Ben Wallace is grilled on Nadine Dorries' cabinet appointment
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Invited as the guest of a Telegraph podcast on the fringe of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Nadine Dorries has shared her strong opinions on the current state of the BBC, its licence fee and the future of the organisation. The new Culture Secretary said she’s here to make sure “real change” happens on different levels.
An avid Strictly viewer, she said the BBC has to compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime in her own home.
“If not for any other reason, the BBC needs to change because the environment it’s operating in has changed,” she said.
Questioned on whether she would pay the £159 per annum licence fee if it was made voluntary, Mrs Dorries said she would if she “could just download Strictly”.
When asked whether the licence fee would still be compulsory in 10 or 20 years, she replied: “I can’t look into the future. Will the BBC still be here in 10 years? I don’t know.”
The Liverpool-born author also wants to change things up behind the scenes.
She said the BBC was not representative of the UK as a whole in terms of political views and social backgrounds.
“I keep using the word ‘groupthink’ and it is just the way I suppose where people have come up through the BBC, they all come from a similar background, they all think and talk the same and that’s what’s got to be changed,” she said.
“The BBC has to change. Where they fail is on impartiality and access.
“How can it be more representative of the people who pay the licence fee and how can it be more accessible to people from all backgrounds, not just people whose mum and dad work there?”
Raised within a working-class family, Nadine Dorries said her own experience shows the BBC is not going beyond “the days of tokenism”, while the culture sector as a whole expressed “total, pure left-wing snobbery” following her appointment.
“If you want to do that today [making it in the cultural world as a working-class individual], you need a double-barrelled name and you need to have gone to a private or a public school, or your mum needs to know someone or your dad needs to know someone, or you need to have a connection with the BBC.
“And what really infuriated me was all those people who were criticising me were those people who’d found themselves where they were through a privileged background and through nepotism and a whole host of other reasons.”
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The BBC is currently in negotiations with Ms Dorries on the cost of its licence fee for the next five years.
“The perspective of the BBC is that they will get a settlement fee and then we will talk about how they are going to change. My perspective is ‘tell me how you are going to change and then you get the settlement fee,'” said the Culture Secretary regarding the negotiations.
The BBC declined to comment but highlighted the fact it was the first broadcaster to measure socio-economic diversity and the only media organisation to be listed in the Social Mobility Foundation’s index of top 75 UK employers, which it has appeared in for the past four years.
The corporation also pointed to its social mobility network, its redacted CV schemes and £112 million towards “diverse and inclusive” content over the next three years.
In 2019, the BBC also launched its first social mobility network and has recently committed to trebling its number of apprentices by 2025.
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