UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden hits out at BBC’s lack of “diversity of thought”

UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden is set to call the BBC “an institution to be cherished” but said that it lacks “diversity of thought” as the broadcaster faces an ongoing battle over its future.

Dowden, who was appointed to the role as part of prime minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle, will speak today at a media conference hosted by Deloitte and Enders Analysis reports the Telegraph. He is currently overseeing the government’s consultation on whether to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee.

At the conference, it is expected that Dowden will say it would be “crazy to throw [the BBC] away,” but added that its news reporting should represent a “genuine diversity of thought and experience” along with “genuine impartiality.”

He will say: “Ultimately, if people don’t perceive impartiality, then they won’t believe what they see and read and they’ll feel it is not relevant to them. In an age of fake news and self-reinforcing algorithms, the need for genuine impartiality is greater than ever.”

The comments come amid a growing battle over the future of the UK public broadcaster. In December, Johnson launched a review into non-payment of the TV licence fee, with critics suggesting it should be replaced by an SVOD-style payment mechanism. Julian Knight – who is in favour of licence fee reform – was then elected chair of the government’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS).

In terms of bias, both sides of the political spectrum have been highly critical of the BBC’s coverage, particularly surrounding the recent general election.

Figures in the Labour party have complained that the broadcaster had been overly negative, while those on the right have argued that the BBC and its presenters are overtly anti-Brexit.

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