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BBC bombshell confession: How Director-General ADMITTED ‘freeloader tendencies’

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The BBC licence fee has been a point of controversy since its inception. Originally introduced as a radio licence by the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1923, those wishing to listen to the corporation’s services were required to pay 0.50p per annum.

Fast-forward nearly 100 years and cash-strapped Britons are now made to pay a hefty £157.50 per year.

The Government’s May 2016 white paper announced that the licence fee will only rise every year for five years from April 2017 in accordance with the BBC Charter.

The increase in price per year has left many dumbfounded.

What equally as many Britons might not know is that the Secretary for culture formally sets the licence fee – not the BBC.

Despite this fact, even employees within the corporation have questioned its financial practices at times.

In 2010, the New Statesman spoke to the BBC’s Director-General at the time, Mark Thompson.

Mr Thompson left the role in 2012 and is now the CEO of The New York Times.

Known for his reserved yet candid approach to most topics, Mr Thompson attempted to protect the BBC from criticism, but quickly backtracked when observing its past machinations.

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On the subject of accusations of profligacy, Mr Thompson said: “Look you can’t run a public institution in the UK and not think quite hard about the current state of the public finances, and the climate of how you are funded.

“Can the BBC tighten its belt further?

“Yes it can.

“Do I never wander round the BBC without . . . thinking it can do better? No.

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“But genuinely, I worked at Channel 4 (as chief executive, from 2002 to 2004), and I’m very familiar with the way other broadcasting companies work.

“The BBC is not the glorious freeloading … I mean, we had our moments in the past.”

Later on the interview, similarly acknowledging the BBC’s history, Mr Thompson admitted the broadcaster had an obvious bias to the left.

This has been one of the BBC’s biggest challenges in recent years.

Both sides of the political spectrum regularly accuse the BBC of a bias that runs contrary to their political viewpoint.

Many have said this is proof that the BBC is in fact neutral.

Yet, Mr Thompson said: “In the BBC I joined 30 years ago [as a production trainee, in 1979], there was, in much of current affairs, in terms of people’s personal politics, which were quite vocal, a massive bias to the left.

“The organisation did struggle then with impartiality.

“Now it is a completely different generation.

“There is much less overt tribalism among the young journalists who work for the BBC.

“It is like the New Statesman, which used to be various shades of soft and hard left and is now more technocratic.

“We’re like that, too.

“We have an honourable tradition of journalists from the right (working for us).

“It is a broader church.”

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