featured

BBC SPINS FRUIT FARMS MIGRANT LABOUR ’SHORTAGE’

BBC SPINS FRUIT FARMS MIGRANT LABOUR ’SHORTAGE’

This is a guest post from Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased?

 

A couple of mornings ago Today sent a reporter to a fruit farm in Godalming and brought back a large punnet of Brexit-related gloom. Nick Robinson introduced the report with these words:
There’s a warning today from Britain’s berry growers that Brexit could crush the industry.
Zoe Conway’s report included various hard-working, efficient migrant workers (as she portrayed them) worried about their future, plus farm managers fearing the collapse of their business. One farm owner was asked if he regretted his Leave vote, especially if it leads to what Zoe called a “hard Brexit”. No contrasting views featured in Zoe’s report.
That’s par for the course, of course. But tied in with that piece was the reporting that very same morning of the results of a survey among soft berry producers – a survey the BBC itself had commissioned (for reasons known only to itself but guessable by others).
The main BBC News website report on the survey (by Emma Simpson) is striking for the way it tries to spin its own findings. The BBC’s spin is deeply negative about Brexit and conducive to advancing arguments in favour of retaining free-movement:

UK summer fruit and salad growers are having difficulty recruiting pickers, with more than half saying they don’t know if they will have enough migrant workers to harvest their crops.

Many growers blame the weak pound which has reduced their workers’ earning power, as well as uncertainty over Brexit, according to a BBC survey.

The results themselves, cited later in the article, are strikingly at odds with the mood music of the report as a whole:
These results say to me that only 3% of the surveyed farmers are seriously alarmed about “migrant labour shortages’. Another 18% are a bit worried. And what the other 79% (though the figures don’t actually add up to 100%)? Well, they either say they have have enough seasonal workers or aren’t sure if they’ve got enough. In other words, that 79% don’t sound alarmed about the situation, despite the BBC’s alarmist headline.

I think this is a clear case of BBC bias (conscious or unconscious).

And it’s far from being the first time that the BBC has spun its own surveys in a favoured direction.

Who can forget the particularly blatant way the BBC spun its own survey on the attitudes of British Muslims back in 2015? While many other media outlets led with the astonishing finding that 27% of British Muslims expressed  some sympathy with those who carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre the BBC heavily pushed the “Most British Muslims ‘oppose Muhammad cartoons reprisals'” angle.
Plus there was some very dodgy reporting by the BBC’s News at Six and the BBC website into young people’s concerns, also in 2015, where both the TV bulletin and the website article omitted all mention of the third biggest concern of the polled young people – immigration. And it was another BBC poll to boot.
And there was Newsnight and the BBC website’s blatant attempts to rig the debate before freedom of movement was granted to Romanians and Bulgarians back in 2013, where the BBC twisted its own survey by pushing the ‘Few planning to migrate to UK’ angle. Others quickly pointed out that the BBC’s own figures actually suggested a massive influx of Romanians and Bulgarians was coming.
As you’ll note, all of the above have immigration as a running theme, whether directly or indirectly. And all of them were spun by the BBC in the same way – the pro-immigration way.

Photo by Ahmad.Helal

BBC ‘leaders’ debate was programme car-crash

BBC ‘leaders’ debate was programme car-crash

The so-called ‘leaders’ debate on BBC1 last night was a car crash of a programme that should never have been broadcast.

‘Balance’ was never going to be possible in a set-up involving five strident left-wing parties ranged against two from the ‘right’. Those at the Corporation paid substantial salaries to achieve ‘impartiality’, including the Director of News, James Harding, should have spotted this a mile away.

Further, despite anything that the BBC might say, the audience was seriously biased against Amber Rudd for the Conservatives and Paul Nuttall of Ukip. The Corporation afterwards claimed this was not their fault because they had sub-contracted the polling organisation ComRes to select the audience members on a ‘scientific’ basis.

Poppycock. The BBC are responsible for programmes that they broadcast and in a General Election the Corporation has a clearly-defined responsibility under both the Charter and electoral law to ensure balance.

The reality is that the make-up of audience was a first-order farce. Nothing the BBC broadcasts subsequently can ‘balance’ this, so gross was the problem.

This Cambridge mob was not just biased in its reactions throughout the 90 minutes but risibly so.  Everything Jeremy Corbyn said was cheered to the rafters, whereas Rudd and Nuttall were subjected to catcalls.  The camerawork (was that sub-contracted, too?) further exaggerated the problems by homing in on the negative reaction.

Returning to the intrinsic imbalance of the 5 ‘left’ to two ’right’ set-up, a major problem here was that the moderator, Radio 4 Today presenter Mishal Husain, was never equal to the task.

