The impartiality of the BBC when handling the independence referendum has come under increasing levels of scrutiny. For those on the Yes side, this has been further compounded by the position taken by the BBC when it comes to withdrawal from membership of the CBI, an organisation which has registered its support for the No campaign (your report, 25 April).
Unlike its main rival, STV, it took the BBC, under intense pressure, a week to come to the conclusion that to be part of such an organisation would impact on its neutrality, something that was clearly blatantly obvious to most observers.
Interestingly, it should be noted that the BBC’s membership will be suspended from 30 May to 18 September, the date of the referendum. Therefore, for more than a month the BBC, a public service broadcaster with an obligation to provide balanced political coverage, will be a member of an organisation advocating a No vote in the September referendum, clearly an untenable position.
The agreement accompanying the BBC’s Royal Charter specifies that it should do all it can “to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality” in its news and other output dealing with matters of public policy or political or industrial controversy.
The BBC, by its continued membership of the CBI, is clearly in breach of its own Royal Charter and should urgently review this matter.
The BBC has announced that its membership of the CBI will be suspended during the official campaign period for the forthcoming referendum.
The faceless statement it released on Thursday was identical to that released by the CBI, which simply adds fuel to the fire. As the CBI has already made clear its views on the referendum, it’s difficult to understand why the suspension only comes into effect on 30 May.
Why would the BBC (or any other public body for that matter) ever be a member of a lobbying organisation that campaigns for one side or the other on important issues?
If the Conservatives win the next UK general election, they will offer an in/out referendum on the EU. Will the BBC simply suspend its membership again if the CBI takes a position on that?
The CBI already has a position on EU membership, so why wait till the EU referendum?
The BBC should immediately cancel its membership of the CBI, and any other lobbying organisation, and make clear it will never join again.
George S Gordon