Monthly Archives: August 2020

BBC BIAS DIGEST 31 AUGUST 2020

NEW BBC DG ‘MUST CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE FUNDING MODELS’: Gordon Rayner (Telegraph 31/8), quoting Whitehall and ministerial sources, said that Tim Davie, the new BBC director general, had been told to come up with a ‘palatable’ replacement for the licence fee by 2027 when the current BBC Charter ran out, and also that decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee – making evasion only liable to civil penalties – was now a ‘done deal’ which will be announced within weeks. Mr Rayner claimed that a minister had also said there was interest in ‘levelling the playing field’ by allowing  broadcasting regulator Ofcom to award more licences to commercial rivals. He added that the BBC Licence Fee (Civil Penalty) Bill was due for a second reading in November. Mr Rayner also reported that Mr Davie, in address to staff later in the week, would say that the current licence fee needed to offer better value for money by the BBC connecting properly with all its audiences, by offering fewer repeats and programming that appealed to a wide range of views and backgrounds, rather than just to metropolitan ones.

Helena Kelly (Daily Mail 31/8) following up the Telegraph report above, said that there was ‘real optimism’ in ministerial circles that the BBC could thrive without the fee, and that  alternatives being considered were said to be a subscription service similar to Netflix or Amazon Prime.  Ms Kelly quoted a BBC spokesman as saying that the licence fee was the way of funding the BBC at least until 2027.  Also in the Mail (31/8), Katie Feehan said that an ‘insider’ had claimed that Tim Davie’s immediate priority would be to undo ‘the terrible damage done by Tony (Hall)’ and reverse the decision not to include a sung version of Rule, Britannia in the last night of the proms on September 12. Ms Feehan said a senior BBC source had told her that the proms row was another example of the BBC walking into a ‘completely unnecessary and absurd row’ about culture. It was also report in the Mail that Tim Davie was expected to clamp down on BBC presenters making money by hosting corporate events, and on staff use of social media, especially with regard to comment which could be interpreted as biased.

NEW DG ‘IS NOT STEREOTYPE BBC EXECUTIVE’: Matthew Moore, media correspondent for The Times (£ 31/8), argued that new BBC director general Tim Davie faced an “even more daunting” set of challenges than his predecessor Lord Hall did on Day 1 and that he had “a fight on his hands” due to “dwindling ratings, stretched finances, a hostile government and a suspicious public”. Mr Moore claimed however that Mr Davie did not fit the “north London elite” stereotype of a BBC executive, having a “staunchly suburban” background and “commercial instincts” and added that he “is understood to appreciate that the licence fee is unlikely to continue in its current form after 2027, and will prioritise maximising outside revenues”. Mr Moore opined that it was “savvy” of Tim Davie to “pronounce his ‘deep commitment to impartiality'” in his statement accepting the job, calling it “a clear message to No 10 that he had heard its complaints about the notorious Emily Maitlis Newsnight monologue and other bias rows.”

‘A CONSERVATIVE CHAIRMAN WON”T SAVE BBC’: Nigel Jones (The Critic 30/8), noting that former Telegraph editor Charles Moore and Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil were being cited as possible replacements for Sir David Clementi as chairman of the BBC when he retired in February 2021, argued that Boris Johnson was ‘probably too timid and pusillanimous’ to appoint either man. He added that even if either Tory accepted the ‘Herculean task’ of clearing this particularly noxious stable, they would find themselves on mission impossible without sacking the entire BBC staff and starting from scratch because the poison of leftist wokeism was ‘engrained in the BBC’s very bloodstream’.  Mr Jones reported that Margaret Thatcher had similarly hoped that her appointee as chairman, the Conservative Marmaduke Hussey, would sort out the corporation, but he had failed.  Claiming that the BBC had long since surrendered any claim to be an impartial national broadcaster,  he concluded that a bold and truly conservative government should ‘have the guts’ to pull the plug on the BBC by scrapping the licence fee and leave it to sink or swim, unsupported by a television tax ‘which is reluctantly paid by an increasingly resentful and restive public’.

BLACK BBC STAFF COMPLAIN OF CORPORATION ‘RACISM’: Kurt Zindulka (Breitbart Europe 30/8) said that dozens of current and former black employees of the BBC, speaking to the Huffington Post, had complained of a hostile work environment and ‘covert racism’ within the corporation, despite it being seen as ‘woke’ and disproportionately diverse by most ‘right-leaning Britons’.

 

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST 30 AUGUST 2020

DAVIE ‘SET TO BECOME MOST RADICAL DG SINCE DYKE’: John Arlidge (£ Sunday Times 30/8) claimed that Mr Davie was set to introduce the most radical reforms to the BBC since Greg Dyke 20 years ago.  Mr Arlidge – explaining that he had not interviewed Mr Davie – said he had pieced together his intentions by talking to ‘senior BBC sources, close friends ands executives who have worked with him’. He added that the changes would include reconnecting with a broader audience by shedding its London-metropolitan bias and its ‘politically correct’ culture, while at the same time ridding the corporation of its ‘lumbering management’, by halving the size of its executive committee from 18 to 9. Mr Arlidge, noting that Mr Davie is the first director general since Sir Michael Checkland in the 1980s not to have a journalistic background, said that he was not afraid of taking on the news ‘behemoth’  to restore impartiality through providing ‘facts, the truth and proper reporting’.

