BBC Digest

BBC BIAS MEDIA DIGEST 9 AUGUST 2020

ANDREW NEIL ‘LINED UP’ TO BECOME BBC CHAIRMAN:  Steven Brown (Express 9/8) suggested that as part of a bridge building with the BBC, Boris Johnson was lining up former Sunday Times editor and BBC presenter Andrew Neil to succeed Sir David Clementi as chairman of the corporation. Mr Brown also said that Mr Johnson had reportedly held peace talks with Lord Hall, the outgoing director general, following a year of ‘tough exchanges’. He added that other frontrunners to succeed the current chairman when he retired in February included Nicky Morgan, the former culture secretary, Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph, former Chancellor George Osborne, and Amber Rudd, the former home secretary, although the latter was likely to be opposed by senior Boris Johnson aide Dominic Cummings. Mr Brown quoted a senior government source as saying:

“The Prime Minister believes the BBC is one of Britain’s best assets, with the soft power projects abroad. He thinks it can do more of that.”

Tim Shipman (£ Sunday Times 8/8) also reported that Mr Neil was being considered as the next BBC Chairman. Glen Owen (Mail on Sunday 9/8) said that it could be revealed that Lord Hall, the BBC’s director general who was retiring at the end of the month, had held ‘peace talks’ with Boris Johnson, and was believed to have argued that number 10 should adopt a ‘less aggressive’ stance to Tim Davie, his predecessor.   Mr Owen said the prime minister was said to have adopted an ’emollient’ tone, saying he wanted to use the BBC’s global reputation to project British ‘soft power’ around the world, but stressing the need for ‘efficiency and savings’. He added that both Downing Street and the BBC had declined to comment about the talks.

BBC WHITE PRIVILEGE ‘DEATH WISH’: Tom Slater (Spiked! 7/8) said that ‘in its latest expression of its apparent death wish’, the BBC had put out in its schools education Bitesize section a clip on social media of psychologist and former basketball player John Amaechi ‘waxing lyrical’ on the subject of white privilege. Mr Slater, observing that the corporation – barracked by accusations of bias and campaigns to defund it – appeared to want to troll its critics, claimed that the Aamechi video seemed ‘particularly cheeky’ in that teenagers ‘can now get woke one the same site as they revise for their French GCSE’, and in showing how orthodox ideas around identity politics and privilege have become at the BBC.

OVER-75s ‘BEING PUSHED BY BBC INTO OVER-PAYING FOR TV LICENCE’:  Rosamund Urwin (£ Sunday Times 9/8) claimed that poor design on the BBC licence-fee website was pushing over-75s into paying for their TV licences  in six months rather than the 12 that they were allowed.  She said Caroline Abrahams of the charity Age UK had stated that it was ‘alarming just how clunky and counterintuitive the TV Licensing website is turning out to be’. Ms Urwin also reported that requests under freedom of information laws had revealed that more than a million Britons had been prosecuted for licence fee evasion since 2014, with nearly three-quarters of those prosecuted last year being women.

Glen Owen(Mail on Sunday 9/8)said that Tory MPs had warned the government about the ‘palpable anger’ of voters of the BBC’s decision to scrap free television licences for the over-75s after figures had shown that in some of their seats, nine out of 10 constituents who currently enjoyed the perk would have it taken away. Mr Owen said that in a total of 110 Conservative-held seats, at least 85 per cent of over-75s households would have the perk taken away.  Mr Owen quoted the MP Julian Knight, chair of the Commons DCMS committee, who had said: ‘It shows the scale of harm the BBC decision has caused to our voters. The question will be does the BBC get it in the neck or the government?’

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST 8 AUGUST 2020

CORRESPONDENT NICK BRYANT ‘BIASED AGAINST TRUMP’, RULES BBC:  The BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (6/8) upheld a complaint against BBC New York correspondent Nick Bryant. The single complainant had claimed that an online article by Mr Bryant in March 2020 headlined ‘Coronavirus: What this crisis reveals about US – and its president’ ‘reflected bias against President Trump on the part of its author’ in its use of phrases such as “ridiculous boasts”, “mind-bending truth twisting”, “particularly vicious assault”, “pettiness and peevishness”, “narcissistic hunger for adoration” and “the tricks of an illusionist” in its descriptions of his behaviour.

