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David Keighley

Ten years on, BBC bias is worse than ever

Ten years on, BBC bias is worse than ever

ASTONISHINGLY, it is almost ten years since I first wrote my first blog for The Conservative Woman website. By that time, I had been friends with and worked with Kathy Gyngell – whose brainchild it was – for almost 30 years, 14 of them in trying to hold the BBC in check over its outrageously pro-EU coverage, through News-watch.

The springboard to that blog a decade ago? The BBC’s incestuous, self-serving infatuation with Glastonbury. I noted that the Corporation was sending its usual hundreds-strong army to mount disproportionately lavish coverage of the event.

And why? I argued that in the BBC’s warped events diary, this was a ‘woke’ happening par excellence – because at its heart was support for a galaxy of right-on causes such as climate alarmism, led that year by Greenpeace.

My observations about the BBC – underpinned by News-watch research – soon became a feature of TCW’s regular Beebwatch column, and subjects in the first couple of years included the Corporation’s spiteful participation in the baseless claims against Cliff Richard, the build-up to the Brexit referendum, and then in its aftermath, persecution and denigration of Nigel Farage, and the concerted effort to undermine and reverse the ‘yes’ vote.

With hindsight, these were the years in which BBC bias towards ‘woke’ issues became so deeply entrenched that keeping track of the torrent of misinformation became truly impossible to track. Today, virtually every syllable of output is distorted. Weather bulletins are propaganda exercises in which statistics are bent at every opportunity to exaggerate alarmism. Drama is often comically crude but malicious neo-Marxist agitprop. Any coverage of history is about how vile Britain’s contribution to the world has been. Education coverage is about making the young into warriors for woke causes.

A decade on has anything changed at the BBC, and is it likely to any time soon? Sadly, no. In late January, Lucy Frazer, the useless Tories’ Culture Secretary, very belatedly released the BBC’s Mid-Term Review (MTR). 

It was announced by her predecessor Nadine Dorries two years earlier. The exercise was trumpeted as a genuine attempt to attack BBC bias and early indications were that there was genuine intent. News-watch was invited to contribute to the process and did so here and here.

We argued in our submission that the only hope of making the BBC properly impartial and in tune with the audiences it is supposed to serve is if the complaints system – in which the Corporation is its own judge and jury – is swept away and replaced by a robustly independent replacement process with teeth.

As recently as late last summer, sources at the highest levels within the Culture Department were still saying that such reforms were under active consideration. But it was not to be. The MTR has turned out to be – like every alleged BBC reform before it – worse than useless. The blunt truth is that the BBC remains in charge of complaints handling. It is the fox with the keys to the hen house. In the entire Charter period (since 2017), only 147 complaints of almost two million received have been upheld by the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit.

The MTR supposedly beefed up the complaints process by suggesting that Ofcom should become more rigorous about BBC bias. The reality is that since 2017 Ofcom has seen fit to investigate only a handful of BBC complaints. Most of its Content Board have strong BBC connections and instead focus their energies on attacking GB News.

Thus, nothing is happening to halt the ‘progressive’ agenda embraced by everyone at the BBC from the Director General downwards.  All anyone can now do to resist BBC bias is to stop watching.

Lying about Farage? At the BBC, it’s par for the course

Lying about Farage? At the BBC, it’s par for the course

AS Marvin Burnell adroitly chronicled here on Thursday, when Nigel Farage told the outside world that he had been appallingly ‘debanked’ by Coutts, the BBC did not even report the story for five days.

They then carried a report on the affair which amounted to what looks like a huge untruth: that his account had been terminated because he did not have enough money to meet the bank’s wealth criteria.

Instead, internal Coutts documents obtained by Mr Farage seem to suggest that he was thrown out on his ear because sinister figures working for the bank had crudely concluded, in some kind of internal kangaroo court, that he supported Brexit and was a bigot, a racist and climate change denier, as can be read here.

After considering the possible reasons for the delay in the BBC covering the story, Burnell concluded that this was a case study in totalitarianism, that Mr Farage was maligned because in the BBC’s mindset, he is ‘an outsider, a dissident . . . the enemy who every right-thinking, inclusive, kind citizen-warrior knows must be destroyed before they can open their mouth’.

