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David Keighley

BBC  in new World Service Propaganda Push

BBC in new World Service Propaganda Push

Be afraid, be very afraid.

James Harding, the director of BBC news and current affairs, has delivered a speech in which he has said the BBC’s ambition is to double the reach of the World Service in the next eight years: He stated:

“Internationally, Sir Howard Stringer has been looking at how we can take the BBC’s global audience of roughly 250 million people to 500 million by 2022. He will report his findings next month. It has made me feel extremely privileged and proud to see the way in which the return of the World Service to licence fee funding has prompted us to reaffirm our commitment to delivering news to audiences of need around the world, to commit to a protected and, preferably, growing budget and to explore how to deliver more of the World Service’s journalism to audiences at home.”

To be sure, the World Service is enjoyed by many, and is thought by some to deliver an important United Kingdom perspective on world events.  But in recent years, it has transmuted into something very different:  an integral part of the ‘development culture’ which sees providing aid and services to the developing world as a mission founded four-square on liberal political objectives.

Sweeping claims – what evidence is there to support them? The framework is actually well established and not hidden, as we have previously noted on this site. The World Service operates hand in glove with its charitable arm BBC  Media Action, an organisation which its website shows works flat out with NGOs and other sundry agitators around the world (under the guise of working for ‘human rights’). It attracts bucket loads of cash for its objectives from both the EU and the government Department of International Development. Among its main aims is  to spread the primary ‘climate change’ message, essentially that we are all going to die unless we stop burning fossil fuel and mend our wicked capitalist ways.

In that respect a main cheerleader alongside Mr Harding is BBC Trustee Richard Ayre, a former BBC news executive who was also for many years involved in Article 19, an international campaigning organisation which sees as a major part of its goals the enforcement of international environmental law – in essence, the climate change agenda.

An example of this work by the BBC’s Media Action arm  is this survey. They have set in train an ‘education’ project across six major countries in Asia which is about spreading the word about ‘climate change’ and aims to trigger people to take action against it.  What this means in practice is that the BBC are providing propaganda tools to reach and terrify schoolchildren on a massive scale. In Nepal, for example, young kids are being systematically trained as militant activists.This is described as foillows:

Project: “Child Voices: Children of Nepal Speak Out on Climate Change Adaptation” by Children in a Changing Climate and Action Aid.

Objectives:The purpose of the project was to make children’s concerns heard, and to persuade decision-makers to incorporate children’s adaptation needs into policy-making.

Target Audience: Target audiences included local communities for awareness raising; local decision-makers, NGOs and UN agencies for advocacy; and policymakers for policy change.

Project Design: Poor children in rural and urban areas of Nepal were supported to make short films about how climate change is being experienced by their communities. Making these films allowed children to explore how the changing climate is impacting them and their families, how they are coping, and what they need in order to adapt.

Communication: Messages centred on the need for advocacy on children’s adaptation needs.

Partners: Children in a Changing Climate is a coalition of leading child-focused research, development and humanitarian organisations

Channels & Formats: The films were shown in local communities, featured on TV and are available online. A report was also produced based on the findings of the participatory video project.

Impact: The use of participatory video (1) helped children in Nepal better understand climate change impacts (2) helped prioritise their adaptation needs, and (3) helped advocate for change. The children successfully used their videos to gain adaptation funding, for example for a bridge to help children get to school during the monsoon season. At the national level, the report and videos supported an ongoing dialogue with the government on child rights and climate change where it was agreed that children need to be a priority group in Nepal’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA).”

Of course, anything that genuinely improves the lives of the poor is Nepal is to be welcomed; the bridge was no doubt needed. But they also desperately need access to cheap energy and fuel, the most effective way of ending deprivation – and the climate change  movement does not want that; they insist that the only acceptable energy generation is via vastly expensive ‘green’ schemes.

So what Mr Harding actually means when he talks about World Service expansion  is that BBC journalists are gearing up to indoctrinate ever-larger audiences with BBC-NGO values that include as a central component climate change alarmism.

Photo by R/DV/RS

Back to the future: the BBC’s attacks on EU withdrawal

Back to the future: the BBC’s attacks on EU withdrawal

Another European election and the BBC are in full cry again trying to find ways of showing that those who support withdrawal are racist. They have form, and it has been tracked in detail by News-watch.

Their justification, of course, is that the party has ‘controversial’ policies that need probing.

The latest story elevated to front page status is that a supporter of withdrawal who is fighting a local council election (not a European parliamentary seat) has made ‘offensive’ tweets against both the black comedian Lenny Henry and Islam.

In the BBC’s lexicon there is perhaps no higher crime.

Conservative minister Jeremy Hunt is enlisted to say so: overt racism, he claims.

The story also includes ‘balancing’ comments from Roger Helmer, the UKIP MEP, who states that the remarks were not party policy, and also that he believed that the way the story was written amounted to an attempt to smear UKIP.

The problem here is not that the BBC has reported the story, or even that they have included the allegations. If a candidate is racist (but, note, there are different sides to the story), then it is legitimate journalism to say so.

The issue rather this is back to the future:  the wearily predictable way the BBC always reports the ‘come out’ cause.  The important arguments about withdrawal from the EU are totally subsumed by the focus on racism, or some other problem.

