Author Archives

David Keighley

Clarkson – Yes, Immigration – No

Clarkson – Yes, Immigration – No

The BBC – as News-watch posted yesterday here and here  – doesn’t give a hoot about complaints about imbalance in its programmes when they relate to important issues such as immigration control.

But if something to do with potential racist name-calling, well, no expense is spared and inquiries are launched, as is reported here in the BBC’s house journal, The Guardian.

News-watch holds no candle for Jeremy Clarkson or his programmes, and nor has it ever investigated his approach to issues of race.

But it’s clear that his alleged use of the N-word has led to major alarm bells ringing inside the Corporation and a full-scale report has been commissioned. What’s clear is that this whole area has been elevated to a major matter relating to the BBC’s approach and image.

Would that the same happened when data is presented to the Trustees that shows beyond doubt that Today presenters regularly skew the debate about EU withdrawal, and, in effect, call those who don’t support the free movement of peoples principle as racist.  In reality, the Corporation ignores it.

Photo by tonylanciabeta

BBC ‘Hung chief technology officer out to dry’

BBC ‘Hung chief technology officer out to dry’

The botched sacking by the BBC of its chief technology officer John Linwood last week raises very serious questions about the integrity of the Corporation and its decision-making processes.

News-watch has repeatedly highlighted  problems with the BBC’s  editorial integrity and how biased its coverage is in certain crucial respects. The removal of Linwood raises major questions about the whole management ethos. The full, sorry saga, is here. It could become a textbook on how not to manage.

An employment tribunal in this unpleasant episode ruled that Linwood – who was in charge of the BBC’s failed £125m Digital Media Initiative (DMI) – was subjected to a campaign of vilification, given only days to prepare his case,  and treated with ‘cavalier disregard” by the senior management who fired him.

There isn’t the space here to detail in full the bad practice involved; suffice it to say that there is absolutely no doubt from the 66-page ruling that the BBC acted disgracefully. Reports can be found here, here and here.

Let’s not mince words – this was a kangaroo court. Once it was decided in May 2013 that he was to blame for the DMI fiasco, Linwood, paid £280,000 a year, was bad-mouthed from the rooftops by his former colleagues, cut loose and hung out to dry.

And let’s also be clear. This was not a hole-in-the-corner exercise. Linwood’s execution was carried out in the full light of day by the Corporation’s most senior management body, the BBC executive board, responsible to the Trustees for every aspect of BBC operations.

It’s also the case that the man who directed proceedings that day – unlike his hapless predecessor, George Entwhistle, who ignominiously resigned over the handling of the Jimmy Savile affair – hasn’t left the corporation, isn’t in disgrace and is still in full charge. It’s the current director general, Tony Hall, Lord Hall of Birkenhead.

And with him at the board meeting when he made the decisions were a raft of his most senior BBC staff  who are still there: Danny Cohen the director television, Helen Boaden, director radio, Fran Unsworth, deputy director of news (on the day, she was acting head because Helen Boaden had been removed from the post) , and Tony Purnell, the former Labour minister drafted in by Lord Hall to be his director of strategy.

It seems likely, too, that the board was acting with the full blessing of the BBC Trustees and maybe at their behest, because by this stage the DMI was an increasingly high-profile embarrassment that was haemorrhaging cash.

DMI had been conceived in 2008-9 to create a ‘seamless’ BBC archive operation, but quickly ran into problems. In 2011, the National Audit Office was hired by the Trustees to investigate. Their report sounded serious warning bells about how the project was being managed, and also pointed out that a scheme that was designed to save the corporation money was already costing millions.

Lord Hall took over as director general in the spring of 2013 and the DMI bombshell well and truly exploded in his face – during Margaret Thatcher’s funeral coverage, it emerged that DMI was actually, in effect  blocking access to existing archives so that thousands were being spent on ferrying tapes around London .

It also emerged that all in, DMI was likely to cost the Corporation £125m.  Linwood was the man chosen to carry the can and that was why he was immediately hung out to dry. At the same meeting, the whole project was cancelled and Hall and his board admitted that it would cost the licence-fee payers almost £100m.

