Entertainment

BBC chairman Richard Sharp says broadcaster ‘fighting against its liberal bias'

The former banker highlighted areas where he believes the BBC should improve.

BBC chairman Richard Sharp has said the broadcaster “does have a liberal bias” but that “the institution is fighting against it”.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, the former Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan banker said the BBC has been too London-centric “which can create groupthink”.

He said Brexit had come as “big surprise to the BBC”, adding: “The BBC didn’t understand the ‘mind’ of the country.”

BBC Director General
BBC director-general Tim Davie (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Sharp, who donates his £160,000 salary to charity, suggested ongoing efforts to transfer departments to the north of England, Scotland and Wales would help ensure the same mistakes are not made again.

Mr Sharp referenced former Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis’s monologue about Dominic Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle during lockdown, which the BBC ruled had breached impartiality rules.

He said Maitlis was “wrong” and stressed the BBC is not a “campaigning institution” adding: “Our approach is to present the facts and not to lead with a broadcaster’s opinion.”

Mr Sharp also highlighted areas where he believes the BBC needs to improve.

Referring to its business coverage, he said: “I’ve got Bloomberg TV on in here for a reason. It’s excellent. We have to raise our game.”

He praised the BBC’s correspondents and editors as “first-rate” but said that the topics of business and finance “are not as well understood as they should be” across the corporation.

“We need to do a better job of explaining them, especially when inflation is forcing the Government and the Opposition to make very difficult choices,” he added.

Mr Sharp took over from Sir David Clementi in February 2021 as the BBC faced increasing scrutiny over issues including equal pay, diversity, free TV licences for the over-75s and competition from streaming services such as Netflix.

He and director-general Tim Davie introduced a 10-point plan encompassing impartiality, anti-bias training and reviews of news output.