Lucy Frazer has said she believes the BBC is “on occasion” biased but refused to provide a specific example of partiality.
The Culture Secretary told MPs the corporation has a duty as a public service broadcaster that it “doesn’t always get right” but insisted she was broadly a “supporter” of the content it produces.
Appearing before Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Tuesday, Ms Frazer was questioned in detail about the future of the BBC.
“I am definitely a supporter of the BBC and the content it produces but it does need to understand its duties in relation to impartiality as well.”
Asked by Conservative MP Simon Jupp whether she thought the BBC was biased, she said: “I think that the BBC on occasion is biased, yes.”
Pressed to give an example, Ms Frazer replied: “I’m not going to give any specific examples of the examples of bias, but I think there are often complaints about the BBC, some of which have been taken up by Ofcom, which have been shown to be biased.
“And I think that it is really important that the BBC takes its responsibility in terms of editorial standards and impartiality very seriously… I think Tim Davie takes that responsibility very seriously and I think we should ensure that the BBC, as a public service broadcaster which is meant to be there to provide impartial news to the public, fulfils that duty, and I think unfortunately it doesn’t always get that right.”
Ms Frazer joked that she has “lots of views” when asked about the fallout following a tweet by Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker.
The 62-year-old was temporarily taken off air after saying the language used by the Government to promote its asylum plans was not dissimilar to that used in 1930s Germany.
But she refused to go into detail while the BBC carries out its own review of social media guidelines on impartiality.
The future of the corporation has been a subject of debate in recent months and Ms Frazer has previously vowed to protect public service broadcasters and praised the “vital role” a free press plays in society.
She has made clear that the Government is looking “very closely” at the licence fee as part of a review of the BBC’s funding but said she does not support defunding the broadcaster.
Ms Frazer also told MPs she had sought former BBC chairman Richard Sharp’s input on the future of the corporation, insisting it is “really valuable” to hear about his experience in the role.
Mr Sharp quit after an inquiry by Adam Heppinstall KC found he had broken the rules on public appointments by failing to declare his connection to a £800,000 loan made to Boris Johnson.
“I asked Richard Sharp for his views on the BBC and he’s been the chair of the BBC for some time, he has experience of the BBC and I think it’s really valuable to hear what that experience is,” the minister said.