This was mismanagement on a colossal scale, as subsequent inquiries by the Commons public accounts committee found.  They branded the whole scheme a ‘complete failure’, and they pointed out this was not the fault of one man, but a collective responsibility.

So what does this whole sorry saga reveal about the BBC as it enters the negotiations for the renewal of the licence fee?

This was reckless disregard for due process, and  as the Employment Tribunal makes clear, glaring incompetence – despite all the millions of our money the BBC  spends on management ‘know how’, training and salaries.

More worrying, Lord Hall’s BBC seems to intend to carry on undaunted. The BBC’s formal response to the tribunal was reported on the BBC website as follows:

In a statement, the BBC said the failure of the project had been “a very difficult set of circumstances” and expressed disappointment over the tribunal’s decision.

“We had a major failure of a significant project, and we had lost confidence – as the tribunal acknowledges – in John Linwood.

“At the time we believed we acted appropriately,” the corporation continued. “The tribunal has taken a different view.

Photo by Yuri Yu. Samoilov

Bland Leading the Bland

Bland Leading the Bland

Sir Christopher Bland, who chaired the BBC from 1996-2001 – when the hated John ’dalek’  Birt was director general – has waded into the discussion about who should become new Chairman of the BBC trustees. .

According to the Guardian, he suggests that the current problem in finding a successor to Lord Patten, who was forced to resign as chairman for health reasons, is rooted in the structure of the Trustees. The reason?  Because under the last set  of BBC reforms back in 2006-7, the newly formed Trustees, who succeeded the former Governors, were put at arm’s length from the senior BBC management in order to be ‘independent’.

He says being BBC chairman before the reforms was a much more important job: more directly involved in the management of the Corporation, and he argues that high calibre names are not on the shortlist for the current job because it’s a role not worth taking.

Sir Christopher thus appears to be arguing for the clock to be put back. But surely he misses the main point? The governors were abolished because all too often they took the side of BBC management rather than acting in true public interest.

The problem with the last reforms is rather that they did not go far enough. The current  batch of Trustees – as News-watch has repeatedly shown – are from a liberal left background and mindset that mostly echoes that of BBC management, and means that the Corporation is blind to criticism of the bias in its output.

What’s needed now is not a return to those bad old days of Birt and Bland , but a radical restructuring which sees genuinely independent Trustees that ensure that the BBC is properly in touch with public opinion rather than the gilded Metropolitan elite of which Sir Christopher and his ilk are card-carrying members.

Photo by Tim Loudon

BBC ‘ignores key immigration reports’

BBC ‘ignores key immigration reports’

The BBC keeps telling of us that its coverage of the immigration debate is getting better and fairer.

Remember, for example, when, back in January, political editor Nick Robinson uttered a solemn and very public apology and swore that Auntie was mending her ways? No longer, he suggested, should opponents of the EU’s ‘free movement of peoples’ directive be branded as xenophobic or racist

He also wrote:

“My own organisation, the BBC, has admitted that in the past we made mistakes. We were too slow to recognise and reflect the concern, dislocation and anger felt by many.”

Six months or so on, how is Auntie doing?  Well…

Exhibit A is from the think tank Civitas, which published a few days ago a very important contribution to the topic by respected Cambridge economist Bob Rowthorn.  This former ‘leftist’ (as the Daily Mail gleefully described him)  pointed out that on current trends immigration would lead to a population growth of 20m in the next fifty years, and would create massive strains on the country’s infrastructure while at the same time having few discernible economic benefits and only minimal improvement in GDP per capita.

This is a meticulous 83-page survey by a master of economic theory, a cool-headed, objective look at the immigration debate.  It received widespread coverage in newspapers, including the Independent as well as the Daily Mail and Telegraph.

So what did the new, immigration-aware BBC make of it?

Well nothing.  The BBC website has not mention of it,  and David Green, the director of Civitas, says his office has not received a single call from any of the corporation’s serried ranks of 5,000 or so journalists.

Importantly, Professor Rowthorn’s paper debunks a report by Christian Dustmann, a University College, London, immigration ‘expert’, who argued back in November in a paper for the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration that immigrants, especially those from Eastern Europe, were having a strongly positive impact on the UK economy through the increased taxes they paid.

