"there is a very limited number of outlets that I would broadly describe as "free". By free I don't mean that the product is given away. I mean that it is free from the direct influence of private proprietors...
The most famous is the BBC. It is not free of all influence, by any means. It is run by the state and...
A study of the four main British broadcasters - BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky- carried out by the Cardiff School of Journalism found that the BBC followed a more pro-government line than its commercial rivals. It revealed that the BBC was twice as likely to use government sources as ITV and Channel 4, and that the BBC also used more military sources than the other channels. The BBC was less likely to use either official Iraqi sources or independent sources such as aid agencies that were often highly critical of the war. The BBC also appeared to significantly downplay Iraqi casualties: Only 22% of BBC stories concerning the Iraqi population were with regard to Iraqi casualties, compared with figures of 44% and 30% for Channel Four and Sky. The BBC was more likely to unquestioningly relay false stories such as the non-existent scud missiles supposedly fired into Kuwait in the early stages of the war as well as the mythical Basra "uprising". The study also made reference to the Prime Minister's claim that captured British soldiers had been executed by the Iraqi authorities, a claim Downing Street retracted the next day. The BBC relayed that claim but, unlike other broadcasters, not the retraction.
For the most part, the members of the board are drawn from a narrow elite sector of society with intimate links to government and big business, unsurprisingly given that the appointments are at the government's discretion. The remaining members of the board are tokenistic figures drawn from the arts world and charitable organisations. Given the backgrounds and interests of the board members it is deeply unrealistic to believe that they will encourage the BBC to in any way seriously challenge powerful interests.
"If the BBC was to be encouraged to be friendly towards the Government's project, you needed to be sure of the loyalty of those who ran it… Qualified but unsympathetic candidates were not appointed, while ill qualified ones were… Hugo Young in his biography of Mrs Thatcher quotes a colleague: 'Margaret usually asked "Is he one of us? Before approving an appointment."