BBC ‘MUST BECOME IMPARTIAL ONCE MORE’: Sir Robbie Gibb (Sunday Telegraph 30/8) argued that events in the past week, including the last night of the proms row, had made the scale of the challenge facing Tim Davie ‘painfully clear.’ He argued that BBC bosses had seemingly seemed so fearful of causing offence to woke activists over racism that they had ended up outraging the majority of the public who were proud of their country, its heritage and traditions, and, further, that the corporation had been ‘culturally captured’ by the left-leaning attitudes  of a metropolitan workforce drawn mainly from a similar economic and social background.  Sir Robbie added that BBC staff were increasingly letting their political preferences show, ranging from liking certain tweets to flagrant breaches of editorial guideline impartiality rules, such as Lewis Goodall, the Newsnight policy editor, grabbing the New Statesman’s cover story with an attack on the government. He claimed that during the EU referendum, rigorous internal controls ensured bias-fee coverage, but that afterwards, this had been abandoned and ‘group think’ crept back in. He argued that what was now required was a cross-BBC steering group to ensure impartiality across all BBC output and that content genuinely reflected the ‘outlook of the country’.  He asserted:

‘In order to provide evidence and benchmarks  on which impartiality can be judged, the BBC Board, working with the BBC editorial policy and standards department, should commission regular Ofsted- style reports into individual programmes and how the BBC is handling a particular running story. The BBC can only be justified as a publicly-funded broadcaster if it provides something commercial rivals do not – truly impartial news coverage.

DAVIE ‘TO CLAMP DOWN ON MOONLIGHTING BY BBC PRESENTERS:  Rosamund Urwin (£ Sunday Times 30/8) said that Tim Davie, the BBC’s new director general, would clamp down on presenters such as Naga Munchetty, Fiona Bruce and Simon Jack making tens of thousands of pounds by hosting corporate events and moonlighting for private companies. Ms Urwin reported that a ‘source close to Davie’ had said that he believed impartiality was a cornerstone of the BBC and that the corporation needed to think about whether there were things which happened with outside interests and on social media which could erode trust and confidence.

MPs WARN THAT BBC NO LONGER SERVING AUDIENCES:  Guido Fawkes (30/8) reported that, according to the Telegraph, the new BBC director general Tim Davie had received a ‘blunt’ letter signed by 14 Tory MPs  accusing the BBC of fundamentally failing to ensure it was covering the diverse perspectives and interests of the public, with the result that many no longer wanted to fund it.  The letter also instanced several examples of bias reporting, including the BBC1 Panorama programme about supplies of safety equipment to hospitals which had been dominated by Labour-supporting contributors without the audience being properly told.

‘TWO TV NEWS CHANNELS TO RIVAL BBC’: Glen Owen (Mail on Sunday 30/8) said that former BBC executive and Downing Street director of communications Sir Robbie Gibb was spearheading a drive to raise funds for GB News, a 24-hour broadcasting station which would provide what was being described as an antidote to the ‘woke, wet’  BBC.  Mr Owen said that the new channel would use a ’standard digital platform’ such as Freeview and had already been granted a licence to operate by broadcasting regulator Ofcom.  He added that pressure on the BBC would further increase with the development of a second rival, a news channel from Rupert Murdoch’s News UK company, likely to be streamed online in a similar way to Netflix. Mr Owen – referring to the controversy about the dropping of the sung version of Rule, Britannia from the last night of the proms – also reported that Lord Hall, the outgoing BBC director general, had insisted that the BBC was not ‘a woke’ corporation and that his predecessor, Tim Davie (due to take over on September 1) had jointly approved the decision about the proms. Mr Owen added that ‘a source close to GB News had said that the servicer would be ‘truly impartial’ and would deliver the facts, ‘not opinion dressed up as news’.    He speculated that broadcasters such as Andrew Neil and Julia Hartley-Brewer had been approached about working for both channels, and said that News UK was ‘at pains’ top point out that it would not be a British version of the ‘right-wing’ Fox News in the US, but rather a television version of services such as TalkRadio.   He added that GB News had also distanced itself from Fox News and from ‘claims that Nigel Farage would be involved’.

NEW DG ‘COULD REVERSE PROMS DECISION’: Ryan Sabey (Sun 29/8), quoting a ‘BBC insider’, said that incoming director general Tim Davie believed that the corporation’s decision to axe the sung versions of Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory at this year’s last night of the proms had wrought ‘terrible damage’ on the BBC and could reverse it.