The Dustmann report – unlike Professor Rowthorn’s – did receive widespread coverage on the BBC, those massed ranks of newshounds went to town with items in the bulletins and a string of features, including on Radio 4’s Today.  Breathlessly, the bulletins declared:

“A report says recent immigrants have paid substantially more into the public purse in taxes than they have taken out in benefits.  The study, by University College London says migrants from European countries have made a particularly positive contribution.”

Professor Dustmann’s views, it is true, were ‘balanced’ in the Today feature with commentary by Sir Andrew Green of the Migration Watch think tank, who questioned the statistical techniques employed by professor Dustmann. But there was also commentary from BBC correspondent Danny Shaw, who said that the report was ‘the most thorough of its kind’. No partisanship there, then.

Back in March Migration Watch itself published a comprehensive report rebutting Professor Dustmann’s arguments.  The BBC’s reaction?  Well, they completely ignored it.

Exhibit B is that News-watch is now well advanced in the he process of completing analysis of more than 300 transcripts across eight of the major BBC news programmes in the month leading up to European elections, which took place in May.

The clear headline is that throughout, Nigel Farage and UKIP were treated as aberrant, venal incompetents pursuing racist, nasty-party policies focused on immigration. Throughout the coverage there were frequent references to claims by others that the party’s approach was racist.

By contrast, those who favoured the EU’s free movement policies and indulged in the ‘racist’ name-calling, such as the Labour MP Mike Gapes, received a much fairer hearing. Of which, more when the research is complete.

The BBC, as I have already pointed out in a separate posting, have already declared this News-watch analysis to be wrong, without having read or considered it. Their view is that the coverage of the European election campaign was perfectly fair and balanced.

Which leads where? The BBC tells us they are being fair on immigration and indeed, they allow one of the chief correspondents to shout it from the rooftops. But meanwhile, when hard evidence is produced to show that this is not the case, they either ignore it altogether – or say it’s wrong. How very, very Animal Farm.

Photo by ukhomeoffice

New BBC Chairman ‘must deal with bias’

New BBC Chairman ‘must deal with bias’

Speculation is continuing about who will become new BBC chairman in succession to Lord Patten. It’s reported that Lord Coe – said to be the favourite of David Cameron – has pulled out of the selection process, as has Marjorie Scardino, the tough-talking former head of the Pearson group.

The new front-runner is said by the Guardian – who because it is the BBC house organ, tends to know these things – to be existing Trustee Nick Prettejohn. Who?

Actually, he’s a former advisor to George Osborne on banking regulation who was recently appointed to be chairman of the Scottish Widows investment and pensions company.

No doubt he’s capable in his own field, but it seems astonishing that he is even in the frame.

The BBC Charter is up for renewal in 2017, and the new chairman will thus be in charge of probably the most crucial negotiations in the Corporation’s history.

Should not the chairman therefore be someone who is genuinely knowledgeable about broadcasting? Not only that, someone who can use that knowledge to think radically, robustly and ruthlessly about the Corporation’s future?

The reality is that the BBC needs major surgical reform to recognise the continuing massive flux in how people use media.

The Corporation’s structure and its licence-fee financing were set up at a time when initially radio and then television was a scare resource because of the massive expense and limited availability in distributing signals.

The enforced licence fee of £3.5bn a year – which criminalises thousands of the poorest in our society every year and clogs up our magistrates’ courts – is a beached whale of a regressive tax that should be axed and replaced with subscription.

Such massive sums of guaranteed income have proved to be seriously corrupting, in that the narrow media elite who work for the corporation and are its Trustees have a liberal-left mindset. The vast majority of the programmes they have been producing for years are dominated by that outlook.

Coverage of issues such as climate change, immigration, drug abuse and the EU are systematically biased – and because the Corporation is its own judge and jury on complaints, the current regime is incapable of seeing that this is the case.

News-watch recently attended a meeting as part of a delegation of eurosceptics with some senior BBC news executives about the coverage of the May European elections Their approach from the outset to the detailed research before them was that it was wrong – even though they had not read it. They told us knew for certain because figures like Jamie Angus, the editor of the Today programme was ‘a good guy’ who knew what he was doing.