The evidence for this is epitomised in a transcript – included fully below because it is so astonishingly negative – from the 2009 European elections. It was broadcast on May 30, 2009, and became the subject of a formal complaint by Lord Pearson of Rannoch which was – of course, as are all complaints about their EU coverage – airily dismissed by the then Today editor Ceri Thomas, who, on a salary of £166,000 a year, has since been promoted and now has a central role in shaping the whole of the BBC’s news coverage.

Most amazing was the 428-word preface by then European editor Mark Mardell, who, with delicious irony, was appointed to the role in 2005 to ensure greater impartiality in the BBC’s reporting of issues such as withdrawal. In three minutes he cobbled together every possible insult against UKIP, without once focusing on its objective of withdrawal; almost gleefully, he heaped against the withdrawal movement the epithet ‘BNP in blazers’ – and claimed MEPs were relentlessly voting against British interests, and were venal.

John Humphrys then kicked off the interview with Nigel Farage with heavy accusations about corruption, followed by…of course, further allegations of racism. This was aggressive interviewing at its most ferocious and gave Mr Farage only minimal space to put points about party policy and withdrawal.

The negative treatment of ‘withdrawal’ in this interview must also be seen in the handling of the topic in the whole election campaign. News-watch surveyed the campaign output across ten flagship news programmes across the BBC output. Among its conclusions were:

·         Only six interviews of withdrawal candidates in the whole campaign 

·         The UKIP “expenses” issue was mentioned in all but one of the interviews, and also in several other reports.

·         Aggressive questioning of the party on alleged racism and inefficiency, with a high rate of interruptions

·         There were only two brief questions about withdrawal and few opportunities to describe EU-related policies. 

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, Today, 30th May 2009, Interview with Nigel Farage, 7.32am

JOHN HUMPHRYS:                If we are to believe the opinion poll in The Times this morning, UKIP will get more votes than the Labour Party in the European Election.  A result like that would obviously be calamitous for Gordon Brown, but what effect in the long run would it have on UKIP – seen as one of our fringe parties, perhaps?  It won a dozen seats at the last European elections, but doesn’t have a single MP at Westminster and, more important still, what effect would it have on our future in the European Union.  I’ll be talking to its leader in a moment, but let’s hear first from our Europe Editor, Mark Mardell.

MARK MARDELL: A small sea, more like a pond perhaps, of Union flags drop in front of a diminished group of men in the European Parliament.  They thought their election heralded a revolution, but what have they achieved?  Not, obviously, their main ambition of getting the UK out of the EU.  Most members of the European Parliament regard UKIP as profoundly unserious pranksters with a weird obsession.  ‘Criminal betrayal’ – so said UKIP’s rising star Robert Kilroy-Silk MEP, the former Labour MP and daytime TV host, he’s the man with the orange complexion, you’ll remember, before he quite the party.  ‘An incompetent joke’ – that’s the verdict of another leadership contender.  The pronouncements of sore losers, perhaps, but there’s something of a theme here which real opponents have been quick to pick up on: ‘fruitcakes, loonies, closet racists’ was what David Cameron said about them, and it’s the last bit that annoys the current leadership.  Nigel Farage has dismissed the idea that they’re the BNP in blazers, but their main plank in this election is perhaps their opposition to unlimited immigration, and Mr Farage admits he’s spent a lot of time and energy fighting off a take-over by the far right.  That must say something about the sympathies of some members.  And what about the MEPs?  Of the dozen elected, Robert Kilroy-Silk has disappeared from the political scene and two others have been expelled, one jailed for fraud, the other awaiting trial on similar charges.  UKIP condemns the EU gravy train, but a good proportion seem to have prominent gravy stains all down their blazers.  The European Parliament, for all its bad reputation, is a place where the politicians have a serious job modifying, tweaking, even kicking out proposed new laws.  UKIP don’t boast of any achievements on this front, and their opponents say they’ve voted against Britain’s interests in a host of areas from fishing to trade talks.  A UKIP news release ruefully admits that occasionally UKIP do miss pieces of legislation.  If not the BNP in blazers, then there is something of the golf club militant about UKIP – so old-school they’re in constant danger of being expelled, the boys who didn’t make prefects because they were too ready to cock a snook and put two fingers up at the establishment.  But there’s no doubt there is a market for this at the moment, but in a parliament that’s about quiet conciliation not gestures, they make a lot of noise, no one is unaware of their cause.  For them the risk is that they become part of an institution they despise, the licensed court jester, who can poke fun at the EU’s po-faced pretentions, as long as they make withdrawal look like a lost cause for mavericks.

JH:           Mark Mardell there.  Well, Nigel Farage is the leader of UKIP, he’s on the line, good morning to you.

NIGEL FARAGE:     Good morning.

JH:           Let’s deal with that bit about the gravy train first.  You yourself have done rather well out of it haven’t you?

NF:          Certainly not.  I’ve given up a career in the City of London, I would be earning substantially more money than I am now, but the point is, UKIP MEPs are not in this for a career, they’re not in this for money, they’re in it because they absolutely believe that we’ve got to have a different relationship with the EU, one that is based on . . .

JH:           (interrupting)  Alright, we’ll come that in a minute, the different relationship with the EU, we’ll come to that in a minute, you say you’re not in it for the money.  You have taken, I’m quoting what you said to Denis McShane, the Foreign Press Association asked the other day about your expenses and all that sort of thing, and you said ‘it’s a vast sum, I don’t know what the total amount is, but oh Lord, it must be pushing £2 million’

NF:          We don’t get expenses . . .