Events since then have underlined this conclusion in that the BBC have refused to apologise for their errors. Adding insult to injury, they invited on to their usual Farage attack vehicle, Newsnight, a so-called banking commentator who in reality is an extremist Remainer who’s been spouting vitriol against him for years, not least that he is a racist and xenophobe. 

Even more chilling is that this has been par for the course In the BBC’s treatment of the man who, for over a quarter of a century, led the UK people’s revolt against the EU.

News-watch has been tracking the Corporation’s coverage of the former UKIP leader and the Brexit case since the European parliamentary elections of 1999. The record shows that Radio 4 presenter John Humphrys told him that year that it was ‘inconceivable’ – in the usual BBC dismissive attitude towards the Brexit case – that the UK would ever leave the EU.

The relentless focus of the BBC throughout has been to avoid Mr Farage whenever possible, but when an appearance was necessary under electoral law and coverage rules, to use every trick in the book to discredit him. For example, in 2009 during that year’s European parliamentary elections, and as Mr Farage orchestrated pressure for an EU referendum, the BBC’s Europe correspondent posited that he led an ineffective, extremist party which resembled ‘the BNP in blazers’ with ‘the gravy stains of corruption spattered down their fronts’.

In 2013, on the night when David Cameron announced that the EU referendum would take place, Newsnight assembled a programme in which 18 Remainers were pitched against one representative of the ‘out’ case – Mr Farage. News-watch lodged a BBC complaint. The verdict (with the BBC as ever both judge and jury)? No case to answer, m’lud, because this was ‘due’ impartiality – aka the BBC’s view of it.

And when, in 2016, a few weeks after the EU referendum a Polish man was killed in a Harlow shopping mall by a young man in what the BBC reported as a frenzied ‘race-hate’ crime connected to the Brexit vote, John Sweeney assembled a report for Newsnight which suggested that Mr Farage had blood on his hands. It turned out – despite the BBC’s outrageous sensationalism – that the death of the man was nothing to with his nationality, nothing to do with the Brexit vote and nothing to do with the former UKIP leader. When it comes to Mr Farage, the BBC never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Did the Corporation apologise? No: again they maintained they had reported events with ‘due impartiality’.  The full saga was reported on TCW here.

The full horrors of the catalogue of BBC invective against Mr Farage and the Brexit case can be seen here under the heading ‘News-watch research into the BBC’s coverage of the EU 1999-2016’.

What has happened with the BBC’s ‘debanking of Farage’ coverage can be seen as yet another step in a constant continuum of discrediting and smearing. This time their first instinct was to ignore the story altogether for, in the BBC’s world, Mr Farage has always been considered a blight on the nation.

The man leading this latest assault on Mr Farage is Simon Jack, BBC business editor and erstwhile Today programme presenter. In this domain, he has form. This News-watch report about the hugely biased Today programme’s anti-Brexit business coverage in the post-referendum period presents evidence of his stance. 

A few weeks ago, on July 3, at a charity dinner in the five-star Langham Hotel (cost of afternoon tea there? £75 pp) Mr Jack was seated next to Dame Alison Rose, chief executive of NatWest, the owner of Coutts. We don’t know what went on in their discussions, but it looks as if Dame Alison gave a highly misleading briefing which was music to Mr Jack’s ears and he duly posted his story about Mr Farage the following day.

Mr Farage has rightly demanded a formal apology from the BBC. So far, neither Mr Jack nor the BBC have done so. The only ‘movement’ to be seen is that in the online version of Mr Jack’s story, a paragraph has been added which says that the allegations in the article came from ‘a source’. 

No doubt because of this intransigence, Mr Farage upped the stakes at the weekend and lodged a complaint with the Information Commissioner against NatWest’s alleged breach of security and mishandling of his personal data. If the case is upheld, the bank could face a fine of up to £17.5million.

Editor’s note: Since this article was written, the BBC and Simon Jack have issued an apology to Nigel Farage, which you can read here.

The BBC witch-finders are coming for YOU

The BBC witch-finders are coming for YOU

THE BBC has crashed to new lows of bias. Director-General Tim Davie, who assumed office three years ago in September, set as his priority the restoration of impartiality. But in the past few months he has presided over a huge campaign – conducted through the so-called Trusted News Initiative, which the Corporation orchestrated, and BBC Verify – to root out and shut down ‘disinformation’ spread by those who disagree with its flagrant anti-British agenda. Not just on the BBC’s own platforms but elsewhere too.