Such breath-taking arrogance and stone-walling is clear evidence of just how corrupting the current licence-fee system has become. The BBC is a privileged, blinkered monopoly as outmoded in modern Britain as the old British Telecom nationalised company that insisted the only telephones you could buy were the ones they told you you could buy.

One note of optimism is that new culture secretary Sajid Javid is said to be determined to end the licence fee and introduce genuine change.

That doesn’t mean the end of public service broadcasting. It means the replacement of an out-of-control dinosaur by a new mean and lean high-minded broadcasting service that has to fight for every penny of its income by being genuinely in tune with what audiences want, and by reflecting the values of British tradition, culture and society.

But if the main candidate for the BBC’s top job is George Osborne’s advisor in financial regulation, I fear a golden opportunity may be lost.

Another strand of opinion reflected in the Guardian is that David Cameron is determined the new chairman should be female. That triggers loud warning bells, because the current acting chairman is Diana Coyle, who, as has been previously noted on News-watch, is the ultimate quango queen. If it is a woman, let’s hope it’s someone appointed genuinely on merit.

Photo by ell brown

BBC drama queen: A warning from history?

BBC drama queen: A warning from history?

Scratch the surface of the BBC, and connections with vested climate change alarmist interests and the EU seem to lurk everywhere.   Not only has the Corporation become an alarmist propaganda machine, but also its personnel seem to be working on a massive scale behind the scenes to spread the message even further.

Acting chairman of the Trustees Diana Coyle is a paid advisor to energy company EDF – as was former chairman Lord Patten. And fellow trustee Richard Ayre is a former chairman of Article 19, whose goals include climate change rights advocacy throughout the world.

Deputy director of news, Fran Unsworth, can now be added to this list.  As well as being one of the BBC’s most senior female executives, she is also a board member of a major EU initiative that includes systematic ‘education’ about climate alarmism. This is called the  programme – of which, more later.

First, through, it seems that Ms Unsworth has taken personal charge of the BBC’s response to the row over the Corporation’s coverage of climate change centred on Lord Lawson.

She declares in a letter to The Spectator that Lord Lawson, contrary to some reports, is not banned from BBC coverage. Instead, editors must make it clear that his views don’t carry equal weight to those of alarmists because he is not an expert.

Ms Unsworth’s lofty  pronouncement would also seem to mean that Owen Patterson, the sacked environment minister, who has described alarmist lobby as ‘The Green Blob’, will not be afforded  ‘equal weight’ in future coverage of environmental issues.

Who else will join this list of ‘non experts’?

This will presumably be down to individual programme editors, who as a result of the BBC’s unbending partisanship on this most complex of subjects, are now in a position of deciding who is properly qualified to comment and who is not.  On what basis?

An interesting parallel, I would suggest, comes in the history of eugenics, which I am currently studying.   From the 1890s onwards, overwhelming numbers of scientists and liberal ‘reformers’ (Marie Stopes and George Bernard Shaw among them) came to believe  – on the basis of Darwin’s theories, as well as a torrent of books –that selective breeding and enforced sterilisation  was essential to eliminate mental and physical disease and to improve mankind’s genetic strength. They wanted to help natural selection on its way.

As a result, of course, we got Nazi Germany, but before that (less well-known but perhaps just as chilling, but now almost forgotten) more than 30 US states introduced enforced sterilisation laws and Britain came within an ace of following suit in 1913.  Sweden passed laws, too, and they were not repealed until the 1970s.  A ‘consensus’ of leading scientists, industrialists and politicians (who included Winston Churchill)  believed stridently in this social Darwinism and thought the only way forward was selective breeding.

Would the BBC have then been its cheerleader?  On Ms Unsworth’s logic, and with her certainty, it most probably would.

And what of Ms Unsworth herself, what equips her to make such clear adjudications on complex matters of science? Not, I would submit, her education…in fact her degree, according to the BBC, was in drama. Very apt for a BBC journalist, perhaps, but not in the understanding of the finer points of meteorology.

