Monthly Archives: July 2020

BBC Bias Digest 31 July 2020

BBC STAFF HEADCOUNT ‘FALLS BY JUST 2 PER CENT’:  Freddy Mayhew (Press Gazette 30/7) reported that despite the BBC spending £500m in severance pay and restructuring costs in the past 11 years, the headcount had shrunk from 22,874 to 22,401 – only two per cent. He said the Corporation’s annual reports showed that the BBC had been engaged in ‘constant drives to cut back on staff numbers’, including in 2009, a pledge to reduce its headcount by 10 percent (1,800 posts) and in 2017 to cut 2,600 jobs to make £750 million in savings. He quoted a BBC spokesman: “As ever, our staffing numbers and redundancy figures don’t tell the full story here.

“During this time, the Government awarded the BBC a grant as part of the biggest expansion of the World Service since the 1940s, we launched the BBC Scotland channel and developed our digital services, all of which could not have happened without taking on staff according to our changing business needs. We have also taken a value for money approach to contracts by bringing resources and some teams in-house whilst reducing the number of back office and support roles. As such, an independent report by Ernst & Young found the BBC among the most efficient 25% regulated and non-profit organisations in the UK.”


NEWSNIGHT ‘NONSENSE’ ABOUT LOCKDOWN ANNOUNCEMENT:  Guido Fawkes claimed (31/7) that BBC Newsnight policy editor Lewis Goodall had been responsible for spreading the ‘nonsense’ doing the rounds that health secretary Matt Hancock had announced the new North-west semi-lockdown via his personal Twitter account.  The article asserted that the imposition of new measures was actually released by the department of health  in a pooled television interview. It dismissed the idea picked up in some newspapers that the measure was designed to be ‘anti-Eid’.


BBC IS NOW ‘STUBBORN PET SHOP OWNER SELLING DEAD PARROT’: Joe Ventre (Taxpayers’ Alliance blog 30/7) argued that the BBC – in demanding that the licence fee should be retained – was selling the equivalent of a ‘dead parrot’ by pretending its services had unique value in a television environment which now contained rivals such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Mr Ventre argued that the licence fee, which was being defended on the same terms as 35 years ago despite a massive explosion of choice,   should be replaced by subscription funding.  He stated:

‘When arguments around content inevitably fall away, Auntie’s admirers will turn to the supposedly unbiased and accountable nature of the broadcaster. Leaving spurious claims of impartiality aside, the fact of the matter is that the BBC leaves much to desire when it comes to transparency. Unlike most public bodies, the Beeb is granted special exemptions from the Freedom of Information Act (2000). This means that taxpayers have no recourse for finding out how much of their money is spent on material used in creative content. We’ve previously covered this topic when news broke of Holby City holding (and subsequently donating) real ventilators to fighting coronavirus. One issue with trying to find out if the BBC offers value for money is it won’t tell you how it’s spending the money!’

BBC Bias Digest 30 July 2020

OFCOM SURVEY FINDS “MORAL DISLIKE” OF THE BBC AMONGST YOUNG:  Craig Simpson,  Daily Telegraph (£ 30/7), said that a report from Ofcom had found that younger audiences ‘are flocking to streaming services like Netflix to find shows with a “talkability factor”‘ and that BBC programmes ‘fail to provide “watercooler moments”’ for young people. The report found that, with attitudes to the BBC,  younger audiences are “more likely to be indifferent” than hostile to the BBC and many value the “societal glue” of the public service broadcaster. But it also said that a minority “cohort” of viewers from largely poorer backgrounds held a “moral dislike” of the corporation ‘over licence fee issues’, including ‘resentment that over-75s will have to pay for it, and because “they feel that the BBC lacks relevant content for their cohort, or that there is bias in the news.”

Mr Simpson reported that a BBC spokesperson responded: “This research highlights the importance of providing world-class, easily-accessible and universally available content that includes an impartial and trusted news service, alongside high quality, distinctive UK programming to bring the nations, regions and diverse communities of the UK together. Despite huge changes in the market, the BBC remains the most-used media organisation among young people with 80 per cent of 16 to 34 year olds using the BBC every week.”


