Naga Munchetty, Donald Trump and the BBC Racism Row

In July, controversial U.S. President and prolific Twitter user Donald Trump posted a Tweet in which he referred to Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. While the congresswoman are all U.S. citizens, they are of various ethnic origins. In words which were widely condemned as racist, the U.S. President wrote, they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”

Naga Munchetty on BBC Breakfast

Speaking with BBC Breakfast co-host Dan Walker, Munchetty said, “Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that has been embedded racism… Now, I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean.” When pressed further by co-host Dan Walker, about how President Trump’s comments made her feel, Munchetty elaborated that she was furious, “I can imagine lots of people in this country will be feeling absolutely furious a man in that position thinks it’s OK to skirt the lines by using language like that.”

The Fallout from the Racism Row

Despite the host clarifying that “I’m not here to give my opinion,” a member of the public complained that Munchetty’s statement was in contravention of BBC broadcasting guidelines. The BBC declared that while no disciplinary action would be taken, the Breakfast Show’s co-host’s statements were “beyond what the guidelines allow.” Following the BBC’s statement, its own staff acted against orders prohibiting them from speaking in Munchetty’s defence. Embrace, the BBC black and minority ethnic staff network comprising 500 members, wrote to bosses to protest the decision.

The racism row has drawn sharp criticism to the BBC’s handling of the situation. Further complaints include the way the BBC targeted Naga Munchetty for reproach, while co-host Dan Walker received no censure for making similar comments.

BBC One TV miniseries: The Diary of Anne Frank

BBC One, in association with France 2, produced the adaptation of The Diary of a Young Girl written originally by Anne Frank and adapted by Deborah Moggach. The miniseries comprised five 30-minute episodes which were broadcast consecutively from the 5th to the 9th of January 2009. The critically acclaimed BBC One miniseries brings to life one of the most heart-rending accounts of the life of Jews during World War Two. Under the direction of producer Elinor Day, the miniseries was produced by Darlow Smithson Productions.

Set in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, Anne and her family went into hiding as Jews were rounded up and ushered into concentration camps. During the two years the Franks spent in hiding, they were joined by another Jewish family, the van Pels. With strict curtailments of their freedoms, an existential need for secrecy and under the constant fear of capture, the two families lived under great stresses in very close quarters. Hiding in a secret annex in a building where Anne’s father Otto worked, the two families were cared for by employees Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl.

Anne Frank’s diary was published in 1952 as The Diary of A Young Girl. Following their discovery and capture, Otto Frank was the only member of the family to survive the Nazi concentration camps. Upon gaining his freedom, Otto was given Anne’s diary by Miep Gies, who had discovered it and kept it safe. It was published originally in Amsterdam in 1947.

Receiving unanimous critical appraisal, the BBC One miniseries displayed Anne’s innermost thoughts and reflections in a realistic and gritty manner. The feistiness of a very normal teenage girl was expressed through a prodigious talent for self-reflection and emotional accountability and was successfully conveyed on screen.

BBC to Scrap TV Licence Concessions for Over-75s

In a move that has sparked outrage and public controversy, the BBC has planned to scrap the historical TV licence concession for over-75s. According to the plans, millions of over-75s will be obliged to pay the £154.50 licence fee from June 2020. The BBC has claimed that this move is necessary, otherwise the country’s largest television corporation will be forced to shut down channels in order to save on costs. The £154.50 fee covers the right to watch live television and access the BBC iPlayer service. The licence fee was scrapped by then Labour chancellor, Gordon Brown, in 1999, with the £154.50 cost of the licences fulfilled by the government. In 2015, under the direction of George Osbourne, it was announced that the government subsidisation of the licence fees was to be scrapped by 2020, leaving the BBC to choose whether or not to fund the concession.

The BBC has maintained that the total cost of continuing the subsidy equates to the running cost of various channels including BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, CBBC and CBeebies. On the plans to cut the subsidy, BBC Director General has stated, “This has not been an easy decision. Whilst we know that pensioner incomes have improved since 2000, we also know for some the TV licence is a lot of money.” As a pledge made in the Conservative manifesto during the 2017 election, Theresa May promised to maintain various benefits “including free bus passes, eye tests, prescriptions and TV licences, for the duration of this parliament.” Boris Johnson, speaking on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Biarritz, insisted that, “The BBC received a settlement that was conditional upon their paying for TV licences for over-75s. They should cough up.” Meanwhile, the debate rages on.