May be she is emboldened by the seminar which the BBC held back in 2006, at which, the Corporation claimed, a consensus of ‘scientists’ advised them that the science was settled. But Anthony Montford, of the Bishop Hill website, has shown conclusively that the whole meeting was a farcical charade – the scientists were in fact, mostly political activists, the ‘Green Blob’ that Owen Patterson has identified.

But no matter how flimsy these foundations, Ms Unsworth must be jolly sure of her facts about climate change, as her other connections also testify.  The BBC Register of Interests shows she is also an advisory  board member of the EU Erasmus Mundus  programme.  This, on the surface, is presented as an exchange scheme for students, and it clearly attracts lavish funding.  But hang on – there’s a catch.

This paper shows it has extensive climate change alarmist objectives.  It is doling out our money to create whole new generations of climate change warriors though a massive programme of international seminars and ‘education’.

No doubt listening only to Ms Unsworth’s approved ‘experts’  and properly constituted BBC reporting as they learn.

Photo by Universität Salzburg (PR)

Today Editor’s  ‘Blackpool Rock’ Propaganda

Today Editor’s ‘Blackpool Rock’ Propaganda

Jamie Angus, the young editor of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme appointed to the role a year last May, has risen through the BBC ranks virtually without a trace.

Aged 40, he’s already had stints as editor of sister programme World at One and as acting editor of Newsnight. He was parachuted into that role after the McAlpine libel fiasco, but failed to get the job full-time when director general Tony Hall decided it needed more left-wing influence and would go to Guardian deputy editor Ian Katz.

Despite Angus’s high-profile roles, search Google, and you draw a virtual blank on him, apart from this piece on the News-watch website a few months back.

But now, he’s decided to come down from his BBC mountain and has give an interview to The Guardian.  On first sight, it’s one of those soft-touch meejah ‘profiles’ without an obvious peg. But read between the lines and it speaks volumes about the man and his mission – as well as the Corporation he works for.

‘BBC propagandist’ is emblazoned there as clearly as if it had been extruded through a stick of Blackpool rock.

On the momentous occasion of his first national newspaper interview about his role, his list of priorities seems somewhat narrow. There’s not a squeak about the integrity of its journalism – for example, about how and whether his programme is fulfilling its role as the BBC’s declared flagship news and current affairs programme.

Many doubt that, but Angus’s priorities seem rather different: they are (in no particular order), whether there are enough female presenters, whether Thought for the Day should be changed, the need to make the ‘pop-py’ items he has introduced to the programme more ‘mainstream’, and how to procure more 35-54 listeners, though he appears to already have the answer: new six-second slots that appeal to them.

Of course, such issues have some significance in the overall fabric of the programme because the appeal of Today is that it does have variety and changes of pace and tone as well as the more serious interviews. But they are minutiae.

It seems astonishing that – given that not a single external  BBC interview happens without clearance at the highest PR levels – this would appear to be this thrusting new editor’s main public agenda for the BBC’s flagship programme.

Buried in the interview are some more worrying points. First, it’s clear that Angus is completely sold on what he calls the ‘pluralist’ agenda. He states:

“One of the great things about living in Britain is that we are a pluralist society that is immensely tolerant of a wide range of different religions. I think Thought for the Day is one of the hidden pillars that absolutely supports that architecture.”

That seems like BBC code for something rather less tolerant. What he actually means is that Thought for the Day has in the past been far too Christian and he is working with the rest of his chums to ensure that the need for such ‘pluralism’ ensures that Christian voices are actually heard as little as possible. And in a wider news and current affairs sense, those with ‘establishment’ views are often ignored or swamped out by the need for ‘diversity’.

And far more serious is what he reveals about  his BBC-biased attitude towards editorial impartiality.

Mr Angus says he ‘defended’ his decision to allow Lord Lawson on to the programme to discuss the Somerset floods, despite a complaint being upheld against the programme as Lord Lawson was not an expert on the subject and therefore had only ‘opinions’ and not scientific views.

He asserts:

“The BBC can’t say, ‘we aren’t going to put that point of view on air because scientists tell us it’s not right’.

Actually, he means the reverse, as becomes clear:

“People always raise flat earth at this point, but if you go into a pub on Oxford Street you won’t find anyone who says the earth is flat, but you will probably find a couple of people who are unconvinced by the science on climate change”.

