GLASGOW, May 16 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – British state broadcaster BBC has said it will neither suspend nor resign its membership in the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), despite calls from its own journalists that continued affiliation is undermining their impartiality.
Last month, the CBI confirmed it would register as an “active participant” in the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence to be held September 18, and would back the campaign for a “no” vote.
But following the announcement, the CBI faced a series of mass resignations of businesses across Scotland, including broadcaster Scottish Television, which expressed anger at the CBI’s partisan decision.
The CBI then decided to withdraw its application as an official participant from the elections regulator.
Despite the move, BBC journalists on Friday repeated their call on management to cancel BBC membership in the CBI over concerns that continued affiliation with the business group will lead to a public perception of bias at the publicly-funded broadcaster.
“We do not see how the BBC’s membership of the CBI can be compatible with our duty of journalistic impartiality,” a spokesman for the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) at BBC Scotland told RIA Novosti.
“The BBC, through licence-payers’ money, is helping to fund [the CBI] which is taking a strong position for the union, and against independence,” the spokesman added. “That makes doing our job very difficult.”
“The CBI did not reverse its position on the independence debate. It withdrew the application to be registered as an active campaigner for administrative reasons,” the spokesman told RIA Novosti.
The NUJ spokesman, who works at BBC Scotland, highlighted the decision of the country’s other main television broadcaster, Scottish Television (STV), which immediately withdrew from the CBI when it learned the organization would publicly campaign against Scottish independence.
“Our colleagues at STV took the decision to withdraw completely from the CBI. That is what we think the BBC should do,” the NUJ spokesman told RIA Novosti.
Professor John Robertson of the West of Scotland University, who earlier this year published an academic research paper detailing BBC bias, told RIA Novosti that managers at the British broadcaster were out of touch with their own journalists and wider public opinion.
“I think the BBC are pretty mixed-up with the senior staff committed to the UK Labour Party and its unionist, anti-independence agenda, but many of the junior staff are actually in favour of independence and afraid to speak out,” Robertson told RIA Novosti.