.
Many of your presenters (Andrew Neil, Andrew Marr, David Dimbleby, John Humphrys, David Dimbleby) seem happy to let Brexiters dodge questions, deliver cherry-picked statistics and make misleading, unsupported claims unchallenged, while constantly interrupting those who believe the UK is better off remaining in the European Union. Sarah Sands, the incumbent editor of the Today programme, is a former editor of the Sunday Telegraph, an unabashed conservative, and backed Zac Goldsmith in the 2016 London mayoral elections, and frankly, it shows.
(As a side note, I feel it is worth pointing out that all the studies claiming the BBC has shown anti-Brexit bias have come from the same source: News-watch, a “media analysis” company staffed by ideologically anti-EU individuals and funded by anti-EU groups.)
With the rise in the price of food, holidays and electronic goods owing to Brexit, I’m going to have to start making some savings somewhere. And frankly, it is hard to justify the continued fee of £147 a year to support the institution that helped to bring this about; an institution that has, as Nick Robinson’s recent article in the Radio Times revealed, decided largely to suppress the voice of half the country; an institution that has abandoned its charter remit to report news accurately, and to represent all constituents in this country fairly, in favour of some spurious notion of “balance”; an institution that seems to be cheerleading the slow exsanguination of democracy in the UK.
This being the case, I am writing to let you know that I will henceforth be discontinuing my licence fee payments, until such time as the BBC ceases to be an instrument of propaganda for the increasingly illiberal elements in this country. The television will continue to live in darkness, without a signal box, and I will no longer watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer. (I am sending a copy of this letter to the TV Licensing Authority.)
Shame. I was quite looking forward to following the adventures of the first female Doctor.