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David Keighley

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

BBC media action ‘spends 500k on climate alarmism’.

BBC media action ‘spends 500k on climate alarmism’.

BBC Media Action   has spent an astonishing £500,000 on a cod survey in Asia that is designed to spread alarm about climate change among some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. Its methodology is so laughably inept that it doesn’t bear a moment’s scrutiny: how can lay respondents know with certainty (as the survey asked them) how much local climate has changed?

For the uninitiated, BBC Media Action was set up in 2011 to work alongside the BBC World Service in delivering desirable change in developing countries. It claims to be an ‘independent body’, but  is funded  by taxes because much of its money comes from  the Department for International Development and the EU. Further, at least half its board of Trustees is actually nominated by the BBC. The current chairman, Peter Horrocks (a former editor of Newsnight)  is also in charge of the BBC World Service broadcasting operation.

News-watch has been investigating Media Action (and its predecessor body, the World Service Trust)  for several years. News of the Asian surveywas posted  two months ago on the News-watch website, and it has also been noted that its activities were likely to be intensified with the influx of £20m of funds from backers such as the EU – and also because the World Service is expanding massively. The goal is to double the audience in five years.

That may well presage more of the Asian style surveys.  If so, it will amount to blatant climate change alarmism on an unprecedented scale.

Most appalling s is that Media Action is deliberately targeting vulnerable young people, with the effect of inculcating a hugely negative worldview and a deep loathing for capitalism. The Asian report is full of unmitigated gloom and threatens famine, drought and disease on a massive scale. Despite the mental damage it causes, targeting the impressionable young has always been regarded as legitimate by those with extreme political causes because – like Prince Charles – they believe they are ‘saving the world’ and that validates any tactics, no matter how repugnant or morally questionable.

John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Commons media and culture committee, the main parliamentary BBC watchdog, professes that he is ‘astonished’ that the survey was authorised and claims it is a waste of money. But with respect to this very fair-minded man, it seems  that he and his committee colleagues have been fast asleep on their watch.

The reality is that Media Action works as it does because it has the backing of the highest levels of the BBC. Here’s the evidence:

Alison Hastings,  the Trustee who chairs the editorial standards committee (ESC),  the internal editorial watchdog, issued a Trustee statement four years ago which, in effect, said that those who disagree with climate change alarmism would get only very limited exposure because there was a ‘consensus’ that they were wrong.

Diana Coyle, the current Trustees deputy chairman, who is hoping to become the next chairman, is a stakeholder advisor to EDF Energy, a company which is working systematically to harvest as much cash as possible from the government for renewable and green energy provision.

Richard Ayre, a colleague of Ms Hastings on the ESC, was a career BBC journalist before becoming a quangocrat. He is also is a former chairman (2003-5) of a body called Article 19. This fights for freedom of expression, but like many such leftist organisations, also has a major climate change alarmist agenda. Its website declares:

At the national level, greening the economy will include improving fiscal policy reform, reducing environmentally harmful subsidies, employing new market–‐based instruments, and targeting public Investments to “green” key sectors.

Finally,  the most recent recruit to the ESC and the Trustees.Is Nick Prettejohn, His career is in the financial services sector, and he has recently also been appointed chairman of Scottish Widows Group. His new company website states:

Fundamentally SWIP believes that strong climate policies from governments are the essential pre-requisite to addressing climate risk. Without strong climate policies we will fail to mitigate climate change.

So, to recap. The BBC has been caught red-handed spending half a million pounds on a project specifically designed to spread climate change alarm and panic among some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities.

But, chilling as this is, the evidence is not actually hidden, nor is it new. It is going on blatantly in broad daylight, aided and abetted by Trustees who are seemingly hell-bent on a climate change crusade.

So when is  Mr Whittingdale, and his committee going to wake up and intervene? The BBC itself won’t change because the rot is in the inside from the very top downwards. The only hope is that Parliament will act with the teeth it sadly only sometimes bares.  BBC Media Action   has spent an astonishing £500,000 on a cod survey in Asia that is designed to spread alarm about climate change among some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. Its methodology is so laughably inept that it doesn’t bear a moment’s scrutiny: how can lay respondents know with certainty (as the survey asked them) how much local climate has changed?

For the uninitiated, BBC Media Action was set up in 2011 to work alongside the BBC World Service in delivering desirable change in developing countries. It claims to be an ‘independent body’, but  is funded  by taxes because much of its money comes from  the Department for International Development and the EU. Further, at least half its board of Trustees is actually nominated by the BBC. The current chairman, Peter Horrocks (a former editor of Newsnight)  is also in charge of the BBC World Service broadcasting operation.