But there were deeper problems, that meant Husain’s basic failure of control was compounded.  The result was that programme was shot through with basic unfairness.

Nowhere was this more risibly evident than in the handling of immigration. Put bluntly Paul Nuttall’s call for tougher controls was ganged up upon and shouted down by the SNP, Green, Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrat panellists – who, like playground bullies, called him a racist.

There was nothing new about this. Those on the left such as Tim Farron and Caroline Lucas have been disgracefully and indiscriminately using the ‘R’ word against anyone who disagrees with uncontrolled immigration for decades.

But that is where the BBC failed at the most basic level in their duty as public service broadcasters.  They should have foreseen such unfairness, and known it would be an inevitable outcome. The problem is that the British political system is no longer binary, and the majority of parties are now left-wing, so ‘debates’ like this simply cannot work.

Another point is that the BBC intrinsically does not care a stuff about right-wing opinion. For years it has been working to undermine and belittle the views of Ukip, and so in that mind-set, the latest twist last night was only par for the course.

Everybody who watched last night could see this blatant bias, but not the BBC itself. Its headlines yesterday morning did not mention the bias claims, but focused instead on that Theresa May had been shown to be a coward for not turning up.

BBC ‘environment analyst’ Harrabin: don’t vote Conservative or Ukip

BBC ‘environment analyst’ Harrabin: don’t vote Conservative or Ukip

At what point do BBC ‘correspondents’ cross the line from offering a properly judged and impartial assessment into propaganda and overt electioneering?

News-watch surveys provide abundant evidence that it is all too often – and a new prime example was 556 words on the doctrine of climate alarmism from Roger Harrabin the BBC’s ‘environment analyst’ on Radio 4’s The World This Weekend yesterday. (His report starts at a round 1.25pm)

This amounted to a BBC party political broadcast against elements of the Conservative party, and especially – to Harrabin – the real villains of the piece, Ukip.

A transcript of the full horror of what he delivered in this ‘impartial assessment’ is below.

Where to start? In Harrabin’s world, our seas are ‘full of plastic’ (!), and the fact that Stephen Hawking thinks that climate change is the biggest long-term threat to humanity makes his speculation sacrosanct.

Then we must take into account that, according to government surveys, only 1% ‘strongly oppose renewables’ and so that, in Harrabin’s world, makes the spending of billions on such energy (instead of, say, the NHS) OK.

No mention in his equation of the thousands of old people who freeze in winter because of the huge bills generated by wind farm and solar subsidies.

And who, according to Harrabin, are the irresponsible and reckless parties who are opposing the climate alarmism agenda? Top if his list are ‘Conservative libertarians’, followed by – boo, hiss! – Ukip. Of course! Every BBC correspondent’s favourite whipping boys.  Along with Donald Trump, who also dares to question this sacred dogma.

Next on the list of Harrabin infamy is The Mail on Sunday, which had the temerity to launch its Great Green Con campaign and thereby ‘legitimised’ anti-environmentalism’.  How very dare they.

Next target? Brexit – this is the BBC so how could another aspect of related problems be avoided? , Now at risk is all the wonderful legislation emanating from Brussels designed to ‘restore nature’ (whatever that means). As a result ,too, of leaving the EU at risk will be flood control, along with the drive to spend billions on insulating millions of homes.

Harrabin concludes – with outrageous partiality – during an election campaign:

The Conservatives’ ambition looks limited here compared with the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru and also Labour who want to make home insulation an infrastructure priority. The SNP hasn’t published its manifesto yet but it too wants to take a strong line on climate change.

So there we have it. Vote anything but Conservative and Ukip, and avoid Brexit and all will be well with the world. Humanity will be safe.

 

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, ‘The World This Weekend’, 28 May, 2017, Climate Change, 1.27pm

MARK MARDELL: And as one Carlisle resident said, there hasn’t been much about the environment generally, even though it was once near the top of many a politician’s agenda. What happened? Here’s our environment analyst Roger Harrabin.

