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Is the BBC Biased?

Is the BBC Biased?

The answer is that on one particular subject – the coverage of EU affairs – it most definitely is.

For 15 long years, News-watch has been investigating. Our reports deploy the most robust analytical methodology and demonstrate that, for example, over the treatment of withdrawal from the EU, the Corporation’s coverage is outrageously limited and skewed.

The latest report, focusing on the European elections in May, shows that during the entire campaign on the Corporation’s most high-profile news and currents affairs programmes, no supporter of withdrawal was asked a single question about the topic.

Instead, the focus was relentlessly – to the point of persecution – on whether those who supported withdrawal (UKIP of course) were racist, incompetent or corrupt.  The latest full report can be read here.

Over most of those 15 years, the Corporation’s senior management and Trustees have disgracefully refused to engage with this research.

Instead they come up with a whole series of stonewall defences. This includes bunging loads of licence-fee cash to their media chums and former employees  in academia to write rival reports. But their methodology, as News-watch demonstrated conclusively in a Civitas paper, is lamentably poor.

In the process, it has become abundantly clear that despite their protestations, Corporation news mandarins do not have the faintest idea of how to measure their own output. Their approach relies principally on bluster and insults.

So it was with great interest that I watched the latest defence against the recent big guns Tory attack  when call me Dave and George Osborne accused the BBC of bias and exaggeration in its coverage of the Autumn statement.

The response of the BBC press office?   “We’ll undoubtedly get more criticism from across the political spectrum as the election gets closer, but we’ll keep doing our job.”

Well golly. In other words, sometime in the next six months until the General Election, the Corporation will receive another complaint from someone from the other side of the political fence.

A defence, it seems, based on a new-found capacity of serried ranks of 180 in the Press Office to foretell the future.  The sybils at Delphi would have been envious.

In fact, this argument – that because the BBC is criticised from all sides, it must be doing something right – is perhaps the oldest weapon in the Corporation’s armoury, wheeled out with wearying predictability.

News-watch records show the first use of the tactic back in summer 2000.  In response to a report, they produced two letters by listeners one attacking John Humphrys for pro-EU bias, the second for his anti-EU bias.

There was no additional commentary, but incredibly, Corporation chiefs believed both that it was an-ace-of-hearts trump card, and that it showed that Humphrys could not be biased towards both sides of the argument simultaneously – so therefore he must not be biased at all.

A moment’s reflection shows that such ‘logic’ is utter tosh.   One of the viewpoints could be correct and the other completely wrong.  There is no way of judging the credibility of the two viewpoints chosen. There might have been hundreds more letters supporting one perspective than the other, yet both are given equal weight. And one might have been based on robust fact and research, the other purely on impression.

The second defence, said by media pundits to be ‘unprecedented’, was that the BBC Press Office moved to tackle the Sun newspaper head on , issuing line-by-line rebuttals of two editorials.

The Sun December 2 leader said that, despite pledges of reform, the numbers of senior managers earning more than the Prime Minister continued to rise. The next day, there was a follow-up, this time calling for the licence fee to be scrapped, accusing BBC bosses of handing top jobs to friends of friends, and it tearing into what is said were the ‘left-wing prejudices of this Guardian-reading elite’

The BBC response was every bit as limp as its attempts at fortune-telling described above.  The principal defence – presented without a scrap of supporting evidence but as if it was  unarguable fact – was that the BBC provided ‘programmes and services which the public love’ and a claim that, ‘…at just £2.80 a week per household the BBC provides excellent value for money.’

Well that’s alright then. And as BBC Director of Television Danny Cohen (salary £327,800)says, we must not dare criticise.

On senior management pay, the defence was a classic Watergate ‘non-denial denial’ that perhaps would have made even Nixon blush. The press office said: “…senior manager numbers fell again last year from 445 to 410”. But that was not even the point the Sun had made. The specific complaint was that 91 senior managers earned more than the PM.

In response to the criticism of recruitment and left-wing bias, the BBC argued “We appoint people from a wide variety of different backgrounds – including newspapers from across the political spectrum” It was unclear from the nonsensical sentence construction (or course the BBC doesn’t appoint newspapers to its roles) whether this meant appointments were advertised across a range of newspapers or that journalists from various newspapers were subsequently appointed by the BBC.