News-watch has been investigating Media Action (and its predecessor body, the World Service Trust)  for several years. News of the Asian surveywas posted  two months ago on the News-watch website, and it has also been noted that its activities were likely to be intensified with the influx of £20m of funds from backers such as the EU – and also because the World Service is expanding massively. The goal is to double the audience in five years.

That may well presage more of the Asian style surveys.  If so, it will amount to blatant climate change alarmism on an unprecedented scale.

Most appalling s is that Media Action is deliberately targeting vulnerable young people, with the effect of inculcating a hugely negative worldview and a deep loathing for capitalism. The Asian report is full of unmitigated gloom and threatens famine, drought and disease on a massive scale. Despite the mental damage it causes, targeting the impressionable young has always been regarded as legitimate by those with extreme political causes because – like Prince Charles – they believe they are ‘saving the world’ and that validates any tactics, no matter how repugnant or morally questionable.

John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Commons media and culture committee, the main parliamentary BBC watchdog, professes that he is ’astonished’ that the survey was authorised and claims it is a waste of money. But with respect to this very fair-minded man, it seems  that he and his committee colleagues have been fast asleep on their watch.

The reality is that Media Action works as it does because it has the backing of the highest levels of the BBC. Here’s the evidence:

Alison Hastings,  the Trustee who chairs the editorial standards committee (ESC),  the internal editorial watchdog, issued a Trustee statement four years ago which, in effect, said that those who disagree with climate change alarmism would get only very limited exposure because there was a ‘consensus’ that they were wrong.

Diana Coyle, the current Trustees deputy chairman, who is hoping to become the next chairman, is a stakeholder advisor to EDF Energy, a company which is working systematically to harvest as much cash as possible from the government for renewable and green energy provision.

Richard Ayre, a colleague of Ms Hastings on the ESC, was a career BBC journalist before becoming a quangocrat. He is also is a former chairman (2003-5) of a body called Article 19. This fights for freedom of expression, but like many such leftist organisations, also has a major climate change alarmist agenda. Its website declares:

At the national level, greening the economy will include improving fiscal policy reform, reducing environmentally harmful subsidies, employing new market–‐based instruments, and targeting public Investments to “green” key sectors.

Finally,  the most recent recruit to the ESC and the Trustees.Is Nick Prettejohn, His career is in the financial services sector, and he has recently also been appointed chairman of Scottish Widows Group. His new company website states:

Fundamentally SWIP believes that strong climate policies from governments are the essential pre-requisite to addressing climate risk. Without strong climate policies we will fail to mitigate climate change.

So, to recap. The BBC has been caught red-handed spending half a million pounds on a project specifically designed to spread climate change alarm and panic among some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities.

But, chilling as this is, the evidence is not actually hidden, nor is it new. It is going on blatantly in broad daylight, aided and abetted by Trustees who are seemingly hell-bent on a climate change crusade.

So when is  Mr Whittingdale, and his committee going to wake up and intervene? The BBC itself won’t change because the rot is in the inside from the very top downwards. The only hope is that Parliament will act with the teeth it sadly only sometimes bares.

Photo by ToastyKen

BBC complaints ruling: ‘Is major threat to free speech’

To the Guardian and presumably its diminishing band of readers, the issue of climate change alarmism is settled. We are all going to fry and they know it beyond doubt. They have an army of correspondents who tell us so.

Many disagree strongly, but the Guardian is entitled to its views. That’s the reality of a free press:  a newspaper can choose its own editorial policy, no matter how biased or against the odds.

Not so the BBC. It’s governed by a Royal Charter which dictates that on matters of public controversy, it must be even handed and balanced in its coverage of events.

But it appears that any pretence of this has gradually been abandoned by the liberal elite that now run it – as the latest ruling by the Corporation’s head of complaints, Fraser Steel has vividly and chillingly shown.  The Corporation is now acting like its own version of Big Brother, dictating what we should think about key issues of national and international debate. And guess what? Its army of publicly-funded staff are uncompromisingly pursuing a leftist agenda.

Back in February, Lord Lawson – who became so concerned about climate change alarmism that he has set up the Global Warming Policy Foundation – appeared on the Today programme to react to the appallingly cack-handed official response to the Somerset floods. Many believed they had been greatly made worse by the Environment Agency’s green and alarmist approach to flood management, and Lord Lawson said so. That in itself was a miracle – for once, the Today programme allowed an opponent of its worldview to put a different perspective.

On the programme with him was Sir Brian Hoskins, a well known alarmist, who is so fervent in his views about the topic that he believes that billions of pounds must be spent on combating the environment dragons he sees in every temperature change. He is also hugely active in pursuing his cause, a one man-band of propaganda who has huge resources behind him, regular unchallenged access to BBC microphones, and the ear of government.

