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  1. Politics
17 November 2009

BBC in awe of Sun

More on Murdoch's needlessly given influence

By James Macintyre

Regular readers — such as they are — will know that for my sins I have an obsession with Rupert Murdoch: namely, the pathetic way in which Labour and the Tories grant him unnecessary influence by pandering to his right-wing ideological agenda, forgetting that he simply backs winners.

Today, the excellent Simon Fletcher rightly points out that the BBC, too, gives huge and needless boosts to the Sun by following its news agenda, as it did so excitedly last week over the Jacqui Janes letter.

Blogging on an appearance on the BBC news channel by Trevor Kavangah, the Sun‘s assistant editor, to mark the tabloid’s 40th birthday, Fletcher writes:

The Sun does indeed frequently set the agenda for broadcasters. But only because broadcast journalism lets it.

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He adds:

However much one may regularly disagree with it, the Sun is an example of an effective right-wing populist paper. If it has a really good story then it is inevitable that it will reverberate in the broadcast media. But that does not excuse the BBC’s over-reliance on the agenda it sets. The days of BBC coverage of Gordon Brown’s letter to Jacqui Janes, and the vast amount of airspace given over to the paper’s switching party political preference, are two examples of stories that have given the Sun plenty of coverage but without bringing much credit to the BBC.

Last week the BBC got it badly wrong, declaring it — as razor-sharp Andrew Grice points out on his blog — Brown’s worst week. When it comes to news sense, surely it is time for a rethink at White City.

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