This, of course, is an equally unsubtle variation of the two-complaints- from-different-sides prove balance argument. I have no doubt that, somewhere in the Corporation, if you dig hard enough and deep enough, in some dusty corner, there are those who have worked for the Daily Mail. But as this book by former BBC correspondent Robin Aitken brilliantly pointed out, they definitely do not cancel out the liberal-left bias.

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Kathy Gyngell: We need a road map on how to quit the EU. Don’t expect head-in-the-sand BBC to help

Kathy Gyngell: We need a road map on how to quit the EU. Don’t expect head-in-the-sand BBC to help

Photo by CJS*64 A man with a camera

Why was I not at all surprised to read of the huge shortfall in EU spending of £259 billion pounds? Yes, the one to which, all of a sudden, Britain will be expected to contribute to some £34 billion?

I am talking about that hole in the EU budget that the BBC has kept the British public so abreast of, the one it made sure we all knew about prior to the EU elections.

Of course the BBC did no such thing. It has never fulfilled its mission to ‘inform and educate’ us about our progressive capture by and capitulation to the EU’s changing agenda since we joined, let alone how it spent our taxes.

The BBC’s output from day one has never reflected the importance of the EU in ordinary Britons’ lives – how it spends their money.  I know.  This is what the consistent and painstaking monitoring of its output by News-watch, the BBC bias monitoring website, since 1999 has demonstrated. The unsurprisingly low turnout for the 1999 European election was described sneeringly by Jeremy Paxman as an ‘outbreak of narcolepsy’. And whose fault was that?

The BBC’s lack of interest persisted through important summits as well as the process of creating the new EU constitution.

Awareness of the the EU’s catastrophic finances has been a long time coming.  Yet the evidence that all in the garden was far from rosy was there back in 2001.  Then the EU’s former chief accountant Marta Andreasen refused to sign off the 2001 European Commission accounts for good reason; she said its accounting system was open to fraud.

Her criticisms ignored, Andreasen went public with her concerns only to be sacked for her pains (she was suspended from her job by the Commission for “violating Articles 12 and 21 of staff regulations, failure to show sufficient loyalty and respect”).

Yet, despite her stand, few people in the UK were made aware of this financial catastrophe in the making; not least because of the BBC’s bias and negligence in its reporting of all matters EU.

They kept the British public in the dark by virtue of that BBC default – bias by omission.

You can either put their indifference down to their being part of a liberal metropolitan conspiracy whose main concern was to avoid reporting the encroaching powers of Europe.  Heaven forfend that they should thereby antagonise the public and made them more Eurosceptic than already.

Or you can accept the BBC’s own excuse (on the rare occasions that they have ‘fessed up’) that much of what takes place in Brussels and Strasbourg is complex and boring and the British public don’t want to know – the lazy excuse of an organisation that had weakened its own raison d’etre by its continuous dumbing down, as the Daily Mail’s Stephen Glover once put it.

You might have thought that the rise and rise of UKip and Nigel Farage would have forced a reconsideration of the BBC’s  approach to EU coverage.  But no,  the BBC continued to forgive all EU failings in the name of that higher cause  – “Europe – the European idea”; the one that European Council President Herman van Rompuy and his predecessors, all the way back to Jean Monnet, adhere to.

Despite the fact that the demand for an EU exit  is now political mainstream – made all the more so by the former Cabinet Minister Owen Paterson’s speech on Monday – the BBC’s coverage remains not just resolutely negative but totally inadequate.  Worse it has continued to smear and sideline Ukip’s best efforts to raise the issue of our membership.

This I believe is why, before Owen Paterson raised it,  there was never any discussion on the BBC of David Cameron’s option of serving notice on the EU – that of invoking Article 50 of the EU’s governing treaties.

Correct me if I am wrong, but my guess is that apart from the Sunday Telegraph’s Christopher Booker, forensic Brussels expert Richard North and Tory MEP Dan Hannan,  few  people in the British Isles would have known this was an option – let alone a strategy.

Whose fault is that?

The Sun thinks we can do without the EU; Ukip’s defiance has changed the game plan. When, if ever, will the BBC catch on?

Yes, I know, Cameron’s promised referendum hangs in the balance of the next election but the pressure to quit the EU is not about to diminish any time soon.

After reading the Telegraph’s headlines this morning, a whole load more people must have been thinking, like me: ‘Wouldn’t it be better to be out before the bill lands on the mat.”?

Ukip, one way or another, may force a referendum sooner rather than later, leaving us with the question of how we are to get out.

Yet, despite Mr Paterson, no one in the BBC is addressing it – anymore that they addressed the EU’s financial black hole.

