The Independent’s diary, Pandora, has a little go at the BBC today for not giving enough air-time to a story about John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, staying with Philip Anschutz, the American bilionaire. He is the man who agreed to take the ill-fated Millennium Dome off the Government’s hands and now want to include a casino in his plans for an entertainment centre.
Prescott, who has now been stripped of most of his powers, says it was just there for rest and recreation and did not talk business.
Pandora harks back to claims that the BBC underplayed the earlier story about Prescott’s fling with his diary secretary, sex in the office and all than. And it goes on to question the sparse mention by the BBC of the latest event.
The answer could be “news value” now that Prescott has lost his ministerial powers. But who is behind this latest pop at the BBC as Charter renewal is discussed. The clue in the Independent piece is a reference to the “annoyance of Tories”.
The Conservatives are worried that while discussions about the future of the BBC take place it will be too kind to Labour which holds power over its future.
Big media companies also like to have a go at the BBC as they try to curb an organisation which they see as too powerful, with its TV licence funding. It is ironic that large media businesses, including the likes of News Corp, should feel threatened. But they do as they watch News 24 match Sky News, the growth of the Beeb’s web site and its successful magazine business.
On the whole the BBC, faced with all these influences, manages to keep its news output remarkable balanced even if it is a little more timid post-Hutton.