THE BBC director-general has said there is a “growing assault on truth” that poses a threat to societies and democracies around the world.

Tim Davie, who made the comments to coincide with World Press Freedom Day, which takes place today (Monday) said journalists across the globe face “intimidation, harassment and hostility”.

He added: “In the midst of the Covid pandemic, it is clearer than ever why people need access to trusted, impartial news."

It comes after the former Conservative Party activist vowed last year to tackle left-wing bias in their comedy programming in order to restore "trust and confidence" of the public in the corporation.

Mr Davie, once deputy chairman of the Hammersmith and Fulham Conservative party in the 1990s, was understood to think the corporation’s shows are seen as too one-sided and needed a radical overhaul.

Under the reported proposal, BBC programme creators were expected to find a better balance of targets on the shows, rather than just aiming jokes at the Conservatives.

Those running comedy panel shows would also be encouraged to book guests with a wider range of opinions on issues in the UK.

“Trusted information is an essential public good, but many journalists around the world – including those from the BBC – are facing intimidation, harassment and hostility," he said in his World Press Freedom Day statement.

“Some even face threats to their lives and liberty.”

Mr Davie, once a councillor for the Conservative Party in Hammersmith in 1993 and 1994 added: “This growing assault on truth represents a profound threat to the health of societies and democracies worldwide.

International travel will resume on May 17, Boris Johnson confirms as Europe ready for vaccinated travellers “We stand in solidarity with journalists and other media organisations who continue to fight for truth and media freedom.”

Mr Davie took over from Lord Tony Hall as BBC director-general in September last year.

Last month Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza sent a letter to the head of the BBC, among other foreign media outlets, asking for "greater rigour and objectivity" in their coverage of his country.

Some Venezuelan media outlets that oppose the government of sitting left-wing President Nicolas Maduro, whom Arreaza serves, described the move as an attempt to "impose" views on international media and to control their reporting on Venezuela.

Mr Arreaza had posted on Twitter his letter to Mr Davie stating: "I share the letter that weeks ago we sent to Tim Davie, Director General of @BBC, in which we request respect for the truth and impartiality in the treatment of Venezuela. His answer, hardly self-critical, denies any bias and says they [the BBC] are impartial in all issues".

Mr Arreaza's letter specifically criticised the BBC's coverage of the Venezuelan Maduro government's dispute over 31 tonnes of Venezuelan gold being held at the Bank of England.

It said the British broadcaster "leaves out the real character of such an arbitrary measure: to deprive the Venezuelan people of its sovereign resources in the middle of a global health crisis".

Mr Davie presided over the axing of the Mash Report, the BBC show which had previously been accused of left-wing bias by Andrew Neil.

The programme, a satirical take on the week’s news which featured Nish Kumar and Rachel Parris, first aired in 2017.

Mr Kumar has said that he won’t host a political comedy show for the BBC again, because the corporation didn’t “back” him when cancelling The Mash Report, which he hosted.

Mr Davie said that there would be no ban on anti-Conservative humour, but stressed the importance of "nurturing brilliant writers from all kinds of perspectives."

He told staff in September: "The BBC should not come from a platform from when there's an assumed point of view. It's not just about left and right, it's different people."