John Baron MP questions Government on EU funding of BBC

May 12, 2016

MP says there should be no bias

Today the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP, gave a Statement in the House of Commons following the publication of the White Paper on the future of the BBC.

John asked,

“The White Paper is very welcome and confirms the BBC does a good job. However, what is the Government doing to ensure fairness during the EU referendum campaign, especially as the BBC receives large amounts of EU funding, which has amounted to tens of millions of pounds over recent years?”

The Secretary of State responded by saying that he had asked the BBC to create a ‘fast-track’ system to resolve complaints of bias during the referendum campaign, and that all broadcasters must ensure their programming is impartial.

John said afterwards,

“In order to have a fair referendum, it is essential that there is no undue bias in the media. As the BBC is a trusted source of information for many millions of voters, it must ensure the sizable funding it receives from the EU each year does not overshadow its obligation to remain impartial over the course of the referendum.”

Word Count: 205
Date: 12th May 2016

Notes to Editors:

• The EU has received the following amounts from the EU in recent years:
o 2014 – €499,151
o 2013 – €6,100,987
o 2012 – €5,269,083
o 2011 – €354,954
o 2010 – €6,022,483
o 2009 – €3,498,043
o 2008 – €6,336,295
o 2007 – €1,943,146
• In 2012, John led the Parliamentary campaign to get the Prime Minister to legislate in that Parliament for a referendum in this. He organised two letters to the Prime Minister, signed by 100 Conservative MPs, calling for referendum legislation to be placed on the Statute Book in the last Parliament for an in/out referendum in this Parliament. This helped persuade David Cameron to promise an in/out vote in his Bloomberg Speech in January 2013.
• John then tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech in May 2013, regretting the absence of referendum legislation in the Government’s agenda.
• Though the amendment was defeated, it was supported by 115 Conservative MPs. This persuaded the Prime Minister to go down the Private Member’s Bill route and, when this was twice defeated by Labour and Liberal Democrat Parliamentarians, to place it at the centre of the 2015 Conservative manifesto at the General Election.

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