ROGER HARRABIN:            Air pollution, melting sea ice, wildlife depletion, a soil crisis, seas full of plastic.  Why isn’t the election full of environmental angst?  Well I think it’s mainly a question of worry capacity. Stephen Hawking would tell you climate change was the biggest long-term threat to humanity but in the meantime we’re also beset by terrorism, the refugee crisis, Brexit – they’ve filled up our worry-space.  Coupled with that there’s been a shift in the way the media discusses the environment.  The old consensus on climate change has been rattled by a long campaign from Conservative libertarians and UKIP.  They scored their first success with wind farms, scattered protests against turbines were at first below the radar of the national media, but those angry local voices were eventually amplified by the Telegraph, and that began to influence policy.  The government’s own surveys actually suggest that just 1% of the populace strongly opposes renewables, but that’s by the by.  Then the Mail on Sunday launched its Great Green Con campaign criticising failings in renewables and highlighting uncertainties in climate science.  When it was previously non-PC to declare yourself a climate change sceptic, a stance of what you might call anti-environmentalism has now been legitimised.  This steady pressure from over its right shoulder has led the government to mostly gag itself on climate change over recent years and the sceptics have been claiming victory.  But wait a minute – except UKIP, all the manifestos published so far, that’s including the blue one, recommit to the Climate Change Act.  That sort of consensus hardly stimulates media interest, but it does prove the issue hasn’t gone away.  There are details over policy of course.  The Conservative manifesto aspires to the cheapest energy prices in Europe.  The Greens promise affordable energy, not cheap energy.  But as a slogan that’s not quite so catchy.  For all parties Brexit looms large, 80 % of the UK’s environmental policy comes through the EU.  How will politicians translate that into UK law?  How will they handle the massive opportunity to restore nature as they’ve promised following British withdraw from the common agriculture policy?  Can they direct some of the agricultural budget to catching water on farmland to prevent the floods we discussed earlier?  How will they improve the chaotic waste and recycling policies and how will our next government solve the conundrum of persuading tens of millions of people to insulate their own homes as part of the supposedly inexorable drive towards the low carbon economy?  The Conservatives’ ambition looks limited here compared with the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru and also Labour who want to make home insulation an infrastructure priority.  The SNP hasn’t published its manifesto yet but it too wants to take a strong line on climate change.  Then how will the parties deal with the thorny issue of air pollution?  Policies are there in other manifestos but details are strikingly absent from the Conservative document, presumably to avoid upsetting diesel drivers.  So many environmental questions still, so many unanswered.

 

 

Photo by Chatham House, London

News-watch survey of BBC Article 50 survey shows deep anti-Brexit bias

News-watch survey of BBC Article 50 survey shows deep anti-Brexit bias

The latest News-watch detailed analysis of BBC output, covering the UK’s Article 50 letter and its aftermath, shows heavy bias against the case for Brexit.  The report, which included more than 73,000 words of programme transcripts, can be found in full here. Coverage of the survey’s findings is in the Daily Express here.

In the week of the filing of the UK’s Article 50 letter (March 29 – April 4, 2017), BBC Radio 4’s Today programme broadcast six editions which contained almost five hours of material about the letter and its aftermath. This was almost half of the available feature airtime.

The programme coverage was strongly biased against Brexit and made special efforts to illustrate the extent to which leaving the EU could have catastrophic consequences for the UK. There was, by contrast, only minimal effort to examine the potential benefits.

A measure of this overwhelming negativity was that only eight (6.5%) of the 124 speakers who appeared over the six editions were given the space to make substantive arguments that the future for the UK outside the EU would yield significant benefits.

The overall gloom was buttressed by the programme’s editorial approach. Presenters and correspondents, for example, pushed at every opportunity to illustrate potential (and existing) problems. At the same time, they were strongly adversarial towards Brexit supporters, but much less so to guests who advocated that the UK was, in effect, now staring down the barrel of a loaded gun.

Problems that were deliberately pushed to the forefront included the wealth of City of London being under threat, the creation of a ‘legislative soup’, the EU not agreeing with the UK’s preferred path of negotiations, and the possibility the of exit talks extending up to 10 years.

BBC ‘fact-checking’, though presented as objective, was anything but. Chris Morris, the ‘fact checker’ was most focused on choosing topics that showed Brexit in a negative light, and failed at even the elementary level of pointing out that ‘EU money’ was actually provided UK taxpayers.

A series of reports from Sunderland, purportedly to explore both Leave and Remain perspectives, focused most on this negative fact checking. It also gave most prominence in its framework to the possibility of Nissan leaving the area and negative business developments since Brexit and the possibility of arts funding drying up. Local voices supporting Brexit were included, but in vox pops with only soundbite points.

Special effort was made throughout to show that the City of London was under pressure as a result of Brexit. A story that Lloyd’s of London were establishing a Brussels ‘headquarters’ was elevated to major significance in the bulletins, and across several mentions in Business News slots, even though the chief executive admitted that ‘only ‘tens’ of jobs were involved.

By contrast to this blanket negativity, a News-watch report from 2002 covering the introduction of euro notes and coins across the EU was strongly positive about the prospects for the new currency and strained editorial sinews and resources to show that its advent had been joyfully received in the relevant EU countries.

