BBC chairman slams Emily Maitlis’ Newsnight comments on Dominic Cummings | BBC

The BBC chairman has said he thinks Emily Maitlis was ‘wrong’ in her Newsnight coverage of Dominic Cummings’ visit to Barnard Castle in 2020 as he set out his plan to improve the broadcaster.

Richard Sharp slammed Maitlis, who has since left the broadcaster, for launching the program saying ‘the country’ could see Cummings had broken lockdown rules ‘and is shocked the government cannot’.

Sharp, who in September dismissed claims by Maitlis that a former Downing Street communications director was acting as a Conservative party agent within the company, told The Sunday Times that “we are not an institution of country. Our approach is to present the facts and not to give the opinion of a broadcaster.

The president also acknowledged that “the BBC has a liberal bias” but insists that “the institution is fighting against that”.

On the issue of impartiality in its news coverage compared to its rivals, Sharp told the paper, “We can expose the brutal repression of Uyghurs in China without having to fear that our business in China will suffer. At a time when some commercial news networks are avoiding certain issues, aerial conspiracy theories and fake news or distorting history, we must continue to lead the world in reliable information.

The former Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan banker also highlighted areas where he agreed the broadcaster needed to improve.

On his commercial cover, he said, “I have Bloomberg TV here for a reason. It’s excellent. We have to raise our level of play.”

He added that BBC correspondents and editors are “first class”, but across the institution business and finance “are not as well understood as they should be”. “We need to explain them better, especially when inflation forces the government and the opposition to make very difficult choices,” he said.

The company’s chairman and chief executive, Tim Davie, launched a coverage review starting with tax and government spending.

Sharp, who worked as an economic adviser to Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London, also believes the BBC “needs more of a culture of accountability”. “People felt disadvantaged here, whether they were minority groups or women,” he said.

In 2018, the BBC’s former China editor Carrie Gracie won her battle against gender pay inequality, receiving an apology and payment from society. In 2020, Samira Ahmed won an equal pay labor tribunal against the broadcaster. Hundreds of employed women have won salary increases.

In 2017, the gender pay gap at the BBC was 9.3%. The broadcaster says it is now 5.9%. The UK average is 15.4%.

Another area Sharp has criticized is the analysis of audience data, which he says “has been poor”. “Instead of expecting audiences to come to where we are, we should focus on the alpha to find out where they are and go there,” he said.

Citing Newsnight as an example, he added: “In an analog world, 10:30 a.m. was a very important time slot for people to show up for. In a digital world, people consume Newsnight-like information whenever they want, wherever they want. »

He thinks Newsnight’s analysis should be “repackaged and distributed in new ways in new formats on new platforms” and praised social media platform TikTok for its “incredible user experience”.

Leave a Comment