Lord Patten said it was sometimes going too far to demonstrate “balance” because the shadow of the process led by anti-EU Culture Secretary John Whittingdale was “hanging over it”.
“The BBC has an extremely difficult job. It is having to cover this referendum with the shadow of a charter review and Mr Whittingdale hanging over it,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“I think that may make people excessively deferential when trying to produce balance.
“You have the governor of the Bank of England on, or the IMF chief, so you feel obliged to put up some Conservative backbencher that nobody has ever heard of on the other side of the argument.
“It does occasionally raise eyebrows. But I think I would prefer the BBC to be being criticised for being excessively balanced rather than for doing anything else.
“It is a very great broadcaster which is dedicated to telling the truth and that is an unusual thing in the world of the media.”
The BBC Trust has published guidelines, which can be read in full here, setting out how the BBC should go about ensuring “due impartiality” in its reporting ensuring that both sides of the referendum campaign are given fair coverage.
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