Scarlet Howes (Mail on Sunday 30/8) claimed that, according  a report on the Slipped Disc music website,  the BBC Symphony Orchestra, which performed at the last night of the proms, had held a ‘panicked meeting’ about ‘unconscious bias’ and ‘institutional racism’ a few weeks before the row over the content of the concert. She added that the meeting, which discussed responses to the Black Lives Matter movement, decided to forge close links with Chineke!, the first professional orchestra in Europe to be made up mainly of black and ethnic minority musicians.

OFCOM ‘INVESTIGATING BBC’s COMMERCIAL PLUGS FOR BRITBOX’: Matthew Moore (£ Times 28/8) said that the BBC was facing an Ofcom review of its decision to run advertisements for Britbox , a commercial programme box set service provided through online streaming in which it owned a 10 per cent stake.  Mr Moore explained  that Britbox was a joint venture between the BBC and ITV – which owned the remaining 90 per cent – and cost subscribers £5.99 a month to access classic episodes of series such as Doctor Who. He said that Ofcom investigation had been sparked after a promotion for Britbox was run after an episode of Doctor Who, and suggested that the regulator would likely conduct a wider review of the BBC’s rules for cross-promoting commercial products later in the year.  Mr Moore noted that the BBC’s rivals had long complained that the BBC had an unfair advantage because it could market products on its television and radio stations at no cost. There were strict guidelines on the promotion of commercial products, but in the Doctor Who case, the BBC had said it was permissible because it was a trial scheme ‘focused on helping viewers find materials directly relevant to the show they had just watched’.

BORIS JOHNSON ‘NOT DOING ENOUGH’ IN LICENCE FEE ROW: Gerrard Kaonga (Express 30/8) reported that Dennis Reed, the director of the campaign group Silver Voices – which was trying to reverse the BBC’s decision to charge over-75s for their BBC licence fees – had accused prime minister Boris Johnson of ‘washing his hands’ of being able to intervene. Mr Reed claimed that the BBC would jump at the opportunity of talks with the prime minister about resolving the matter, but so far Mr Johnson had said everything was down to the BBC. Mr Reed asserted:

‘The Government must approach the BBC rather than conduct an argument through the press, which is what has happened up to now. They could approach the BBC and the new director-general and say we have got to quell this dissatisfaction amongst the over-60s.’

BBC BIAS DIGEST 29 AUGUST 2020

BBC LICENCE FEE NON-PAYMENT ‘TO BE DECRIMINALISED’: Jason Groves (Daily Mail 29/8) reported that ‘Whitehall sources’ were suggesting that dodging payment of the BBC licence fee could be decriminalised from next month – with a loss of revenue of £1 billion over five years – after a poll commissioned by the newspaper had found growing public discontent with the broadcaster. He said the poll findings included that two thirds wanted the licence fee scrapped; only 18 per cent believed that non-payers should face a criminal record;  30 per cent said they watched no BBC television and 57 per cent said they never listened to BBC radio; more than  50 percent believed the corporation was too politically correct;   30 per cent believed that output was left-wing, compared with only 18 per cent who believed it leaned to the right (the rest don’t knows); and that 59 per cent believed Boris Johnson  when he criticised the corporation for ‘cringing with embarrassment over our history’.

The Daily Mail (29/8) also claimed that the BBC’s taxpayer funded offices were sitting empty – causing huge negative consequences for nearby businesses – as ‘vast swathes’ of employees continued to work from home despite the easing of the Covid-19 lockdown. Danny Hussain reported that it was estimated that only 20 per cent of staff had returned to office working, and that output continued to rely on ‘cheap Zoom calls’. He added that the BBC press office had refused to give figures on home-working.

A Daily Mail editorial (29/8), though saying there was ‘much to admire’ in the BBC output, called for the decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee.

A Sun editorial (29/8) – after a poll for the newspaper found 57 per cent wanted the licence fee scrapped – argued that, under new director general Tim Davie, ‘either the BBC rapidly begins to better reflect Tory-voting, Brexit-backing Britain, or it continues serving it favoured niche of woke metropolitan liberal-lefties and self-destructs’.

BBC ‘PLAY DRUG DEALER TRACK’ WHILE BANNING RULE, BRITANNIA: Dan Keane (Sun 29/8) said that the  BBC  radio music station 1Extra was ‘plugging’ a former county lines drug dealer’s new drill rap – which axing the singing of Rule, Britannia for the last night or the proms.  Mr Keane said that Potter Payper’s new track had been played on August 19, ‘just days before it announced the controversial BBC proms axing’. He noted that Conservative MP David Morris had said:

‘This is another belter from the blundering BBC. On the week we’ve had the Beeb try and stop Brits from singing Land of Hope and Glory, they are now telling the nation to listen to a county lines, drug-smuggling criminal instead, and just weeks after he got out of jail.’

