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The BBC’s Road to Appeasement 

As Theresa May’s former Communications Director Robbie Gibb is re-appointed to the BBC board, the new retail edition of Byline Times’ reveals the inside story of how the corporation was cowed by the Conservative party machine

Former BBC Chairman Richard Sharp and Boris Johnson. Photo: BBC/Kathy deWitt/Alamy

Read Adam Bienkov and Patrick Howse’s full and exclusive investigation into the BBC in the April edition of Byline Times. Available as a digital edition online now, or in stores and newsagents from 20 March.

The BBC operated within a “culture of fear” in which senior journalists became afraid of reporting negative stories about the Government due to external pressure from Downing Street and internal pressure from senior editors and executives, Byline Times can reveal.

The culture, which was overseen by editors perceived as having overly “cosy” relationships with Government, followed a two decade campaign to undermine and neuter Britain’s national broadcaster.

The full story is available to read in the new retail edition of Byline Times, available in shops from next Wednesday. It reveals how:

Insiders say BBC bosses became “terrified” of upsetting Downing Street during Boris Johnson’s tenure

Reporters were actively discouraged from reporting embarrassing stories about Government ministers 

The former Head of BBC Westminster, Katy Searle, was seen internally as being “too close” to Downing Street.

There was widespread disquiet about the “access culture” fostered at BBC Westminster, in which maintaining good relations with Downing Street was prioritised 

Internal pressure for “balance” in news coverage was heavily slanted in the Conservatives’ favour, with Labour judged to “not be in the game” under Jeremy Corbyn

The former Labour leader was “misled” into taking part in an election campaign interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil, when no similar agreement had been made with Downing Street

Former BBC Daily Politics Editor Robbie Gibb, who went on to work as Director of Communications for Theresa May, would “relentlessly drive the Brexit agenda“ internally at the corporation

The Covid crisis was seen by BBC bosses as a chance for the corporation to “prove its worth” to Downing Street

⬛ As a result, some reporters feared the corporation had allowed itself to become a “state broadcaster” during the pandemic

The full story includes testimony from current and former senior BBC journalists and editors.

It reveals how Government threats to scrap the license fee were successfully used by Johnson’s Government to encourage more favourable coverage from the broadcaster, with BBC bosses beginning to internalise Government criticisms of the corporation

You can read the full revelations in the new retail edition of Byline Times, available to read in shops from next Wednesday, or online by subscription.

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