In the age of the internet, impartiality is dead and broadcasters should be permitted to launch a British equivalent to Fox News, according to the BBC’s director general, Mark Thompson.
Championing the cause of opinionated journalism, and rejecting the idea that the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 should have a monopoly on news services in the UK, Thompson admits he finds the argument for polemic journalism “persuasive”.
In an event discussing impartiality in the media, Thompson also suggested that the BBC may begin to air “extreme” opinions, which would sit uncomfortably with impartiality rules that govern the broadcaster.
Thompson distanced himself from the “dire consequences” of biased news channels seen in America, where the polemic Fox News pulls in some of the highest ratings, claiming that “having a broader range of channels would actually strengthen that enduring tradition of impartial journalism across BBC, ITN and Channel 4. They would continue to be trusted”.
Kelvin Mackenzie, the former editor of the Sun who was also on the panel, revealed during the debate that he had discussed the concept of a talk radio station free of the constraints of Ofcom with the prime minister, who reportedly labelled the idea “interesting”.