It is tempting to invoke loose parallels between how they are now mobilising to crush dissent with the reign of terror instigated by self-declared Witch-Finder General Matthew Hopkins during the latter part of the English Civil War. He became convinced that battalions of witches were infecting and perverting the body politic in rural East Anglia. Hundreds of innocent women were tortured and at least 100 of them hanged.

The modern-day perceived evildoers are ‘conspiracy theorists’ or ‘deniers’. It is now emerging that those miscreants in the BBC’s sights are ‘right-wing’, are anti-lockdown, have reservations about the safety of vaccines, do not accept that climate change is a major existential threat, do not believe gender is a matter of elective choice, or that the British Empire was not a malevolent influence on the world.

A BBC ‘disinformation’ witch-finder called Marco Silva – a part of their massively resourced ‘fact checking’ operation Verify announced by news chief Deborah Turness in May – leapt into indignant action last week. He appeared on the Today programme and posted online on Friday.

His primary target? An American businessman and ‘success coach’ residing in Scotland called Dan Pena. His crime? He apparently said in 2017 that he believed that ‘people with money’, the financial institutions and banks, knew that ‘climate change is not going to happen’. Further, that this was ‘the greatest fraud that has been perpetrated on mankind this century’. His quote went viral and has attracted 9million views on and via the social media platform TikTok.

Cue outrage from Silva. He thundered: ‘The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence has found that world temperatures are rising because of human activity, leading to rapid climate change and threatening every aspect of human life.’

How this high priest of the BBC climate religion cult arrived at such certitude is not evidenced, though his Muck Rack account shows he is engaged in a major propaganda exercise against fossil fuels and all those he sees as ‘climate deniers’.

As part of his duties to shut down such ‘disinformation’, Silva detailed on Today how he was making strenuous efforts to have the Pena statements removed, and for TikTok and other social media platforms to ‘clamp down’ on climate change denial and prevent ‘false climate change information from spreading’. He has also detailed how he has found another 365 different videos in English ‘denying the existence of man-made climate change’, and how he has persuaded TikTok to non-platform them.

In parallel with Silva’s efforts, 27-year-old Marianna Spring, rejoicing in the title of BBC ‘disinformation and social media correspondent’, is in full cry searching for ‘conspiracy theorists’. Ms Spring is a former Guardian reporter who specialised in stories about perceived oppression, and so her credentials for working under the Verify aegis are immaculate.

As already noted on TCW by Niall McCrae, she has completed her first BBC magnum opus, a ten-part podcast series grandly called Marianna in Conspiracyland. News-watch has transcribed the full series and is in the process of writing a full survey of its shortcomings. It is chilling reading, not least because of its cub-reporter crassness in believing that differences in opinion can so easily classified and identified as wrong-headed.

Is she another witch-finder, or maybe rather – despite seeing herself hubristically as an innocent Alice – the Red Queen?

Her targets, as she repeats endlessly in the series, are those she perceives to be right-wing conspiracy theorists. She believes these sinister, potentially murderous folk are beavering away in towns such as Totnes and Stroud to foment revolution in the shires. Their off-with-their-heads crimes? These villains are not convinced that anti-Covid vaccines work, are opposed to future lockdowns, do not believe in climate alarmism and dare to talk to people in other countries who have similar beliefs.

Further, it is arguable that the main purpose of her series is to demonise as a conspirator-in-chief Darren Nesbit, the publisher of an alternative newspaper called The Light. As Niall McCrae observed, her treatment of him was massively unfair, and arguably an attempt by the megabillions BBC to shut down a rival operation which operates on a meagre advertising income from local businesses.

Trust in BBC News has suffered a catastrophic collapse, and these developments making the BBC a campaigner for its own worldview illustrate vividly some of the reasons. Everyone who watches the BBC is forced to pay for the privilege, but its core programming no longer serves vast swathes of licence fee-payers.

An organisation without a guaranteed income would be forced to take heed of customer complaints, but the smug BBC – which serves largely as its own judge and jury on matters of impartiality – does not.

