Culture minister Ed Vaizey has said The Guardian was the only national news organisation to have lobbied the government to “clip the wings” of the BBC, not Rupert Murdoch’s News UK titles.
Ed Vaizey MP, minister for culture and the digital economy, made the revelation in a House of Commons debate on defending public services.
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Noting some MPs had suggested that the Government was “somehow shaping our approach to the BBC at the behest of Rupert Murdoch”, he went on to say: “I tell you this, Mr Speaker, with utter sincerity and truthfulness that the only organisation that has ever lobbied me to clip the wings of the BBC is The Guardian.”
Vaizey said the left-leaning newspaper, which has sought to expand its reach in Australia and the US, had complained about the presence of the BBC in both countries saying it was “taking talent” from The Guardian and “paying too much” to staff.
“We have to be aware not just of the fantastic virtues of the BBC, but that it is seen by other media groups, such as The Guardian, as a competitor,” said Vaizey.
He also made reference to the BBC White Paper published earlier this month by John Whittingdale MP, minster for culture, media and sport that laid out plans for reform to the corporation.
“We have carried out much-needed reform of the BBC,” he said. “We have put its regulation on a proper footing—it will be regulated by Ofcom, with a unitary board. We have emphasised, in deference to The Guardian, the importance of the BBC being distinctive.
“We have strengthened its independence by ensuring that it can appoint half the members of the unitary board, and we have put in place a mid-term review so that the BBC can keep pace with technological change. That is only right and proper.”