Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has defended GB News, saying the broadcaster has “balance across the spectrum”.
The Culture Secretary was asked whether GB News could be described as impartial as “so many of its shows are presented by former or current and often leading members of the governing party”.
Responding, she said: “As you will know, a broadcaster has to be impartial over the spectrum of what it broadcasts, so I’ve listened to your news this morning and you’ve expressed this mid-term review in different ways across the programme this morning, sometimes putting the Government’s perspective, sometimes putting the BBC’s perspective.”
She added: “There is a balance across the spectrum in relation to GB News, which isn’t regulated by the Government.”
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has defended GB News, saying the broadcaster has “balance across the spectrum”
Frazer was interviewed on the BBC this morning about the latest announcement that Ofcom is to gain more powers over BBC online services, including the BBC News website, as part of a series of changes unveiled by the government.
Speaking this morning, she said she believes the BBC has “on occasion” been biased.
Frazer refused to say which other broadcasters she believed might be impartial, saying they were in “totally different positions” from the publicly funded corporation.
She told Sky News that “evidence” suggested there is a “perception amongst audiences” that there is some degree of bias at the BBC.
She added: “There are only perceptions and perceptions are important.
“What’s important about the BBC is that it’s funded by the public, so the perception of audiences of the public are important.”
Asked whether she thinks the BBC is biased, the Culture Secretary said: “I think that on occasions it has been biased”.
She also said she is “satisfied” that Ofcom has the capacity to oversee BBC online output.
Frazer said: “Of course they provide a really important service and it’s important that we give them the necessary resources, and yes, I’m satisfied that they have that capability.”
Ofcom will now have powers to oversee articles on the BBC’s website, as well as its social media.
In a statement, Frazer said the BBC “needs to adapt” to the reforms or risk “losing the trust of the audience it relies on”.
“The government wants to see a strong, independent BBC that can thrive in the years to come as a major contributor to the nation’s successful creative industries.
“Following constructive conservations with the BBC and Ofcom, we have recommended reforms that I believe will improve accountability while boosting public confidence in the BBC’s ability to be impartial and respond to concerns raised by licence fee payers.”
But the Liberal Democrats have accused Frazer of launching an “attack on the BBC” as an attempt to distract “from a government in distress”.
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Culture, Media and Sport Jamie Stone MP said: “The Culture Secretary clearly spends more time focussing on culture wars rather than supporting the BBC to provide the fantastic services it delivers.
“This attack on the BBC is yet another desperate distraction from a government in distress.
Ofcom will now have powers to oversee articles on the BBC’s website, as well as its social media
“The BBC is the number one source of trusted news in the world and that comes down to proper independence and resilience to the political pressure we see from this Conservative government.”
A spokesperson for the BBC said “no other organisation takes its commitment to impartiality more seriously”.
They added: “During discussions over the mid-term review, we proposed and implemented a number of reforms, including strengthening our complaints procedures, which now form part of the conclusions. We are pleased the government has fully taken our proposals onboard. We remain committed to continuous improvement to ensure we deliver for all licence fee payers.”