The BBC strongly defended its post-Brexit coverage during the survey period (through a high profile article in Radio Times by Today presenter Nick Robinson) as being in accord with its own rules of ‘due impartiality’. The evidence of this survey is that its assessment methods are seriously skewed against Brexit and in favour of the EU.

The full report is here:

Photo by James Cridland

BBC still resists Brexit – against the will of even Remain voters

BBC still resists Brexit – against the will of even Remain voters

YouGov’s latest poll on attitudes towards Brexit – as the New Statesman outlines here – demonstrates that 69 per cent of the public now support leaving the EU and only 21 per cent want to ignore the result of the referendum.

Not only that, 25 per cent in the Brexit-supporting total are Remain voters who accept that the British people have voted to leave, and that the Government thus has a duty ‘to carry out their wishes and leave’.

In other words, they concur that the referendum vote is confirmation – despite the frantic protestations of Tim Farron – that Leave does indeed mean Leave. The 48 per cent support for Remain on June 23 is distant history. The majority of Remain voters have moved on.

Put another way, only around 9 million Britons out of the 43.5m who voted on June 23 are still hankering for a re-run.

Will someone please tell the BBC? New Statesman Political Editor George Eaton pulls no punches in his assessment of how devastating the figures are to the Remain case. He states:

“After voting Remain, they ceased to act as a unified political bloc. The crucial figure for understanding May’s decision to pursue Brexit is not “the 48 per cent” or “the 52 per cent” but the 69 per cent – the number who believe the Government has a duty to leave the EU (more than a third of whom voted Remain). A mere 21 per cent agree that the government should either block Brexit or seek to prevent it through a second referendum.”

Yet the BBC continues to behave as if it is their main duty to show audiences how difficult the Brexit road is going to be, and how suspect the ‘Leave ‘vote was, as is detailed by News-watch here.

BBC Media Editor Amol Rajan has now even also seriously floated on the Today programme (at 8.20am in the edition) what amounts to a conspiracy theory about the Vote Leave project. He has suggested it was backed by a shadowy ‘millionaire’ (how much dodgier in the BBC lexicon can you be?) combined with a publicity-shy software company called Cambridge Analytica, who – shock, horror – are also, in an equally shadowy way, behind Donald Trump.

All this is beginning to look like the BBC – in its dogged opposition to Brexit – is acting like a millenarian cult. A fascinating book on the psychology involved is here. The end of the world is nigh and they are jolly well going to tell us about it – despite what voters now think and very clearly want. And despite any amount of positive news to the contrary.

Photo by dullhunk

This election is a battle between the Tories and the broadcasters

This election is a battle between the Tories and the broadcasters

This is an election like no other for the BBC. They have a mission.

Two weeks ago, as is laid out here, Today presenter Nick Robinson effectively declared war on Brexit with his statement that the Corporation would henceforward work flat out to find the problems with Brexit, and not bring balanced coverage of the Leave perspective.  Of which, more later.

Since then, it has become painfully evident what he meant. The Corporation’s Article 50 coverage relentlessly highlighted the difficulties, with pride of place given to predictions by correspondents of decades-long wrangles, inflation of perceived problems over Gibraltar, the continuing need for the European Court of Justice and dire warnings that the British tourist and hospitality industry would collapse if the UK did not have continued access to EU labour.

In the same vein, after the general election was announced, Today’s business news – like a heat-seeking missile – sought out the views of the (ex BBC) DG of the CBI, Carolyn Fairbairn, on the need for continued free movement, reinforced an hour later by the ultra-Remain businessman Sir Martin Sorrell, who predicted that the real reason for the election was so that Mrs May could achieve a soft-Brexit in line with his own objectives.

To be fair, Andrew Lillico, a pro-Leave business figure also appeared, but there was no doubt which views were considered to be the most important.

So what will happen during the general election? This – despite what the Conservative Party machine might say – is effectively a second Brexit referendum, brought about because, as Theresa May has acknowledged, the Remain side are determined to thwart Brexit.

There are, of course, special rules for broadcasters during general elections. Broadly, they provide that much more attention must be paid to balance between the parties contesting the election.

But here, in this election, is an immediate problem. Those rules (as defined, for example by Ofcom in Section 6 of its programming code) are designed mainly to prevent imbalances between political parties.

That creates an immediate problem with an election so inevitably focused on a single issue: that the overwhelming majority of current MPs (most of whom will become candidates after May 3) were Remainers, and after the referendum vote want a strongly-limited and compromised form of EU exit.

