David Cameron has said the BBC is bloated with over-paid executives and the corporation has “lost touch with the values of the people who support it through the licence fee.”
The Leader of the Opposition, writing in The Sun, referred to last week’s turbulent events at the BBC.
Ten of thousands complained about the behaviour of star presenters Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand during a BBC Radio 2 show.
They have both been suspended and all their shows taken off air as the BBC investigates their prank calls to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs.
The Prime Minister and other leading politicians criticised the show, in which Brand and Ross left messages on Mr Sachs answerphone claiming Brand had slept with his granddaughter.
The fact that the show was pre-recorded and then broadcast has raised questions about editorial standards at the BBC.
Mr Brand has resigned from the BBC and Mr Ross was suspended for three months without pay. The head of Radio 2 resigned.
“How could anyone who works at an organisation that prides itself as socially responsible possibly have approved broadcasting the sick telephone calls made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand?” wrote Mr Cameron.
“The BBC has become bloated with many of its executives overpaid. Jonathan Ross’s £6 million annual contract costs the equivalent of what 43,000 people pay in their licence fees.”
The corporation has been attacked for not taking slurs against gay people and homophobic language on air seriously.
Peter Tatchell, the gay rights activist and Green party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East, wrote on The Guardian website last week:
“The BBC has apologised, condemning the two comics’ (Ross and Brand) antics as “unacceptable and offensive.”
“This is rich coming from the BBC, which until not long ago allowed its music DJs to play records by reggae singers who encourage listeners to murder – yes, murder! – lesbian and gay people.
“Incitement to murder is a criminal offence, yet no BBC DJs were disciplined let alone prosecuted.”
Last Christmas BBC Radio 1 was criticised by gay equality organisation Stonewall for its contradictory stance on homophobic language.
The channel decided to bleep the word ‘faggot’ in the classic Christmas song Fairytale of New York because it thought some members of the audience might find it offensive.
However, Radio 1 previously stood by DJ Chris Moyles and refused to apologise for his use of the word ‘gay’ in a context more associated with homophobic playground language.
Campaigners called for the DJ to be sacked after repeatedly using ‘gay’ in a derogatory manner, most recently to describe a mobile phone ring tone.
In 2006 Moyles was awarded the title Bully of the Year at the Stonewall Awards.