BBC GUILTY OF ‘BREATHTAKING BIAS’ IN MURDOCH SERIES: Stephen Glover (Daily Mail 30/7) argued that the BBC Two three-part series Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty, which had concluded on 28/7, was a hatchet job which showed the BBC was ‘incapable of balance’.  He said that the case against Rupert Murdoch was put ‘one-sidedly by inveterate Murdoch-haters (such as Max Moseley and the actor Hugh Grant) whose own discreditable pasts were overlooked, while Mr Murdoch was treated as ‘low-grade Mafia’ with his achievements overlooked.  Mr Glover asserted:

‘the case against the tycoon was made at such length and so tendentiously that it was hard for this viewer to keep calm — particularly so when Murdoch’s hysterical accusers were wheeled out.’

Mr Glover noted that the programme made no mention of – for example – Max Moseley’s support for the South African apartheid regime; of former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson’s championship of Carl Beech, who had wrongly accused leading politicians of being part of a paedophile ring; or that Hugh Grant was a member of the ‘fanatical’ anti-press lobbying group Hacked Off.


BBC ‘HORROR’ REPORT ‘DENIGRATING WINSTON CHURCHILL’: Commentator GP Taylor, writing in the Yorkshire Post (29/7)  said he had ‘sat in horror’ when Huw Edwards introduced on the BBC One News at Ten a piece that condemned Winston Churchill and his role in the 1943 Bengal famine. ‘It was as if the contributors had been selected on the basis that they believed Churchill to be solely responsible for three million deaths from starvation’, he wrote, adding ‘It doesn’t take a genius to search the internet to find out the background to Churchill and why famine relief was not forthcoming.’ He describe the attempt to ‘blame one man’ as ‘a total disgrace’, calling it an ‘attempt to suck up to anti-establishment agitators’. Mr Taylor quoted LSE Professor of economic history Tirthankar Roy, who said that Churchill had not been a factor in the famine. It had been the government of Bengal, which could have imported grain from other regions but had not done so.


BBC GIVES MURDERERS MORE AIRTIME THAN CLIMATE ‘SCEPTICS’: Eric Worrall (What’s Up With That 28/7), reviewing ‘How they made us doubt everything’,  a 10-part  BBC Radio Four series about climate change, noted that the final two episodes were devoted to ‘vilifying’ astrophysicist and climate change analyst Dr Willie Soon, and then did not present Dr Soon’s response to allegations against him.   Mr Worrall concluded:

‘Regardless of whether you think Dr Soon is right or wrong….(he)  deserves better than this one sided gutter press assault on his reputation from the BBC.

‘Even dictators and murderers are often given an opportunity to argue their case on the BBC. But this is a courtesy the BBC “How they made us doubt everything” series has so far failed to extend to a mild-mannered law abiding climate scientist, who was unfortunate enough to be a prime target of their latest ugly smear campaign.’

Mr Worrall said the programme had set out to compare climate scepticism to rejecting the link between tobacco and cancer, but said this was ‘irrelevant to the climate debate’.

Comments on the article included:

‘The programme is comically and aptly named ‘How they made us doubt everything’. The ‘THEY’ is the BBC. The propaganda, bias and distortions dished up daily by the BBC and their fellow travellers have made us doubt everything. They could have called this programme ‘An example of how we at the BBC produce fake news and destroy trust in the media!’.’


BBC Bias Digest 29 July 2020

BBC AXES AFTERNOON NEWSROUND AFTER 48 YEARS: Joe Kasper (Sun 29/7) said the BBC was axing its afternoon live television edition of the children’s news service Newsround – shown currently on kids’ service CBBC , but formerly on BBC One – after almost 50 years. Mr Kasper reported that the BBC wanted to transfer more of its children’s content online – and now had Ofcom’s permission to do so – because they were watching increasingly less live television. He added  that despite the lockdown, audiences for the Newsround bulletin had fallen from 37,000 children aged between 6-12 in 2019 to 24,000 in May this year. Mr Kasper noted that Ofcom had earlier warned that if audiences did not engage with the BBC, support for the licence fee could be eroded, and had now said it made sense for more children’s content to be provided online. It had also decided to impose safeguards to ensure the quality of programmes on CBBC was maintained while allowing the amount of news content on the live television channels to be reduced from 85 to 35 hours a year.