After the programme, one Chit Chong, a member of the Green party, wrote to the BBC and complained that allowing both men too put their views was totally unfair, because  a consensus of scientists believed that Lord Lawson was wrong and Sir Brian was ‘right’. He argued that the BBC had given too much airtime to Lord Lawson’s views. The greenie warrior stated that the Corporation had, in effect, legitimised the illegitimate.

Enter Fraser Steel, the BBC’s complaints chief. And in jaw-dropping, nakedly Orwellian fashion, he has now ruled that Chit Chong was right. According to a leaked report of his findings in – surprise, surprise, the Guardian – Mr Steel has said that Lord Lawson’s views on climate change alarmism  ‘are not supported by computer modelling and scientific research’ and ‘this was not made sufficiently clear to the audience’.  He reportedly concludes:

“I don’t believe this was made sufficiently clear to the audience… it is important to ensure that such views are put into the appropriate context and given due (rather than equal) weight.”

If this is true, let’s not mince words. What this means is that because the BBC has decreed that climate change alarmism is proved by ‘consensus’, Lord Lawson, and those who doubt the BBC’s alarmism,  should not ever be given equal airtime to put their case, if at all. And it also raises the ludicrous prospect that before any such broadcast involving an opponent of alarmism, there should be editorial comment that such views are not supported by consensus.  So in future, this, in effect, is what must happen (if Lord Lawson is ever asked to appear again, which now must be in doubt):

John Humphrys: “With me now is Lord Lawson. I have to tell you first that the BBC has decided that the point of view he is expressing is not backed by scientific facts because a consensus of scientists tell us that this is the case.  Now Lord Lawson, what do you think about this matter?”

This, surely,  is a chilling assault against the concept of free speech.  It’s hard to discover anything about Fraser Steel or his background because the BBC website says nothing about him other than that he is head of the complaints unit. But what we now appear to have in place have is an army of BBC bureaucrats armed with a set of  cock-eyed, right-on rules; they use their own brand of prejudice in measuring every damn piece of BBC broadcasting  to see if it measures up to the Corporation’s Own Version of The Truth.

Europhile Quango Queen ‘Backed by Cameron for BBC top job’

Europhile Quango Queen ‘Backed by Cameron for BBC top job’

With perhaps wearying predictability, another major Europhile is firmly in the frame to become as successor to Lord Patten as BBC chairman.

It’s rumoured that she is Diana Coyle, the current deputy chairman, an economist who has written books on the topic and also worked in the Independent newspaper as a commentator.  Interviews for the job take place next month.

Ms Coyle is married to Rory Cellan Jones, the BBC’s staid technology editor and her career over the past decade has been as a quango queen. Like so many of these figures, she also serves – without a breath of irony – on the Competition Commission.

Few people will have heard of Ms Coyle, but she has been a BBC governor since 2006 and, according to the Guardian, has become a strong favourite to become chairman because David Cameron wants a woman in the role and also because she is seen as a safe pair of hands.

Could the real reason be, however, that he actually wants someone who will be totally on his side in his stated position that membership of the EU is good for the UK?

Certainly, Ms Coyle avidly shares Lord Patten’s enthusiasm for the EU.   She wrote in the Independent when Blair-Brown battle about the UK’s euro membership was at its height:

The defenders of sterling are, in the main, a group of elderly men with more stake in their past than in our future. They clothe their gut anti-Europeanism and Little Englandism in the language of rational economic argument[1].

The following year, Ms Coyle was equally vehement in her dismissal of the idea that an inflationary boom in Ireland was caused by the euro. She maintained that it was only Eurosceptics who supported such views[2].

It may therefore be assumed, that, as a Europhile,  like Lord Patten, she supports the EU in its climate change alarmism policies. This is evident in a book she wrote in 2011, The Economics of Enough. This is an account of an interview she gave about her work:

Diane Coyle, author of The Economics of Enough, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the future and the ideas in her book. Coyle argues that the financial crisis, the entitlement crisis, and climate change all reflect a failure to deal with the future appropriately. The conversation ranges across a wide range of issues including debt, the financial sector, and the demographic challenges of an aging population that is promised generous retirement and health benefits. Coyle argues for better measurement of the government budget and suggests ways that the political process might be made more effective[3]

What is also striking is that Ms Coyle, alongside Lord Patten, is an advisor to EDF Energy, which like other energy companies, is perpetuating climate change alarmism so that it can line its pockets with green energy and renewable government subsidies.

That, of course, chimes with the BBC’s own agenda. Her long-time BBC Trust colleague is Alison Hastings, who has decreed that the promulgation of climate change alarmism is compulsory for all BBC journalists.