 

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST 28 AUGUST 2020

HALL FLOATS ‘HOUSEHOLD TAX’ TO FUND BBC:   Paul Withers (Express 28/8) said that director general Tony Hall had said on the Radio 4 Media Show that progressive alternatives to the licence fee were interesting and should be examined, including a compulsory ‘household tax’ which would require richer families to pay more. Mr Withers reported that he had explained that the tax – similar to how public service broadcasters were funded in Germany – would be collected as an additional charge on current household bills such as the council tax and broadband. He had added that an advantage would that the BBC would save a substantial amount of time, money and effort in tracking down those refusing to pay the licence fee, and it would also facilitate a sliding scale of payments for the rich and the poor.

BBC ‘IN THRALL OF WOKE MINORITY’: Former BBC newsreader Jan Leeming (Daily Mail 28/8), discussing the BBC’s decision not to feature sung versions of Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory in the last night of the proms, asked why the corporation was ‘so much in the thrall to the woke majority while ignoring the wishes of its loyal regulars like me?’. Ms Leeming also said she now got her news from Classic FM, and asserted:

‘On radio, at least you get the bald facts without endless opinions from specialists. Do these experts who so confidently predict future events all really have a crystal ball?’

The Mail (28/8) also reported that a You Gov poll of 1,646 adults had found that 55 per cent of people opposed the decision to cut the lyrics from Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory, compared to 16 per cent who backed the decision, with 5 per cent saying that the songs should not be performed at all.   James Robinson also reported that 48 per cent of those surveyed viewed the BBC favourably, while 44 per cent did not. He said that  only a quarter of respondents wanted the BBC to stay in its current form and a third said it should be funded by advertising. Guido (28/8) also noted the You Gov poll and said it showed the tide had comprehensively turned against the BBC as it was currently structured, with only 20 per cent saying the licence fee should stay in its current form and 57 per cent saying it was not value for money and only 35 per cent saying it was.

The same article also said that Dalia Stasevska, the Finnish musician who would conduct the last night of the proms on September 12, had released a statement that she was not responsible for axing Rule, Britannia and recognised it was ‘an important part of the event’.  James Robinson said that BBC sources had earlier claimed that Ms Stasevska had been one of those keen to ‘modernise’ the event and reduce the patriotic elements involved.

Henry Martin (Daily Mail online 27/8) said that BBC director general Tony Hall had again defended – in an interview on Radio 4’s The Media Show –  the decision by BBC music executives to drop the sung versions of Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory from the last night of the proms, stating that it was a miracle that the event was being staged at all. He had asserted that they had come to the right ‘artistic and creative’ conclusion to include the songs ‘instrumentally’ and added that he ‘suspected’ the two songs would be back next year. Mr Martin also reported that Lord Hall, when asked whether the BBC was being too influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement, had responded that diversity mattered  and that employing people of black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds was ‘fantastically important’, along with having a target of 20 per cent of such groups ‘behind the camera and behind microphones’

 

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST 27 AUGUST 2020

BBC LICENCE EVASION ‘TO BE DECRIMINALISED’: Guido Fawkes (27/8) noted that private members bills from MPs Peter Bone and Christoper Chope aiming to decriminalise non-payment of the BBC licence fee were due to be considered by parliament in the autumn. The article said that this would put the BBC on the same footing as any other creditor in the courts,  and opined that it was likely to happen.  It added:

‘. . . if the BBC has any sense they will try and get ahead of the game and stop their own BBC journalists tweeting opinions about politics and giving their partisan lack of impartiality public amplification on social media. They could of course actually enforce the guidance that already exists and perhaps not renew the contracts of the persistent rule breakers pour encourager les autresAll these impartiality concerns would of course largely disappear if the second Bill were passed, the BBC was privatised, and we were no longer forced to pay for it. . .’

 

GRADE LASHES ‘IDIOTIC’ DECISION  TO CENSOR PROMS: Michael Grade, a former chairman of the BBC, had lashed out at the BBC’s ‘idiotic decision to censor the last night of the proms on September 12, and had branded their journalists as being ‘out of touch on Brexit and Boris’ (Sun 26/8).   Harry Cole reported that, during an interview on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Lord Grade had also said the corporation was ‘too trapped in the Westminster bubble’, and had called everything wrong from the EU referendum to the 2019 general election.   Mr Cole noted that BBC management had been criticised for their ‘woke’ decision to ban the singing of Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory from the last night of the proms programme. He said  that Lord Grade, who had accused the BBC of being out of touch with the rest of the country, had asserted that BBC bosses should have a long hard look and come up with a role for the corporation . . . ‘which hasn’t changed in 100 years’.   The full transcript of the interview is available here.

* Douglas Murray (£ Telegraph 26/8), discussing the proms row under a headline which suggested the BBC had a death wish,  argued that ‘only cringing corporations like the BBC’ would fail to understand the spirit in which patriotic songs such as Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory  were sung or the deep, decent wells on which they drew.

