Brexit showed BBC is full of 'metropolitan bias', Boris Johnson says

Brexit showed that BBC is full of ‘metropolitan bias’ and is ‘detached’ from many viewers, Boris Johnson says

  • Boris Johnson said Brexit had shown BBC was ‘pretty detached’ from viewers 
  • Accused the BBC of ‘metropolitan bias’ and hoped it would move ‘more into line’ 
  • Comes after Charlie Stayt & Naga Munchetty slammed for mocking Union Jack 

Boris Johnson last night accused the BBC of ‘metropolitan bias’.

Speaking to Tory MPs, the Prime Minister said the Brexit process had shown that the Corporation was ‘pretty detached’ from many of its viewers.

He said he hoped the BBC would move ‘more into line’. Mr Johnson made his comments at a meeting of the 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers.

The BBC insisted last week that it was ‘proud to be British’ after a furious backlash at news presenters Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty mocking the Union Jack.

Asked about the row, the PM said: ‘We need to recognise on the whole that there is a great deal of instinctual metropolitan bias in the BBC newsroom. 

Boris Johnson (pictured) said the Brexit process had shown that the BBC was ‘pretty detached’ from many of its viewers

‘It’s pretty clear from the whole Brexit experience that the BBC was pretty detached from a lot of its viewers and listeners and I hope they move more into line.

‘We need to think about that with all the commonsensical ways we have.’

Mr Stayt, 58, had mockingly told Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick: ‘I think your flag is not up to standard size Government-interview measurements. I think it’s just a little bit small.’

A laughing Miss Munchetty was then heard to comment: ‘They had the picture of the Queen there as well, though’.

The controversy continued later when Miss Munchetty, 46, ‘liked’ insulting tweets about the British flag including a reference to ‘flag sh*****s’ being ‘up in arms’.

She later removed the ‘likes’ and wrote: ‘These do not represent the views of me or the BBC. I apologise for any offence taken.’

The BBC insisted last week that it was ‘proud to be British’ after a furious backlash at news presenters Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty mocking the Union Jack

Since becoming director-general last year Tim Davie has launched a crackdown on the way news stars behave on social media, as part of his moves to tackle impartiality issues at the broadcaster. 

MPs had written to Mr Davie saying they had been ‘inundated with complaints’ from constituents following the flag row.

They called for Mr Stayt and Miss Munchetty to be ‘reprimanded’ and to ‘apologise for their conduct’. 

They added that the attitudes on the programme were inappropriate and disrespectful.

In response Mr Davie repeated that the BBC was ‘proud of the UK’ and that it took their complaints seriously. 

Last week, the BBC announced a huge shake-up to make the corporation less London-centric, in its ‘biggest transformation in decades’.

Some 400 roles – around half of those in BBC News – will be relocated outside London.

The presenters were interviewing communities secretary Robert Jenrick when the incident took place

News and current affairs programmes such as Newsnight will be presented from different UK bases – and Radio 4’s Today show will be co-hosted from outside London for at least 100 episodes a year.

The decision could also result in a BBC rival to ITV soap Coronation Street.

The broadcaster said it would air two new long-running drama series – one from the North of England and the other from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The BBC, which was accused of failing to understand the vote for Brexit, hopes the move changes the tone of its programmes and journalism.

As part of Mr Davie’s reforms, the BBC also announced a new diversity directive which will require 95% of staff to complete ‘unconscious bias’ training and which aims for 80% to declare their social class.

The corporation is also aiming for 50% of LGBT employees to be ‘out’ at work, based on the proportion of people identifying as gay or transgender who state in an annual staff survey that they have revealed their sexuality to their manager.

The BBC says it wants a 50-50 split of male and female staff and is in the process of launching a ‘staff census… that will for the first time capture non-binary or non-conforming identities’.

The mandatory requirement for nearly all employees to undertake unconscious bias training is likely to face criticism, as many experts consider the technique to be ineffective in preventing discrimination and even harmful.

Research shows that viewers in the so-called ‘Red Wall’ in the north and midlands feel the coporation is out of touch with their values.

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