BBC during the pandemic
Who controlled the BBC’s output during the coronavirus ‘pandemic’ in 2020? Bearing in mind that the BBC’s origins are rooted in the British government’s wartime propaganda, and bearing in mind that during times of national emergency the British government and Military Intelligence can take control (or partial control) of media outlets, did the BBC retain their supposed ‘impartiality’? The same question can be asked of the other public service broadcasters (ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5) and national newspapers.
The BBC’s charity BBC MEDIA ACTION received much money over the years from the billionaire BILL GATES, who was a central player in the ‘pandemic’, and who received favourable coverage from the BBC during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, the BBC’s Board included:
Chairman – Sir DAVID CLEMENTI – Deputy Governor of the BANK OF ENGLAND (1997-2002); Chairman of Sir Richard Branson’s VIRGIN MONEY (2011-2015); Chairman of PRUDENTIAL plc (a British multinational life insurance and financial services company).
Director-General – TONY HALL (Baron Hall of Birkenhead, CBE), who at the time of the pandemic was also President of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), an alliance of European public service media organisations (including the BBC).
IAN HARGREAVES (CBE) – a founding non-executive board member of the UK Government’s communications regulator, OFCOM. He was chairman of the British centre left ‘think tank’ DEMOS, and was a member of the UK Chancellor’s Social Investment Task Force. Hargreaves spent most of his career in the news industry where his roles included Deputy Editor of the FINANCIAL TIMES; Editor of THE INDEPENDENT; Editor of the NEW STATESMAN; Director of BBC News and Current Affairs.
TOM ILUBE (CBE) – a technology entrepreneur and educational philanthropist. He was CEO of the cyber security firm CROSSWORD CYBERSECURITY plc, whose chairman in 2020 was a former MI6 chief. Crossword worked with the Universities of Bristol, Warwick, Coventry, Surrey and City University London. Crossword brought two commercial products to market, Rizikon and Nixer.
Board members of Crossword in 2020 included:
Sir RICHARD DEARLOVE (KCMG, OBE), Crossword’s Non-Executive Chairman. Sir Richard had experience across government, education and global business. Sir Richard joined MI6 in 1966 undertaking various overseas and head office roles before being promoted to Chief of MI6 (the Secret Intelligence Service) in 1999. He retired from the Service in 2004. Sir Richard was Chair of Trustees of the University of London. He was Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge and also served as a Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and Chairman of Trustees of the Cambridge Union Society.
General Sir NICHOLAS HOUGHTON (Baron Houghton of Richmond) (GCB, CBE) – Chief of the Defence Staff of the British armed Forces (2013 – 2016), the professional head of the British Armed Forces.
Dr ROBERT COLES, Crossword’s Advisory Board Chairman. Coles was the former Chief Information Security Officer of the British pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Coles was the British NHS’s first chief information security officer, Robert Coles, but resigned less than four months after starting the role. Coles had been tasked with developing the NHS’s system-wide cyber strategy following the ‘WannaCry’ attack in 2017, which had forced doctors to cancel appointments and operations.
Professor NICK JENNINGS (CB) – served as the UK Government’s inaugural Chief Scientific Adviser for National Security (2010 to 2015), providing independent scientific advice on issues of national security. He was the Vice-Provost for Research at Imperial College, London where he also held a chair in Artificial Intelligence.
Ilube’s 30-year career in the UK technology sector included roles at PricewaterhouseCoopers; Goldman Sachs and the London Stock Exchange.
Ilube chaired the UK Government Technology Strategy Board’s Network Security Innovation panel. He was a member of the High-Level Expert Group on Cyber security at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a Geneva based UN-agency. Tom was an Advisory Fellow at St Anne’s College, Oxford.
The aforementioned British media regulatory body OFCOM needs to be looked at in the light of the coronavirus pandemic, especially as OFCOM fully supported the introduction of 5G technology, and publicly opposed publicity on 5G’s alleged side effects. Consequently, Ofcom imposed a sanction on a minor local radio outlet – Uckfield Community Radio Limited – after a discussion about the causes and origins of the Covid-19 virus on its community radio station – Uckfield FM – was found to have breached broadcasting rules. Uckfield FM, said OFCOM, broadcast a discussion which contained potentially harmful claims about the coronavirus virus, including “unfounded claims” (said Ofcom) that the virus outbreak in Wuhan, China was linked to the roll out of 5G technology. Ofcom’s investigation concluded that the broadcaster failed to adequately protect listeners and had breached Rule 2.1 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.
OFCOM has always recruited staff from mainstream media organisations such as the BBC. OFCOM’s chairman during the pandemic was a former Channel 4 chairman, TERENCE BURNS (Baron Burns, GCB), who was a British economist and former Chief Economic Advisor and Permanent Secretary to HM Treasury. He was Senior adviser to SANTANDER UK (bank). He was President of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. He was Chairman of Abbey National plc (bank); chair of MARKS & SPENCER (British High Street retailer).
Ofcom’s board during the pandemic included:
TIM SUTER – ex BBC employee and Ofcom co-founder, responsible for all aspects of Ofcom’s content regulation. Suter started his media career in the BBC, where he was variously a producer of drama and documentary, and a reporter and senior editor of news and current affairs programmes.
KEVIN BAKHURST – ex BBC and RTE employee. He was the deputy director-general at the Irish national broadcaster RTÉ. He was the controller of the news channel BBC News. He was controller of the BBC “News at One” bulletin, and deputy head of the BBC Newsroom.
BEN VERWAAYEN (KBE) – ex CEO of BT (British Telecom, a large British telecommunications provider once controlled by the UK government).
Returning to the BBC and Bill Gates, the Gates Foundation donated $20 million in 2011 to the BBC’s charity BBC MEDIA ACTION (formerly known as the BBC World Service Trust), the BBC’s international development charity, funded independently by external grants and voluntary contributions. The purpose of the organisation, so they said, was to use media and communication to reduce poverty, improve health and support people in understanding their rights. It worked in partnership with the BBC World Service and other local media and development partners in over 35 developing and transitional countries around the world. The Gates Foundation regularly contributed to Media Action.
Media Action worked with the WHO on leprosy elimination campaigns. The WHO received much money from Bill Gates.
Other donors to Media Action included UNICEF; UN Population Fund; UN Development Programme; EUROPEAN COMMISSION; UK FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE; UK DEPT FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT; BRITISH COUNCIL.
Media Action’s management in 2020 included JAMES DEANE (Director of Policy and Learning) who had previously worked at an offshoot of the influential ‘green’ think tank, the IIED (International Institute for Environment and Development), of which the IIED worked extensively with the UN. That IIED offshoot was EARTHSCAN. Deane left Earthscan and helped start up the PANOS INSTITUTE.