The ECU, upholding the complaint, ruled that Mr Bryant’s ‘tone and approach’, especially in some of his ‘phrasing’, passed beyond ‘professional judgements’ towards ‘the language of personal views’.  It added that in terms of impartiality this ‘was not offset by the limited, and relatively restrained, criticism of the Democrats, Joe Biden and Congress’, saying that ”a great deal of alteration’ would have been needed, ‘as would normally have happened as a result of the process of editorial oversight applied to such pieces’, to bring it into alignment with the BBC’s editorial standards.

The ECU continued, ‘Whether or not Mr Bryant was in fact expressing a personal view of President Trump, some of his observations were couched in terms which might well have led readers to conclude that he was’. This, it concluded, amounted to ‘a departure from the BBC’s standards of impartiality’.

Craig Byers (Is the BBC Biased? 7/8) suggested that maybe Roger Mosey’s claim that there was battle going on within the BBC was reflected by their Executive Complaints Unit’s unusually trenchant criticism of BBC New York correspondent Nick Byrant.

Mr Byers said:

‘The ruling criticises Nick Bryant’s “tone and approach” and says some of his “phrasing” passes beyond “professional judgements” and comes “closer to the language of personal views”.  It even calls out the usual fake sops to impartiality that you often find in such reports, saying that this “was not offset by the limited, and relatively restrained, criticism of the Democrats, Joe Biden and Congress”. Ouch! The ECU says that only ”a great deal of alteration” would have brought it into alignment with the BBC’s editorial standards, and seems to suggest (“as would normally have happened as a result of the process of editorial oversight applied to such pieces”) that editorial oversight had been noticeably lacking.

 

‘They continued, “Whether or not Mr Bryant was in fact expressing a personal view of President Trump, some of his observations were couched in terms which might well have led readers to conclude that he was” This, the ECU concluded, amounted to “a departure from the BBC’s standards of impartiality”. What’s striking is that it’s a clear ‘Upheld’, not a partial one.

‘A ruling against Nick Bryant has frankly been a long time coming. He has been getting increasing out of control ever since his time as the BBC’s Australia correspondent.’

 

‘COURTS COULD BECOME CLOGGED BY TV LICENCE CASES’: Paul Revoir (Daily Mail 8/8) said that Julian Knight, chairman of the House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) committee, had warned that the amount of court time taken up by TV Licensing cases could ‘rise exponentially’ in the wake of the ending over free licences for the over-75s.    Mr Revoir reported that tens of thousands affected by the change had said they were determined never to pay and were willing to ‘go the whole hog’ and fight cases in court, even risking prison. He added that Mr Knight had pointed out that many of the over-75s might end up wanting to appear in court in person.

 

 

 

BBC Bias Digest 7 August 2020

BBC ‘RECEIVES 18,000 COMPLAINTS OVER N-WORD’: Darren Boyle (Daily Mail 8/7) noted that the BBC had received 18,000 complaints over a report about a hit and run accident on July 29 in which presenter Fiona Lamdin had used the n-word in a quote attributed to the perpetrators of the accident, who were believed to have been racially-motivated. Mr Boyle said the report had run on local south-west  services and the national BBC News Channel, though it had since been removed. He added that by comparison, a report by Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis in which she had attacked Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings had received 23,674 complaints.  Mr Boyle said that Ofcom guidance on the use of the word was that it was ‘highly unacceptable’ at all times, but could be used when ‘strong contextualisation is required’.

 

BBC ‘PUSHES WHITE PRIVILEGE’ IN EDUCATION VIDEO: Jack Montgomery (Breitbart London 5/8) reported  that a video advocating that ‘white privilege’ meant that ‘your skin colour had not been the cause of your hardship or suffering’ was being pushed by BBC Bitesize, which provides lessons for British schools. He said the film had been made by former basketball player John Amaechi.

Craig Byers (Is the BBC Biased? 6/8) observed that the item was receiving considerable criticism and posted a selection of tweets:

 

Patrick O’Flynn: BBC indoctrinating school kids with guilt complexes and cultural Marxist BS is one thing that really pushes my buttons. Simply unacceptable from an organisation that levies a compulsory subscription fee. On reflection, the most insidious aspect of this (which I tweeted an initial reaction to last night) is the BBC’s use of the term “explain” to describe an eminently contestable analysis. That kids are led to believe these are established truths and cannot be contested is awful.

