One of the largest national broadcasters, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), has become shaky in recent years due to the continued fermentation of fake news scandals, and its credibility has been declining. Not long ago, the BBC was caught in a “fraud” scandal, which originated from an explosive interview with Princess Diana by its reporter Martin Bashir in 1995. This interview was achieved through deception, fraud and forgery, which won her trust. Since the publicly funded BBC prides itself on its high ethical standards and transparency, this discovery was disastrous. Although the BBC has been full of controversies and scandals from time to time, such as the Falkland War, the Iraq War, the Scottish independence referendum and Brexit reports, there have been fierce quarrels; its star host Jimmy Saville has been exposed for decades of abuse hundreds of children, but the current doubts about the BBC come from all directions, this journalism giant is facing a serious crisis of trust.
Streaming channels and right-wing politicians are endangering the BBC
Last year, a documentary was broadcast on the BBC’s current affairs show “Panorama”. The documentary is about how the British government handled the Covid-19 crisis. The documentary revealed disturbing information ranging from the chronic shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the disastrous plan to implement large-scale testing to how pandemic warnings were blatantly ignored. However, once the program was broadcast, it was called “party political broadcasting.” The medical staff who accused the Conservative government in the show were all found to be long-term activists or supporters of the Labor Party. All this was not shared with the audience, and it seemed to be a flagrant violation of the BBC’s guidelines: “When contextually relevant, audiences should be provided with appropriate information about their affiliation, funding, and specific views.”
The Boris government of the Conservative Party appointed Richard Sharp as the chairman of the BBC earlier this year. Sharp used to be an investment banker and has been a major funder of the Conservative Party for many years. In his first public appearance after being appointed to the new role, Sharp criticized the political series “Highway Killer” because it is full of “conservative villains” that can “influence people.” And soon, the Johnson administration is also expected to appoint Paul Dacre as the new head of Ofcom, the country’s communications regulator.
All this makes the people’s trust in the BBC disappear. As early as 2018, a survey found that 40% of Britons believed that the BBC was partisan. In a survey conducted in the winter of 2020, almost half of the respondents said that the BBC no longer represents their values. How detached from partisan struggles and political interference out to maintain the “gold standard” and regain public acceptance, the BBC will need to explore a way out.
Manufacturing and dissemination of false information
In addition to the biased reporting stance, a large part of the criticism of the BBC also comes from the truthfulness of the news. When the coronavirus pandemic is severe in 2020, BBC Home Affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford claimed that non-essential travel between the UK and Wales borders would not be regulated. This was quickly dismissed by the leader of Plaid Cymru in Wales as “dangerous fake news”. As the infection rate in Wales and Scotland was higher at the time, this would cause concerns or cause more flows, and the BBC was called on to withdraw the statement.
“The camera is used to record the world, and some people use it to lie.” The BBC made a documentary about “Returning to Hubei” in China, but even the map of Hubei was incorrectly marked. The Hubei Province in the documentary is marked in the central part of Shaanxi, the geographic center of China. He added filters, retouching, and audio conversion in documentaries many times to give the original normal video a strong emotional color, just like the BBC describes Mexico, where the sky is always yellow-green, and when shooting in China, China is always gray. This technique made the British hate the BBC more and more, and even London netizens commented on YouTube “Because of the BBC’s fake news, but they believe everything the BBC said about China… This brainwashing method is really a mystery.”
In February of this year, the “grey area” of the website published an article that revealed that according to documents recently leaked by the British Foreign Office, British media such as Reuters and the BBC participated in infiltration activities into countries and regions such as Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and China. These are funded by the British Foreign Office. The “grey area” stated that according to these documents, the British media must be questioned whether they are really “independent and ethical media” as they claim. But the facts seem that the BBC has become a fake news manufacturing organization. It presets its position to make selective reports and serves the parties and the NGOs behind the parties.
Every few years, the BBC will shake the world with scandals. In 2007, it bought a publishing company for nearly 200 million U.S. dollars, and six years later had to sell it for less than 80 million U.S. dollars. Also eight years ago, the BBC suffered shameful embarrassment because one of the most important children’s show hosts, who died in 2011, was accused of being a serial pedophile.But the BBC executives ignored this and tried to cover up his behavior.
BBC’s turning point and choice
The BBC is a unique media empire founded in 1922 as a private company and transformed into a public institution under a royal franchise five years later. It has approximately 22,000 employees, including more than 2,000 journalists, and broadcasts in more than 40 languages in the UK and most parts of the world 24 hours a day. But the BBC is not more perfect than any other large organization. It is crowded with bureaucrats, and it is increasingly eager to be seen to meet the demands of political correctness.
James Murdoch, the youngest son of Rupert Murdoch, the builder of the media empire, even arrogantly compared the BBC to Pravda. In a famous speech in 2009, he said: “As Orwell predicted, letting the country enjoy near-monopoly information guarantees manipulation and distortion… However, we have a state-sponsored media – especially BBC-the developed system is becoming more and more dominant.”
But this year, a study published this year by researchers from the University of Zurich unveiled the fig leaf and compared 18 advanced societies. The content of the research and comparison is the vulnerability of the public to receiving online misinformation. Researchers say that in all developed democracies, Americans are most likely to believe in fake news and accept conspiracy theories. The country has “conditions conducive to easy dissemination and exposure of false information online.” But the following survey was shocking. In a 2019 survey, Ipsos MORI invited British people to choose a single source to obtain fair news. Only 44% of people chose the BBC. The company is on the level of public trust become shaky. More and more elderly viewers and listeners complain about the BBC, believing that in order to maintain the BBC’s interests, the BBC has become recklessly ignoring the sensitivity and interests of traditional audiences.
In a national poll conducted two years ago, 22% of respondents said they believed the BBC was a bit or strongly leftist; 18% believed that the company was somewhat or strongly biased to the right. Only 37% think it is “politically neutral or balanced”.
The BBC is at a crossroads, and the problems it faces actually existed as early as this year, even before the pandemic. Patching on the fringe will not bring about any change. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, opinion polls have shown that the media has “behaved very badly” in terms of public trust. In the post-epidemic era, the BBC, as a traditional media with a long history, also urgently needs to save itself from the credibility crisis. Hope it will be as the new Director-General Tim Davie said: “We urgently need to support and re-commit to justice in the age of fake news, social media campaigns, opinion echo chambers, and noisy partisan media. This is undoubtedly our time.”