 

FORMER BBC NEWS CHIEF SLAMS ‘LACK OF DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT’:  Roger Mosey, a former head of BBC television news, had claimed the corporation was being run by ‘white liberals’ and accused them of not doing enough to reflect ‘the diversity of thought’ found across the whole of Brexit Britain (Daily Mail 27/8). Eleanor Sharples reported that Mr Mosey – speaking to the Edinburgh Television Festival – had pointed out that every powerful BBC executive was still based in London, and had asserted:

‘I feel passionately, there should be more people from ethnic minority backgrounds in newsrooms, making decisions, and diversity is something the industry has to commit itself to.

‘The only thing I’d add really is I think diversity is very broad though. In a sense, it’s also about diversity of thought. It’s about Left and Right, it’s about liberal and conservative. And if you think about the missing voices last year … they also included people in the red wall, people who voted for Brexit, people who were from working class areas in the north of England … and pretty much every major decision in television is still taken in London.

‘And part of that diversity is getting the sense of a whole UK with this amazing canopy of people in it and getting newsrooms to be more representative of everybody in the UK, rather than what it used to be really which was white liberals in London.’

Ms Sharples also reported that Mr Mosey , now the master of Selwyn College, Cambridge, had said that the BBC’s satire programme W1A 1AA, which ‘sent up the corporation’s politically correct bureaucracy’, reflected a ‘lot of truth’.

 

BBC DENIES BLACK ‘STEREOTYPING’ ACCUSATION : James Gant (Daily Mail 27/8) said that Jamaican foreign minister Kamina Johnson-Smith had branded in a tweet a sketch on the BBC Three programme Famalam as ‘outrageous and offensive’ because it had shown Caribbean men leering at women while high on cannabis and ‘played on the stereotype that black men are well-endowed’.   Mr Gant said that Nathaniel Peat, the Jamaican Diaspora Counsel rep for South UK, had also expressed concerns about how ‘offensive’ the content of the show was.   Mr Gant said the Fiona Campbell, controller of BBC Three,  had defended the programme as ‘not malicious’, and the BBC press office had said the programme had an ‘established brand of humour in line with audience expectations and was is well known for confronting issues’.

 

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST 26 AUGUST 2020

BBC’S CONTEMPT FOR BREXIT ‘HAS DESTROYED CASE FOR THE LICENCE FEE’: Former editor of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Rod Liddle (Sun 26/8), in a comment piece,  said that he would never again pay his television licence fee because the decision by the corporation to drop the sung versions of Rule, Britannia and Land Of Hope and Glory from the last night of the proms was a sign that the BBC held middle England – regarded as ‘nasty little Englanders who probably voted for Brexit’ –   in ‘utter contempt’. He added that his former employers could not tolerate anything which did not fit in to its ‘woke’ agenda.

A Sun editorial (26/8) argued on similar lines and asserted that the BBC’s approach to the proms showed that the corporation no longer sought to represent or entertain the 50 percent of the population who had repeatedly back Brexit and the Tories.  The article said:

‘Its decision now to censor Rule, ­Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory ought to be the last straw. Boris Johnson has rightly joined many others in condemning it. And though it is not for the PM to decide the BBC’s output, his Government can and should end its publicly funded financial model. The Beeb could turn this around. It just doesn’t want to. It dislikes much about Britain and is ashamed of our past. The BBC has destroyed the case for its licence fee. It’s time the Government stopped griping about it and took action.’

The Sun also reported (26/8) that a ‘chorus of anger’ had met the BBC’s decision to ban the words to Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory at the last night of the proms, with attacks on director general Tony Hall for his failure to intervene and intensifying calls to defund the BBC from figures such as the actor Laurence Fox.  The article said that prime minister Boris Johnson had blasted the ‘cringing embarrassment’ over Britain’s history and had demanded that the nation should stop its ‘culture of wetness’.   It was also noted that the late Dame Vera Lynn’s sung version of Land of Hope and Glory had reached number one in the iTunes chart after the singer’s daughter had urged the BBC to reverse its decision over the song, which, she said, her mother had started singing at VE Day in 1945.

Robert Hardman (Daily Mail 26/8) noted that that the BBC had also dropped the sung versions of Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory from the last night of the proms in 2001 because it had been decided they would strike the wrong note so soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. He argued that the BBC’s reasons this time  – that it was a ‘creative conclusion’ in response to limitations created by Covid-19 simply fell apart when subjected to scrutiny because ‘safe’ songs such as Jerusalem and You’ll Never Walk Alone were being sung.

The Daily Mail (26/8) also reported that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had weighed into the row and had asserted that the proms  were a staple of the British summer and that enjoying patriotic songs was not a barrier to examining and learning lessons about history. The article also noted that director general Tony Hall had told BBC media editor Amol Rajan that he backed the decision over the proms and had said it was the ‘right conclusion’.