JH:           No, no.

NF:          We get set allowances.

JH:           Indeed.

NF:          It’s an entirely different system to Westminster . . .

JH:           (speaking over) Nonetheless, £2 million since you’ve been there?

NF:          Well, every single MEP gets the same, you know, Glenys Kinnock gets the same as I’ll get . . .

JH:           I know.

NF:          And what we have done is we’ve used that money to campaign up and down the country over the last few years, telling people the truth about the EU, and that perhaps is one of the reasons why there’s now a majority of people in Britain who support our view.

JH:           Right, so you have used tax payers’ money to peddle the interests of your own party?

NF:          No, to peddle the interests of our cause.  Last year, the EU . . .

JH:           (interrupting) I’m not sure I see the difference.

NF:          Last year the European Union spent €2.4 million, sorry billions euros, telling students and schoolchildren that the EU was a wonderful thing.  All that UKIP has done is take a little bit of money that’s been given to us and try to counteract some of those arguments.

JH:           I don’t know about ‘little bit of money’, most people would consider two million quid in your case quite a lot of money.

NF:          We haven’t put it in our pockets, we’ve used it in our campaigns.

JH:           Well, you’ve paid your wife to help run your office.

NF:          For seven years she helped me on an unpaid basis, since I was leader of a group in the European Parliament and The UK Independence Party, she’s helped me for the last two years.

JH:           The question is what effect you’ve had and the answer to that is, apart from the fact that you have used a lot of money, spent quite a lot of money to alert people to what you consider the bad things about Europe, in terms of influencing legislation and the like, you have been entirely ineffective, haven’t you?

NF:          Well, I thought Mark Mardell’s report was really grossly unfair.  For the first time in thirty years there has been an opposition group in the European Parliament, which has been my privilege to lead over the course of the last five years, we’re seen as the focal point for eurosceptic groups right across the continent, we’ve played a big role in the French referendum, and in the Irish referendum, the day after the ‘no’ vote, the prime minister in Ireland blamed me personally – and my group in the European Parliament – for the ‘no’ result in Ireland.  I think that’s pretty effective opposition.

JH:           But what you haven’t been doing is sitting there, getting on with the job of being an MEP, and if you run for a post, the post of Member of the European Parliament, surely people who’ve put you into that expect you to . . .

NF:          (interrupting) Well I’m sorry, I . . . .

JH:           . . . to form the part of a constructive opposition.   I mean, the line when you say Mark Madell was unfair, but he’s right about your news release, admitting occasionally you do miss pieces of legislation.

NF:          And so does everybody, just remember John that there are days in the European Parliament where we vote on up to a thousand amendments in the space of sixty or seventy minutes.  I mean this is . . . the mass of legislation going through is such that nobody from any party could ever tell you they’ve got every single thing right, but I’ll tell you this: unlike the other British parties, we have never voted for any new directive that impacts upon British business, we have opposed it, we have fought hard through parliamentary committees to stop things like the exemption on the 48 Hour Week being removed, we’ve played our full role as MEPs, but what we do not do, we do not support any European legislation, believing that we should make those laws in this country.

JH:           The accusation that you are the BNP in blazers . . .
NF:          Well, it’s ludicrous.

JH:           Because of your . . . well, you are hugely opposed to immigration, any more immigration.

NF:          No, we’re not opposed to immigration per se, we believe we should control immigration.

JH:           Well, everybody says that.

NF:          They do, and they’re not telling the truth, are they?  I mean, this has been the problem, the expenses scandal has drowned all of this out.  The British public need to know that what’s being done in their name is we’ve signed up to total, unlimited immigration to the whole of Eastern Europe, and the only party that voted against that was UKIP, and we believe in controlling immigration.  The only people . . .

JH:           (interrupting) But, but, but hang on.  You believe in controlling that, a lot of people came in here from Eastern Europe, they did jobs that needed to be doing, now many of them are going back again.  What’s wrong with that?

NF:          Oh, come on.  We’ve still got about 800,000 people net increase from Eastern Europe since those countries joined, and that figure is due to rise.  I mean look, a few weeks ago, the President of Romania issued a million passports to people in Moldova.  Those people now, if they want, can all come to Britain.  Our argument is the British people themselves should decide who comes to live, work and settle in Britain, not the President of Romania.

JH:           If you get more MEPs in the European Parliament, if – and it’s a very big if – if you do well in the Westminster elections, I say ‘a very big if’ because you’ve made no impact on the Westminster elections thus far, when will you pull us out, given a chance when would you pull us out?  Would you, would you . . . let’s dream for a moment, imagine you were in power, would you pull us out the next day, next week, next month?

NF:          The very next day.  No question about it.  And we would sack ourselves as MEPs and we would then renegotiate a sensible free trade agreement, rather like the one that Switzerland has.  This is absolutely vital, it’s a majority view in this country, and I believe it will grow. And what I would really like to see is if UKIP can cause an earthquake next Thursday, if we can really send a loud and clear message to the big party leaders, I would like them to go into the next general election promising us, the British people, the right that we can have a referendum to decide whether we’re part of this Union or not.

JH:           Nigel Farage, many thanks.

Photo by theglobalpanorama

Geert Wilders: the ‘maverick’ damned by BBC reporting

Geert Wilders: the ‘maverick’ damned by BBC reporting

The Dutch politician Geert Wilders and his Freedom political party (PVV) stir up strong sentiments.

