John Whittingdale suggested the BBC could be set for Ofcom sanctions
Tory MP John Whittingdale blasted the corporation for “constantly looking for negatives and highlighting the challenges” of Britain’s EU exit.
After more than 70 MPs wrote to director-general Lord Hall with accusations the public service broadcaster is unwilling to snap out of its “pre-referendum pessimism” and “accept new facts”, the corporation could face financial punishments if the perceived bias continues.
Mr Whittingdale said MPs could “escalate” their complaints and with Ofcom set to take over regulation of the BBC in a fortnight, sanctions could include broadcasting corrections, banning repeats of coverage or even a £250,000 fine.
The Brexiteer, who helped draw up the Royal Charter which enshrines the BBC’s duty to be impartial, said: "My own impression is that the BBC is constantly looking for negatives and highlighting the challenges that arise from Brexit.
Douglas Carswell, Ukip's only MP, was among those who accused the BBC of a 'pessimistic' Brexit view
The BBC is constantly looking for negatives and highlighting the challenges that arise from Brexit
"That is born out by both the analysis of the proportion of coverage given to people talking about difficulties and risks compared to those presenting a more positive picture.
"There is a very strong feeling in Parliament, I cannot think of a precedent of 70 members of Parliament expressing concerns.
"This is quite a big test for a new governance structure that has only been in place since the beginning of the year."
Brexit: Results of how the UK voted Mon, March 20, 2017
Much of the North East of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union including Sunderland, Gateshead, Darlington, Durham, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar and Cleveland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside, and Northumberland
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GREAT YARMOUTH: The town of Great Yarmouth on the East Coast of England voted by 72% to leave the European Union.
After a cross party group of MPs branded the BBC’s Brexit coverage “pessimistic and skewed”, director-general Lord Hall hit back and said the corporation must remain "independent of political pressure".
In a letter to a Tory MP he said: "Impartiality has always been the cornerstone of BBC News. It remains so today.
"We do not take it for granted and we go to great lengths to ensure that we balance our coverage and address all issues from a wide range of different perspectives.
Director-general Lord Hall claims BBC coverage must be 'independent of political pressure'
"It is one of the reasons why the public trusts the BBC more than any other source of news.
"I agree with you that these are consequential times. For that reason, it is more important than ever that the BBC's journalism is independent of political pressure."