Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre used a rare public speech last night to launch an excoriating attack on the BBC and on newspapers such as The Guardian, The Times and the Independent which he contemptuously termed the “subsidariat”.
Delivering the annual Hugh Cudlipp lecture at the London College of Communications he said that the “The Guardian, the Independent and The Times are allâ€¦effectively being subsidised.”
He said: “When the Times’ Miss Sieghart – the very embodiment of modern free-thinking woman – holds forth on feminism, she does so courtesy of the topless girls in the still vastly profitable Sun.
“When the Guardian’s Mr Kettle vents his spleen on the excesses of the free market he does so courtesy of the fat profits made by that fine example of the free market – the Guardian-owned Autotrader.
“The Guardian’s Scott Trust is a magnificent construct which allows for some gloriously elevated journalism, but let’s not beat about the bush – subsidised papers are by definition unable to survive in a free market. Their journalism and values – invariably liberal, metropolitan and politically correct, and I include the pinkish Times here, don’t connect with sufficient readers to be commercially viable.
“Ahh, say the bien-pensants, such papers are hugely concerned with the common good. There is a rather unedifiying contradiction here, for the subsidariat, as I shall dub them, are actually rather disdainful of the common man, contemptuous even of the papers that make profits by appealing to and connecting with millions of ordinary men and women.
“How often do you read in the subsidariat, or hear on Newsnight, contemptuous refrences to the tabloid press as if it was some disembodied monster rather than the very embodiment of the views of the great majority of the British people.
“Fair enough I say, the tabloid pressâ€¦is big enough to look after itself, except I don’t think it is fair because such arguments ignore the ever burgeoning growth of the most powerful media organisation in the world – I refer of course to the hugely subsidised BBC.
“It is my contention in this lecture that the subsidariat, dominated by the BBC monolith, is distorting Britain’s media market, crushing journalistic pluralism and imposing a monoculture that is inimicable to healthy democratic debate.
“The BBC – a behemoth that bestrides Britain, is as Cudlipp might have put it, too bloody big, too bloody pervaisive and too bloody powerful.”
He said: “BBC journalism is reflected through a left wing prism that affects everything – the choice of stories, the way they are angled, the choice of the interviews, the interviewees and, most pertinently, the way those interviewees are treated.”
For Dacre’s full lecture, pictures and reaction – see this week’s Press Gazette magazine.