There, in a sentence, is the entire problem with a crucial element of the current BBC treatment of editorial impartiality. Angus clearly thinks, that:

·        In a busy, typical pub (presumably that’s why he chooses Oxford Street) you will find only a couple of people who dare not to believe in the ‘science’ of climate change, and they are akin (but not quite as bad as) flat-earthers.

·        And the ‘science’ of climate change is so well established that those who do not accept it do not have a legitimate position – rather, they have not yet been ‘convinced’ by it.

The article also reveals that young Jamie began his career as a researcher for the Liberal Democrats – perhaps in the orbit of climate change alarmists such as Chris Huhne and Ed Davey.  How very, very fitting.

Photo by creating in the dark

BBC ‘non denial denial’ about Climate Change

BBC ‘non denial denial’ about Climate Change

All the President’s  Men, the Woodward-Bernstein book on Watergate, contained the rather neat phrase a ‘non denial denial’ to describe the contortions and distortions of the truth that Nixon’s White House manufactured  to deny that the body politic was infested with cheating, lying crooks.

The latest utterance from the corridors of the BBC in what looks increasingly like a dictatorial imposition of bias in the treatment of debates about climate alarmism brings the phrase forcibly to mind.

There were numerous reports last week that Lord Lawson had, in effect, been banned from BBC news and current affairs discussions about the subject because he dares to challenge what the Corporation says is overwhelming ‘consensus’ among scientists that we are seriously at risk from escalating temperatures.

The row ignited over reports of a ruling in the Guardian. It related to an item on the Today programme about the Somerset floods back in February.  In this, Lord Lawson argued that official responses should not accept unquestionably that the floods were caused by escalating climate change.

The Guardian now says that the BBC has issued a statement claiming that the reports about the ruling, and in particular that Lord Lawson had been banned from appearing, were wrong. It falls beautifully in the category of a complete non denial denial. The BBC says:

“Nigel Lawson has not been banned and nor is there a ban on non-scientists discussing climate change. We have also not apologised for putting him on air. The BBC is absolutely committed to impartial and balanced coverage, whatever the subject, and would not bow to pressure from any quarter whatever the story. This ruling found a false balance was created in that the item implied Lord Lawson’s views on climate science were on the same footing as those of Sir Brian Hoskins.

“Our position continues to be that we accept that there is broad scientific agreement on climate change and we reflect this accordingly. We do however on occasion offer space to dissenting voices where appropriate as part of the BBC’s overall commitment to impartiality.”

The saying: “Give them enough rope and they will hang themselves” applies here exactly.  Not only that, the Corporation is being massively disingenuous and alarmingly naive – or wilfully pig-headed – because their reaction is based on an ocean of prejudice and bull-necked corporate arrogance.

First, Nigel Lawson – though he is not a scientist – is a part of the debate about climate change alarmism because he has established the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a body which counts many eminent scientists as its trustees and advisors, and is rigorously marshalling the facts. Despite this, the BBC has only ever once (in the Today appearance) invited him to contribute to climate-related items.

Second, how on earth can the BBC declare with certainty that there is ‘broad scientific agreement’ about such a massively complex subject or that science is established by agreement?  And why on earth is it ‘false balance’ to include the views of a former Chancellor of the Exchequer into a discussion about whether resources relating to flood management are being wisely spent?

This new statement suggests the BBC, from top to bottom, are continuing to frame their reporting of climate alarmism on the basis that it has been proved. They may not have actually ‘banned’ figures such as Lord Lawson, but the facts speak for themselves – such appearances are very rare.

This seems every bit as sinister as Nixon’s White House. No lying or cheating, but preventing major national figures from properly taking part in debates of major public importance is surely  tantamount to the latter; audiences are entitled to expect the full facts, not a BBC diced and sliced and sanitised version.

Photo by Civilian Scrabble

Hall’s BBC Executive Board Climate Change Links

Hall’s BBC Executive Board Climate Change Links

Rona Fairhead, who David Cameron has parachuted in as new chairman of the BBC, is being grilled about her approach to the role by the Commons Culture and Sport Committee on Tuesday – and already questions of conflict of interest are being asked.