Have  you heard any discussion of this?  How we get out – outside the hallowed realms of right wing think-tanks?  Certainly nothing serious on the BBC.

Yet, how we do it matters a lot for our future trading prosperity. Never more was there something that we need to get right.

So, since there is no way we can rely on the BBC to inform us, I plan to make my best effort to get an informed debate going – here on TCW.

Soon, I will blog on a lunch-time discussion I attended at the Centre for Policy Studies led by Dan Hannan and founder of the Trade Policy Research Centre Ronald Stewart Brown. It certainly opened my eyes to the question of whether we would be best to negotiate some form of free trade association with the EU or negotiate to stay in a ‘customs union’ on a new intergovernmental basis.

It may sound arcane. It is actually vital that we get it right.

Kathy Gyngell is co-founder of News-watch and co-editor of The Conservative Woman, where this article was first published.

 

Hall’s BBC Executive Board Climate Change Links

Hall’s BBC Executive Board Climate Change Links

Rona Fairhead, who David Cameron has parachuted in as new chairman of the BBC, is being grilled about her approach to the role by the Commons Culture and Sport Committee on Tuesday – and already questions of conflict of interest are being asked.

A former chief executive of the Financial Times group, she still owns a tranche of shares in parent company Pearson worth around £4.5m – and the BBC commercial arm BBC Worldwide has a deal with Pearson which involves the Corporation promoting  some of its educational products. No doubt the BBC’s spin doctors will come up with reasons why that’s perfectly OK.

Actually, her appointment may be smoke and mirrors and almost an irrelevance. The real power in the Corporation is vested in the Executive Management Board. It takes the day-to-day decisions about how its run.

The Trustees (of whom Fairhead will be chairman)   is supposed to be the BBC watchdog, but since its inception in 2007 has in reality been pretty ineffective and packed with left-leaning climate change alarmists such as Alison Hastings and Diana Coyle.

Under former chairman Lord Patten, they pretty much sat on their hands while former Director General Mark Thompson presided over a bean feast of eye-wateringly massive pay-outs to departing executives, embarked on lunatic  new technology projects that cost licence-fee payers more than £100m, and also spectacularly failed to act as senior Corporation editorial managers effectively suppressed the Savile story.

The executive management board is made up of a core senior BBC executives, such as former director of news Helen Boaden, who rather than being sacked,  was moved sideways to Managing Director radio after huge question marks were raised about her conduct in the Savile cover-up.

But the board also has a range of outside non-executive and it is here that Director General Tony Hall has been making a raft of appointments that show how the BBC is likely to conduct itself in the crucial build-up to 2017 Charter renewal, and who are likely to be far more important in the shaping of BBC conduct.

Who are these people? A mixed bag of fiercely independent minds?  Well no.

Step forward  Sir Nicholas Hytner, Alice Perkins, Dame Fiona Reynolds, Sir Howard Stringer, and Simon Burke.

All, it is true, have impressive-sounding career paths. Hytner is the former director of the National  Theatre; Stringer  a former president of CBS, the US terrestrial broadcaster, and Sony, the Japanese conglomerate; Perkins is Chairman of the Post Office; Reynolds is a former Director General of the National Trust;   and Burke, a retailer, has a career that started with Richard Branson’s Virgin and he is now a director of the Co-op Food division.

But scratch the surface, and familiar alarm bells start clanging immediately.

Alice Perkins hasn’t adopted the name of her husband – he’s the former foreign secretary Jack Straw. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about that in terms of her outlook.

Stringer has a very public obsession pursuing climate change alarmism. Under his leadership, Sony got into bed very firmly with all the usual eco militants in leading the charge towards a 50% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, and he is a platform speaker at climate alarmist events such as this. This adulatory piece in the BBC’s house journal The Guardian says it all.

Reynolds , now the master of Emmanuel College , can be seen and heard here in full cry telling the students of St Andrew’s University that we are all going to fry and die unless we mend our wicked ways and all become as madly green as she is.  And under Reynolds stewardship, the National Trust turned from being a body simply conserving our heritage to one screeching that climate change is a major national issue that affects us all.

Hytner is very careful about giving interviews about his political outlook. But my guess from a trawl of his background is that he was never a fan of Margaret Thatcher and he stresses the need for the arts to reflect ‘cultural diversity’ – often the code for the multicultural agenda.