It was also reported that Cat Lewis, the producer of BBC1 programme Songs of Praise had compared the lyrics of the two songs to ‘Nazis singing about the gas chambers’. She had said:

‘Do those Brits who believe it’s ok to sing an 18th Century song about never being enslaved, written when the UK was enslaving and killing millions of innocents, also believe it’s appropriate for neo-Nazis to shout, ‘We will never be forced into a gas chamber.’

CHARLES MOORE ‘COULD SORT BBC PROBLEMS’: Paul Goodman (Conservative Home 25/8), discussing the selection of the next BBC chairman in the context of the current row over the dropping from the proms of the words of Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory, said that two names stood out: Andrew Neil and Charles Moore. Mr Goodman said that Moore was a ‘high Tory’, who could not see an institution without wanting to shore it up, and Neil a ‘low one’ who couldn’t see one without wanting to tear it down. He added that Neil, as a BBC presenter and interviewer knew a lot about the corporation from the inside and would want to shake it up, but was said to be involved in the setting up of a new enterprise to rival Sky News. Mr Goodman said:

‘If a Neil appointment would have senior BBC managers heading for the doors, a Moore one would see them running for the hills’.

He argued that Moore understood Lord Reith’s inheritance and would be more than capable of applying its ideals to education, drama, the regions and programming as a whole, as well as orientating the BBC towards the nation as a whole, including the majority which voted leave in 2016, and Britain outside central London.

MICHAEL CRICK: ‘BBC NOT COMMITTED TO GENUINE DIVERSITY’:  Michael Crick (£ Spectator 26/8), noting that the BBC had committed spending of £100m on achieving diversity, suggested that they were thinking in terms of what was currently narrowly fashionable, namely, ‘gender, race and sexuality’, at the expense of the elderly, the poor, those who lived in the north and in rural areas, and those who did not go into higher education. He warned that until the definition of diversity included these people, the BBC would ‘never understand it whole audience. Mr Crick added: ‘It will grow ever more out of touch with the have-nots, the left-behinds, and the people who voted leave the EU.’

CARRIE GRACIE ‘QUITS BBC’: BBC correspondent Carrie Gracie – who had resigned from her role covering China in 2018 when she had discovered she was paid less than male correspondents – had decided to leave the BBC after 33 years (Daily Mail 26/8). Rory Tingle reported that Ms Gracie had subsequently received a pay rise and back pay, as well as sparking a corporation-wide row about pay inequalities.

BBC BIAS DIGEST 25 AUGUST 2020

BBC PROMS DECISION ‘IN BREACH OF CONTRACT WITH BRITISH PEOPLE’: Under a multiple by-line, the Daily Mail (25/8) said that the actor Laurence Fox was leading protests to defund the BBC after the Corporation had decided that the last night of the proms would be staged on September 12 with orchestral versions of Rule Britannia and Land of Hope of Glory which would not  include the ‘patriotic’ sung version of the words. The article contained numerous quotes from politicians who wanted the sung versions to be retained, with culture secretary Oliver Dowden stating:

‘Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory are highlights of the Last Night of the Proms. Share concerns of many about their potential removal and have raised this with the BBC. Confident forward-looking nations don’t erase their history, they add to it.’

The authors of the story included quotes from Michael Fabricant MP, Richard Holden MP, former MEPs Richard Tice and Nigel Farage, and Father Marcus Walker, rector of Great St Bartholomew’s church. Richard Tice said in a tweet:

‘If BBC wants to cancel our patriotism & our history by not singing Rule Britannia & Land of Hope & Glory, so I want to cancel my license fee. They are in breach of their contract with the British people #DefundTheBBC.’

The article reported that a BBC source had said that the two songs would not be included because they could not be performed properly without a full choir and audience to sing along.  But it added that arts commentator Norman Lebrecht had said there was no reason why they could not have people singing, because, for example, the nearby Cadogan Hall was putting on concerts with audiences.

Guido Fawkes (25/8) said that Conservative MPs, cabinet ministers and ‘basically all the non-woke’ were bashing yet another decision by the BBC that brought into question whether ‘its London-based pandering leadership can even remember their audience’. The article added that the corporation had been forced to release the programme for September 12 early and had revealed that the songs would go ahead – without the singing. It concluded:

‘Guido’s not sure why anyone’s surprised at the BBC’s decision – they’ve been trying to stamp out hope and glory for years…’.

Kurt Zindulka (Breitbart London 25/8) claimed that the BBC decision not to include the sung versions of Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory in the last night of the proms programme was an indication that it had bowed to the Black Lives Matter Movement.  Mr Zindulka reported that Nigel Farage had reacted to news by stating that the only thing that needed cancelling was ‘the BBC itself’.

