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British broadcasters should launch Fox News equivalent

The director general of the BBC, Mark Thompson, believes British TV stations should launch a Fox News look-alike to give viewers a better range of choices.

Speaking at a seminar held in Whitehall on the impartiality of the present broadcasting system, Mr Thompson suggested as the distinction between web news and TV news collapses, the present public service broadcasters should lose their monopoly over presentation of news stories.

He believes prior to the internet revolution there were logical reasons for impartial broadcasters to monopolise the country’s TV screens, but now that all brands of reportage and opinion are available online it makes no sense for impartiality in TV news presentation to be the only option for viewers.

Mr Thompson added the public should be able to hear and see as well as read a broad range of opinions from which they can make up their own minds. The BBC and Channel 4, he continued, have a proven history of polemic programmes clearly labelled as such in viewers’ minds. Why not, he added, entire channels polemically focused with even stronger opinions?

The unexpected remarks caught several well-known BBC journalists by surprise, with Nick Robinson, the broadcaster’s political editor who was chairing the debate, admitting he’d been ‘slightly surprised’ by his boss’s  plea for regulatory liberalisation, especially when Thompson said he would be happy to see ‘extreme’ views aired on screen and radio by the BBC.

Taking his remarks even further, Thompson accused the ‘Beeb’of being historically ‘nervous and weak’ over the airing of debates on Europe and immigration, but added he believed the broadcaster had influenced the main parties in discussing immigration before the 2010 election. He promised more space for ‘radical and extreme perspectives’ in future which, he stated, ‘might one day become commonly held views’.

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