BBC reform should begin with embracing opinion content, Maajid Nawaz insists

23 May 2021, 15:51

By Seán Hickey

Current scrutiny of the BBC should push the corporation to revolutionise the way it operates, starting with having more opinion content.

The BBC has come under fire in recent days following the release of the Dyson report which unearthed shocking practices at play before a 1995 interview with Princess Diana.

Maajid Nawaz argued that the corporation should embrace the opportunity it has been presented by implementing large-scale reform of how it reports the news.

Read More: BBC at risk of becoming toothless in the wake of Diana scandal, John Sweeney fears

"The emergence of Netflix, the emergence of LBC has indicated there's an appetite outside the BBC for opinion," he noted, suggesting that the corporation should consider implementing opinion content into its repertoire.

Maajid argued that it is impossible for the BBC to achieve its core principle of total impartiality, especially in the current news climate. "Imagine you're at the BBC on a news desk," he said. "Which topics you select to lead the news with – your headline – is an opinion."

Read More: Diana scandal 'was BBC's phone hacking moment' claims ex-Panorama producer

Read More: Shelagh Fogarty's take on if Princess Diana's BBC interview should be aired again

"How is it possible to be neutral?" Maajid asked, concluding that the BBC should instead facilitate opinion instead of remaining focussed on impartiality which it is consistently accused of failing at.

"Surely the growth of stations like LBC indicates there's an appetite out there for frank opinion" he reiterated.

Maajid felt that "people know what they're getting" with opinion content whereas impartial news is often misinterpreted as having an agenda, which has been the root of many criticisms of the BBC of late.

Speaking about the benefits of opinion content, Maajid used his own LBC show as an example: "You know you're not going to get neutral news, you're going to get my view and you're going to agree or disagree."

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