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST 24 AUGUST 2020

BBC ‘NEVER MORE NEEDED’, SAYS HALL: The BBC was vital to democracy and had never been more needed  to counter the spread of fake news, Tony Hall, the BBC’s outgoing director general had told the Edinburgh Festival (inews 24/8). Adam Sherwin reported that Lord Hall had also claimed in the speech that the BBC had played a crucial role in countering ‘a misinformation pandemic’ about Covid-19 and could help encourage public take-up of a vaccine.  Other points in the speech had included:

  • The BBC needed to make greater strides on diversity, and attract people who had different ideas and came from different backgrounds
  • Referring to his decision that the use of the n-word on the BBC in a report about an attack on a black man was wrong, even though it had been uttered by his alleged assailants, that the BBC needed to listen and learn from its mistakes
  • That the BBC could help Britain to forge a new place in the world after Brexit, thus backing Boris Johnson’s ‘global Britain’ agenda. He asserted that no one could do more to carry Britain’s voice and values to the world and that the corporation could help UK trade

Mr Sherwin said that Mr Hall had revealed that the BBC was bidding for extra funding from the foreign office for the World Service to double its current audience to one billion by the end of the decade, and also had ambition to expand the current schools Bitesize offerings into a permanent ‘open school’ on lines similar to the open university.

SALMOND ‘CONSIDERING SUING BBC OVER TRIAL DOCUMENTARY’: Kathleen Nutt (The National 23/8) said that former SNP leader Alex Salmond was considering launching legal action for libel against a BBC2 documentary programme fronted by Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark about his trial in March on 13 sexual assault charges. Noting that Mr Salmond had been cleared on all the allegations against him, Ms Nutt  said that the programme had sparked a backlash from his allies who had said it amounted to a “TV retrial’.  She reported that he was now believed to be consulting lawyers about the legal action, and was also planning to make a formal complaint to the BBC about the documentary before commencing legal proceedings. Ms Nutt said the BBC had insisted it stood by the programme.

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST 23 AUGUST 2020

BBC MIGHT DROP ‘RULE BRITANNIA FROM LAST NIGHT PROM’: Faith Ridler (Mail on Sunday 23/8) said that, under pressure from 35-year-old Finnish conductor Dalia Staseveska, the BBC was considering dropping both Rule Britannia and Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory from this year’s  last night of the proms, due to take place on September 12. Ms Ridler said that Ms Staseveska, said to be a big supporter of Black Lives Matter, believed that this year’s concert – being performed without an audience and with a reduced complement of musicians – was a ‘perfect moment to bring change’. Ms Ridler said that Jane Younghusband, head of BBC music commissioning on television, had confirmed that the content of the last night prom was under review, and had claimed the reduced number of instruments could mean it was not possible to perform Rule Britannia.   Ms Ridler also noted that last month BBC columnist Richard Morrison had said Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory should be dropped from the proms because they were ‘crudely jingoistic’ and were ‘a toe-curling, embarrassing, anachronistic farrago of nationalistic songs’ which should be replaced by something which did not ‘create offence or ridicule’.

Craig Byers (Is the BBC Biased 23/8) said that, according to a poll conducted by You Gov, 69 per cent of respondents wanted the proms to continue as they were now, while only 11 per cent wanted the axing of the songs.

BBC ‘COULD SCRAP WORD TELEVISION FROM ITS BRANDING’: Kate Dennett (Mail online 23/8) said that BBC was considering plans under which BBC Television could drop the word ‘television’ from its title in a rebranding exercise  designed to attract younger viewers in the 18-34 age group. Isaac Crowson (The Sun 23/8), reporting on the same theme, said that ‘television’ would be replaced by ‘BBC screen’ in moves which could cost the corporation ‘well over £1 million’. He added that BBC Radio’s programming department had already made a similar move, and was now known as BBC Audio.    Ms Dennett said that bosses were reportedly relaunching the services to appeal to a younger demographic, who, it was claimed, tended to veer towards newer streaming services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix.

NEW BBC CHAIRMAN ‘MUST SORT OUT IMPARTIALITY’:  Harry Yorke (Telegraph 23/8), discussing the forthcoming appointment of the new BBC Chairman in succession to Sir David Clementi, who would stand down in February 2021, claimed that government sources had told him that there was ‘mounting frustration’ about a lack of impartiality in the corporation’s news programmes, including Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis’s recent attack on Dominic Cummings. He also said that the sources had played down the idea that there was a firm favourite to land the job, insisting that ministers were waiting to see the field of applicants before deciding.   Mr Yorke – after observing that ministers believed that new director general Tim Davie was in the ‘mood to be radical’ – quoted the source as saying there was ‘considerable concern’ around impartiality and objectivity’, not because of overt bias towards Labour, but because news programmes seemed only to be interested in picking holes in the government or digging up embarrassing quotes.  Mr Yorke also noted that Conservative MP Mark Jenkinson had urged colleagues not to appear on the BBC in protest about the corporation’s decision to charge over-75s for their licence fees.