He is renowned for his stance that Islam in his country is responsible for major social divisions and has lead to the radicalisation of young Muslims to the extent that they are joining terrorist organisations.

Mr Wilders is also strongly against the EU and openly advocates departure.

He has a strong following and PVV is the third largest party in the Dutch Parliament with 24 seats, having won over 15% of the vote. PVV , like UKIP, is also expected to win significant numbers of seats in the May 22 European elections, perhaps becoming the biggest single party from the Netherlands.

Because of his stance against Islam and the EU, many in the left in Britain view Mr Wilders as  ‘far right-wing and ‘extremist’ and seek to bracket him with intolerance, racism and potential civil unrest. This article in the Independent is typical .

And how does the BBC treat Mr Wilders?  Well, they don’t openly vilify him. But…

In this item, filed this weekend, BBC  online correspondent Anna Holligan is keen to say he has a good chance of improving his standing in the European elections and can ‘claim that he is the only politician unafraid to discuss the real concerns of Dutch voters. .

But the rest drips innuendo , and is clearly designed to establish  that a primary goal is to ‘stir race hatred’ and that he is a ‘maverick’  who has fomented a ‘race row’.  None of Mr Holligan’s construction  – apart from the ‘maverick’ label – accuses Mr Wilders directly; it is done entirely by association.

Ms Holligan deployed a less subtle approach when she wrote about Mr Wilders’ alleged attack on the Moroccan community back in March.

She pitched her story as a classical race row – and gave most prominence to claims from the Dutch Moroccan Alliance (SMN)  that his remarks were similar to those by Hitler about Jews; that he had crossed a line in targeting a specific group of people.

BBC online boxed a quote that typified her approach, a quote from an SMN spokesman: “Now he has gone a step too far it’s very scary and potentially dangerous”.

Ms Holligan also noted:

“Mr Wilders’ comments came as exit polls from local elections in The Hague revealed that the anti-Islam, anti-immigration PVV was running neck-and-neck with the liberal-leaning D66 party.  In the end, the PVV was narrowly nudged into second place in The Hague, winning 14.1% compared to 15.4% secured by D66. But the result, and the enthusiastic response to his anti-Moroccan rhetoric, will galvanise Mr Wilders ahead of the European Parliament elections in May.

“He has consistently campaigned on an anti-EU ticket, blaming “the monster in Brussels” for stealing Dutch politicians’ ability to make decisions about how the country should be run. The PVV is the fourth largest party in the Dutch parliament but leads most national opinion polls.

“Mr Wilders’ popularity has rocketed over the last 10 years, after the murder of anti-Islam politician Pim Fortuyn spurred a surge of anti-immigrant sentiment in a country once famous for its liberal and tolerant attitudes. In 2011, Mr Wilders was acquitted of incitement after being accused of encouraging hatred towards Muslims”.

None of this says directly that Mr Wilders is a racist, but that is clearly what is inferred – he is popular because of his attitudes to Islam and Moroccans  and for his illiberal and intolerant attitudes, which are carefully bracketed by Ms Holligan  with leaving the EU.

Buried carefully in Ms Holligan’s account is that Mr Wilders had actually called for the deportation only of Moroccan criminals, amid increasing concerns that they were responsible for a growing crime wave.

News-watch records show that Mr Wilders is routinely treated in this way, and that there is a consistent attempt to link his anti-EU stance with racism.  In a feature in broadcast by Today last December,  for example,  Mishal Husain noted that Mr Wilders was trying to start a new anti-EU political party in the Netherlands.  But In the report which followed, Gavin Hewitt focused almost entirely on his anti-Muslim stance and asked primarily if he was aiming to stoke up tensions ‘that might be difficult to control’.  Mr Wilders denied that he was, but Mr Hewitt said that there were ‘plenty of people’ who said he did stoke up tensions ’between communities’.

The full transcript is below.

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, Today, 13th December 2013, Geert Wilders, 8.51am

MISHAL HUSAIN:                     The controversial Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, is attempting to start a new political party, bringing far right groups together on an anti-EU platform.  UKIP’s Nigel Farage was one of those invited to join, but he’s so far shied away from the project, due to the inclusion of the French National Front.  Our Europe editor, Gavin Hewitt, has been speaking to Geert Wilders.

GEERT WILDERS:         I believe that we have very few things to benefit from the European Union. I believe that a growing amount of voters feel that we pay a lot of money to Europe, but that at the end of the day we are not in charge of our own laws, of our own borders, of our own money, of our own money, of our own budget, and people want to change that.

GAVIN HEWITT:           You say you want to fight the monster in Brussels.  Do you want to bring down the European Union?

GW:     Yes, as a matter of fact, I do, in a way that I would like the Netherlands to leave the European Union.

GH:      You’re Eurosceptic, but the leading Eurosceptic in the UK, Nigel Farage from UKIP, he’s shunning your new alliance, isn’t he?

GW:     Well, I have a lot of respect for Nigel Farage.  I think if you hear and speak what he says he is a politician that I admire a lot.  Of course, I know, you are correct that he is very hesitant in joining the party and working together.  I hope, however, that after the European elections things might change.

GH:      You have said that Islam is not compatible with the Western way of life.  But haven’t Muslim communities become part of the European way of life?