BBC ‘SEEMS SWEPT UP IN AN EMOTIONAL TIDE’:  Former Guardian political editor Michael White tweeted (28/7), ‘. . . .Lots of anti-racist talk on BBC Radio 4’s Today (again) today, much of it muddled, conventional thinking (again). It’s an important issue, but BBC seems swept up in an emotional tide. I switched to R3 where there are no complaints (yet) that music is too dominated by dead white Germans.’


THE BBC’S BROADCASTING MONOPOLY: At The Mallard website (28/7), Serena Lit argued that the BBC is essentially a ‘broadcasting monopoly’ with a ‘stranglehold’ on the industry, saying that the Corporation uses its size and licence fee funding to win advantage against commercial rivals. Where they have to earn their income from adverting the BBC ‘only advertises its own projects across the entire network’.

‘For decades’, she wrote, ‘the BBC has been failing to uphold its charter obligation to provide original services by choosing to create outlets and produce content remarkably similar to what is already being provided by the commercial sector’, and she wondered if top-rated BBC shows would have proven able to compete with Netflix or Apple ‘without help from the licence fee and the BBC’s free in-house advertising’.

‘The bulk of BBC iPlayer’s traffic is a direct result of the licence fee’, she stated. ‘Given we are all obligated to fork out £157.50 a year for it, many feel (understandably) compelled to get their money’s worth. Consequently, we have no meaningful indication of how popular the BBC and its content actually are with the British public’.


BBC’S ‘CHURCHILL TRASHING’ POLL LAUNCHED: Kathy Gyngell (Conservative Woman 29/7) argued that recent BBC reports about Winston Churchill, in which he was said to have caused the death through famine of three million people in the Bengal Famine of 1943,  felt like dangerous ‘dog-whistling’ to appease the most ignorant and aggressive end of the so-called anti-racist movement, and she invited readers to vote on the question “Is it time to stop calling Churchill a racist?’. Kathy asked:

‘Is trashing Churchill’s reputation deliberately fuelling the fires of division and prejudice? Is it time to stop denigrating the man who courageously led the West’s battle for freedom against the unspeakable evil of the Nazis?  We want to know what you think.’

BBC Bias Digest 28 July 2020

SKY ARTS ‘TO FILL GAP LEFT BY BBC CUTS’: Luke May (Daily Mail 28/7) reported that satellite broadcaster Sky had decided make its dedicated arts channel available from September on the Freeview platform with no extra charge because cuts on the BBC Four television channel meant there was an important gap to fill. Mr May said that the BBC had cut the budget for BBC Four because it had decided to focus instead on a more youth-focused service on BBC Three. He added that Sky had also announced a raft of new commissions for the arts channel, including Landmark, designed to bring communities together to create the next ‘great British landmark’, as well as a programme about the playwright Harold Pinter. It would also be offering a series of arts bursaries.


BBC CHURCHILL REPORT ‘WAS OUTRAGEOUS CALUMNY’:  Henry Getley (Conservative Woman 28/7), analysing further a BBC news report which posited that Winston Churchill had killed three million Indians by triggering the 1943 Bengal famine, asserted that  to ‘anyone with the slightest knowledge of history and an ounce of humanity and common sense, the BBC’s outrageous calumny beggars belief’. Mr Getley, noting that ‘ironically’ a 2002 BBC poll – responded to by 1.6m viewers – had found Churchill the greatest Briton ever, also argued that in siding with the mobs who had defaced Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square, the BBC had sold its soul to Left-wing creeds of progressiveness, virtue-signalling, identity politics, diversity, race, gender and man-made climate change’.

BBC Bias Digest 27 July 2020

BBC ‘FINALLY ADMITS’ PANORAMA BREACH: Guido Fawkes (27/7) said that the BBC had finally admitted – after receiving 800 complaints –  that its April Panorama programme ‘Has the Government Failed the NHS’ had breached editorial standards by not labelling one of the contributors, Dr Sonia Adesara, as a Labour activist. But the article also declared:

‘The organisation, however, refuses to apologise for not labelling other left-wing campaigning contributors accurately, including ‘Docs not Cops’ member Irial Eno, Labour member of 53 years John Ashton,  or Corbyn-rallying Unison steward Libby Nolan.’


