BBC Bias

Newswatch figures show fewer than one in 1,000 contributors to Today’s EU coverage were supporters of withdrawal from the Labour party or the British left.

Newswatch figures show fewer than one in 1,000 contributors to Today’s EU coverage were supporters of withdrawal from the Labour party or the British left.

BBC Director General Lord Hall told the House of Commons select media committee in a
hearing in October that the Corporation was determined to deliver impartiality by ensuring
that a range of voices on key issues was heard.
Newswatch’s latest figures – based on monitoring approximately half of the Today editions
since 2005 – show the programme has carried interviews and soundbite contributions
from only three left-wing advocates of withdrawal. The statistics show that there were
3,513 contributions to the various EU discussions on Today in nine years, but that
withdrawalists from the Labour Party and British left represented just 0.09% of guests, or
one in every 1,171 EU-related appearances.
The three speakers who contributed to the EU debate were Labour MP Austin Mitchell in
September 2009, Labour MP Gisela Stuart in October 2012, and Labour Party donor John
Mills in June 2013. Their combined contributions amounted to approximately 5 minutes
of airtime, but only 1 minute featured the speakers actually making any sort of case for
withdrawal.

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Newswatch surveys: Since 2005, Today has carried only six minutes a year of those who support EU withdrawal talking about the subject

Newswatch has been monitoring the Today programme for approximately 6 months of the year since 2005. It is the longest-ever, and most detailed, research project of its kind. In the latest survey period it has been established that withdrawalists talking about withdrawal took up minimal programme time.
That fits in with longer-term trends. Since 2005:
Total feature airtime in monitored programmes: 137,479 minutes
Airtime devoted to EU coverage: 9360 minutes
Total number of EU-related speakers: 3441
Withdrawalist Speakers
There were exactly 100 appearances by speakers who were identified as supporters of withdrawal.
Of these, 73% were UKIP, 13% Conservative Party, 7% BNP, 3% Labour Party, 2% were vox pops,
and 1% from Veritas.
Just over half (37 out of 73, equating to 37%) of all UKIP appearances were from Nigel Farage.
Speakers who discussed Withdrawal
58 Speakers of the 100 made an argument for withdrawal as part of their contribution, (with the
remaining 42 commenting on other EU matters but making no case for withdrawal).
Of the 58 speakers:
41 (70.7%) came from UKIP;
10 (17.2%) were from the Conservative Party,
3 (5.2%) were from the BNP,
2 (3.4%) were from the Labour Party
2 (3.4%) were from vox pop contributors.
 Words spoken on withdrawal by withdrawalists
Total words spoken on withdrawal by withdrawalists between March 2005 and June 2013:  6786
At 140 wpm, this equates to: 48 minutes and 27 seconds. That is six minutes per year in the monitored
periods (half of the total output).
This is 0.5% of total EU coverage, and 0.035% of total airtime available on Today.
Word Counts by Party for those who discussed withdrawal
The 6786 words spoken by withdrawalists who discussed withdrawal can be split into the following:
BNP:  115 Words (1.7%)
Conservative Party: 1042 words (15.4%)
Labour Party: 141 words (2.1%)
Vox Pops 29 words.  (0.4%)
UKIP:  5459 words (80%)

Latest Newswatch report: Today ignored UK Withdrawal from the EU, but gave multiple airings for those who want stronger EU ties.

The latest News-watch report shows that Today went out of its way to give those who were opposed to change in Britain’s relationship with the EU – including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – multiple platforms in which they had clear time and space to advance arguments in favour of their views, including the hotly disputed claim by Europhiles that 3.5m jobs would be lost if the relationship with the EU was fundamentally changed. This assertion went unchallenged by the Today presenter.