GW:     Well, indeed, I believe that Islam is an inferior culture.  I’m talking about the ideology here, not about the people. I know that a lot of Muslims are law-abiding people whose concern is to have a good life, a good education for their children and a good job and I have nothing against them.

GH:      Do you feel a personal responsibility not to stoke up tensions that could, or might lead to an atmosphere that you might find it difficult to control?

GW:     But I don’t believe I’ve ever done anything coming close to that. A responsible politician I believe never stirs up any problems in any society.

GH:      But there are plenty of people who will say in some of your comments you do stoke up tensions between communities.

GW:     Well, you asked what my intention is, I can only give you an honest answer, from Geert Wilders, I’m not speaking on behalf of anyone else.  My answer, my honest answer to you is, no, I’m not, I’m staying far away from anything that has to do from stirring up anything.

Photo by FaceMePLS

BBC Prebble report into EU coverage ‘not worth paper it is written on’

News-watch has written a paper for Civitas, the respected think-tank,  that shows that the Prebble report into the BBC’s EU coverage ‘is not worth the paper it is written on’ and was not independent.

The Times says that the Civitas paper demonstrates  that  ‘the clean bill of health for the BBC (given for the EU coverage by Prebble) “raises serious questions” about the impartiality and competence of the BBC Trust, the oversight body that commissioned the study’.

The Civitas release about the report is here:  http://www.civitas.org.uk/press/PRprebble.html

The full report is here: http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/impartialityatthebbc.pdf

Nick Robinson raises spectre of racism against EU withdrawers

Nick Robinson raises spectre of racism against EU withdrawers

One of the problems of the BBC’s coverage of ‘withdrawal’ from the EU is that mostly, they don’t do it – but when they do deign to do so, it’s through a totally negative lens.

The News-watch long-term survey of Today – which goes back twelve years and covers roughly half the programme editions – shows that there have been only 108 appearances by ‘come outers’ where withdrawal has been mentioned. That equates to only one appearance every three weeks, compared to an average 47 EU-related speakers in the same period.

But that’s only part of picture because transcript analysis shows that most of these mentions have been very fleeting, and only very rarely indeed do Today presenters pose questions directly about withdrawal policy. What is also clear from the transcripts is that editorially, the programme tends to focus on negative issues. Are withdrawalists racist, venal, disorganised or opportunist?  These are the favourites that crop up monotonously and almost mechanistically.

Another constant in the treatment of  withdrawal is that the majority of the interviews has been with UKIP.  Of the 108 appearances logged by News-watch, 80 were with members of UKIP. Only three  (in nine years!) were  with Labour figures and only 14 with Conservatives. Others, for example,  were with  those such as Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician, who is usually viewed by the BBC as both ‘extremist’ and ‘racist’.

It’s in that context that the rather startling interview on April 22 by  BBC political editor Nick Robinson of Nigel Farage  must be seen.  Basically, it looks like Mr Robinson sought to inflict maximum damage on the day that UKIP had launched their poster-based  EU election campaign against the EU’s free movement of people directive.

Mr Robinson first established that Nigel Farage was employing his wife (a German) as his secretary.  Here is the exchange:

NR: No British person could work for you as your secretary?

NF: Not at the moment.

NR: You don’t think anyone’s capable of doing that job?

NF: What, of marrying me?

NR: No. Of doing the job of your secretary.

NF: I don’t know anyone who would work those hours, no.

NR: So that’s it. It’s clear – UKIP do not believe that any British person is capable of being the secretary of their leader?

NF: That’s nonsense and you know it.

NR: You just said it!

This is truly jaw-dropping, even by the BBC’s previous standards.  What is seemingly obvious was obvious from the context and what Mr Farage said is that was employing his wife not because she was German but because he worked anti-social hours and nobody else would put up with that.

But Mr Robinson was having none of it.  As Biased BBC notes,  he had already seemingly made up his mind what the story was about.  – that UKIP did not believe that ‘any British person was capable of being the leader’s secretary’.   For his part, Mr Farage was incredulous that  Mr Robinson could make such crass assumptions.

The rest of the interview  touched on the levels of immigration that might be thought be fair by UKIP under the free movement of people directive. Mr Farage suggested  that the current number of 100,000+  per year should be cut to a ‘more manageable’30-50,000 and that there should border controls.

Mr Robinson’s conclusion sidestepped those national interest debating points. He said instead:

‘Mr Farage’s decision to employ his wife at public expense highlights two important questions he and his party now face – about what their immigration policy means in practice and their attitude to public money.’

Put another way:  it seems that rather than looking at the important issues involved in immigration policy, Mr Robinson was determined to focus instead on showing

a)      That UKIP and Mr Farage had very odd attitudes towards employment

b)      His policy and attitudes towards his wife’s employment meant that his ideas about immigration were potentially at least very odd and possibly racist (the word was not said but Mr Robinson’s focus suggested it was somewhere in his mind)

c)       Nothing at all about withdrawalist objections to the free movement of people directive.

Mr Robinson, it has been noted elsewhere on the site, has himself recently suggested that the BBC has not covered the debate about immigration properly; on this evidence, it is easy to see why.

Photo by Jennifer Jane Mills

Today editor Jamie Angus: Voice of Prejudice?

Jamie Angus was appointed editor of  Radio 4’s flagship Today programme almost a year ago, in May 2013. Monitoring by Newswatch has shown that a highlight of his tenure to date is that the programme devoted 83 minutes to items on Nelson Mandela on the day of his death – the highest total for any single topic since the introduction of euro notes and coins on January 1, 2002.

