Tom Watson Says Government Should Fund TV Licences for Over 75s

Tom Watson, the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has said that the Government should provide funding to ensure that over 75s can continue to receive free television licences. The Government has said that the funding for this should be provided by the BBC.

Watson said:

“This Prime Minister’s disregard for older people is appalling. He is trying to blame the BBC for his own Government’s policy, but this obfuscation will not work.

The blame for scrapping free TV licences lies firmly with the Government. Keeping the free licences was a Tory manifesto promise, but because of this Government’s refusal to fund the concession, millions of older people will have their free TV licences scrapped next year.

This is a cruel policy that will leave many of our oldest citizens either worse off or cut off from the wider world. This Government must stop passing the buck and step in to fund the free TV licences today.”

BBC Criticised Over Nigel Lawson Interview

Lord Lawson, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1980s, has been criticised for an interview on climate change on the BBC. Lawson claimed that global temperatures had fallen over the last decade, but a number of scientists have said that temperatures have actually risen.

Referring to Al Gore, Lawson said during the interview:

“[Al Gore says that] there had been a growing increase, which had been continuing, in the extreme weather events. There hasn’t been. All the experts say there haven’t been. The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is sort of the voice of the consensus, concedes that there has been no increase in extreme weather events. Extreme weather events have always happened. They come and go”.

A spokesman for the BBC said:

“We have a duty to inform listeners about all sides of a debate”.

Professor Brian Cox said about the debate on climate change and Lawson’s false claims:

“It is irresponsible and highly misleading to give the impression that there is a meaningful debate about the science”.

Carbonbrief issued a statement fact checking the comments made by Nigel Lawson, finding several of his key points to be factually incorrect.

BBC Editor Robbie Gibbs to Become Prime Minister’s Director of Communications

Robbie Gibbs, an editor at the BBC, has been confirmed as Theresa May’s new Director of Communications. Gibbs had worked for the BBC for 23 years and said on Twitter:

“I am pleased to announce I will be leaving the BBC to join the prime minister, Theresa May, as her new director of communications”.

James Harding, the Director of BBC News, said:

“Robbie has deployed his renowned organisational skills, political acumen and editorial creativity to the benefit of the BBC on countless occasions. From the precision of the Daily Politics, Sunday Politics, This Week and The Andrew Marr Show – including special Budget programmes – to that historic moment of the Wembley Arena debate last June: the broadcasting highlight of the EU Referendum campaign”.

BBC Accused of Breaching Equality Act

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The BBC has been accused of breaching the Equality Act and racial discrimination after advertising a role which prohibited white applicants.

The Equality Act requires that employers can only favour minority applicants if they are equal in calibre to other applicants. The BBC said:

“This is a training and development programme designed to address an under-representation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in script editing roles”.

The BBC admitted that the training roles would be paid £25,205 and confirmed that white applicants would not be considered.

Labour MP Rupa Huq Suggests BBC Programme is Islamphobic

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Rupa Huq, the Labour MP for, has suggested that the BBC is supporting a comedy programme which was Islamphobic. Referring to Citizen Khan the MP said:

“A current programme I would cite, which has been going since 2012, is Citizen Khan. If I did not know what the year was—I do not know if people know that programme. It is the everyday tale of a Birmingham family of Muslims, but they are really quite backward. Again, it relates to the point about Islamophobia made by my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr Umunna), who is no longer in his place. There is a beardy-weirdy chap. They are not quite cutting off people’s hands, but I could imagine that being in a future episode”.

She added though that “I do not want to bash the BBC. I am a former employee of the corporation” and later “I do not want to attack the BBC, and the point has been correctly made that the examples that have been chosen are selective”.

The BBC issued a statement saying:

“The fact that Citizen Khan returns for its fifth series this year is a sign of its popularity with all audiences – indeed the show has won several awards, including Best TV character at the Asian Media Awards.

We’ve also had positive comments from members of the Muslim community for the show and for creator Adil Ray who, like the family portrayed, is a British Pakistani Muslim. As with all sitcoms the characters are comic creations and not meant to be representative of the community as a whole”.

BBC Reject Complaint from Labour over Stephen Doughty Resignation

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The BBC has rejected a complaint from the Labour Party over how it handled the resignation of Stephen Doughty. Doughty was one of three Labour MPs who resigned from the Shadow Ministerial team earlier in the week in protest over the sackings of Shadow Cabinet Ministers by Jeremy Corbyn.

Seumas Milne, Labour’s Director of Communications, complained that the MP’s resignation was broadcast live on air before Doughty had tendered a letter of resignation to Jeremy Corbyn. Doughty said that he sent the letter to Corbyn before the interview but was concerned that he would be smeared by senior Labour figures so didn’t allow time for a response. Hours later John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, referred to Doughty as “part of a right-wing clique”.

Robbie Gibb, the editor of the Daily Politics, replied:

“As you know it is a long standing tradition that political programmes on the BBC, along with all other news outlets, seek to break stories. It is true that we seek to make maximum impact with our journalism which is entirely consistent with the BBC’s editorial guidelines and values”.

Rebecca Winson and BBC apologise over disabled offence

Rebecca Winson, a trade union activist, and the BBC have both apologised after mocking a Conservative MP who is hard of hearing.

Alec Shelbrooke, the Conservative MP for Elmet and Rothwell said:

“I am genuinely slightly deaf and struggle to hear. I had taken part in the debate and was trying to hear the wind ups. Seems a shame I get trolled due to being slightly deaf.”

After complaints were made over the comments BBC Newsbeat issued a Twitter comment stating:

“Very heartfelt apologies”

Rebecca Winson made a Twitter statement saying:

“I didn’t know Shelbrooke is partially deaf – have deleted tweet, and apologies to him and anyone offended”.