One thing is certain about Ms Coyle if she does land the chairman’s role.  She won’t be pressing for any significant changes in the BBC’s journalism.  She has already declared:

“I’ve always valued the BBC, not least as the best provider of news coverage in the world. Its impartiality and comprehensive coverage underpin its vital civic role.”

Given that the BBC Trustees are supposed also to be watchdogs in terms of standards, that’s a terrifying expression of complacency.

 

[1] Independent, 8 April 1999

[2]  “IMF verdict on Ireland to disappoint euro-sceptics”, Independent, 7 August 2000.

[3] http://www.econtalk.org/archives/_featuring/diane_coyle/

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Paxman ‘Shows BBC decline’

Paxman ‘Shows BBC decline’

So, it’s good night from him, then. Jeremy Paxman has ended his marathon quarter century stint as presenter of BBC2’s Newsnight.
Though he achieved some palpable hits – famously, his devastating interrogation of then home secretary Michael Howard – I think he never really delivered in his perceived role of Inquisitor General of the Corporation, a mantle he assumed from Sir Robin Day. In reality such skewerings were extremely rare; in those 25 years only half a dozen stand out. Sir Robin once said – on the anniversary of his 25 years at the BBC – that it seemed to him that he began his career as the fierce Torquemada and ended up as the ever-so-’umble Uriah Heep; that, too, is the fate of Paxman.
Actually the Newsnight Paxman has presented for so long is seen by many to be both discredited and a spent force. It amounts now to little more than a very expensive vanity publishing exercise by the 8,000-strong £1 billion-a year BBC news division. Newsnight is set-piece, very expensive, old-style television, launched in 1980 when there were only three television channels. The rest of the world has moved on in the way it uses and consumes news. It’s very rare that those set-piece interviews yield anything new because our politicians are now trained to the nth degree in dodging bullets.
This staleness is compounded by a long decline in standards. The utter fiasco of Newsnight’s failure to report the Savile affair, and its downright nasty, incompetent an inexcusable accusations against Lord McAlpine are clear evidence of this. Add to that the continued decline in the programme’s average viewing figures, from well over a million each night to around d 600,000 (at times as low as 320,00) and its sectarian colonisation by ex-Guardian journalists – the editor is Ian Katz, a former deputy editor – and the picture of its inadequacy and decay is complete.
It’s the BBC pretending it is engaged in serious investigative journalism of record when in reality Newsnight as it is now does little more than bounce back at the Corporation its own warped left-wing view of the world –on a whole raft of issues such as immigration, climate change and the EU.
And many believe Paxman bears a major responsibility for this. This became clear when back in 1999 News-watch undertook he task of monitoring the BBC’s coverage of that year’s European elections. It was a very different political landscape: William Hague was the then very eurosceptic leader of the Conservative Party, Tony Blair was his all-powerful general electoral nemesis and UKIP commanded only 7% of the vote.
In the BBC’s coverage, what stood out – in an election which Hague eventually won with 36% of the national vote against Labour with 28% – was that the whole event was regarded as a turn-off. There were very few items on any of the BBC’s programmes and those that were broadcast viewed the issues involved mainly through the lazy and biased prism of Conservative splits, even though by that time the vast majority of both grassroots and parliamentary members were united in being massively eurosceptic. News-watch dubbed this ‘bias by omission’ – a failure to report the key issues because the BBC was so pro-EU that it did not think they were important or interesting.
Paxman stood out in our survey because in one of the very few Newsnight election items, on the day of the vote, he leaned to camera, and to the accompaniment of footage showing a battery of deserted polling stations, declared that it had been, and I quote, ‘an outbreak of narcolepsy’.
True, turnout was only 24%, but 10m Britons had actually voted, and the irony of his remark was seemingly totally lost on him. Did no one ask a simple question? Perhaps no one had voted because Newsnight itself and the BBC as a whole had not bothered to make the election interesting. Paxman’s smug talk of sleeping sickness epitomised the massed battalions of the news division’s lethargic and biased approach to the EU.
They were so much in favour of continued membership and ridiculing or ignoring the withdrawal and sceptic lobbies that they failed to put effort into making the key areas of policy, procedure and debate interesting for viewers.
That attitude persists. They might now occasionally discuss ‘Europe’ and ‘withdrawal’ but only through the BBC’s own highly-sectarian lens. There is massive bias by omission, and as a result, many of the British public are woefully under-informed about the true nature of the EU project.
Paxman, John Humphrys apart, has been for at least two decades the most powerful individual journalist at the BBC. Instead of fighting for change, and editorial integrity, he settled for the comfort of the journalistic equivalent of pipe and slippers. In the end, he became totally part of the fabric of a once powerful but now decrepit, outmoded and totally discredited programme.

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