BBC Cuts Coverage
Concern is growing over Mark Thompson’s visit to Number 10 to discuss the BBC’s coverage of government cuts on Thursday. The BBC’s Director General was pictured in Downing Street with a memo from Helen Boaden, his Head of News, detailing what would be covered in a forthcoming series on the cuts, called “Making it Clear”. According to the Press Association, the memo also reported on a meeting Ms Boaden had had with Andy Coulson, David Cameron’s spin-master, where he had said that the BBC should give “context” in its coverage of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
Ben Bradshaw, Labour’s shadow Culture Secretary, asked for a clarification from Mr Thompson and Ed Miliband has called the meeting “deeply worrying.” Michael Dugher MP (who was Gordon Brown’s communications adviser) said:
The BBC should be standing up for its independence and should not be bullied by Cameron’s aides with the threat of cutbacks. The BBC gave Labour a hard time when we were in Government and it is well within its rights to continue with the Tories.
Mr Thompson’s reply to Mr Bradshaw simply asserted that his meeting was “not unusual in any respect.” This is not the impression that the right-wing newspapers give, however. The Sun reported that Mr Thompson was given “a grilling”, the Daily Mail asked “is the ‘biased’ BBC now trying to cosy up to the Coalition?” and the Daily Telegraph headlined their story:
Mark Thompson: BBC chief talks to No 10 about selling the cuts
Many anti-cuts campaigners have worried that BBC (and other TV) coverage of the cuts has assumed that the deficit has to be brought down right now, that it has to be done by spending cuts and that the only question is which ones. This ‘framing’ makes it very difficult to get a hearing for anyone who disagrees. This story will only exacerbate these concerns.