Labour, for example, as exemplified by shadow chancellor John McDonnell on Today on Wednesday morning, says it now supports Brexit. But the form of Brexit it wants is continued membership of the single market, and qualified support for free movement. The Liberal Democrats and the SNP, of course, aggressively oppose Brexit – and make no bones about it.

The BBC, in this framework, has oodles of ‘wriggle-room’ to sidestep the election rules, and to continue to pursue vigorously its self-declared campaign to expose to the maximum the pitfalls of Brexit throughout the election period.

Of course, election coverage of the issues involved is also subject to the normal over-arching rules of public service impartiality. But it is precisely here that the BBC – as is clear in the Nick Robinson Radio Times piece – has interpreted the clauses relating to ‘due impartiality’ according to its own anti-Brexit ends. In the Corporation’s estimation, it is on a mission to spread ‘understanding’ about the exit process. In reality, that means something very different: the goal is to portray exit in the most negative light possible.

News-watch coverage of previous general elections has shown that, despite the supposedly strict general election impartiality rules, the BBC’s approach to EU coverage was seriously flawed. After the 2015 poll, it was noted:

…the analysis shows that the issue of possible withdrawal was not explored fairly or deeply enough…Coverage was heavily distorted, for instance by the substantial business news comment on the Today programme that withdrawal would damage British trade and jobs. The message of potential damage to the economy was supplemented by the provision of frequent platforms for Labour and Liberal Democrat figures to warn of the same dangers. The spokesmen from these parties were not properly challenged on their views.

Will this change in 2017? Fat chance. Subsequent News-watch reports have shown that this bias has continued, regardless of the June 23 vote.

The problem now is that – despite the new BBC Charter – the Corporation’s approach to impartiality in news coverage is mainly self-regulated through its own Complaints Unit. Ofcom only enters the frame if there is an appeal against the BBC’s own rulings, and that’s a procedure that takes months. News-watch’s complaint about the BBC’s fantasy race hate murder in Harlow took six months to grind through the BBC machine.

The Conservative Party under David Cameron fluffed the opportunity to achieve genuine reform of the BBC. Will that glaring failure now come back to haunt Theresa May?

Photo by secretlondon123

Nick Booth: The BBC is a candidate for a bonfire of the insanities

Nick Booth: The BBC is a candidate for a bonfire of the insanities

This is a guest post from Nick Booth of The Conservative Woman

Broadcasting trade papers are reporting that the BBC has brought in mandatory carbon footprint rules. All independent programme makers will now have to log the carbon footprint of their output, using a calculation tool pioneered during the production of Eastenders by BBC Studios.

So, if you’re an independent programme maker for the BBC, you have to square things with Albert.

One independent producer in the report complains about “yet more paperwork”, which will eat into the budget of companies that pay their staff peanuts.

However, she should rest assured that there will always be loopholes and exemptions. In contrast to the runners, the management of production companies are always obscenely well rewarded. The broadcasting industry, which has a polarised class system that’s the envy of the Third World, will continue to be full of rich white people who claim to be socialists.

Sustainability is an equally moveable moral feast. As with many directives some of the variables, listed here, are open to interpretation. ‘Source locally’, for example, could be interpreted to mean ‘only recruit your friends’.

Examine the explanation given by BBC sustainability manager Richard Smith, the father of Albert. Just as sustainability has three pillars, so is there a divine trinity of objectives in this exercise he says. That is, to understand the carbon impact of TV, raise awareness and engage people.

The key one is ‘engaging people’.

 

We all know the BBC is a people business. Which is another way of saying the right people. Only a select few good left-wing people are hired by our national broadcaster. It’s a closed society – the Poser Nostra – where recruits are only inducted if they are the type of person you’d like to go on a pussy hat march with or have at your dinner party.

However, since you cannot openly discriminate these days – good grief, has the weapon of political correctness fallen into the wrong hands? A subtler system is needed.

How? There’s a clue in the name. Albert. As in Albert Square, the fictional home of EastEnders. What did real Cockneys do to exclude outsiders? They devised their own language, rhyming slang. Just as diversity officers are really about division, so is there a hidden language agenda behind sustainability. It’s not about saving the planet. Much of the advice given is contradictory. One minute we’re all being instructed not to burn fossil fuels – and who could argue with that one? – but then we are told there are exceptions. Wood burning is good, for special secret reasons. So is diesel, despite the fact that it damages more children than a packet of Gary Lineker’s favourite crispy carcinogens.

These rulings don’t make any sense.

Common sense, surely, would tell you not to waste public money. An example given on the Albert website tells how the makers of Casualty saved £30,000 off the electricity bill. Which begs the question: what on earth were they doing before? It turns out they saved that money simply by not using needlessly powerful lights to burn public money. Imagine that! Whatever will they think of next? Not splurging on taxis? Not decamping to Brazil for a five second soundbite when that ‘expert’ could be interviews on Skype? If producers need to be told that, there’s something seriously wrong.

