Daily Mail

New BBC chief goes to war on ‘fake news’ of social media

- By Paul Revoir Media Editor

‘Urgent questions to be answered’

THE new chairman of the BBC will declare war on ‘fake news’ in his first major speech today, calling for an overhaul of existing regulation­s to take on the social media giants.

Richard Sharp will say ‘urgent questions’ need to be addressed, as conspiracy theories and lies have been able to flourish in ‘closed media environmen­ts’.

He will also deliver a message about the BBC’s impartiali­ty, saying it is ‘something we must prove again every day’.

The chairman took over from Sir David Clementi in February after working in banking and later as an adviser to Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

He will use his speech to the Royal Television Society Cambridge Convention to join calls for tighter regulation of social media – saying the coronaviru­s pandemic has created the ‘perfect conditions’ for conspiracy theories to ‘boil over into the mainstream’.

These have ‘real-life consequenc­es’, he will say, such as 5G masts being pulled down over conspiraci­es that the technology is linked to Covid and the vaccine drive being affected by disinforma­tion.

Mr Sharp will call for the 2003 Communicat­ions Act to be replaced with new legislatio­n more suited to the modern, fastchangi­ng digital environmen­t.

He is expected to tell the event: ‘There are urgent questions to be answered about the future media world we want to live in. We need to rethink the regulatory environmen­t in this country – and replace a Communicat­ions Act that predates Facebook with one that can deliver on a clear vision.

‘Now is the time to put in place the rights, protection­s and education that will safeguard not just our media environmen­t, but the stability of our societies and democracie­s long into the future.’

Mr Sharp, 65, will also stress impartiali­ty is the ‘first priority’ of the BBC board and of director-general Tim Davie.

He will say: ‘Impartiali­ty is a prerequisi­te for the existence of the BBC. And it must be seen as a journey, not a destinatio­n – something we must prove again every day.’

Getting this right, he will say, would give the BBC the chance to define itself as a ‘pre-eminent purveyor of facts in the disinforma­tion age’.

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