BBC must avoid bias, says Trust boss

The BBC should “listen hard” to those who accuse it of drowning viewers in a “small metropolitan pond of stereotypes and prejudices”, the new Chairman of the BBC Trust has said.

Lord Patten of Barnes also cautioned that the Corporation must avoid “descending to a tasteless common denominator”.

Lord Patten’s comments came in a Royal Television Society lecture – his first speech as Chairman of the BBC Trust.

Controversial

In a wide ranging speech, the new Chairman addressed some of the criticism which the BBC comes in for.

He warned: “Criticism that we are not impartial should keep us on our toes, determined to tell things as we see them while taking account of the full breadth of opinion that exists on most controversial topics.”

And he added: “Above all, we should pay greatest heed to any justified assertion that we are guilty of descending to a tasteless common denominator. Were that to be true, it would be a real act of treason to all that we are supposed to stand for.”

Quick

Lord Patten also said that a Chief Complaints Editor would be appointed, which would go some way towards the aim of making the complaints system “quicker and easier to understand”.

The BBC Trust governs the BBC, setting its strategy and appointing its Director General.

In September 2010 the Director General of the BBC asserted, despite previous accusations that the corporation has been pushing for the legalisation of assisted suicide, that the BBC doesn’t campaign on political issues.

Bias

In 2009 the Conservatives’ spokesman for culture, Jeremy Hunt, said the BBC should actively seek to redress its “innate liberal bias”.

Mr Hunt was quoting from the BBC’s former political editor Andrew Marr.

Mr Marr has also described the BBC as “a publicly funded urban organisation with an abnormally large proportion of younger people, of people in ethnic minorities and almost certainly of gay people compared with the population at large”.

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