BBC impartiality is under threat from all sides | Letters

The corporation is in danger of commercial censorship, writes Dr Kevin Bannon, Elizabeth Budd believes BBC TV news is increasingly cautious, while Nick Nuttgens thinks journalists are asking the wrong questions

George Monbiot hits the nail on the head (The biggest threat to the BBC’s independence is the corporation itself, 7 October). However, if “impartial” means to represent the values of a notional political centre then the BBC is hardly likely to secure itself there, as this centre has been racing to the right for more than 40 years in the UK and globally. Thus, as Monbiot recognises, political power lies more firmly than ever in the grip of the hard right via its monopolies in high finance and the commercial media. These are poised to “liberate” what remains of the already well-commercialised BBC (the result of outsourcing) so that its newsrooms and its other departments will join the commercial monopolists in extolling the virtues of the free market, amounting to totalitarianism by commercial censorship.

Even the proscriptive controls associated with tyrannies make clear what may not be broadcast, whereas commercial control is invisible, insidious and pervasive; imagine its effect on the nation’s discourse, political or otherwise. The BBC should be entirely protected from vested interests; it might then represent at least a token of opposition to the market behemoth and its narrow value for money ethos.
Dr Kevin Bannon
London

• I may be biased – having worked as a reporter at ITN in the late 1950s – but I find BBC TV news increasingly cautious and constipated in its domestic coverage, compared to Radio 4, Channel 4 News and ITV News at Ten. I don’t quite understand why the Tories seem to be hellbent on offending so many of their traditional elderly supporters who watch and listen to the BBC. Maybe they think they can afford to ignore this slice of their electorate, many of whom read the Murdoch press without spotting its hidden agenda.
Elizabeth Budd
Cambridge

• George Monbiot makes the claim that BBC journalists may believe in their own impartiality but in fact they belong to a “culture, immersed in wealth and power, looking out from the centre”. Unfortunately, the same can be said of many print journalists. Truly impartial journalists should routinely ask: “What is the Overton window here? What am I not supposed to ask or write about and why?” Aristotle raised the issue some time ago: what are the unspoken assumptions here?
Nick Nuttgens
Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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