Don’t worry, Huw, your £410,000 BBC salary is safe

Don’t worry, Huw, your £410,000 BBC salary is safe

A FRONT-PAGE headline in the Mail on Sunday claiming that highly paid BBC presenters including newsreaders Huw Edwards and Sophie Raworth and Today presenter Nick Robinson have received ‘shock’ redundancy letters fleetingly raised hopes that the Corporation – at last! – is being cut down to size.

But all is not what it seems. The letters have been sent to all high-level news division staff as a matter of routine personnel housekeeping and no one is being forced out. They can, if they like, opt for a redundancy payment of up to £150,000.

According to the MoS, a BBC spokesperson said: ‘This isn’t about any new job cuts – it’s a standard HR exercise relating to savings we’ve announced previously – and it’s not targeting any individuals; we have to send it to everyone who’s at the same grade. We’re looking for expressions of interest in redundancy, not offering it, and it’s not the case that any or everyone who came forward would be accepted.

The story arguably has the fingerprints of the 225-strong, lavishly funded BBC PR machine all over it. One clue is that Sunday’s story appeared as Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer (the 12th incumbent of the post since 2012) signs off the finishing touches to the BBC Mid-term Charter Review, which was ordered by Nadine Dorries last May and is due to be published towards the end of next month. In the BBC’s bubble-world they still believe themselves to be a sacrosanct national treasure, and no doubt calculate that sob stories such as this will evoke sympathy and temper any reforms that might be in the pipeline.

The reality is that the eye-watering £3.8billion income from the licence fee allows the Corporation to pay Edwards a salary of £410,000 (mainly for reading an autocue). Raworth receives around £310,000 a year and Robinson £275,000. 

Meanwhile, the news division remains one of the largest operations of its kind in the world with resources which outstrip most of its rivals. Increasingly, its main job, according to the latest BBC annual report (p20), is to root out ‘misinformation’ rather than simply reporting the news. This means, in reality, rubbishing anyone who is classed as ‘anti-vax’, opposed to Net Zero, or any aspect of the Corporation’s highly biased worldview.

BBC shrugs off report from the echo chamber

BBC shrugs off report from the echo chamber

A MUCH-trumpeted BBC-ordered report  into the Corporation’s coverage of economics by erstwhile BBC presenters Andrew Dilnot and Michael Blastland – who, it is said, are economic ‘experts’ – has been published after almost a year in gestation.

The 50-page document was commissioned as part of Director General Tim Davie’s desperate attempt to prove that the Corporation is impartial and thereby avoid any significant changes being made by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in the BBC’s mid-term review, due in May.

The BBC are very good at wasting licence fee income – witness the millions spent in their quest of diversity and support of propaganda exercises such as their membership of the sinister Trusted News Initiative – and this is another prime example of money down the drain.

Reading it confirms that while Dilnot and Blastland dish out some stinging negative observations, they are BBC sycophants. Further, the vast majority of the 50 or so people they consulted in preparing their report also inhabit the BBC echo chamber of liberal-left bias. The list is here. Fewer than ten could be seen as leaning towards alternative views.

The conclusions of the report include:

·       Many BBC journalists lack understanding of basic economics;

·       Output suggests too much that public spending is good;

·       Reporters should exercise more caution in making sweeping statements such as that governments ‘will have to’ (carry out prescribed tasks);

·       Output does not make clear that fiscal political decisions are also political choices;

·       The perspectives of low-paid people are under-reported;

·       Contributors do not come from a wide enough spectrum of opinion and interests;

·       Output does not give enough information to those who are poorly informed and did not understand fiscal stories.

It has not been disclosed how much the authors were paid for their efforts, but these are all arguably subjective judgments which anyone could arrive at in a matter of days through watching and listening to BBC programmes. Dilnot and Blastland claim to have combed through 11,000 items to reach their ‘expert’ conclusions, but they at no point provide sufficient evidence to justify claims of objective superiority.

Further, it is clear from their methodology (outlined in an appendix) that they regard properly detailed analysis of content as ‘useless’.

Their report can thus also be seen as an exercise in laziness. On the subject of whether economics coverage might be skewed politically, they say: ‘We didn’t find evidence that BBC coverage of fiscal policy is overall too left or right – because we can’t. Others might think the answer obvious, we do not. We doubt the methods available are equal to the task, not with any statistical robustness. These methods would, without a truly vast amount of time and expense, themselves be at risk of bias. In any case, we think it more useful if we’re specific.’