Under his watch, too, his main and highest-profile presenter, John Humphrys, has declared that he believes the Corporation has been guilty of ‘bias by omission’ –  that is, excluding key figures from appearances in the debate about key topics such as the EU and immigration.

So who is Mr Angus? He  had previously worked for the BBC World Service, where he held ‘senior editorial roles’. He was also editor of  R4’s World at One, and briefly – in the wake of the Savile and McAlpine debacles  – acting deputy editor of BBC2’s Newsnight.

But the web in general  – and the BBC’s own website –  is curiously silent about him. He seems to have risen without a trace through the BBC’s ranks. Apart from a spasmodic and rather boring BBC blog, he has virtually no web profile at all. That must be through choice and careful management.

In fact, his only public recorded utterance was on his appointment  to Today, when he said the programme was at the heart of Radio 4 news and central to what the BBC offered its audiences.

Whatever his background, behind the scenes  he is now making rulings that nail his colours to the mast.  The Biased BBC website reports that, in effect, he has declared that the debate over ‘climate change’ is over. The background is that listeners were worried that those who challenge climate alarmism hardly ever appear on his programme, as was evidenced by a recent very rare interview with the widely-known sceptic, the former  Chancellor, Lord Lawson on February 13. Mr Angus wrote in response:

‘The BBC’s reviewed its coverage of climate change and climate science, and it has set out some admirably clear guidelines for us to follow. We are able to put on air people who take a differing view from the majority view of climate science. However, that coverage should be proportional, and I think that any reasonable listener who listened to Today’s coverage of climate change, across the past three months, would probably find that Lord Lawson was the only climate sceptic, if you like, who’d appeared in that period. And I think, you know, when Justin and I and the programme team discussed that interview, we thought we’d allowed it to drift too much into a straight yes-no argument about the science. And of course the settled view of the expert scientists is just that – settled, and I believe that our coverage reflects that, over the long term.‘

Put another way, Mr Angus says that he, his fellow editor, the BBC  as a whole and his programme team, have  decided:

·         The issues around ‘climate change’ are known and decided because that’s what the majority believe and because it’s ‘the settled view’ of ‘expert scientists’.

·         It’s a big favour putting on Today anyone who disbelieves the science is settled, because such appearances should be ‘proportional’ to point 1.

·         Climate change debates on the programme, on the very rare occasions they do occur, should not allow a simple  ‘no’ perspective – because yet again, the science is settled.

What this actually means is that anyone who disagrees with the party line, if they appear at all,  will be pushed to the margins of Today and not allowed to argue, especially if it against the majority verdict.  Of course, the BBC Trustees, in their infinite wisdom,  have already separately and definitively decided that climate science is settled. The only surprising element of Mr Angus’s unquestioning obeisance is the Orwellian, mechanistic, dictatorial tone. And, whoever Mr Angus is,  he appears not to have the faintest glimmering of an understanding that science is not, and never has been,  decided by ‘majority views’ but by the facts.

That, as Christopher Booker notes, may be the BBC groupthink, but it’s not the real world.

BBC Trustees ‘failed to challenge’ BBC executives over £100m digital disaster

BBC Trustees ‘failed to challenge’ BBC executives over £100m digital disaster

This section is dedicated to the unfolding saga of the BBC’s failed Digital Media Initiative, which the National Audit Office has said cost the licence-fee payer almost £100m  as a result of a catalogue of fundamental management failures by both the board of management and the Trustees.

Chairman of the BBC Trustees Lord Patten and former director general Mark Thompson have earned a stinging rebuke from the National Audit Office  for their handling of the failed Digital Media Initiative system (DMI),which was supposed to introduce a unified digital operating platform across the BBC.

The NAO report published on January 28 said the BBC executive board, led by then director general Mr Thompson, had failed to scrutinise enough the doomed IT project over an 18-month period and the BBC Trust, chaired by Lord Patten, had not done enough to challenge it.

The NAO also said the BBC was “too optimistic” about its ability to complete the project after it took it in-house from contractor Siemens in 2009, with reporting arrangements “not fit for purpose” and no single manager made responsible for the entire venture. DMI was eventually scrapped in May 2013, at a cost of £98.4m to licence fee payers.

The project – which was supposed to do away with the need for videotapes across the BBC and use digital technology to call up archive footage – was scrapped just a month into director general Tony Hall’s tenure in 2013, with the BBC Trust saying to continue it would be “throwing good money after bad”.

A PwC report commissioned by the BBC and published last month said the corporation should have identified that DMI would fail as early as July 2011, almost two years before it was eventually shut down.

The full NAO report can be seen here.

It has also emerged that Mark Thompson, along with , along with former BBC finance chief Zarin Patel, trustee Anthony Fry, ex-chief operating officer Caroline Thomson and director of operations Dominic Coles, will appear before the House of Commons public accounts committee on February 3 to face questioning about the issues raised by the NAO report about the DMI.

Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP who chairs the Commons public accounts committee, said the failures revealed in a National Audit Office report on the Digital Media Initiative (DMI) “go right to the top” of the corporation.

She added that the BBC Trust, the corporation’s governance body, chaired by Lord Patten, had questioned executives about slippages in the DMI programme in September 2011, “but then applied limited challenge until July 2012”.

