BBC Trust could lose bias ruling power

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The BBC Trust could be stripped of the power to rule on claims of political bias against the corporation in favour of an independent regulator, the new UK Culture Secretary has said.

John Whittingdale said he wanted to look at the trust’s role in policing the media giant over the hotly-contested issue, as all other broadcasters are subject to external oversight.

It follows a general election campaign in which the BBC was the focus of complaints over its coverage from all sides of the political spectrum.

On Thursday BBC director general Lord Hall warned the UK government not to “screw around with” the BBC ahead of the renewal of the corporation’s charter and possible changes to the licence fee.

Maldon MP Mr Whittingdale, a former UK chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee who was promoted to the Cabinet after the Tory win in May, told the Telegraph that parties were always looking for signs of bias from broadcasters.

“I think sometimes my party had cause for complaint. I suspect that it may well be the case that sometimes the Labour Party had cause for complaint,” he said.

“There needs to be a very robust system in place for dealing with it. Whether or not the present governance is the right way of dealing with it – the fact that questions of impartiality are judged by the BBC Trust – that is an area which I want to think about because all the other broadcasters have an external regulator looking at the impartiality question.

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