BBC Trustees reject Newsnight EU bias complaint

The BBC Trustees have yet again flatly rejected claims that their EU coverage is biased.
Conservative MP Philip Hollobone and Labour’s Kate Hoey filed a complaint about an edition of Newsnight on January 23, when David Cameron announced his policy of holding an ‘in/out’ referendum.
The programme contained just one ‘come-outer’ (UKIP’s Nigel Farage) ranged against battery of 17 studio guests and contributors who were in different ways against the referendum, in favour of staying in the EU or increasing its powers. The Trustees say this was ‘fair’ because the programme was considering the political context and implications of the issues raised by Mr Cameron and therefore the number of supporters of withdrawal was immaterial.
Philip Hollobone Newsnight complaint here: 
BBC response here: 
Transcript of Newsnight programme here:
Is the BBC properly balanced and impartial in its reporting of complex issues such as the EU, immigration and climate change?

Is the BBC properly balanced and impartial in its reporting of complex issues such as the EU, immigration and climate change?

For more than 15 years, Newswatch has been investigating BBC output using a systematic process of transcription logging and detailed analysis. The answer, in certain key respects – especially with regard to the EU – is a resounding and disturbing ‘no’.
Especially prominent in the data is a consistent and systematic failure to investigate or allow or even facilitate the articulation of the arguments in favour of withdrawal from the EU.
Yet the corporation refuses to engage with the research, or to conduct truly independent assessments of its own. Its tactics are rather to attempt to shout down or ridicule those who disagree with it.
The purpose of this site is to provide an internet platform through which issues of BBC bias can be properly aired and understood.
Emphatically, it is not a ‘bash the BBC’ platform, and it has no political axe to grind.
But the corporation must also recognise that in this area, it is often its own worst enemy.
This is because there is a collective refusal, from the Trustees downwards, and across the entire complaints process, to allow genuinely independent investigation of bias claims.
The only exception to this came in 2004/5, when in the interregnum between Labour-appointed chairmen of the then Governors, Lord Ryder, the Conservative peer, as acting chairman, commissioned a report from Lord Wilson of Dinton, the former cabinet secretary. Lord Wilson’s Commission was made up of leading figures with a cross-section of views about the EU. It found extensive evidence of bias and warned the Corporation that it must radically improve carry more, and more varied news about the EU.

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Hot off the Press: Latest Newswatch EU Survey Covering Summer 2013

Newswatch’s latest survey shows that the BBC continues to ignore the case for withdrawal.
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.
There were only six such contributions, despite this being a period when the topic of withdrawal was central to the political agenda as David Cameron began negotiations for treaty change and UKIP secured 25% of the poll in local elections.
Today also failed to ask Conservative contributors about their attitude towards EU withdrawal. It was estimated during the period that one third of Conservative MPs had come to support withdrawal, but those who appeared were asked only about renegotiation. The report shows how the main thrust of Today’s coverage was to show that there was a return – possibly to a worse level than at any point in Party history – to Conservative infighting over the EU. Today continued to present Euroscepticism in all its forms through the prism of ‘Conservative splits’ – as it has done for the last 14 years of Newswatch reports.
The full report can be read here.
Four out of ten ‘think BBC biased’, says survey

Four out of ten ‘think BBC biased’, says survey

An ICM survey has found that 40% of those questioned thought the BBC was biased in its news coverage.
The survey, commissioned by the Sunday Telegraph, also found that 70% of the 2,000 who
took part wanted the £145.50 licence fee reduced or scrapped. Fewer than 10% wanted
the fee to be increased in line with inflation when the BBC Charter was renewed in 2016.
Another finding was that around 66% wanted the BBC to takes advertisements in order to
generate revenues for itself.
Tory party chairman Grant Shapps has warned the licence fee could be cut or the collected
funds – worth £3.6billion a year – could be shared with other broadcasters unless the BBC
becomes ‘more transparent’ and changes its ‘culture of secrecy’.
Last month, Lord Patten, chair of the BBC Trustees, told the House of Commons media
committee that he was happy that 58% of licence-fee payers thought the BBC was a trusted
news organisation. Lord Hall, the BBC director general, pledged greater transparency in
dealing with mistakes of impartiality when they happened.

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