BBC journalists are to be sent on a compulsory training course about the European Union (EU) in an attempt to ensure impartiality ahead of Britain’s referendum, reports Breitbart London.
BBC News director James Harding told parliament’s European scrutiny committee that all BBC reporters, including newsreaders, will be sent on the mandatory retraining course, and admitted the state broadcaster’s impartiality would be “tested” by the referendum.
The BBC has frequently faced accusations of pro-EU bias. Just last month, Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin used BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to accuse the corporation of “cultural bias” in favour of the European Union, something strongly denied by presenter James Naughtie who called Jenkin’s complaint “tedious”.
Yesterday, Mr Harding told MPs: “We know this will be a period really of great scrutiny of our coverage, so our view is that we should reinstate mandatory training of all BBC journalists, so that they are as well-informed as possible of the issues around the workings of the institutions of the EU and its relationship to the UK.” He also defended the BBC’s tendency to refer to the EU as “Europe”, a practice that has been slammed by UKIP leader Nigel Farage as “inaccurate” and “dishonest”.
Mr Farage wrote in an open letter: “The Electoral Commission has suggested that the question be ‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?’ “I believe reporting should reflect this deliberate selection of words. The debate is not about whether Britain should remain in Europe, a geographic reality, but the European Union, a political construction.”
However, Mr Harding said: “My view is that we should try at all times to make the point that it’s the EU, but we’ve also got to accept that there will be conversational circumstances in which at the second, third, fourth reference people will use ‘Europe’ as shorthand. I think that as long as it’s clear and understood, that works.”