Can we trust the BBC? Audio from Cafe Oto event

Late last year, at the tail end of the Savile-McAlpine crisis, OurKingdom held a discussion on the BBC. Kicked off by panellists Peter Oborne, Jacky Davis, Omar El Khairy and Anthony Barnett, it was an intense public debate at a turning point for the Corporation. Here is the complete audio.

Niki Seth-Smith
22 January 2013

Late last year, as the Savile-McAlpine scandal was still unravelling and George Entwistle had only just left his position as Director General, OurKingdom hosted a discussion on the BBC. Taking place at Cafe Oto in London, Dalston, it was a public debate at a turning point. Leveson had just reported. The Murdoch press was gleefully smelling blood. The Corporation had declared that it must "regain the trust of the public". 

New year, new leaf. Diverse forces are intent on sweeping these questions back under the carpet, but as this debate shows, they are too urgent to remain unaddressed. Does the BBC really belong to us, the licence payers? Does it represent the British public? Is it fit for the digital age, for multi-cultural 21st century Britain? Do we need it at all? What do we want from the most important cultural and current affairs institution in the UK? 

We asked our panellists to kick off the discussion with five minutes each, then the debate is open to the floor. They are:

Peter Oborne (chief political commentator of The Telegraph), Dr Jacky Davis (Co-Chair of NHS Consultants Association, founder member of Keep Our NHS Public), Omar El-Khairy (writer for stage and screen), Anthony Barnett (founder of openDemocracy). 

The discussion is part of openDemocracy's 6 month project on the BBC, OurBeeb. We are seeking funds to continue what we feel is a much-needed project. 

I have marked several points that I thought particular interesting/provoking with comments beneath the audio clip. With thanks again to all the panellists and everyone who attended, whether they spoke or not.


Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

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