Outgoing BBC Director Lord Tony Hall, BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi and BBC Policy Director Clare Sumner CBE appeared before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Thursday to respond to intense questioning over the future of the broadcasting corporation. Tory MP Julian Knight, chairman of the Committee, challenged Lord Hall on whether he accept the often-heard criticism that the BBC is “too woke”. Mr Knight asked: “You’re just too woke. Are you just too woke as an organisation?
“In the sense that you’re not reflecting widely enough the cultural diversity that goes on in this country?”
Lord Hall appeared confused by the question and in an attempt to address the accusation, he replied: “I believe we need our ambition – we could never reflect totally every single strand of opinion in the country – but we should be aiming to do exactly that.
“My belief is that the makeup of the BBC should reflect the different strands of opinion, demographics, makeups of the population of the UK.”
Asked whether he “rejects” the notion the BBC is too woke, he added: “I believe that the we should be diverse in all that it means.
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“That means social diversity as well as diversity of where you come from, as well as diversity being etcetera.
“And I don’t know whether that’s woke or not, to be honest with you.
“But that’s what I think it should be. That’s how you get better programmes, by reflecting the diversity of the UK.
“And I think that’s exciting.”
The Committee enquiry comes as last week Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, criticised the public broadcaster for providing a “narrow urban outlook” and failing to reflect the views of millions of British voters.
Speaking at a media conference in London, he said: “As a Conservative, I understand that for institutions to retain support and relevance, they have to change.
“In the coming years, we will be taking a proper look at our public service broadcasting system and the BBC’s central role within it.”
He will ask: “Does the BBC truly reflect all of our nation and is it close to the British people?
“If we’re honest, some of our biggest institutions missed or were slow to pick up, key political and social trends in recent years.
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“The BBC needs to be closer to, and understand the perspectives of, the whole of the United Kingdom and avoid providing a narrow urban outlook.
“By this, I don’t just mean getting authentic and diverse voices on and off-screen, although this is important… but also making sure there is genuine diversity of thought and experience.
“And this matters because if you don’t have that, you miss what’s important to people and you seem distant and disengaged.”
Downing Street is said to be furious at what it perceives to be the broadcaster’s left-wing political bias.
A Government source claimed that the BBC “speaks to a pro-Remain metropolitan bubble in Islington, not the real world represented by Wakefield and Workington.”