BBC CORRESPONDENT APOLOGISES TO STURGEON: Freddy Mayhew (UK Press Gazette 27/9) said the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) had ruled that a report by Scotland editor Sarah Smith on BBC One News at Ten had inappropriately said that Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon was ‘enjoying’ the opportunity to make her country’s own lock down rules.  Mr Mayhew noted that Ms Smith had apologised via a Tweet for her choice of word the following day and claimed she had meant to use the word ‘embraced’ but mistakenly used ‘enjoyed’. He reported that the ECU, in its ruling in response to seven complaints about the ‘biased’ report by Ms Smith, said it had been appropriate to issue apologies, and on this occasion via a Tweet because Ms Sturgeon had registered her objection via a Tweet.  The ECU had also ruled that no further action was required.

Craig Byers: Supporters of BBC becoming campaigning organisation ‘are winning’

Craig Byers: Supporters of BBC becoming campaigning organisation ‘are winning’

This is a guest post from Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased?

If you subscribe to it, you may well have read former Head of BBC Television News Roger Mosey’s interesting piece in The Sunday Times last week where he claimed that there’s a “battle” going on at the BBC between older hands who want to stay true to the Corporation’s long commitment to fairness and impartiality and newer, younger recruits who want to make it “more of a campaigning organisation in which journalists shape the agenda to harmonise with their personal views”.
Well, this past week suggested that the newer, younger recruits – the activist reporters – are starting to win.
Now, of course, blogs like this have existed for a couple of decades now, and that’s because some of those older BBC hands weren’t entirely clean on the ‘fairness and impartiality’ front themselves, and some BBC journalists have been shading into campaigning and shaping the agenda to harmonise with their personal views for quite a while now (Mark Easton anyone?), but at least they usually tried to put on a proper show of fairness and impartiality, and knew they had to do so.
Both last Monday’s Today programme and last Monday’s BBC One News at Ten featured reports by BBC journalist Yogita Limaye, and she clearly felt no obligation whatsoever to show fairness and impartiality.
Her pieces were nothing more than concerted efforts to brand Winston Churchill a racist and hold him responsible for the 1943 Bengal Famine.
Writing in this week’s The Sunday Times Tom Mangold, a BBC older hand if ever there was one, called her New at Ten report “biased, partial, unbalanced and filled with the spite and venom of the worst of toxic woke culture now pulsing through the heart of the Corporation” and added that “viewers were left in no doubt that the reporter agreed with her own preferential report”.
If you’ve also been reading about the goings-on (and goings-off) at The New York Times, where younger, more groupthink-driven, openly activist reporters have gained ascendance and are abandoning all pretence of impartiality whilst displaying ever greater unwillingness to tolerate fellow citizens (and colleagues) who don’t think or feel like them, then it’s very possible that we can already see where the BBC is now inexorably heading, and Ms Limaye’s report is an early swallow.
Mr Mosey blames ‘Twitter culture’ for the rise of openly campaigning journalism and the difficulty people who think like him and who are still at the BBC are now having trying to get such journalists to represent both sides of a story, and obviously there’s some truth in that. Without the spell cast on her by Twitter and the lure of applause from the Twitterati, would Emily Maitlis, for example, have ever thought of, never mind dared to deliver, that infamous impartiality-busting monologue of hers? I doubt it. She didn’t used to behave so brazenly. And the arrival of newer, younger recruits like Lewis Goodall – people who live the majority of their journalistic lives on Twitter and give every impression of ‘shaping the agenda to harmonise with their personal views’ while deliberately speaking to their own narrow echo chambers both when they tweet and when they broadcast – has had a noticeable, radicalising impact on programmes such as Newsnight.
But it take two to tango. Let’s remember that Yogita Limaye’s reports were broadcast on two of the BBC’s flagship news programmes, both edited by BBC editors who evidently felt it acceptable to put it all out. If anyone, they should be held responsible for making that decision.
Did they put them out without serious qualms though? Surely they must have known how controversial, indeed inflammatory, they were. In other words, are they on the losing, surrendering side of the battle and putting such reports out with heavy hearts, or (like Newsnight’s Esme Wren) are they now actively aiding and abetting the winning, campaigning side?
I fear the BBC is going to get much, much worse before it gets better.
Tom Mangold: BBC’s embrace of woke culture is ‘fatal act of self-harm’

