The BBC and the BNP

Posted on October 16, 2009. Filed under: This Week in the News |

The furore over the BNP and its various planned and past appearances on the BBC raise many questions about the role of the public broadcaster and the nature of free speech.

The appearance of BNP representatives, party publicity director, Mark Collett, 28, and Joseph Barber, 24, who runs the BNP record label, Great White Records, on Radio 1 may not be cause for concern in itself (if you ignore the fact that the radio station essentially operates as a top 40 commercial station with government funding, and is not generally interested in politics). However the presenters handling of the interview was alarming. The introduction of the guests as “Mark and Joey” not only deliberately concealed their identities and roles in the party, but suggests a matey-jokey relationship which surely should not feature on air between any BBC presenter and political party member. The New Statesman has published the transcript here.

Meanwhile the party’s planned appearance on the BBC’s Question Time has caused MP Peter Hain to make a formal complaint to the broadcaster and the program will be filmed at a secret location due to security concerns. The BBC maintains it is its duty to subject all political parties to rigorous and impartial interrogation, which begs the question when does a point of view become legitimate and who should decide? Hain said this week the exposure of the party on the public broadcaster gives its views legitimacy and is fundamentally wrong.

The election of two BNP members to the European Parliament in June suggests that to many, the party does have legitimacy and while to a majority of people its views are abhorrent, anti-social and fascist, can we ignore this gain? Is it the BBC’s role to shut out those it does not agree with no matter how distasteful? Surely it would be more effective to denounce the party live and on air and in a sustained campaign to show the BNP its views are not acceptable in modern society.

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One Response to “The BBC and the BNP”

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Reputations are important and for the BBC to maintain public credibility they must remain transparent. In an internet world of misinformation it is vital news organisations adhere to strict journalistic standards through accuracy, balance and ethics. Concealment of any nature is deceptive and leads to public mistrust. It also undermines reputations crucial in an already vunerable profession.


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