Dr Chris Newton: Radical left wing propaganda for kids funded by the BBC license fee payer. And the Tories, with an 80-seat majority, just stand by and let this one-sided indoctrination happen. Unacceptable. Unforgivable.

Calvin Robinson: The BBC is obliged by its charter to “bring people together… and help contribute to the social cohesion and wellbeing of the UK”. Instead, they are producing divisive material and fanning the flames of racial unrest. All while wanting a “greater role in children’s education”.

Ian Leslie: OK, but isn’t the more important question whether the BBC should be treating a tenuous and contested concept as if it’s neutral scientific knowledge? There are people who aren’t well versed in social theory? Shocking. But surely whether it’s a good explanation or not, it’s a political term adopted by a particular cohort & the BBC should contextualise it as such.

Frances Smith: Total nonsense. People are all born with an array of advantages and disadvantages, what this does is elevate skin colour above all others, and talk as if it were all that mattered. No wonder it annoys so many people. BBC shouldn’t mainstream such easily contested theories.

Karen Harradine: The poverty stricken, mainly white communities of the Rhondda Valleys don’t epitomise ‘white privilege’, a nasty concept riddled with conceptual holes. Why is the BBC race baiting again? And why are we forced to pay for it?

Madeline Grant: I’m old enough to remember when BBC bitesize was good for French vocab tests and GCSE history flash cards.

Darren Grimes: My two brothers, younger than I am are the grandsons of a miner, both without their father, both unemployed after attending rubbish state comprehensives and I’m supposed to believe they’re somehow privileged? The fact this is pushed by the BBC’s revision resources is dangerous. With BBC videos for children on white privilege, podcasts on ‘Karens’ and now the hounding of pensioners as the one group that they know are more likely to rely on their television set to combat loneliness, the BBC seems to be begging the government to act.

Jane Kelly: Why is the BBC asking this fatuous, racist question?

Tim Montgomerie: There are few bigger drivers of social justice than a stable family; especially built around marriage. Where’s the BBC video promoting that or the politicians arguing that? Belief in family isn’t fashionable but kids with two loving, committed parents have won life’s lottery.

Dr Rakib Ehsan: “Your skin colour has not been the cause of your hardship and suffering”. Try explaining this to underaged white girls who fell victim to cases of large-scale child sexual abuse. Cases fundamentally mismanaged by public authorities which were looking to “protect” race relations.

Laurence Fox: Anyone who choses colour of skin over content of character as a way of defining people, is a racist and racism should be stood up to wherever it rears its ugly head, however pretty a bow it’s wrapped up in.

Martin Daubney: That’s why the BBC has no place in education. Their “white privilege” propaganda actively suppresses those who are in the most need of help. It chokes policy & strangles hope. It actively divides our country. Rant over.

ZUBY: If BBC Bitesize have the cojones, I’d love to make a counter video for them explaining why ‘white privilege’ is a divisive, myopic, offensive and potentially dangerous idea that we shouldn’t be perpetuating. Let’s get both sides.

 

‘BASIC SCIENCE BEYOND BBC’: Jeff O’Leary (The Conservative Woman 7/8), argued  that it was difficult to see how the BBC could get its reports of the Beirut explosion disaster so wrong. First noting that reports had said the amount of explosive varied between 2,500 and 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, eventually settling on 2,700 tons,  Mr O’Leary suggested that this smacked of ‘take a middle figure as a safe bet’ approach. He then said that science correspondent David Shukman – who he noted did not have a science degree – had claimed the orange colour of the explosion was due to the ammonium nitrate itself, when it had in fact been caused by nitrogen dioxide, a by-product of the explosive reaction.