With an approach like this, the BBC will wriggle off the hook of any of the criticisms contained in the report and will carry on regardless. The process is already under way. The official BBC Board response is: ‘We note that the reviewers found widespread appreciation for BBC coverage of tax, public spending, debt and borrowing and they conclude that they did not find evidence of political bias in this output. However, they also concluded that significant interests and perspectives in these areas could be better served by BBC output and the review as a whole provides clear indications for how we can improve editorial standards and audience impact as a result.

‘We have asked the Director General and his Executive team to address the issues presented in this review and to return to the next Editorial Guidelines and Standards Committee of the Board (EGSC) with a proposed action plan to fully address these challenges. We will then review that plan at the following Board meeting before implementation. We have also asked the EGSC to consider the lessons learned from this thematic review to inform our approach to the next reviews,’

In other words, move along, nothing to see here. The BBC commissioned the report and are deigning to pay some lip service to the conclusions. By contrast, they have never considered in detail the much more thorough work carried out by News-watch.

The BBC at 100: Leading the push for totalitarianism

The BBC at 100: Leading the push for totalitarianism

As the BBC marks its centenary,  how is ‘Auntie’? Not the benign figure the Corporation likes to portray, but perhaps more like Peter Sellers’s chilling comic creation Auntie Rotter?

As Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries appeared to be preparing the old girl for genuine surgery in the Charter Mid-term Review. But as the Tory party and our democracy itself spectacularly implodes, don’t count on it. Auntie is too useful to our new totalitarian ruling class as a vehicle for the liberal-left propaganda it disseminates on a gargantuan scale.

True to form, the Corporation commissioned its own self-congratulatory centenary ‘official’ history in 2016 and the author, a  former BBC producer and don at Sussex University, duly obliged with a volume which trashes British history and values and risibly claims with Marxist zeal that from its inception the BBC has championed the British working class against the forces of the right. In that projection, those who dare criticise the BBC are enemies of the people.

The reality is that BBC audiences were high only when the Corporation was a state monopoly funded by a compulsory licence fee. As soon as competition entered the frame, people looked elsewhere for their entertainment. BBC services are now declining precipitously in the ever-fragmenting media environment, trust in the BBC’s journalism is in freefall, and, according to Reuters Institute research, it has become the least trusted public service broadcaster in the world. 

A key to the mentality and current drive of the BBC can be found the latest annual report (2021/2). There are pages and pages devoted to self-righteous tosh on ‘environmental sustainability’ (and commitment to Net Zero agenda) and gender and racial diversity. But in terms of how popular (or rather unpopular) BBC programmes are, the report waffles only about audience ‘reach’. To find out how bad BBC audience figures actually are, you have to scour the internet. An example is BBC2 Newsnight, the flagship news and current affairs programme, which had more than 1million viewers in around 2000, but is now down to fewer than 300,000. 

The current director-general, Tim Davie, claims he is sorting out impartiality but his plans for doing so are designed only to keep the BBC as its own judge and jury in virtually everything it does, with the fig-leaf Ofcom to conduct appeals against the BBC’s own industrial-scale rejection of millions of complaints. A measure of his feebleness is that, on his appointment, Davie promised a crackdown on presenters who posted politically biased tweets. But it has taken two years, till last week, for BBC football presenter Gary Lineker to be held to any form of account for the deluge of left-wing propaganda he spews out – and then for only one tweet. His punishment? A docking of his obscene £1.35million-a-year contract? No, Mr Davie thinks he is a ‘brilliant presenter’ and instead has had a ‘good chat with him’. He believes Lineker now understands impartiality. That’s okay then.

With the benefit of hindsight, the BBC became unashamedly socialist in support of the Attlee government in 1945, and has never deviated from that campaigning zeal. Margaret Thatcher was the only PM who genuinely tried to reform the bloated state propaganda organisation but even she did not have the power to dismantle it.

The BBC erupted with fury after the Brexit referendum confirmed that the British people did not share its values, as this News-watch report confirms. But perhaps the defining characteristic of the BBC in its centenary year is its climate alarmism and its chilling insistence that the ‘science is settled’. Shamefully, the Corporation accepted this was the case at an internal meeting in 2005. Thereafter, instead of objective reporting, it has peddled climate activism. There is a daily deluge of programme and news features and stories. Turn to the climate pages of the BBC website and you discover the real agenda – a total fanaticism about the climate emergency, a burning desire to force British people to change their evil carbon-generating ways and a complete adherence to Net Zero fanaticism. 

