The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which was investigated by the Income Tax department, was defended by the UK government on Tuesday during a debate in Parliament by highlighting problems with foreign taxation and transfer pricing of BBC subsidiary firms. The editorial freedom of the broadcaster, according to the UK government, is crucial.
Tory MP David Rutley said, “We stand up for the BBC, we fund the BBC, we think the BBC World Service is vitally important. We want the BBC to have that editorial freedom,” further adding that the broadcaster criticises the Conservative and the Labour parties in the UK too.
In response to inquiries about the raid and the availability of free speech in India, Rutley stated that freedom is essential and that they wanted to emphasise its significance to their friends around the globe, including India.
Jim Shannon of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland opened the discussion by characterising the polls as a "deliberate act of intimidation following the release of an unflattering documentary about the country's leader." The study was conducted in response to a BBC documentary that criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his administration during the 2002 Godhra riots.
The study was conducted in the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai for 59 hours. Employee laptops and cell phones were inspected as part of the three-day assessment.
Fabian Hamilton, a Labour MP, brought this up and stated it was particularly concerning that BBC employees were ordered to spend the night in their offices and endure protracted interrogation. Hamilton argued that in any democracy, the media must be free to examine and critique political figures without fear of repercussions.
During a question-and-answer session, MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi stated that the UK is extremely proud of its press freedom and is used to the BBC and other credible media outlets holding the UK government, prime minister, and opposition parties accountable in a devastating way. That is why, according to him, they are so worried about the BBC study conducted in India.
The BBC declared after the survey that it would carry on reporting without fear or favour.
The Income Tax authorities further claimed that taxes were not paid on several transfers made by the broadcaster's foreign corporations and that the income and profit reported by the broadcaster and its entities are "not commensurate" with the scope of their operations in India.