 

BBC MURDOCH PROGRAMMES ‘DOMINATED BY BILE’:  Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie (£ Spectator 7/8) argued that The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty, the BBC’s three-part series about Rupert Murdoch transmitted in July, was dominated by ‘bile’ and contributions by three  of the ‘usual suspects’ – Tom Watson, Hugh Grant and Max Moseley – who each dispensed it. He added that, by contrast,  a long contribution from Trevor Kavanagh, the former political editor of the Sun, had ended up on the cutting room floor, presumably because he had been ‘warm and supportive’ (of Murdoch).  Mr MacKenzie said:

‘But to paint Rupert as a Logan Roy is ridiculous. Anybody who has worked closely with him will tell you his enthusiasms, his warmth and his never-ending drive make him fun to be around and exhausting. If you are a shareholder, you want a Rupert Murdoch to run your business. Always on. Always thinking. Always plotting. Literally 18 hours a day, seven days a week. And as a 12 per cent shareholder but with a voting right of three times that, always aligned to making you and him wealthier.’

BBC Bias Digest 6 August 2020

BBC ‘THREATENS PENSIONERS WITH BAILIFFS’: Continuing coverage of the BBC’s decision to charge 4.5 million over-75s for their licence fees from August 1, William Cole (Daily Mail 6/8) said the corporation was spending an estimated £38m this year on extra measures to make sure that they paid. He added that if ministers decided to make non-payment a civil rather a criminal offence – as was being considered – bailiffs could be sent into the homes of the over-75s to seize and sell their possessions.

Paul Baldwin, in a comment article for the Express (5/8), argued that in forcing pensioners to pay for their television licences, the corporation was currently pursuing them ‘like a grubby loan shark’. He also attacked the BBC’s ‘lefty politics’ as ‘sneaky and insidious’, and noted that John Humphrys, after his retirement as a presenter of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, likened them to ‘out of touch Kremlin commissars’.

 

BBC MIDDLE-EAST REPORTING ‘DISTORTS HISTORY’: Hadar Sela (Camera UK 4/8) in an analysis of how the BBC had been presenting the framework of Israel-Palestine peace talks since the Oslo accords in the 1990s – when the potential terms were first set down by the US administration – said that the BBC continued to repeat wrongly that the accords had stipulated a ‘two-state solution’ involving reversion to territorial lines shown on the map before the 1967 Middle East war. Ms Sela said that BBC correspondent Paul Reynolds had first suggested , in 2007, that the Oslo accords had ‘implied’ a Palestine state.  She said the reality was that the first time it became an aspiration in the framework of formal negotiations expressed by Palestinian and Israeli representatives had been in  the Annapolis joint statement of 2007.  Despite this, Nick Robinson had said in July on Radio 4 that the two-state solution had been talked about ‘for decades’.

BBC Bias Digest 5 August 2020

BBC ‘FACES PENSIONER REVOLT’:  Paul Revoir (Daily Mail 5/8) said that the Age UK  charity had warned that the 10-page letter sent out to the over-75s to explain the new licence fee arrangements was too ‘long and complex’ and failed to make clear when the elderly would get a demand for payment. Mr Revoir reported that Age UK director Caroline Abrahams had warned that some of the recipients would be determined not to pay for a licence ‘come what may’. He said that the community organisation Silver Voices was urging all over-60s to cancel their direct debit payments and instead to send monthly, backdated cheques to TV Licensing, thereby causing administrative chaos but keeping within the law.  A group spokesman had said:

‘It defies belief that, as a second wave of coronavirus marches over the horizon, the BBC are doing this. It shows a lack of compassion, a lack of empathy, a lack of understanding.’

Mr Revoir said the BBC had said they had hired 800 additional staff to deal with queries from the over-75s and had received 300,000 calls on the matter since March.

 

BBC OVER-75s ‘FACE CYBERTHREAT’: David Snelling (Express 5/8) said that over-75s who were now having to pay for their television licences were facing a threat from cyber criminals, who were trying to steal their personal data by tricking them. He added that a common scam was the use of a text message which claimed to be an offer of a free year of television viewing. Mr Snelling said that the offer would be ‘hugely tempting’ because of the anger generated by the imposition of the new charge. He quoted a cybersecurity expert, who said that such messages looked convincing and were designed to make vulnerable victims act quickly.

