BBC will not broadcast Attenborough episode over fear of ‘rightwing backlash’

Exclusive: Decision to make episode about natural destruction available only on iPlayer angers programme-makers

The BBC has decided not to broadcast an episode of Sir David Attenborough’s flagship new series on British wildlife because of fears its themes of the destruction of nature would risk a backlash from Tory politicians and the rightwing press, the Guardian has been told.

The decision has angered the programme-makers and some insiders at the BBC, who fear the corporation has bowed to pressure from lobbying groups with “dinosaurian ways”.

The BBC strongly denied this was the case and insisted the episode in question was never intended for broadcast.

Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: “For the BBC to censor of one of the nation’s most informed and trusted voices on the nature and climate emergencies is nothing short of an unforgivable dereliction of its duty to public service broadcasting. This government has taken a wrecking ball to our environment – putting over 1,700 pieces of environmental legislation at risk, setting an air pollution target which is a decade too late, and neglecting the scandal of our sewage-filled waterways – which cannot go unexamined and unchallenged by the public.

Chris Packham, who presents Springwatch on the BBC, also criticised the decision. He told the Guardian: “At this time, in our fight to save the world’s biodiversity, it is irresponsible not to put that at the forefront of wildlife broadcasting.”

Continue ReadingBBC will not broadcast Attenborough episode over fear of ‘rightwing backlash’

BBC chairman’s position is ‘untenable’ after MPs finds he made ‘significant errors of judgment’ on Johnson loan

BBC chairman Richard Sharp’s position is “untenable,” Labour insisted today after MPs found that he had made “significant errors of judgement” when acting as a go-between on a loan for disgraced former prime minister Boris Johnson.

Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell argued that Mr Sharp’s help, offered when the former Tory donor was applying to the government for the post in early 2021, “throws into serious doubt the impartiality and independence that is so fundamental to trust in the BBC.”

In a highly critical report published today, the digital, culture, media and sport committee, which interviewed Mr Sharp last week, said that he had not supplied the “full facts” when it was considering his suitability for the BBC role.

The former banker’s “failure to disclose his actions constitute a breach of the standards expected of individuals applying for such public appointments,” the cross-party panel of MPs added.

“Mr Sharp should consider the impact his omissions will have on trust in him, the BBC and the public appointments process.”

Continue ReadingBBC chairman’s position is ‘untenable’ after MPs finds he made ‘significant errors of judgment’ on Johnson loan

Nicola Sturgeon says lack of contact from Liz Truss ‘absurd’

Scotland’s first minister has said she has still not had a phone call with Liz Truss more than a month after she became prime minister.

Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC it was “absurd” and “unprecedented” that she had yet to hear from the new PM.

She added: “I don’t know whether that is arrogance, lack of respect or insecurity or whatever it is. It’s not the right way to do government in a grown up way.

“So I hope we will see a change. I’ll do my best to work with Liz Truss as constructively as possible or whoever comes after because we can’t take anything for granted in UK politics these days.”

Continue ReadingNicola Sturgeon says lack of contact from Liz Truss ‘absurd’

Even the sycophancy of an amoral Tory press couldn’t save Boris Johnson

Historians will be baffled by the readiness of Britain’s largest media organisations to lick Johnson’s boots for so long, and will surely look for an explanation. Part of the reason is ideology. Murdoch and the Barclay brothers personally supported the Brexit movement which propelled Johnson to power. 

Another is that Johnson cleverly ensured the major newspaper groups had a vested interest in maintaining him in office. Though lazy and incompetent, Johnson understands the press exceptionally well, and as prime minister managed it skilfully, giving the newspapers everything they wanted in exchange for their support.

This meant allowing media barons to set his agenda. The BBC has long been a target of the press—Murdoch in particular—because it occupies public space which corporate media craves for itself. Johnson’s attacks on the licence fee—and the briefing by allies of his culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, that on her watch “it’s over for the BBC” as we know it—look like gifts to his media backers. So was the appointment of an unqualified Tory donor, former banker Richard Sharp, as chairman of the national broadcaster. The same applies to the proposed Channel 4 sell-off.

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Continue ReadingEven the sycophancy of an amoral Tory press couldn’t save Boris Johnson