A survey into the BBC’s Today programme podcast found that the new form of broadcasting raises serious issues of balance and impartiality.
On Monday 24 October 2005, Minotaur Media Tracking began a nine week investigation into the Today programme’s coverage of European Union news and current affairs. Minotaur sought to establish whether the BBC’s charter requirements of broad impartiality and fairness were met by the Today programme in its coverage of European affairs, and whether the recommendations of the 2005 Wilson Report on the corporation’s EU coverage have been implemented by editors, presenters, and journalists.
Analysis of the live BBC2 programme ‘How Euro are You’, transmitted on October 3, 2005, was produced by Talent TV – devisors of the ‘Test the Nation’ format – in front of a studio audience and had at its core an interactive questionnaire, devised by the company in association with pollsters ICM, which set out to establish viewers’ attitudes towards “Europe”.
On Monday 7 March 2005, Minotaur Media Tracking began a fifteen-week investigation into the BBC’s coverage of European Union news and current affairs. Minotaur sought to establish whether EU-related stories were given adequate consideration by the corporation’s flagship news and current affairs programmes, and whether the BBC’s charter requirements of broad impartiality and fairness were met. The fifteen-week monitoring period included four significant events:
UK General Election (May 5)
French Referendum on the Constitution (May 29)
Dutch Referendum on the Constitution (June 1)
EU Heads of government summit in Brussels (June 16/17)
BBC Radio 4’s Today programme was monitored for the whole fifteen weeks. On the formal announcement of the general election (April 5), monitoring was extended to include three additional programmes: Radio 4’s PM, the BBC1 10 O’Clock News, and BBC2’s Newsnight. These additional programmes were monitored until the Dutch referendum on June 1 – an interval of eight weeks and two days. The following analysis will first consider each programme in turn, and then assess their coverage of the major EU events which occurred during the survey period. The final part of the analysis will provide overall totals for the entire survey.
A survey into the BBC’s coverage of asylum and immigration issues during the period of September 1 – December 15, 2004, was based on the monitoring of seven programmes – On Radio 4, the Today programme, World at One, PM, the Six O’Clock News and the World Tonight, on BBC1, the Ten O’Clock News and BBC2, Newsnight.
On Monday 11 October 2004, Minotaur Media tracking began a ten-week investigation into the Today programme’s coverage of European Union news and current affairs. Minotaur sought to establish whether the BBC’s charter requirements of broad impartiality and fairness were met by the Today programme in its coverage of European affairs, and whether sufficient space was given over to the discussion of this and other European matters during the ten weeks 11 September – 18 December.
This report assesses whether coverage of UKIP by the BBC Radio 4 programme Today – the corporation’s flagship news programme – in the build-up and immediate aftermath of the elections to the European parliament on June 10, 2004, was fair, impartial and accurate.
The election was a remarkable result for UKIP. Although opinions vary about whether or not support will be replicated in other elections, the party attracted a 16.1% share of the poll, registering a 252% increase in votes over 1999 and coming both ahead of the Liberal Democrats in the constituencies they both contested, and within 6% of the overall
share of the governing Labour party.
Labour was reduced to its lowest share of a national poll for 80 years, and the Conservatives to their lowest proportion since 1832.
On Tuesday 20 April 2004, Tony Blair formally announced his decision to hold a referendum on whether to accept the proposed EU Constitution. This announcement had been expected since Thursday 15 April. It was a major change of direction of Government policy. In the light of well-publicised concerns over its coverage of the EU, the BBC now had an opportunity, and the obligation, to achieve coverage that was balanced, fair and authoritative. On the day of the announcement the BBC’s coverage was carefully monitored to see whether this was achieved.