 

BBC ‘SPREADS RECKLESS RUMOURS’ ABOUT BEIRUT ATTACK: Craig Byers (Is the BBC Biased? 5/4) noted that Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen had filed a report saying that there were ‘theories’ that an Israeli attack had caused the huge explosion in Beirut on the evening of August 4. Mr Byers noted that the BBC’s ‘specialist disinformation and social media correspondent’ Marianna Spring had already warned that such reports were ‘unfounded’ and risked spreading misinformation. Mr Byers added:

‘Both Hezbollah and Israel have ruled it out as an Israeli attack and the Israel government has offered to help Lebanon recover from this terrible catastrophe. Why on earth would he (Jeremy Bowen) spread rumours of an Israeli attack? Isn’t that astonishingly reckless and irresponsible from the BBC’s Middle East editor so soon after a devastating event?’

BBC Bias Digest 4 August 2020

MEDIA COVERAGE OF PANDEMIC ‘IS RETRIBUTION FOR BREXIT’: Tim Black (Spiked! 4/8) argued that the media establishment, including the BBC, had generated ‘a barrage of fearmongering’ about the dangers of Covid-19 and seemed to be almost revelling in the pandemic, as if high death tolls, raising infection rates and R numbers were political points to be scored against the ‘Brexity Tory government’. He said:

“That is partially why the dominant media narrative has been so unremittingly doom-laden. It is a form of vengeance for members of an embittered media class. Retribution for the sins of Brexit. Punishment for electing the dastardly Tories. And so, Covid-related death tolls have become a daily incantation. Graphs, always curving ominously, have been tweeted hourly. And always with a sort of grim sense of vindication. No context is offered. No attempt to situate Covid in among the many other causes of death, globally and nationally, is made. There is never any admission that, say, tuberculosis, a disease for which there is treatment and a vaccine, will kill more people around the world this year than Covid. Never any willingness to admit that this nasty virus is just that — a nasty virus, and not the end of the world.”.

 

BBC Bias Digest 3 August 2020

DEFUND THE BBC GROUP ‘LAUNCHES AGGRESSIVE AD CAMPAIGN’:  Guido Fawkes (3/8) reported that the Defund the BBC group had launched a ‘provocative’ mobile billboard campaign across the North-west of England  urging followers to cancel their TV licences to support the oiver-75s, who from Saturday (1/8) now had to buy a licence fee.  The article said sites for the posters included Salford Quays (outside the BBC’s northern HQ), Oldham and Rochdale. It also noted that Ofcom had last week published a report about audience attitudes to the media and had found there was a ‘moral dislike’ of the BBC and its licence fee among ‘the working class’.

BBC Bias Digest 2 August 2020

TONY PARSONS: BBC ‘DOESN”T LIKE OUR COUNTRY’:  Author and commentator Tony Parsons (The Sun on Sunday 2/8) claimed that the BBC’s decision to scrap the free TV licence for the over-75s was ‘a kick in the head’ for those ‘who have borne the brunt of this health emergency’. He asserted:

“This was the year for the BBC to reach out to its most loyal viewers. This was a chance for the BBC to restore its diminished, degraded reputation and to start acting like the voice of the nation. And Auntie blew it. The BBC is now pathetically disconnected from the nation it is meant to represent.”

Citing recent attacks on the reputation of Winston Churchill, Mr Parsons commented that, ‘increasingly, our national broadcaster acts as though it doesn’t like our country’. He added that the BBC ‘will never tell you that the British abolished the slave trade before any other nation on earth, and that no Empire in human history was ever dismantled so peacefully, or was so willing to offer its former subjects a home.’ He continued, ‘As the BBC constantly flaunts its own political agenda, the case for the licence fee collapses.’

 

BBC TV LICENSING WEBSITE CRASH ‘A FARCE’: The Sunday Times (2/8) and the Mail (2/7) called yesterday’s crash of the TV Licensing website, on the first day of the re-introduced charge for over-75s, ‘a farce’. Rosamund Unwin of the Sunday Times reported that viewers trying to pay were greeted with a message that said the service was “temporarily unavailable while we update it for the changes to over-75 licences”, before the site was restored last night. The BBC had said: “To make the 75+ Plan available for customers online, the TV Licensing website was temporarily offline on Saturday, as was always planned.”