Still, will this new discipline lead to greater creativity and quality of output?

Could we expect an original storyline, perhaps, which dares to stray from politically correct orthodoxy and holds up a mirror to society as it really is? No, that would be too exhausting and energy intensive. It probably goes against other social engineering and activist policies. Better to recycle old prejudices from the usual ‘locally sourced’ members of the Condescentii.

I suspect we all love the BBC and want it preserved. We all remember what it was like and the Reithian values it once represented. These days, it’s about common purpose cliques who use their power to speak over the truth. I can see why people don’t think it’s sustainable and would gladly burn it down. But surely, we don’t want a bonfire of the insanities. Sorry, I slipped into sustainability slang there.

Photo by yorkshiregeek

Nick Robinson wheels out usual BBC defences against EU coverage bias claims

Nick Robinson wheels out usual BBC defences against EU coverage bias claims

BBC presenter and ex-political editor Nick Robinson has been sounding off aggressively against those who he complains are ‘moaning’ that the Corporation’s reporting of Brexit is biased.

‘Calm down dears’ is his core, patronising message.

The Radio 4 Today presenter has declared in the Radio Times that, as departure negotiations proceed, there is no need to provide balance between the ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ sides in BBC coverage of post-Brexit developments.

Instead, the requirement is only for ‘due impartiality’(defined, as always of of course, by the BBC itself) and the goal is is to scrutinise ‘new questions’ about ‘immigration, trade and industrial policies’.

Robinson is bluntly critical of those who ‘do not accept that the war is over’ and have challenged the Corporation’s coverage by getting out their ‘stopwatches and calculators’ and by querying ‘the alleged tone of questions’ and ‘the number of interruptions’.

In terms of detail, Robinson’s praise for the BBC reporting seems to be based primarily on the Corporation’s Manual of Usual Excuses. This is wheeled out every time the word ‘bias’ is mentioned, and vigorously deployed by the BBC Complaints Unit to repel all boarders.

Direct from its grubby pages come the wearyingly predictable defences.

Robinson first claims that both sides have complained, so that means the BBC must be getting things right; then that Brexiteers such as Gove, Fox and Johnson are ‘remarkably reluctant’ to appear, so any shortcomings in that respect are their fault; and finally (the trump card!) that the BBC’s duty is in any case to its audiences, and they – he opines –  don’t care about the obsessions of stop-watch wielding politicians.  The only duty (again, of course, on the BBC’s terms) is to make sure they ‘understand’.

This all adds up to classic Corporation extreme stone-walling. It has been voiced by Robinson but has undoubtedly been cleared and co-ordinated by the BBC high command – and must also be seen as the official response to the complaint filed a couple of weeks back by Tory MP Julian Knight and 70 other cross-party MPs who wrote to Director General Tony Hall about the Corporation’s failure to explore and reflect the pro-Brexit perspective.

And, with Robinson’s scathingly condescending references to stop-watches and calculators, it is also framed as a direct attack on the latest academic research from News-watch into six months of Today’s business news output.  This found a serious failure to air pro-Brexit viewpoints and an unjustifiably heavy focus on gloomy forecasts for the UK economy that added up to a continuation of the Remain side’s Project Fear.

But despite all the bluster, this exercise in smoke-screen obfuscation is remarkably threadbare.

It boils down to a chilling statement of intent that coverage henceforward will be whatever the BBC decides is impartial – no matter what evidence is produced to the contrary.

The reality is that, as the latest News-watch report detailed, the BBC’s coverage of post-Brexit developments is sharply skewed towards the Remain side – and that in the Corporation’s self-declared agenda-setting business slots, in six months, there were only only 10 contributions from clear supporters of Brexit, ranged against dozens who were not.

Robinson might rail against the use of ‘stop-watches and calculators’ but how can such lack of ‘balance’ or ‘due impartiality’ ever be defensible – and how else other than by careful, systematic counting can such blatant negativity be identified?

The BBC will NEVER countenance a complaint based on detailed research of their output – and that’s a gross affront to the licence fee payers that Robinson claims to be serving and helping to ‘understand’.

It is true that as Brexit unfolds, some elements of coverage do contain a wider range of anti-EU opinion than ever before.  Prominent Leave campaigner, the Labour MP Gisela Stuart, for example, was afforded a very unusual brief slot on Today on the day of the Theresa May Article 50 letter to outline her timetable towards Brexit.