A former chief executive of the Financial Times group, she still owns a tranche of shares in parent company Pearson worth around £4.5m – and the BBC commercial arm BBC Worldwide has a deal with Pearson which involves the Corporation promoting  some of its educational products. No doubt the BBC’s spin doctors will come up with reasons why that’s perfectly OK.

Actually, her appointment may be smoke and mirrors and almost an irrelevance. The real power in the Corporation is vested in the Executive Management Board. It takes the day-to-day decisions about how its run.

The Trustees (of whom Fairhead will be chairman)   is supposed to be the BBC watchdog, but since its inception in 2007 has in reality been pretty ineffective and packed with left-leaning climate change alarmists such as Alison Hastings and Diana Coyle.

Under former chairman Lord Patten, they pretty much sat on their hands while former Director General Mark Thompson presided over a bean feast of eye-wateringly massive pay-outs to departing executives, embarked on lunatic  new technology projects that cost licence-fee payers more than £100m, and also spectacularly failed to act as senior Corporation editorial managers effectively suppressed the Savile story.

The executive management board is made up of a core senior BBC executives, such as former director of news Helen Boaden, who rather than being sacked,  was moved sideways to Managing Director radio after huge question marks were raised about her conduct in the Savile cover-up.

But the board also has a range of outside non-executive and it is here that Director General Tony Hall has been making a raft of appointments that show how the BBC is likely to conduct itself in the crucial build-up to 2017 Charter renewal, and who are likely to be far more important in the shaping of BBC conduct.

Who are these people? A mixed bag of fiercely independent minds?  Well no.

Step forward  Sir Nicholas Hytner, Alice Perkins, Dame Fiona Reynolds, Sir Howard Stringer, and Simon Burke.

All, it is true, have impressive-sounding career paths. Hytner is the former director of the National  Theatre; Stringer  a former president of CBS, the US terrestrial broadcaster, and Sony, the Japanese conglomerate; Perkins is Chairman of the Post Office; Reynolds is a former Director General of the National Trust;   and Burke, a retailer, has a career that started with Richard Branson’s Virgin and he is now a director of the Co-op Food division.

But scratch the surface, and familiar alarm bells start clanging immediately.

Alice Perkins hasn’t adopted the name of her husband – he’s the former foreign secretary Jack Straw. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about that in terms of her outlook.

Stringer has a very public obsession pursuing climate change alarmism. Under his leadership, Sony got into bed very firmly with all the usual eco militants in leading the charge towards a 50% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, and he is a platform speaker at climate alarmist events such as this. This adulatory piece in the BBC’s house journal The Guardian says it all.

Reynolds , now the master of Emmanuel College , can be seen and heard here in full cry telling the students of St Andrew’s University that we are all going to fry and die unless we mend our wicked ways and all become as madly green as she is.  And under Reynolds stewardship, the National Trust turned from being a body simply conserving our heritage to one screeching that climate change is a major national issue that affects us all.

Hytner is very careful about giving interviews about his political outlook. But my guess from a trawl of his background is that he was never a fan of Margaret Thatcher and he stresses the need for the arts to reflect ‘cultural diversity’ – often the code for the multicultural agenda.

Burke is also a bit of an unknown quantity – his career path too colourless to attract much attention –  but he cut his teeth as a key lieutenant of the right-on green warrior Richard Branson, whose enlightened  philosophy is to tell climate ‘deniers’ to get out of the way.

The problem facing the BBC as Fairhead’s appointment moves towards confirmation is not particularly who she is, or what she represents, but that the Corporation  desperately needs input from genuinely independent radical-thinking  figures who can shake up its slavish adherence to left-leaning ideology and outlook.

All the signs are that it is moving in the opposite direction.  Tony Hall has surrounded himself with a coterie that shares his own worldview – and in turn, that’s exactly the same as that of the Trustees.

On Tuesday, the MPs on the Culture Committee will focus on Fairhead, but she’s destined to be an empty, toothless figurehead.  The real power lies elsewhere.