Burke is also a bit of an unknown quantity – his career path too colourless to attract much attention –  but he cut his teeth as a key lieutenant of the right-on green warrior Richard Branson, whose enlightened  philosophy is to tell climate ‘deniers’ to get out of the way.

The problem facing the BBC as Fairhead’s appointment moves towards confirmation is not particularly who she is, or what she represents, but that the Corporation  desperately needs input from genuinely independent radical-thinking  figures who can shake up its slavish adherence to left-leaning ideology and outlook.

All the signs are that it is moving in the opposite direction.  Tony Hall has surrounded himself with a coterie that shares his own worldview – and in turn, that’s exactly the same as that of the Trustees.

On Tuesday, the MPs on the Culture Committee will focus on Fairhead, but she’s destined to be an empty, toothless figurehead.  The real power lies elsewhere.

Photo by Lepti

Bland Leading the Bland

Bland Leading the Bland

Sir Christopher Bland, who chaired the BBC from 1996-2001 – when the hated John ’dalek’  Birt was director general – has waded into the discussion about who should become new Chairman of the BBC trustees. .

According to the Guardian, he suggests that the current problem in finding a successor to Lord Patten, who was forced to resign as chairman for health reasons, is rooted in the structure of the Trustees. The reason?  Because under the last set  of BBC reforms back in 2006-7, the newly formed Trustees, who succeeded the former Governors, were put at arm’s length from the senior BBC management in order to be ‘independent’.

He says being BBC chairman before the reforms was a much more important job: more directly involved in the management of the Corporation, and he argues that high calibre names are not on the shortlist for the current job because it’s a role not worth taking.

Sir Christopher thus appears to be arguing for the clock to be put back. But surely he misses the main point? The governors were abolished because all too often they took the side of BBC management rather than acting in true public interest.

The problem with the last reforms is rather that they did not go far enough. The current  batch of Trustees – as News-watch has repeatedly shown – are from a liberal left background and mindset that mostly echoes that of BBC management, and means that the Corporation is blind to criticism of the bias in its output.

What’s needed now is not a return to those bad old days of Birt and Bland , but a radical restructuring which sees genuinely independent Trustees that ensure that the BBC is properly in touch with public opinion rather than the gilded Metropolitan elite of which Sir Christopher and his ilk are card-carrying members.

Photo by Tim Loudon

Paxman ‘Shows BBC decline’

Paxman ‘Shows BBC decline’

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

Photo by dullhunk

BBC charter must not be renewed until pro-EU bias ends

BBC charter must not be renewed until pro-EU bias ends

Lord Pearson of Rannoch, initiated an hour’s debate in the House of Lords about biased BBC coverage of the EU. His main demand was that the BBC Charter is not renewed until the bias is rectified, and his key point that despite repeated assertions to the contrary the BBC simply does not cover the withdrawal perspective fairly or adequately.  The debate can be read in full here: Click here

The peers’ collective words on this vital topic have gone unreported – especially by the BBC. Lord Pearson of Rannoch referred centrally in his contribution  to a News-watch report that said that says that the BBC’s Prebble report (which gave the corporation’s EU coverage a virtual clean bill of health) was unprofessional and ‘incestuous’.

Lord Pearson asserted in conclusion:

“So I ask the Government not to renew the BBC’s charter until they are satisfied that it is capable of fulfilling it. This afternoon, I have dealt only with the BBC’s coverage of the EU. Similar criticisms could be made of its coverage of immigration and manmade climate change, at least. In conclusion, I trust that the Government will ensure that the BBC’s editorial freedom is preserved, but with that freedom must come the fulfilment of the great ideals of its charter. I beg to move.”

Photo by Euro Realist Newsletter

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

BBC ‘Pays double the rate for their taxis’

BBC ‘Pays double the rate for their taxis’

BBC staff have slammed their bosses for paying double the going rate for taxi journeys made at the licence fee payers’ expense.
A story in the Daily Telegraph reveals that the Corporation pays £10m a year for over 350,000 journeys by staff and guests.
To handle this business, the Corporation has a contracted supplier of taxis, which are booked through an internal website. But staff say that the taxi firm is giving a raw deal and charges on occasion almost double the rate of local cab hire companies.
The discrepancy was highlighted in the BBC’s internal magazine Ariel, following a letter from staff member Marc Settle, a project producer at the BBC Academy’s College of Journalism.He said the organisation’s workers are told to book cabs through internal website Gateway, which promises ‘More money for programmes’.He added: “When you book a taxi via Gateway, you’re greeted with a comforting strapline of ‘More money for programmes’.”Is this actually the case? I rang the number on Gateway to get a quote for a journey from Tonbridge in Kent to Gatwick and was told £87.”That seemed high, so I rang a few local companies and, on average, was quoted £45.”Another journey from Stanmore to Heathrow was £61 via Gateway yet a local company quoted just £25.”I know that any receipts which are submitted need then to be processed, and that has a cost. Equally, a central booking system may have merits for auditing purposes.”I would like to know, though, why taxi journeys booked through the central system seem to cost twice as much as those booked locally.”
The article reported that the BBC maintained that costs were higher in order to ensure that taxi firms were ‘legally compliant’ and that drivers were vetted properly.