Tom Mangold: BBC’s embrace of woke culture is ‘fatal act of self-harm’

This is a guest post from Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased?
Tom Mangold’s Mail on Sunday piece headlined “I fear that my beloved BBC’s bizarre obsession with a toxic culture of wokeness will end as a fatal act of self-harm” ought to matter to the BBC because Mr Mangold isn’t just any old BBC veteran. He was Panorama‘s lead investigative reporter for many years and has always been held in high esteem. So for him to speak out in such an outspoken way about “the greasy slope down which [the BBC] is sliding faster every day” is really something, and a major sign of just how bad things have got recently. 
While expanding on his excoriation of Yogita Limaye’s “biased, partial, unbalanced, filled with spite and venom” anti-Churchill report (see previous post), he adds the words “Never mind the truth”. I doubt he would never the phrase, of course, but essentially what he’s saying is that it was ‘fake news’. 
‘What on earth has happened?’, he wonders. After all, the BBC’s charter remains “unequivocal” on its statutory commitment to impartiality. Well, he says, the “holy contract” is now “well and truly broken”. 
He seems to believe that Ms Limaye’s late evening report, given the full backing of the News at Ten and Huw Edwards’s “authority and credibility”, was a bone deliberately thrown to the BLM movement. 
And the BBC’s doing it, he says, because of its “bizarre obsession with youth, diversity and the ever-growing pressure of woke argument” and because BLM – and “the Twitter trolls, the social media addicts, the young, the immature and the often daft” – have become “the BBC’s recruitment and audience target.” 
Why this “‘threatens to become [the BBC’s] final act of self-harm” is because such people are a “minority audience”. 
He also quotes another wise old head, Trevor Phillips, saying that “the increasingly woke behaviour by the Corporation is endangering the central justification for special treatment, which is its universal reach.” 
All of which is very true. The BBC is alienating its core audience in pursuit of a small demographic that probably won’t be watching it regardless. It’s a sign of the state the BBC’s in at the moment that it doesn’t even seem to see the folly of its position. 
The present situation with over-75s having to pay the licence fee from next Saturday is relevant here because 66 Conservative MPs  signed a letter to Tony Hall last week objecting to the BBC’s decision over the licence fee, and added: “We question the need for the BBC to allocate the enormous sum of £100 million on diversity, which with strong management could be achieved for minimal cost”. 
Tom Mangold in this article makes a related point: “Tony Hall has found £100 million in an ever-ready slush fund to increase diversity in the BBC. Meanwhile it gets rid of talent such as John Ware and Jane Corbin as permanent reporters from Panorama, presumably to save a bob or two”. 
Why is the BBC splashing out such huge sums on diversity? After all, as the Observer observes today, it’s devoting £12m of its commissioning budget “to making diverse and inclusive content” for the next three years, and devoting £100m of the current television commissioning budget to “on-air inclusivity”, and bringing in a mandatory off-screen target for “20% diversity across the networks for new commissions” from April 2021? Because it’s signalling to its new target audience. 
Tom Mangold goes on to quote Trevor Phillips saying, “The BBC has to recognise social change, sure, but it is not the institution’s role to lead it.” Well, yes, but that’s not how the young Turks who have been silently taking over at the BBC see it. To take just one example, on being appointed the BBC’s first LBGT correspondent Ben Hunte said “There are a lot of marginalised voices that need to be given a mouthpiece” when he was appointed. He clearly meant that he intended to be that “mouthpiece”. There’s a lot of that about about the BBC now. 
Wonder what the bulk of the BBC will think about this? I’m guessing a huge chunk of them are too far gone to care what one of the old hands thinks, especially if it’s in the Mail on Sunday. But some might take it as a proper, serious wake-up call. If they love the BBC as much as Tom Mangold does, what are they going to do about it?