BBC ‘TO SPEND £100M TRACKING DOWN LICENCE FEE DODGERS: Liz Hull (Daily Mai  21/8) reported that the BBC had said it would spend £100million in the coming year chasing TV licence fees and pursuing non-payers via the court system. She explained that the existing evasion budget of £59 million was being boosted by a further £38 million following the decision that from August 1,  the over-75s, who previously had been exempt from payment, would now have to buy a licence. Ms Hull described as “shocking” the amounts being given to licence fee collection subcontractor Capita, and reported that older people’s groups had said it was ‘sickening’ that dealing with the over-75s entailed the hiring of an extra 800 staff.  Ms Hull added that TV Licensing, on behalf of the BBC, responded that the extra staff were working to provide over-the-phone support to older customers

ITV NEWS BULLETINS ‘WON’T BE AXED’: Anita Singh  (£ Telegraph 22/8) said that Mike Jermey, director of news at ITV – reacting to a prediction by BBC director of news Fran Unsworth that television news bulletins would be axed within a decade – said that by contrast, those on his channel were here to stay. Ms  Singh said that Mr Jermey, in a letter to her newspaper, he had asserted that television was the main source of news for most Britons and millions ‘value the curated news programmes that sit alongside entertainment and drama’.

BBC ‘REPORT ISRAELI-ARAB DEALS WITH OPPOSITE OF ENTHUSIASM’: Craig Byers (Is the BBC Biased? 22/8) said that the BBC’s low level of coverage of deals  between the UEA and Saudi Arabia was ‘something to behold’. He noted that the BBC’s middle east editor Jeremy Bowen had tweeted about the developments ‘with the absolute opposite of enthusiasm’.

BBC COVERAGE OF KEY ISSUES ‘INSULTING’: Jeff O’Leary (The Conservative Woman 21/8) claimed – in a letter to BBC director general Lord Hall – that the poor standards of BBC reporting of  the A-level grades issue, the Covid-19 pandemic and the Beirut bombing were matters of major concern. He asserted:

‘Why do I feel so strongly? I’m a geologist with a PhD in applied statistics. I have worked as a maths teacher in a secondary school in Bermondsey, as the reader in my subject and later as visiting professor at Imperial College, as chief geologist at Rio Tinto and as a managing director of one of HSBC Investment Bank’s industry teams. Following my retirement I served on the boards of a number of LSE listed companies. So I believe I am well qualified to comment, but more importantly I believe I should not be subject to the awful coverage offered by BBC news. I feel patronised and insulted by unprofessional would-be scientists feeding me biased and often downright incorrect information.’

BBC ACCUSED OF ‘AIRBRUSHING’ VIP PAEDOPHILE FANTASIST PROGRAMME

Glen Keogh ( Daily Mail 21/8) reported that ‘furious’ victims had forced the BBC to ‘hastily re-edit’ an upcoming BBC2 documentary dealing the case of VIP abuse fantasist Carl Beech (known as ‘Nick’).  Mr Keogh said that those accused by Beech had complained that the programme had ‘airbrushed’ out the alleged role of the former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson in ‘whipping up hysteria’ over VIP paedophile ring claims. Mr Keogh quoted Harvey Proctor, one of Beech’s victims:

‘Not including Tom Watson is like writing Hamlet without Hamlet. Tom Watson set the hare running when he put his question to Parliament about the existence of a VIP paedophile ring’.

Mr Keogh added that it was understood that the former MP would now be mentioned in the final version, which was broadcast on August 22.

BIASED BBC DIGEST 21 AUGUST 2020

NEWSNIGHT POLICY EDITOR LEWIS GOODALL ‘SHOULD RESIGN’: An article on Guido Fawkes (20/8) called on Lewis Goodall, the BBC2 Newsnight policy editor, to resign over an article he had written for the New Statesman magazine which, it was claimed, ‘spectacularly’ breached editorial impartiality guidelines on three grounds in that it expressed strong views,. Advocated against a single policy and exhorted a change in policy.  The article said that these points were:

  • A claim that ’a government led by technocrats had nearly destroyed a generation of social mobility’ – which, it was claimed, was ‘a strong and controversial view’
  • An attack for ‘political and moral’ reasons on the government’s use of algorithms to predict exam results
  • The assertion that the exams crisis ‘demonstrates the weakness of this form of technocracy’ and was driven by Dominic Cummings.

The article also noted that the whole thrust of the article advocated a change in government policy.  It noted that the BBC press office had said that a post-Hutton ban on journalists writing about political controversies had been rescinded, and had defended the article as being a piece of ‘journalistic analysis that holds to account the handling of examinations by all the political parties that govern the UK’.    

JAN LEEMING: ‘I WON’T RENEW MY TV LICENCE’:   Eleanor Sharples (Daily Mail 21/8) reported that former BBC newsreader Jan Leeming – who presented bulletins in the 1970s and 1980s – had said that she would not be renewing her television licence after the current one expired because the corporation now presented only a handful programmes she would want to watch.