The Sunday Times (2/8) also reported that pensioners were being asked to provide their bank statements to the TV Licensing office to prove that they were in receipt of pension credit, and therefore still eligible for a free licence, It was said that this was raising concerns that the elderly would be at a risk of identity theft and fraud. It was further reported that the BBC had responded:

“TV Licensing are not actively seeking bank statements — this is simply an option and we don’t expect to make very much use of it. The TV Licensing team take extreme care with personal data and have a wide range of measures in place to protect it.”

 

ENDING OF OVER-75s FREE TV LICENCE ‘WAS GOVERNMENT DECISION’:   Katie Harris (Express 2/8), noting that the provision of free BBC TV licences to the over-75s had ended, quoted a BBC spokeswoman saying that it had been the government’s decision rather than the Corporation’s. Ms Harris said the axing of the free licences had happened on the day that a new director of BBC Scotland on a six-figure salary had been appointed. Expressions of concern about the appointment from pensioners affected by the new fee regime were included in the article.  One commented:

“They can’t afford free licences for over 75s but can afford to pay a six-figure salary to him and he becomes one of the very very many on six-figure salary at the BBC the BBC should be cutting back on these high earners.”

 

BBC PROVIDES ‘DISGUSTINGLY UNBALANCED’ MATERIAL FOR CHILDREN: Craig Byers (Is the BBC Biased? 1/8), noting that BBC director of radio and education – the former Labour minister James Purnell –  had said he wanted to give the BBC a bigger role in educating children, said he was analysing a range of material on the current BBC Bitesize GCSE pages. His first analysis focused on the BBC MIddle East history pages, and noted that the entire focus was on Israel and Palestine. Mr Byers observed that the list of contributors was ‘astonishingly biased’ because ‘not one of the seven Middle East class clips strays from the BBC’s left-of-centre, Israel-slamming narrative’.  He concluded:

“And is this disgustingly unbalanced material typical of the BBC’s educational output? Especially in an age of reviving antisemitism, I think we urgently need to know.”

BBC Bias Digest 1 August 2020

BBC SLAMMED FROM WITHIN FOR USE OF ‘N-WORD’: The Daily Telegraph (£ 31/7) reported that the use by  BBC social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin of the n-word an item broadcast on the BBC News Channel had come under fire from the BBC’s gender and identity correspondent, Megha Mohan, who had stated:

“By not saying the N-word, you send a clear signal that you will not normalise the most violent of language. It blows my mind that this is open for interpretation or being justified – especially at this of all times.”

The article said that the BBC had initially defended the use of the word because it was justified in the context it was broadcast, but had since removed the item from its archive.

 

THE BBC ‘WANTS TO PLAY A BIGGER ROLE IN CHILDREN’S EDUCATION: Anita Singh (£ Daily Telegraph 31/7), said James Purnell, the BBC’s head of radio and education, had signalled that he wanted the BBC to increase its ‘reach’ by making the Corporation take ‘a greater role in children’s education, and had said  ‘the BBC’s online resources’ should ‘replace some of the “traditional” elements of teaching’. This, he claimed, would ‘free teachers to concentrate on pastoral care’.

Joseph Hearty, in the top-rated comment on the story, asserted: “Good God, no! If anyone wonders what sort of approach to education they would adopt just take a look at the Newsbeat section of the BBC website. It’s written by semi-illiterate children and promotes all the usual history-denying, trans-promoting, hijab-wearing, body positive, liberal guff that is exactly the reason people are turning against the BBC in their droves. Do they really think we want them teaching children this cr@p?”

 

THE BBC ‘IS LIKE A DISAPPROVING RELATIVE’: An article by Susannah Goldsbrough in the Telegraph (£31/7) headlined ‘The BBC is like a disapproving relative – it doesn’t get entertainment and doesn’t want to’argued that the Generation-Z age group (16-24) is turning away from the BBC towards streaming services because ‘their easy-come, easy-go attitude to entertainment’ is something the BBC ‘doesn’t get’ and ‘doesn’t want to’. For them, she claimed, ‘the BBC is like a disapproving relative’. Though the BBC is ‘serious about holding onto younger audiences’ and ‘wants to compete for [their] day-to-day viewing habits’, she argued that ‘the pillar of the British establishment’ needs to remember that ‘entertainment shouldn’t be a dirty word’.

BBC Bias Digest 31 July 2020

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

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

 

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

 

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

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