13:13 GMT +322 October 2019
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    BBC 'Neutrality' Questioned Over Ongoing Membership of Political Trade Body

    © AFP 2019 / NICOLAS ASFOURI
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    BBC has continued its membership of controversial trade body, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), two years after BBC journalists warned the participation was incompatible with their "journalistic impartiality."

    EDINBURGH (Sputnik) — The move has lead to accusations by Scottish business leaders that BBC’s credibility has been undermined.

    "It does undermine the credibility of the BBC to maintain membership of organisations such as the CBI, which are clearly politically motivated and have a view on constitutional issues that the BBC should and must remain neutral on," Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, the chief executive of Business for Scotland business and economic policy think tank, told Sputnik Friday.

    MacIntyre-Kemp, whose business organization represents 4,000 members across Scotland, added that state-funded bodies like the BBC should have no role in organizations, like the CBI, that have a clear political agenda and track-record of campaigning on constitutional issues.

    "I don’t think a publicly funded organisation like the BBC that is required to be neutral should hold a membership of a business group that is not neutral. I would not even dream of asking the BBC to join, or sponsor Business for Scotland," MacIntyre-Kemp said. "It seems completely wrong that the BBC should be part of an organisation, the CBI, which although they did not register as part of the recent EU campaign, they were very clearly on one side."

    In 2014, during the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum, the BBC faced protests, including some from its own journalists, opposing ongoing BBC membership of the CBI, claiming it was undermining the credibility of the broadcaster.

    At the time, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), which represented BBC staff, said it did not see how the BBC's membership of the CBI could be compatible with "the duty of journalistic impartiality."

    Two years on, the NUJ declined to respond to repeated questions from Sputnik over whether the BBC’s journalistic impartiality had been damaged by the broadcaster’s ongoing membership of the CBI.

    Meanwhile, Kim Hayman, a spokeswoman for the BBC told Sputnik Friday, "We recognise that the CBI plays a significant role in supporting the creative industries. Sky, ITV, and Channel 4 are members in this capacity, as is BBC Worldwide our commercial arm."

    Hayman added that BBC membership of the CBI had been temporally suspended during the recent EU referendum in the United Kingdom, but full membership had now been resumed.

    Scottish Television News, one of BBC Scotland’s broadcasting rivals, terminated their membership of the CBI when the trade body announced it was backing the 'No' campaign during the Scottish independence referendum.

    Although the CBI did not formally register during the EU referendum it did warn of a "serious shock" to the UK economy if voters backed an exit of the EU trading bloc.

    On June 23, voters across the UK backed Brexit by a margin of 52 percent. Shortly afterwards the BBC recommenced full membership of the CBI.

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