TIME is just about running out for the BBC – and the broadcaster has nobody to blame but itself. Where to start with the corporation and its self-inflicted wounds? Like the rapper Jay-Z, it’s got 99 problems – but trust ain’t one.

A new existential threat is now coming for the BBC from the right. Forces are gathering to launch a Fox News-style TV channel to undermine the broadcaster, and cash in on lost public faith.

One rival is GB News. It’s gunning for what it describes as an “out of touch” BBC, and already has a licence to broadcast. GB News co-founder Andrew Cole kicked sand in the BBC’s face calling it “possibly the most biased propaganda machine in the world”. There might be an announcement come September. It’s understood GB News has been in talks with Andrew Neil.

Rupert Murdoch – Fox News owner – is also circling the BBC. He’s long wanted to wound his arch rival, and looks close to aiming a crippling blow. A second rival project to the BBC is being cooked up by Murdoch’s News UK, spearheaded by David Rhodes, former Fox News executive.

Most likely, any rival to BBC TV journalism from the right will set its sights on being comment-driven in a bid to get around UK rules on news broadcasting impartiality. TalkRadio, which is also owned by Murdoch, already operates by that standard. It’s effectively a licence to propagandise, with highly partisan and provocative presenters thriving in a culture wars battleground. LBC, the country’s other major talk radio network, operates to pretty much the same standards. It made Nigel Farage a presenter. Farage no longer hosts but it’s an open secret he’d love another big media platform to further his agenda. There’s speculation about his involvement in one of the rival ventures.

These rival plans to the BBC prove some unpleasant truths about the broadcaster. The BBC is much less clever than it thinks, for starters – as the corporation created the very monster which is now attempting to eat it alive.

The BBC, for years now, has pursued a clickbait agenda. Once you get beyond its traditional reporting slots – like the Six O’Clock News – its current affairs programming is cheap and sensationalist. Question Time being the number one offender.

Think of the characters shows like Question Time created and pushed into the public consciousness. It gave Nick Griffin, the former leader of the BNP, a platform; it became like a rolling bandwagon for Nigel Farage; it put Katie Hopkins on stage. The BBC fed the right-wing beast – and now the forces of the right are coming for it.

The BBC also turned Andrew Neil from a partisan newspaper man into a national broadcaster. Neil’s background is evidently right-wing – and there’s nothing wrong with that; it might not be my political slant on life, but in newspapers it’s standard operating procedure to take a political position and fight for it. That’s what a free press is meant to do. The BBC, however, must be impartial.

A savvy operator like Neil is perfectly capable of keeping any bias in check on air, but let’s be clear: the BBC built him into a powerful figure in British television – now it seems he’s coming for them as a rival.

The BBC also created the atmosphere in which these rival bids are thriving. It’s pandered to a culture wars agenda – not just promoting the likes of Katie Hopkins, but elevating every Twitter storm into a national debate.

As the old saying goes – if you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. The BBC is so clodhopping it even stokes culture wars against itself. The recent row over the singing of Rule Britannia during the BBC Proms was confected nonsense but the broadcaster worked to ramp up the storm in discussion segments.

Herein lies the key flaw with the BBC – it should stick to reporting the news, not commenting on the news. It’s the BBC’s job to tell the nation, impartially and intelligently, what’s going on nationally and internationally through its publicly funded journalism. It’s not the BBC’s job to get clicks online and stir up social media rows.

Leave the commenting to newspapers. The British press is historically a rambunctious free-for-all – in print, the news should be reported with accuracy and balance, but in terms of comment you can fight your political corner as vehemently as you wish, within the limits of libel laws and decency. In contrast, broadcasting rules are very clear on standards of impartiality. And that makes sense – a newspaper isn’t piped into your home. You chose to read a particular paper. In Britain, you don’t chose the BBC – it’s a fact of life, like death and taxes … at least, until the Tories use the licence fee to finish it off.

We got a hint that even the BBC sees the writing on the wall with reports that the new director-general, Tim Davie, is apparently ‘open’ to the broadcaster implementing some Netflix-style subscription model, in the wake of a damaging poll showing ebbing public faith.

As an aside, I should point out that while the BBC has pandered to a right-wing agenda, that’s now coming for it, it’s also pandered to the so-called ‘woke left’, whose activists equally hate it. The BBC tried to play both sides against the middle and failed miserably.

A word of advice for the BBC. Forget about social media – it’s drugged you and your journalists and you can no longer see the wood for the trees when it comes to reporting. Get your staff off Twitter – it’s not a good look when it comes to impartiality. Stick to reporting the news, not trying to whip up storms through comment on the news.

The problem is, it’s too late to change the BBC. And that spells trouble for British democracy. The incorporation of Fox News-style TV to Britain will make our current culture wars look like a playground tiff. We’ll further divide, truth will become ever more remote. Look to America – that’s a land we don’t want to venture towards as a society. The BBC was meant to preserve Britain from taking this direction, instead it’s witlessly colluded in such a fate. It has shamed itself.

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