U.K. culture secretary Oliver Dowden has called for an attitudinal change at the BBC following the Dyson report into the circumstances around the 1995 Princess Diana interview by Martin Bashir on the “Panorama” program.
Writing in U.K. newspaper The Times on Monday, Dowden said: “The BBC needs to improve its culture to ensure that this never happens again and that means a new emphasis on accuracy, impartiality and diversity of opinion. As others have observed, the BBC can occasionally succumb to a “we know best” attitude. Groupthink in any organization results in a lack of challenge and poor decision making. That is why cultural change must be a focus after the Dyson report.”
Dowden wrote that Dyson’s investigation exposed failures that struck at the heart of the BBC’s value and culture and revealed the shame people who’ve worked at the corporation their entire lives felt about the revelations.
Dyson’s report was published last week and noted that the BBC “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark.” Dowden said that he expects the BBC to “act swiftly” on all of the report’s recommendations.
There will be action from the U.K. government too. “Lord Dyson’s report reveals damning failings at the heart of the BBC. We will now reflect on Lord Dyson’s thorough report and consider whether further governance reforms at the BBC are needed in the mid-term Charter review,” Dowden had tweeted on May 20, following the publication of the Dyson report.
Lord Dyson’s report reveals damning failings at the heart of the BBC.
We will now reflect on Lord Dyson's thorough report and consider whether further governance reforms at the BBC are needed in the mid-term Charter review. (1/2)
— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) May 20, 2021
“I welcome the fact that the new leadership launched this independent inquiry and expect them to ensure that this can never happen again.”
“We will not stand idly by in government either,” Dowden wrote in The Times on Monday. He said that the government should not get involved in editorial decisions, but “should reflect on the lack of oversight and challenge that these decisions exposed.”
“We will not make kneejerk reforms but will use the mid-term charter review to determine whether the governance and regulatory arrangements should be strengthened,” Dyson wrote. “We will start the preparatory work on this now.”
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had weighed in on the issue, saying: “I hope very much that the BBC will be taking every possible step to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”
The culture secretary also noted the looming threat from deep-pocketed global streamers, a matter that has been an ongoing topic of discussion amongst U.K. public service broadcasters, such as the BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5.
“Of course as we look to the longer term there are more fundamental questions about the correct funding model, shape and structure of the BBC,” Dowden wrote. “With intensifying competition from platforms such as Netflix and Amazon, the BBC cannot retreat. It must instead be equipped to step up to project British values and distinct quality programming with renewed vigor and ambition.”
“A BBC that the public genuinely trusts and respects and that serves the entire nation must be its defining mission,” Dowden concluded.