Tuesday 4 April 2017

BBC Doesn't Need To Be Balanced Over Brexit Says Nick Robinson

Nick Robinson

Nick Robinson, a former political editor for the BBC, said those accuse the corporation of bias “find it hard to accept that on the BBC they will often hear people they disagree with saying things they don’t like”.

Mr Robinson added: “Enough! Leave it out. Remain calm. The referendum is over. The duty we broadcasters had to ‘broadly balance’ the views of the two sides is at an end.

“Why? Because there are no longer two sides, two campaigns, two rival sets of spokespeople reading out those focus-grouped slogans.

“The BBC’s job is not to look over its shoulder wondering whether a report, interview or discussion will provoke letters of complaint or a tide of tweets from Remainers or Leavers - who, like fighters who emerge after months of hiding in a bush, seem not to accept that the war is over.

“Our job, instead, is to keep our eyes firmly fixed on the audience as a whole… people who would not dream of defining themselves by how they voted in the referendum.”

The Today programme presenter used the analogy that “if company A announces that it will invest more in the UK and create more jobs, it’s not our duty to search for a company that says it will invest less, just to balance the news.

“We must, of course, ensure that we display no bias. The bias I worry about most is the bias against understanding.”

Mr Robinson said he had invited prominent Brexiteers – including Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Liam Fox – onto his show since June 23 but had all refused to appear.

It comes after a cross-party group of 70 MPs – including 60 Tories – complained to the BBC about their alleged negative coverage of Brexit since the referendum vote last year.

The BBC was accused of “pessimistic and skewed” Brexit reporting and it was unwilling to snap out of its “pre-referendum pessimism” and “accept new facts”.

Lord Hall, the BBC director-general, said his organisation goes to “great lengths to ensure that we balance our coverage and address all issues from a wide range of perspectives”.



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