Photo by [Duncan]

A decision by BBC Trustees to reject a complaint about the BBC’s EU coverage was a ‘farce’

A decision by BBC Trustees to reject a complaint about the BBC’s EU coverage was a ‘farce’

A decision by BBC Trustees  to reject a complaint about the BBC’s EU coverage was a ‘farce’,  leading Eurosceptic MPs Kate Hoey and Philip Hollobone have said.

The complaint – based on research by Newswatch – centred on an edition of Newsnight last January which covered David Cameron’s decision to announce a radical overhaul of EU policy to include a referendum on withdrawal.

Mr Hollobone, who has written to BBC Trustees attacking heir ruling, said: “The programme featured 17 Europhiles pitched against one person who supported withdrawal. It was blatant imbalance.

“Yet the BBC says this did not matter because this was not a major news event and they were

therefore gauging reaction to the proposal from politicians and those affected by it. That’s the sort of sleight of hand excuse that shows that the BBC complaints process is completely rotten and stacked against complainants. They make the rules, they interpret them and they kick out most of them on the most spurious reasoning.”

A succession of top BBC executives, including former DG Mark Thompson, and more recently former head of television news Roger Mosey, have admitted that BBC EU coverage has been totally biased against the withdrawal case.

Mr Hollobone added: “Our complaint showed in detail that on the day of this major development in EU-related policy, this edition of Newsnight did not properly take into account the withdrawal case, and indeed went to absurd lengths to stuff the programme full of figures who wanted to shoot down both the idea of a referendum and the case for withdrawal.

“In terms of BBC coverage it was thus par for the course, but the Trustees have now performed a farcical series of contortions to argue the programme was fair”.

He added: “The BBC complaints procedure is clearly not fit for purpose because no-one involved is genuinely independent. It exists to protect the BBC’s back rather than the proper investigation of bias. It’s time for major change”.

Kate Hoey said: “I have grave concerns about how the BBC is going to be impartial during the coming debate on our relationship with the EU and a referendum.   Chris Patten as a former EU commissioner really must prove he has left his Europhile position behind him and that he can ensure genuine impartiality”

Read the Newswatch-researched complaint here.

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EU ‘Come-out’ Donor Sykes gets Today Roasting

EU ‘Come-out’ Donor Sykes gets Today Roasting

Newswatch reports show that Today does not give EU ‘come-outers’ the chance to properly air their case.
When they do appear they are usually bracketed with ‘Loonies’, or given no chance to explain their support for leaving the EU.
Today presenter Evan Davis continued the tradition when he interviewed this week (November 18) Yorkshire businessman Paul Sykes about his decision to support UKIP in the 2014 Europe elections. Mr Sykes – who announced his decisions to the Daily Telegraph – said he had decided to resume his political donations because UKIP was the only party clearly campaigning for withdrawal from the EU. But on Today, Evan Davis conducted in an interview that was so crammed full of interruptions that the longest Mr Sykes was allowed to speak was 94 words, about 35 seconds. In an interview lasting five-and-a-half minutes, Mr Davis interjected 35 times…once every 10 seconds.
The transcript here reveals the full gory story.  Read for yourself .
Of course it’s the job of a Today presenter to be adversarial and political donations must be subjected to scrutiny. But this was battering ram questioning that would have been appropriateif Mr Sykes was contemplating an illegal act rather than giving to a mainstream political cause he believed in.
The transcript shows that that Mr Davis deliberately set out to prevent Mr Sykes from explaining either his decision to support withdrawal as a political cause or his reasoning why he thought current policies do not chime with public opinion. It was only the third interview of a clear supporter of withdrawal in the latest Newswatch monitoring period, which is running from mid September until the EU Council meeting in December.

Photo by Astral Media