Robin Aitken

Robin Aitken is a former BBC journalist and author of 'The Noble Liar: How and Why the BBC Distorts the News to Promote a Liberal Agenda'. He is also co-founder of the Oxford Foodbank.

More northern accents won’t save the BBC

It seems that the BBC has finally acknowledged the truth of George Bernard Shaw’s aphorism. Demonstrating his inherent anti-Englishness, the old Fabian snob declared:  ‘It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him.’  And the barb hurts because to an extent we must accept that

Inside the BBC’s culture of cover-ups

As fans of the BBC hit show Line of Duty know very well the ‘one rotten apple’ explanation for police corruption won’t wash. It’s never just the one — corruption flourishes only when it is facilitated by others. The corrupt officer needs others around them; people who will lie for them, cover-up for them, brazenly

Was this the BBC’s ‘Emily Thornberry’ moment?

Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty’s mocking of Robert Jenrick’s flag was unintentionally revealing of the BBC’s problems. It also made it clear that Tim Davie’s decision to shift hundreds of jobs outside London won’t solve the corporation’s quest for diversity. What instantly came to mind watching this interchange was another telling incident nearly seven years

Jeremy Paxman is right about BBC newsreaders

Once upon a time there was a very powerful news organisation that was watched, respected and loved by almost the whole of the people. And that big organisation put a very special importance on its main news bulletin of the day which it broadcast at nine o’clock in the evening. And all this happened in

Is the news making us unwell?

Since the start of the pandemic I’ve been observing friends and family and their reactions to the virus. Broadly speaking they fall into two groups; at one end of the spectrum there are the insouciant, apparently unconcerned about a viral threat they think has been exaggerated; at the other are the corona-obsessives who have avidly

The BBC licence fee hike adds insult to injury

In these chill winter days it’s good to know that at least one old lady is warmly wrapped up. The announcement that the BBC licence fee will rise in line with inflation is another modest, but comforting, layer of financial insulation wrapped around Auntie’s well-padded frame.  The new cost will be £159, up by about

The truth about rugby is hard to admit for fans like me

The Six Nations begins today, bringing joy into the hearts of millions of rugby fans. It will, as ever, be a predictably unpredictable tournament – there are always upsets – which will showcase great athletic skill, close teamwork and raw physical courage; and like the first snowdrops, it is one of those reliable harbingers of

The truth about the new BBC chairman? He won’t make much difference

The ‘pre-appointment hearings’ system overseen by parliament’s select committees doesn’t exactly set the heart racing; a pale imitation of the American system, where presidential nominees (to the Supreme Court for instance) are savaged by senators sitting as a kind of hanging jury, our version is generally bloodless. Certainly Richard Sharp, the government’s candidate for chairman

Richard Sharp will not lead a BBC revolution

If you wanted to start a revolution would you choose an Oxford educated multi-millionaire banker to lead it? Not the obvious choice is it? Which is why the news that the next chairman of the BBC Board is to be ex-Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp looks very like a retreat from any serious attempt to

The BBC’s Christmas schedule is a tawdry disappointment

Along with holly wreaths, unfeasibly large poultry and popular carols played on an endless loop, there is another ritual at this time of year; the BBC unveils its Christmas schedules — followed immediately by a chorus of sour complaint about the fare on offer. The Corporation published details of its programming at the start of

The BBC’s real diversity problem

Another day, another breast-beating confession from a BBC news-wallah about how the Corporation has sinned against diversity. This time it was ‘head of newsgathering’ Jonathan Munro lamenting the fact that most of the editors who labour under him are highly-educated, middle-class white men: ‘I don’t think anyone can think that is right or justifiable,’ he declaimed

The BBC’s allies are starting to panic

For the first time, there are signs that a Tory government is freeing itself of its Stockholm Syndrome attitude towards the BBC. There have been suggestions it will de-criminalise non-payment of the BBC license fee this autumn, and there are signals that Number 10 is finally seeing the Corporation as what it has become: an

Is the BBC finally coming to terms with its diversity problem?

‘Diversity’ — who today would dare to stand up and declare themselves against it? What, after all, is the alternative? Homogeneity? Uniformity? Indistinguishability? But there is clearly a problem with what that term has come to represent. It will come as no surprise then that June Sarpong, the BBC’s ‘director of creative diversity’, has been forced

Ten ways to save the BBC

It is encouraging to hear that the new Director-General of the BBC, Tim Davie, is demanding changes in the BBC’s comedy output to correct its bias to the left. As a starting point for reforming the whole Corporation, comedy might seem an oddly trivial place to begin. This, however, signals intent. Not that reforming comedy

The BBC’s real problem is nothing to do with the licence fee

Lord Hall, the outgoing director general of the BBC, used his valedictory interview on Radio 4’s Media Show this week to ruminate on the question of what funding mechanism should replace the licence fee. But to my mind, this was like listening to a man whose house is perched precariously on the lip of a crumbling cliff talking

My Unionist faith is wearing thin

How does a believer lose the faith? It might begin with some quibble about a point of doctrine: the Virgin Birth, for instance. The believer struggles intellectually but cannot accept the dogma. What starts as a quibble then turns into an obstacle; as the doubt grows, the whole belief system starts to unravel. One day

The BBC only has itself to blame for the licence fee mess

For an organisation that likes to be popular these are troubling times for the BBC. This month the Corporation started sending out letters explaining that it had ended the universal exemption from paying the licence fee for the over-75s. From now on, unless you are in receipt of pension credits (taken as evidence of poverty)

Wearing a mask is good manners

Early on in lockdown, I was picking up my daily paper and was confronted by someone who had contrived his own face mask with polythene bags and masking tape. He seemed blissfully unselfconscious, despite looking as if he was off to a Hannibal Lecter-themed fancy-dress party; I shared a superior snigger with the newsagent and

Capitalism won’t fix the NHS’s bureaucracy problem

James Delingpole is right, of course, to extol the virtues of capitalism (‘We don’t deserve capitalism’, 5 May) but wrong to imagine that if only we stuck to strict capitalist principles we could cure problems like the allegedly system-clogging bureaucracy in the NHS. The United States probably has the most ‘capitalistic’ health service in the