BBC Bias Digest 26 July 2020

BBC VETERAN ATTACKS ‘SPITEFUL AND VENOMOUS’ REPORT ABOUT CHURCHILL:  Writing in the Mail on Sunday (26/7), veteran BBC investigative reporter Tom Mangold – who joined the Corporation in 1964 –  expressed ‘sadness’ at the BBC, provoked by watching ‘for the tenth time’ an ‘outrageous’ News at Ten report which branded Winston Churchill a racist responsible for the 1943 Bengal Famine. He described the six-minute report as ‘biased, partial, unbalanced and filled with the spite and venom of the worst of toxic woke culture now pulsing through the heart of the Corporation’, adding ‘Viewers were left in no doubt that the reporter agreed with her own preferential report’.

Mr Mangold said that had led him to wonder ‘what on earth has happened’, given that the BBC’s charter remains ‘unequivocal’ about its statutory commitment to impartiality.  He added:

“Today that holy contract is well and truly broken. And so it is that News at Ten is allowed to use Huw Edwards’s authority and credibility – and the Corporation’s reputation for truth – to call Churchill a racist killer. The protester who sprayed graffiti on the statue of the wartime leader during the Black Lives Matter protests, accusing him of racism, must be overwhelmed with gratitude at the BBC’s vindication”.

Mr Mangold attributed the breach in obligations  down to ‘the BBC’s bizarre obsession with youth, diversity and the ever-growing pressure of woke argument’. He suggested that it ‘threatens to become its final act of self-harm’ because the movements the BBC is seeking to appeal to ‘still represent in total only a very small part of Britain’, a ‘minority audience’.

He continued that,  though ‘the BBC at its best is the most wonderful public service broadcaster in the world’, now suddenly, the Twitter trolls, the social media addicts, the young, the immature and the often daft have become the BBC’s recruitment and audience target.’ He concluded:  ‘If you believe Winston Churchill was a racist killer, sit back and enjoy the product. If not, try to help the BBC leap off the greasy slope down which it is sliding faster every day.’


BBC ‘NOT HELPING’ NOSTALGIA TV SERIES: Simon Heffer , discussing the nostalgia TV service Talking Pictures (£ Daily Telegraph, 25/7) -which was run from a garden shed and claimed to have up had 6 million viewers a week  –  reported that the BBC had refused to sell founder Noel Cronin the rights to the 1960s TV series Z-Cars and Dixon of Dock Green.  Mr Heffer speculated that ‘either [the BBC] is being the dog in the manger, or perhaps its executives realise they have misjudged the viewing public, and have retro plans of their own’. He added that the latter would be better, as the Corporation was continuing ‘to force upon viewers programmes pandering to the right-on, metropolitan prejudices of the small but noisy minority they meet at dinner parties’. Mr Heffer  concluded: ‘If it really does think such nonsense, then the sooner the licence fee is abolished, the better.’


JOHN HUMPHRYS: ‘EU IS WONDERFUL ORGANISATION’: The Sunday Times (£ 26/7) reported comments made by former Today presenter John Humphrys during a Times Radio interview in which he said he was  ‘not a fan’ of Boris Johnson, claimed not to remember who he voted for in the 2019 general election and expanded on his Remain vote in the EU referendum. Mr Humphrys had said:

‘I felt fairly strongly about it. But I did my job, which was to question both sides with equal vim and vigour. I was born in the war. I believed one of the ways to stop it happening again was to join this wonderful organisation where the countries in Europe would be friends. That was what drove me to vote remain.’

The article also noted that Mr Humphrys had been accused of ‘seeming (to be) Eurosceptic’ in interviews by critics.


‘CREATIVE DIVERSITY’ AT THE BBC: The Observer (26/7) interviewed June Sarpong, the BBC’s director of creative diversity, quoting her saying that she had ‘rarely’ been on sets ‘where there were other people of colour’.  The article  also noted that the corporation was spending £12m of its commissioning budget ‘to making diverse and inclusive content’ for the next three years, devoting £100m of the current television commissioning budget to ‘on-air inclusivity’ and bringing in a mandatory off-screen target for ‘20% diversity across the networks for new commissions’ from April 2021.


