BBC chief admits bias fears – Embarrassment as he can’t name one Brexiteer hire
BBC: Tim Davie says ‘we are vulnerable to groupthink’
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Tim Davie, 54, told MPs it was “mission-critical” for the national broadcaster to be trusted by Britons as an impartial news organisation. The former chief executive of the BBC’s commercial operation made restoring faith in the corporation his number one aim when he was appointed to the top job last September.
Speaking to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee this morning he said it was vital the BBC hired employees from a range of backgrounds.
He told MPs: “I do worry about institutional groupthink, I do.
“I think we need to then make sure the groups of people making decisions, the groups of people we attract to the BBC, come from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds and have a diverse range of views.
“The BBC is nothing if it is not a good facilitator of proper open debate and diverse views.
“I think that is essential for us. It’s mission-critical.”
Mr Davie admitted he still had a long way to go in his battle to weed out bias but said he was making progress.
“We need to really be clear, we’re not perfect, we’ve got plenty of work,” he told MPs.
“We are making progress, if you talk to editors, if you talk to them, this message is getting through and slowly people want different voices.
“We need to be comfortable with different opinions.”
His comments come amid an impartiality row over the appointment of the new executive editor of the BBC’s news channels.
Despite pushing for a broad church of opinions, Mr Davie has been accused of failing to take practice what he preaches.
Last week it was confirmed a former editor of the left-leaning HuffPost UK new website would take on the role.
Jess Brammar has been critical of Brexit and Boris Johnson on social media in the past and deleted thousands of tweets before taking on the role.
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Mr Davie admitted he was unsure if the corporation had hired anyone to a senior position who had supported Brexit since he took on the top job.
Defending the decision to appoint Ms Brammar, the director-general said his employees at the BBC were expected to “leave their backgrounds at the door”.
He said: “We’ve got a few thousand people in news, we’ve just restructured the newsroom completely, which I think is really radical.
“I saw some outstanding editorial hires actually yesterday.
“We’re making hires that have significant big editorial decision making powers across the newsroom.
“Jess is one of a quite significant number of hires.”
The BBC chief asked MPs to critique him based on the broadcaster’s output.
“Let’s be judged on the overall movement of the BBC,” he said.
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