BBC Public Statement

Letter No.: 
VWL1527
14th March, 1941

BBC Public Statement

The Times, 14th March, 1941

B.B.C. AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

ANTI-WAR AGITATORS ONLY BANNED

The B.B.C. issued last night the following statement on its attitude towards those who speak or perform in its programmes in war-time:-
The sole criterion is that no one is invited to the microphone who has taken part in public agitation against the national war effort.  Beyond this one limit the Corporation is jealous to preserve British broadcasting as an instrument of freedom and democracy.  The B.B.C. does not withhold invitations or engagements from persons because of their political views or because their views on the conduct of affairs do not coincide with those of the Government or of any particular political party.  Controversy will be allowed, as it always has been, and critics will no doubt continue to protest every time a view they do not themselves happen to hold is heard at the microphone.
Broadcasting is a vital part of the war effort, and is used at home and overseas to urge the successful prosecution of the war.  The B.B.C. believes it to be wrong that anyone living under the protection of the armed forces and benefiting from the sacrifices of the merchant navy should be free to express publicly opposition to the war effort and yet be allowed to share in the publicity and profits of broadcasting.
There has been over the People’s Convention, as the Minister of Information stated in the House of Commons, some confusion.  The B.B.C. is reviewing the matter and taking steps to ensure that there shall be no withholding of engagements unless it is quite clear that the persons concerned come within the category stated.

MISUSE OF B.B.C. TALKS

Mr Hely-Hutchinson is to ask the Minister of Information in the House of Commons:-
Whether he is aware of the injury to our united war effort arising out of the propagation on the British Broadcasting Corporation, in war-time, of highly controversial political doctrines which many men and women are unwilling to receive; whether he is aware of the growing misuse for this purpose of the religious talks, preceding the 8 a.m. news, by anonymous speakers claiming the support of high authority in the Churches for their views; and whether he will take power to control this abuse of public confidence.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
File 910, VW composer
General notes: 

See VWL1526 for VW's letter to the BBC re banning Alan Bush's music due to his political views.

Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 357
Original database number: 
410314