Jeremy Hunt, MP for South West Surrey, this week continued his campaign of attacks on the BBC, a campaign which began several months ago. A weakened BBC is clearly in the interests of its competitor News International and surprise surprise The Sun is now backing the Tories.
If Mr Hunt were just an ordinary citizen criticising the BBC for its bad decisions and extravagant expenses I would not be concerned, but Mr Hunt hopes in a few months to be in control of the Ministry for media which will oversee the BBC and the press. Mr Hunt’s public utterances are therefore of great concern to all in the media industry.
I have written to Mr Hunt about my concerns that the Tories want to sell off or scrap key parts of the BBC including much of its online operations, Radio 1, BBC 3 and BBC 4. Mr Hunt’s attacks have been vicious and sustained. In a Daily Mail interview last month under the headline, ‘We’ll rein in the BBC, say Tories in radical plans to prevent one broadcaster state’, Mr Hunt talked about scrapping BBC 3 and 4 and taking action which the Mail said would ‘pave the way for channels such as Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News’. In August The Times reported that the Tories were planning to sell off Radio 1.
For months Mr Hunt has pursued an agenda of verbal assaults on the business of the BBC. Yet Mr Hunt, as far as I can see, has said nothing critical about the massive media power of the Murdoch Empire. Are the commercial interests of News International (owners of The Sun, The Times, BSkyB, etc) being deliberately favoured for party political advantage? “Nothing new there” some might say, but at a time when the reputation of politicians has hit rock bottom, we have a right to know.