Photo by Rajan Manickavasagam

BBC Trustees Cement ‘climate change’ Prejudice

BBC Trustees Cement ‘climate change’ Prejudice

The just-published  BBC Trust Review of impartiality and accuracy of the BBC’s coverage of science: follow up is an extraordinary, document which I think is virtually unprecedented in terms of partisanship in the broadcast arena.  The BBC Trustees have reinforced with steely belligerence against those who dare to disagree, their 2012 ruling that, in effect, the debate about climate change alarmism is settled.

News-watch has previously highlighted that Fraser Steel, the BBC’s head of complaints, has recently decreed after a complaint from a Green Party activist  that audiences must be made  aware that climate sceptics such as  Lord Lawson are totally outvoted by a ‘consensus’ of science, and is  wrong in holding such ‘opinions’.

In BBC programmes, if ever he is invited to appear, he must therefore receive only ‘due impartiality’ (Trustee Newspeak for less airtime). The document published this week explains why he acted with such certainty.

This is a long and complex subject to deal with in a blog post, but the way the BBC arrived at establishing there is such consensus is a whole catalogue of biased decisions.

Act 1 was back in 2006-7, and is expertly detailed by Andrew Montford, who runs the Bishop Hill blog. Roger Harrabin, the Corporation’s chief environmental correspondent – himself clearly linked closely to green activism  – persuaded BBC news chiefs  to call a meeting of ‘scientists’ to seek advice on the topic about what was then called global warming.  It turned out that, although the BBC tried desperately hard to conceal who these so-called ’scientists’ were, most of them were in fact fully-paid up leading eco-warriors, many linked to the EU, who were  determined to foist their anti-capitalist views on the world via BBC airtime. They got their way.

Act 2 was in 2010-12, when the Trustees commissioned a report to see if that adoption of such partisanship was correct. They appointed for this ‘independent’ review Professor Steve Jones, who is  a known climate change alarmist and had regular paid employment from the BBC in their science programmes. Somehow, the Trustees missed or glossed over that a) he is  not independent, b) he is  a biologist and not an expert on climate,  and c)  that he is a political activist who has broadcast that private schools are a ‘cancer’ in the education system.

The Jones report, which appeared in 2012 was therefore rather unsurprisingly a partisan political tract.  It argued that climate change science was settled and that the BBC must work to virtually exclude from the airwaves anyone who disagreed with alarmism. The BBC was already doing that anyway, but the report gave the BBC the Trustees what they saw as the ‘independent;’ authority to continue with their disgracefully biased approach in this area of public policy that is costing the UK taxpayer countless wasted billions to pursue.

Spool forward to the latest report. Since Jones, the Trustees have been monitoring the science output further, and have asked the programme-making executives to respond to the points made.

The new document is a total charade and whitewash. Throughout, it s tone parrots without an iota of modesty that BBC science reporting is the best in the world.

The first section reinforces the commitment to bias by chillingly repeating that a ‘false balance’ between well-established fact and opinion must be avoided. That’s the BBC Trustees code for saying Lord Lawson has wrong-headed ‘opinions’ whereas those who support climate alarmism have been somehow proved right beyond doubt.

It then goes on to outline that this orthodoxy is being enforced by the holding of more meetings with selected ‘scientists’ and the creation internally of a ‘Science Forum’ (at what expense, one wonders?). This has already trained 75 ‘senior editorial figures’ in ensuring they understand where ‘consensus’ lies in the reporting of climate change. In other words, in true Harry Palmer style, they have been to a brainwashing boot camp to ensure they do not give too much airtime to Mr Lawson.

Even more chillingly, the document also reveals that the goal of  senior management is now to create a centralised science unit which will ensure that What the BBC Knows To Be True in science  is enforced across all the Corporation’s media platforms and that no-one transgresses the due impartiality rules .

The irony lost on the Trustees here is that this is not science, because science has never worked on consensus; so-called ‘truths’ are established by a robust process of continual ferment and experimentation.  What the BBC Trustees are actually promulgating is a new Article of Faith: that they know they are right about the science of climate change because they have consulted the right people and they have told them that it is right to be alarmed.  This new report shows they are pursuing that self-declared orthodoxy with an unfounded and reckless missionary zeal.

Photo by NASA on The Commons