But small morsels aside, the Corporation is otherwise relentlessly focused on the Remain agenda.  There’s a continuing, avid search for anything that suggests that ‘race hate’ has escalated as a result if the Brexit vote; Nigel Farage and Ukip continues to be pilloried – on Wednesday night, BBC1’s main bulletins reported Farage’s contribution to the European Parliamentary debate on Brexit in the worst possible light; and every obstacle in the Brexit negotiations, such as the Gibraltar clause, are seized upon with over- enthusiastic glee.

Robinson may claim that this is simple scrutiny of ‘immigration, trade and industrial policies’, but he’s wrong. It adds up to that since June 24, the BBC has mounted a declaration of war against the Brexit prospects and has sided firmly with the remain side.

There has not been a single BBC programme that has looked at Brexit optimistically.

Photo by bobaliciouslondon

BBC Business News coverage of Brexit ‘continues Project Fear’

BBC Business News coverage of Brexit ‘continues Project Fear’

A report by News-watch into the BBC’s coverage on Brexit covering the six month period after the referendum vote  has found  overwhelmingly negativity about Britain leaving the EU – breaching the Corporations rules on impartiality.

The report into the BBC flagship Today programme on Radio 4 found that of the 366 guest speakers who appeared in the Business News segment, 192 of them (52.5%) were negative about the impact of the vote and only 60 (16.3%) expressed opinions which were pro-Brexit or saw the post-referendum economic outlook as positive. There were 114 (31%) neutral contributions.

That there were three times more anti-Brexit speakers than pro-Brexit ones invited by the BBC to participate in the prestigious slot breaks its charter requirements to be impartial.

The most serious imbalance was that only 10 (2.9%) of the Business News interviews (from six speakers) took place with supporters of withdrawal from the EU. They were a tiny minority in the overall welter of negativity, and their positive points were generally not followed up by programme presenters and the pro-Brexit sector of business was virtually ignored.

News-watch, who carried out the investigation, has been scrutinising the BBC’s EU output since 1999.

In the six months between June 24 (the day after the EU referendum) and December 22, 2016 it monitored all 208 EU-related items broadcast on Radio 4’s Today programme in its Business News slots.

The investigation – which involved analysing more than 130,000 words of transcription – took place to check whether the BBC’s coverage met Charter requirements to be impartial in what the Corporation declares is the ‘agenda-setting’ platform for the Business News sector.

The intensive analysis shows that the overwhelming editorial purpose of the Business News slot was to air sustained and multi-faceted pessimism about the immediate and long-term consequences of the vote to leave the EU.

In classifying 60 speakers as ‘positive’, News-watch has erred on the side of caution. Only 31 were strongly optimistic about the post-Brexit economic landscape. The others were favourable, but only lukewarm or qualified in their assessments.

The BBC’s negativity towards Brexit was also blatant in the introductions to the Business News sequences. Only 22 (10.6%) of the opening sequences were clearly positive – though often even they were immediately followed by negative interviews.

Between them, the negative guests painted a relentlessly pessimistic picture of gloom, doom and uncertainty; of plunging economic prospects; of a collapse of consumer confidence; of rising inflation; of a drying up of investment; of job freezes; of a drain of jobs from London to mainland Europe; of skills shortages because of the ending of free movement; of the introduction of tariffs; and of endless complex renegotiation.

Given the BBC’s over-arching requirement for impartiality, the simple question that must be asked is: how the BBC can justify this gross imbalance given the pro-Brexit vote?

Based on the analysis, it clearly shows that the Today programme has effectively continued the Remain campaign’s ‘Project Fear’, beginning at dawn on June 24 and persisting until Christmas despite mounting post-Brexit positive news.

Another startling finding which has come to light through News-watch analysis is the massive level of bias by omission: a failure to include on Today at sufficient levels those who favoured withdrawal. By largely ignoring and not following up the themes and perceived opportunities which the few pro-Brexit guests did raise, and excluding from coverage important business figures who supported Brexit, the BBC appears to have further compromised itself.

The BBC is now duty bound to explain to the people who fund it how this editorial imbalance could have been allowed to occur. Failure to do so will seriously damage people’s confidence in its future coverage of Brexit.

This analysis is being circulated with the endorsement of a cross-party group of politicians who urgently request that the BBC’s director-general, Lord Hall, tells the truth to all licence fee payers about the astonishing catalogue of failure which News-watch has uncovered.

Photo by fsse8info

BBC Trust defends Corporation’s Harlow ‘race hate’ sensationalism

BBC Trust defends Corporation’s Harlow ‘race hate’ sensationalism

The killing last August of a well-liked Polish man, ‘Arek’ Jóźwik, after a late night fracas in a pizza parlour in Harlow sent the BBC newsgathering operation into overdrive.

