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Culture secretary Dowden launches political attack on BBC

Incumbent culture secretary Oliver Dowden has called the BBC “an institution to be cherished” but said that it lacks “diversity of thought” in a stark attack on the broadcaster.

Dowden, who was appointed to the role as a 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.

The comments serve contrary to those made by other senior government figures, such as Johnson who questioned “whether that kind of approach to funding a TV media organisation still makes sense in the long term” and DCMS committee chair Julian Knight who said that TV-viewers “all pay a poll tax regardless” of whether they actually “come into contact with the BBC.”

By contrast, Dowden’s comments show the government’s issue with the BBC to be political rather than financial.

At the conference, it is expected that Dowden will say it would be “crazy to throw it away,” but that the BBC’s 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.”

In terms of bias, both sides of the political spectrum have been highly critical of the BBC’s coverage, particularly surrounding the election. Figures in the Labour party have complained that the broadcaster had been overly negative around the election, while those on the right have argued that the BBC and its presenters are overtly anti-Brexit.