BBC ‘GIVING NICOLA STURGEON A ‘PLATFORM TO SCORE PARTY POLITICAL POINTS’: The Sunday Times (£ 26/7),reported claims by opposition politicians that the BBC in Scotland hasd given Nicola Sturgeon an ‘unacceptable platform to score political points’ by continuing to broadcast her hour-long Covid-19 briefings on the BBC’s main Scottish channel while they ‘struggle for airtime’.  It was reported that the Labour Party has requested a breakdown of how much airtime has been given to Ms Sturgeon and Scotland’s other political leaders but it was said that the request this has been ‘declined’ by the BBC.

Labour party deputy leader Jackie Baillie had said:

‘The BBC’s refusal to answer these extremely significant and important questions is highly disappointing. The BBC has a duty to ensure that it remains an impartial broadcaster and that important broadcasts such as the first minister’s coronavirus briefings do not degenerate into the party political sniping and grandstanding we have seen in recent weeks. I urge the BBC to seriously reconsider its refusal to answer these very simple questions. If we cannot rely on the national broadcaster to be straightforward in its dealings, then serious questions around impartiality and professionalism will be raised.’.


ESTHER MCVEY ATTACKS OVER-75s LICENCE FEE DECISION: Former minister Esther McVey, and leader of the Blue Collar Conservatism group (Sunday Express 26/7) had warned that the BBC ‘could be mortally wounded’ by its decision to go ahead with requiring over-75s to pay £157.50 for their licence fee from August 1. She had asserted:

‘I think the best thing that you could do to keep the public on board is to actually be a public service broadcaster and look after the people in this country who pay £5billion a year for the service.’

The article noted that Ms McVey was one of 66 Conservative MPs in her BCC group who had written to BBC director general Tony Hall last week questioning the need to penalise over-75s when savings could be made elsewhere.


LICENCE FEE IMPLEMENTATION ‘DISTINCTLY AMATEURISH’:  Media correspondent Rosamund Urwin (£ Sunday Times 26/7) warned that the BBC was in danger of making a ‘complete hash’ of the implementation of the decision to force over-75s to pay for their licence fees. She reported that Caroline Abrams of Age UK had claimed that implementation was  ‘distinctly amateurish’ because the TV Licensing unit would only start issuing the 4.5 million ‘payment invitation’ letters on August 1 – the date the new fees were due –   and they would be  posted in batches, ‘so many pensioners face a longer wait’. Ms Abrams claimed the approach smacked of being a last-minute decision,  of a last-minute decision’ and added that it did not give much confidence that it would be well- administered.

BBC Bias Digest 24 July

PANORAMA PPE PROGRAMME ‘BREACHED EDITORIAL STANDARDS’: A report in the Daily Mail (24/7), said that the BBC,, having initially defended an edition of BBC One’s Panorama programme about the provision of personal protection equipment (PPE) by the NHS, had now admitted that it had breached editorial guidelines. The ruling, by the Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU), was that the programme, called ‘Has The Government Failed The NHS?’, had broken the internal editorial code ‘by failing to reveal’ that programme contributor Dr Sonia Adesara (who had attacked the Government’s alleged failures in the supply of PPE) was a long-time Labour party member.

The ECU ruling was that ‘the nature and extent’ of Dr Adesara’s political affiliation ‘was such that it might have been relevant to the audience’s evaluation of her contribution insofar as it was critical of the Government, and that it was a breach of the BBC’s editorial standards not to have given viewers appropriate information about it’. The report also noted that the unit had qualified its decision by also stating that ‘her criticism of the Government was in keeping with what might be expected from a doctor with experience of inadequate PPE provision, and that information about her political affiliations would not have called the validity of her concerns into doubt in the minds of viewers.’


BBC ‘LIES ABOUT CHURCHILL IN BRANDING HIM RACIST AND VILLAIN’: Writing for the Daily Mail (23/7), historian Dominic Sandbrook claimed that BBC news reports on BBC Radio 4 and BBC One about the 1943 Bengal famine were a ‘smear’ against Winston Churchill, conveying the ‘incredible’ impression, that the wartime prime minister Churchill ‘bore personal responsibility for the deaths of three million people’.  Professor Sandbrook added that, while ‘watching in disbelief’, he  had wondered which historians would be included to counter the arguments of the academics in the report who had asserted that Churchill was the ‘precipitator’ of the mass killings and guilty of ‘prioritising white lives over Asian lives’. He had found that the answer was ‘nobody’.