Her full statement reads: ” This report reads like a catalogue of how not to run a major programme. I was shocked to learn how poor the BBC’s governance arrangements for the Digital Media Initiative were. There was no Senior Responsible Owner with complete oversight of all aspects of programme’s delivery.

“The report clearly demonstrates why regular reviews are necessary – and why external reviewers should be listened to. If the BBC had established clearer accountability and stronger reporting it could have recognised the issues much earlier and set about minimising the astronomic losses for the licence fee payer.

“These failures go right to the top. The executive board applied insufficient scrutiny during 2011 and the first half of 2012. The programme was not subject to any audit or assurance reporting between early 2011 until July 2012. The BBC Trust had questioned the executive about slippages in September 2011 but then applied limited challenge until July 2012. After the BBC executive board became aware of the problems it initiated a review in May 2012 of the DMI timetable, costs and benefits.

“The BBC Trust finance committee did not know until July 2012 that the DMI’s risk rating had increased to red for the period October to December 2011.

“The BBC needs to learn from the mistakes it made and ensure that it never again spends such a huge amount of licence fee payers’ money with almost nothing to show for it.”

Meanwhile, John Linwood, the former BBC chief technology officer, who it has emerged this week, was dismissed last summer over the failed initiative, has said in written evidence to the Commons public accounts committee that he is taking legal action against the corporation.

It is understood that Mr Linwood has claimed that the BBC allowed inaccurate statements to be made to the public accounts committee about DMI and has blamed a “changed vision” of how the project was supposed to work for its difficulties and closure.

In a separate submission to the committee, Bill Garrett, another former BBC technology executive who warned Lord Patten about problems with DMI in May 2012, said he believed that four years ago “a number of staff knowingly falsified estimates of financial benefits” in order to secure further funding for the project.

Filed January 27:

BBC technology chief ‘sacked’ as row over failed £100m scheme continues

The BBC has confirmed that the executive responsible for the corporation’s £100m digital media initiative (DMI) – which was supposed to create a unitary digital platform across operations – has been fired.

John Linwood, who held the post of BBC chief technology officer, on a salary of £287,000 a year, had initially been suspended during the summer when Director General Lord Hall announced publicly that the DMI objectives were not being met and the licence-fee payers’ money spent on it had been largely wasted.

It is understood that Mr Linwood, who left the corporation without a pay-off, is now claiming unfair dismissal.

Following the suspension of Mr Linwood, Lord Hall commissioned from accountants Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) a report into the reasons for the DMI failure. But Mr Linwood, it now seems certain, was fired before the inquiry was commenced.

The 54-page report cost the BBC £263,340 to produce. According to the Guardian newspaper, it found no single issue or event caused DMI to fail. But PwC said the BBC took ‘too long’ to realise DMI was in serious trouble, because of weaknesses in project management and reporting, a lack of focus on business change, together with piecemeal assurance arrangements.

BBC insiders were critical of the tone and scope of the report, arguing that the corporation has got off lightly for its £98.4m technical blunder.

“We are of the view that had appropriate governance, risk management and reporting arrangements been established from the outset, then the process of preparing a revised business case for DMI could have been commenced as early as July 2011,” said PwC. “It took longer than we would have expected for the BBC to reach executive agreement on the future for DMI”.

Confirmation of his exit comes less than a fortnight before former director general Mark Thompson is due to appear before the Commons public accounts committee on 3 February.

The collapse of DMI will also be the subject of a report by the National Audit Office, expected to be published later this month.

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has also come in for criticism from MPs over the issue. They accused him of “obstruction and secrecy” after he apparently ordered the corporation not to disclose key documents about the failed project.

Mr Thompson was recalled to appear before MPs next month after he gave evidence to parliament about DMI in 2011. MPs later claimed that BBC executives’ statements “just weren’t true”.

They said Mr Thompson, now chief executive of the New York Times, incorrectly claimed the scheme was already up and running. He later said he gave evidence “honestly and in good faith” based on information from his executives.

Also appearing before MPs will be the corporation’s former finance chief Zarin Patel, BBC trustee Anthony Fry, ex-chief operating officer Caroline Thomson and BBC operations director Dominic Coles.

Photo by cdnorman

Commons Savages ‘Complacent’ BBC Trustees over Digital Project

Commons Savages ‘Complacent’ BBC Trustees over Digital Project

The Commons Public Accounts committee has published its final verdict on the BBC’s failed Digital Media Initiative (DMI), which wasted almost £100m of licence fee money.

The project, which was started in 2008 and abandoned last year, was supposed to create the most advanced digital film handling system in the world.

But in a devastating attack on the BBC’s conduct, committee chairman Margaret Hodge says the corporation failed from the Trustees downwards to manage the initiative and also refused to share when asked vital information about how the project was being managed.

The committee has issued a six point list of demands about future BBC management. They amount to a requirement that the  corporation follows the basic ABC of management procedures.

The committee’s report is the latest in a long line of critical investigations into the DMI debacle, including an inquiry by the National Audit Office in January which documented a catalogue of mistakes.

The only usable system delivered by DMI was an archive and ordering system that was slower than the 40-year-old process it was intended to replace, with just 163 staff and a running cost of £3m a year, four times the £780,000 annual cost of its archaic predecessor.

The BBC’s former chief technology officer John Linwood, who paid for the DMI fiasco with his job last summer, is understood to be continuing his legal action against the corporation.

