Lord Lipsey says he 'assumes good programmes are BBC'
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Lord Lipsey left his colleagues on the communications and digital committee awkwardly laughing as he told representatives from ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 he automatically assumed quality TV programmes were made by the national broadcaster. Peers appeared shocked as the Labour representative gave his uncensored views while questioning TV executives.
“When I’m watching a programme on the television I tend to assume it’s the BBC because my parents brought me up to think that way,” he said, adding: “BBC good, ITV bad.”
Appearing to further herald the BBC as supreme, he went on to imply that in comparison to the corporation other terrestrial broadcasters failed to have a unique identity.
He said: “There is a serious point that lies behind this, which is that certainly in abstract terms it is possible to distinguish between the remits of all the PSBs (pubic service broadcasters).
“When it comes to actual programmes, not so much I think.
“It’s very hard to think of any programme I watch – other than Racing TV – which couldn’t be on any one of the three organisations represented here.”
ITV’s director of policy and regulatory affairs, Magnus Brooke, defended the public service broadcasters in the face of the comments.
He said: “Certainly we would look at the BBC being our nearest rival. What we’re trying to do is reach the whole of the UK, it’s pretty simple.
“I think we had 97 percent of the whole of the UK TV population watched ITV at some point last year.
“And we would absolutely seek to provide entertainment and information for the whole of the UK.”
Lord Lipsey made his remarks during a parliamentary committee hearing on the funding of the BBC.
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The communications and digital committee has previously received backlash for its inquiry with half of its members admitting to conflicts of interest when it comes to the BBC.
As well as a number of peers who are regular contributors to the broadcaster sitting on the panel, the BBC’s former director-general is also taking part in the inquiry.
Critics have demanded Lord Tony Hall, who stepped down from the top job at the BBC in 2020, recuse himself from the inquiry warning his former role means he cannot be impartial.
Rebecca Ryan, campaign director of Defund the BBC wrote to the committee’s chairwoman, Baroness Stowell urging Lord Hall to be removed from taking part in the inquiry.
In a letter, she said: “While I welcome the nature of the inquiry I have very serious reservations about the members who will be sitting in judgement.
“It is beyond belief that the committee would allow Lord Hall to participate in this inquiry.
“Having the former director-general of the BBC on the committee means that the inquiry simply cannot be impartial.”
A House of Lords spokesman said at the time: “Members of select committees come from a wide range of backgrounds and experience and any relevant interests are openly and publicly declared.
“In this case, the cross-party and non-partisan committee is conducting an inquiry with a completely open mind and is actively seeking the widest range of opinions to contribute to and inform its thinking.”
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