Professor Sandbrook also asserted that there had been ‘no mention of the complexities of wartime’; ‘no mention of Churchill’s national service’; and ‘no room for nuance’, ‘only a one-sided, almost deliberately misleading account, utterly divorced from context.’

He added:  ‘The BBC’s message was clear. Churchill was a racist and a villain – and if you don’t agree, then so are you.’, He concluded:

‘Are BBC producers unable to see that if they keep lying about Britain’s history, they will lose popular support? Do they really care so little about the truth of our past? And are they really so cocooned in their smug metropolitan prejudices they can’t see how deeply they are offending millions of people? The answer, I fear, is clear. But this will not end well for the corporation’.


BBC ‘IS TONE DEAF’: A letter to The Times (24/7), from Janis Pringle from Undy, Monmouthshire, backed criticisms of the BBC management structure voiced by veteran BBC Radio 2 presenter Ken Bruce (£ 21/7).  Ms Pringle contended that the BBC, though a ‘magnificent’ organisation, is ‘sclerotic’ in its ways, and so concerned with ‘pigeonholing’ its audience and so ‘obsessed’ with attracting a younger audience, that it plied its daytime ‘mass’ audience with ‘recycled playlists’ and consigned ‘anything more interesting to the evening’ when younger people are supposed to be listening. She argued that audiences of all ages ‘can cope’ with more variety and wrote of the BBC, ‘. . .that this insults their entire audience seems to have escaped their notice’.


BBC ‘NAVEL-GAZING’ AND THE LOSS OF JENNI MURRAY: In her weekly column for the Daily Mail (25/7), Amanda Platell expressed regret that Jenni Murray will be leaving Radio 4’s Womans Hour on October 1, wondering if it was after she ‘enraged…the LGBT lobby’ that she ‘realised the Beeb was no longer her natural home’.

Ms Platell said that ‘the great personalities of the BBC — Jenni, Libby Purves, Jeremy Paxman, John Humphrys, both the Dimblebys, Andrew Neil — are disappearing before our eyes’ and that ‘they’re being replaced by navel-gazing, metropolitan chat-show hosts obsessed with a diversity agenda that ignores the views of the majority.’


THE NEW HOME OF BBC WALES HAS ‘A LEAKY ROOF’: According to the Daily Mail’s Izzy Ferris (25/7), the newly-opened BBC headquarters of BBC Wales in Cardiff, which took four years to build and cost £120m, ‘has a leaky roof every time it rains’. She writes of the Foster + Partners-designed building, that ‘Cleaners have to get out large buckets to stop the fourth floor from getting soaking wet.’ The BBC said that the leak hasn’t affected the BBC’s operations.


News-watch Launches BBC Bias Digest

News-watch Launches BBC Bias Digest

BBC Bias Digest is now a key, regularly updated feature of the News-watch website, and a central focus of our efforts.

  • To try and hold the BBC to account in the public interest
  • To facilitate reform in its governance.

Each day, we are combing newspapers and the web for stories about the BBC relevant to its Charter obligation to deliver impartiality in its news coverage and the handling of controversial matters in its  general output.

It will thus become a central point of recording the deluge of concerns about BBC bias.

News-watch has been chronicling the BBC’s failures of impartiality for more than 20 years, particularly in EU-related output, where the Corporation has not properly reflected the extent and range of pro-Brexit opinion. The evidence for this is posted on this site.

Recently,  such bias has intensified to the extent that recently, BBC Two Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis delivered a blatantly partisan attack on Dominic Cummings, one of the Government’s key officials.

All parts of the BBC’s output have been infected by liberal-left viewpoints on topics such as Brexit,  climate change and green activism and cultural diversity. This has also been chronicled in books such as The Noble Liar, by Robin Aitken, in some newspapers, and widely in sites on the web such as Is the BBC Biased? and The Conservative Woman.

Despite this, the BBC remains impervious to concern. Its complaints process is designed to allow the Corporation to defend itself, rather than taking into account concerns among its audience.

This complacency – a national scandal – is being addressed by News-watch in various forms, including a recent High Court application for judicial review, together with Freedom of Information requests and other legal challenges to the Corporation’s intransigence.