It was the end of the silly season and only ten weeks after the referendum.

The BBC, of course, was then, as now, hell-bent on finding and giving maximum exposure to every possible reason why the Brexit vote was a catastrophic mistake.

To the Corporation, which for years has also been on a mission to downplay the impact of immigration on the UK and to label opponents as at best xenophobic, at worst racist, this was a story that ticked every box. They dived into reporting the crime with grim, hyperbolic relish.

BBC1 man-on-the spot Daniel Sandford gave most prominence in his feature for the BBC1 bulletins on August 31 to that the alleged crime – prematurely said by him to be a ‘murder’ – was being investigated as a frenzied attack by a gang of six local youths triggered by race hate stirred up by the referendum vote.

To ram home the message about the race-hate dimension, Sandford carefully collected and edited quotes from the Polish ambassador and Robert Halfon, the local MP.

To be fair, he also mentioned that police were considering other options, such as ‘youths looking for trouble’, but there was no doubt which reason for the attack he thought was more likely.

And later that evening, on BBC2’s Newsnight, correspondent John Sweeney’s outro to his feature about the death was a quote from a friend of Mr Jóźwik, who declared that Nigel Farage had ‘blood on his hands’. The full transcripts of the Sweeney and Sandford reports are contained in the correspondence with the BBC, below.

Fast forward to the present. It has since emerged that Mr Jóźwik’s death was not murder at all.  Nor, say the police, was race-hate involved, and nor was the crime committed by a frenzied gang of youths.

Instead, a sole 15-year-old youth has been charged with manslaughter. He has indicated a plea of ‘not guilty’ at a preliminary hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court and has been released on conditional bail until his trial, which is expected to be in July.

It has also emerged since Sandford’s report in August that police are now convinced that a rise in the reporting of race hate crimes during the summer – heavily stressed by the BBC after June 23 and undoubtedly part of the reason the facts of the Harlow killing were so heavily exaggerated – was not linked at all to the referendum, but was the result of better and easier self-report procedures.

After Harlow, some journalists (unlike the BBC) decided to investigate further. They found that ‘race hate’ domain has become a major self-perpetuating and highly lucrative industry in its own right. One of the main hubs of this new world-wide enterprise is Sussex University where its principal advocate is partly lavishly funded by (you may have guessed)…the EU.

News-watch filed a formal complaint about Sandford’s report. This claimed in essence that the reporting of Harlow was deeply irresponsible journalism that deliberately sensationalised the known facts about the killing, and too readily linked it to ‘race hate.’  There was supporting evidence showing how very rare killings with a racial motive are in the UK, and warning that the available statistics were not reliable.

This was rejected by the Complaints Unit.  The verdict? Move along there, nothing to see – Sandford (whose name was misspelled by the complaints officer) was merely doing his job.

Under the Corporation’s elaborate complaints rules, News-watch in early January submitted an appeal to the BBC Trust about the ruling. Former BBC producer Fran O’Brien, who is now the Trust’s Head of Editorial Standards, has now, finally – a month later than the maximum time permitted under the BBC’s own rules – responded.

Her decision? Surprise, surprise, exactly the same as the Complaints Unit. There was, she ruled, no exaggeration, no inaccuracy, no breach of rules linked to over-emphasising ‘race-hate’. Everything was totally tickety-boo and in line with the BBC Editorial Guidelines.

And that, said O’Brien, was that. Her verdict was final: there could be no appeal. As far as the Trust is concerned, the matter is well and truly closed. The full letter from O’Brien can be read below.

In two weeks, of course, from April 2, the Trust will be no more. Under the new BBC Charter, its role in adjudicating complaint appeals is being taken over by the Content Board at Ofcom.

But this last-gasp ruling underlines yet again that BBC journalism exists in its own bubble, and the Complaints Unit does nothing to prick it; if anything the reverse.  The Corporation reports on its terms, no matter how inflammatory or at odds with the facts and common sense its output is.

The blunt truth is that the Sandford report of Mr Jóźwik’s killing grossly and irresponsibly exaggerated the race-hate dimension and must be seen in the overall context of the BBC’s determined desire to undermine the referendum result.

It’s now down to Ofcom to sort out BBC bias. Don’t hold your breath. First, the Content Board is packed with ex-BBC staff, and second, the overall Ofcom boss, Sharon White, seems more focused on the diversity agenda and getting more women on screen than clearing the Augean stables.

The reality is that until BBC bias is governed by genuinely independent scrutiny, the Corporation will remain locked in that skewed journalistic bubble – massively and crassly out of touch with the British people.