The committee called on the BBC Trust to “set out…what changes it will make to be more proactive in chasing and challenging the BBC executive’s performance in delivering major projects so that it can properly protect the licence fee payers’ interest”.

Mrs Hodge said: “When my Committee examined the DMI’s progress in February 2011, the BBC told us that the DMI was “an absolutely essential have to have” and that a lot of the BBC’s future was tied up in the successful delivery of the DMI.

“The BBC also told us that it was using the DMI to make many programmes and was on track to complete the system in 2011 with no further delays. This turned out not to be the case. In reality the BBC only ever used the DMI to make one programme, called ‘Bang Goes the Theory’.

“The BBC was far too complacent about the high risks involved in taking it in-house. No single individual had overall responsibility or accountability for delivering the DMI and achieving the benefits, or took ownership of problems when they arose.”

Photo by break.things

Bias by Omission…again

Bias by Omission…again

John Humphrys, as has been reported here, has pointed out that the BBC has been guilty on a systematic basis of ‘bias by omission’ – that is, ignoring core stories that would ensure audiences are kept in touch with the key facts and developments in controversial areas.

This report, by Andrew Montford, of the Bishop Hill site, and published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, assembles devastating evidence that many schools are now bombarding on a massive, systematic scale pupils with propaganda about climate change alarmism.

It raises important points to the extent that Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has said that such activities are illegal. He states explicitly that on matters of scientific debate, pupils must be given a balanced picture.                                                                                  

This is a cracking story, and it was covered extensively by the national press                                                              

And what has the  BBC made of it? Well, nothing, nothing at all. So far, they have not published a word on the website about the report, preferring instead to continue to push their own propaganda angle for millions of pounds to be spent on subsidising wind farms.

Their approach fits exactly with what John Humphrys warned about – and with their own alarmist climate change agenda, which means that those who disagree with the BBC orthodoxy are banished to the outer edges of news coverage, or are not reported at all.

Photo by woodleywonderworks

Humphrys: ‘BBC Not Sceptical Enough on EU’

Humphrys: ‘BBC Not Sceptical Enough on EU’

Update:  Autonomous Mind has made an invaluable contribution following up John Humphrys’ remarks about EU coverage, reported in full below.

The core of his story is that when questioned further on the BBC’s Feedback programme about the problems, Mr Humphrys  added to his Radio Times interview by saying categorically that there had been systematic ‘bias by omission’ – essentially by ignoring key stories or refusing to have on the Today programme a range of guests who were negative about the EU.

This is a major charge, but the BBC steadfastly denies it.

The problem was, in fact, first identified as a problem in the BBC’s EU output by Lord Wilson of Dinton in his report of 2004-5 for the former BBC Governors.  He wrote:

‘We note that across the spectrum of opinion there is widespread criticism of the narrow nature of the coverage and the lack of reporting of issues which have a considerable domestic impact.’ (p 8.25)

Almost a decade on, the evidence regularly gathered by Newswatch shows that nothing has changed despite reassurances from the BBC that it would.  This reinforces John Humphrys’ views, although Mr Humphrys claims that matters have now been corrected, whereas Newswatch research shows that they most certainly have not.

In the latest survey period, for example, only 513 words in 13 weeks of the Today programme were ‘come-outers’ talking about their views about withdrawal. That was only 0.7% of the EU output – so low that it was unquestionably bias by omission.

John Humphrys has joined the long list of senior BBC figures who say that the corporation’s EU-related coverage has been biased and not sceptical enough.

According to reports in the Guardian and the Daily Mail, he told the Radio Times (article not available online) that the reporting of immigration had also been not sufficiently sceptical.

His words echo those of former director general Mark Thompson and political editor Nick Robinson already reported by Newswatch, as well as those by former head of television news, Roger Mosey. Who asserted:

“On the BBC’s own admission, in recent years it did not, with the virtue of hindsight, give enough space to anti-immigration views or to EU-withdrawalists; and, though he may have exaggerated, the former Director-General Mark Thompson spoke of a ‘massive bias to the left’ in the BBC he joined more than 30 years ago.

‘I share Mark’s view that there was more internal political diversity in recent times, but that isn’t enough unless it’s evident in a wider range of editorial view on air.’

In line with these earlier remarks, Mr Humphrys appears to offer no evidence for his contention about past bias, or about how he arrived at his conclusion that coverage has now improved.

Mr Humphrys, who has presented the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 since 1987, said that BBC staff were more likely to be liberal rather than conservative because they were the ‘best and the brightest’ and tended to be university educated.

The 70-year-old said that ‘The BBC has tended over the years to be broadly liberal as opposed to broadly conservative for all sorts of perfectly understandable reasons.’

He added: ‘We weren’t sufficiently sceptical – that’s the most accurate phrase – of the pro-European case. We bought into the European ideal.

‘We weren’t sufficiently sceptical about the pro-immigration argument. We didn’t look at the potential negatives with sufficient rigour.’

Mr Humphrys also claimed the BBC was no longer so biased towards the EU.  He asserted: ‘I think we’re out of that now. I think we have changed.’

But he broadened his criticisms: He said: ‘There are too many of them (managers). I think they think that. I think [director general] Tony Hall thinks that – I don’t know, I haven’t asked him, but I think he thinks that.

‘Over the years we’ve been grotesquely over-managed, there’s no question. They’re now getting a grip on it. A lot have gone. I think more need to go.’

Photo by Amplified Group