Exhibit A is the BBC Media Action site – the so-called ‘charity’ arm of the Corporation which used to be the World Service Trust. Its purpose now is to promote the UN and IMF world government agenda. In this domain – funded by huge grants from Bill Gates and the EU, and in partnership with a host of woke corporations including Twitter and Facebook, – it now actually has training courses for journalists to learn how to become climate change propagandists.

In the Media Action worldview, the only cause for changing weather is ‘climate change’. Basic geography has been abandoned for a one-dimensional fear agenda. Flash floods in Africa are not the result of the sun’s heat and volatile tropical atmospheric forces but rather burning too much fossil fuel.

George Orwell’s statue has dominated the entry to the £1billion BBC HQ in Portland Place since 2017. Its presence is deeply ironic. BBC staffers are reminded every day of the man who showed with terrifying accuracy in Animal Farm and 1984 what totalitarianism is like. Yet every day, they are pushing on a massive scale the propaganda Orwell expressed. Current political developments suggest that nothing will now stop them.

The BBC’s 100 years of glory – by its hired historian

The BBC’s 100 years of glory – by its hired historian

How sinisterly Orwellian is the BBC at projecting and protecting its own image? The BBC: A People’s History, a Corporation-commissioned book marking its 100th anniversary on October 18, provides abundant clues.

Investigations reveal that the Corporation, chillingly echoing Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, has maintained for decades a shadowy network of so-called ‘official historians’, perhaps centred in the Director General’s office, to sing its praises and to belittle and undermine its critics.

In January 2016, a press release from the University of Sussex trumpeted that former low-to-middle-ranking BBC producer David Hendy, then Professor of Media and Communications at Sussex, had been appointed ‘as [sic] the BBC’s latest official historian’ and would write an ‘authorised history’ of the Corporation to be published in 2022. Press officer Jacqui Bealing said that Professor Hendy was particularly proud to be following in the footsteps of the late Asa Briggs, a Sussex Vice-Chancellor who wrote a gargantuan five-volume history of the Corporation covering the years 1922-1974. These books, too, were commissioned by the BBC. The 2016 press release was rounded off with a quote from Robert Seatter, said to be Head of BBC History, who declared grandly that the book would ‘capture the transforming power of the BBC broadcasting in Britain and the wider world’. How Mr Seatter came to be appointed to his role and the exact job remit is a mystery, though a profile of sorts here describes him as a ‘reader, actor and animator.’ According to LinkedIn, in BBC Director General Tim Davie’s office there is also a ‘history manager’ named John Escolme. 

In becoming a BBC ‘official historian’, Hendy joined another Professor of Media Studies (at Westminster University), Jean Seaton, who in 2015 published a sixth volume of history of the BBC, covering 1974 to 1987. I described it on TCW as ‘a claws-fully-out attack from someone who clearly hates Margaret Thatcher’.  

In that leftist-hagiography sense, Hendy’s 638-page tome does not disappoint. This ‘official historian’ pulls no punches when it comes to describing Mrs Thatcher’s approach towards and impact upon his beloved BBC. He asserts that when she came to power in 1979, despite the BBC offering such ‘golden era’ programmes as Alan Bleasdale’s Boys from the Blackstuff, Mrs Thatcher wanted ‘drastic reform’ and for a decade created an atmosphere in which the Corporation operated which was a ‘a potent brew of political, commercial and personal hostility’.

Also in Hendy’s sights is Winston Churchill. Almost every reference to him, beginning with his alleged assaults on journalistic freedom in the BBC’s handling of the General Strike of 1926, is peppered with insults, including that he was a ‘blustering’ bully. Hendy claims that Churchill thought the Corporation was a ‘hotbed of Communists’ and then contends that the BBC broadcast of his ‘finest hour’ speech in 1940 was not his finest hour at all and showed an ‘obsession with Empire and British race’. Hendy adds that wartime listeners preferred radio talks by the socialist writer J B Priestley.

Space does not permit detailed exploration of Hendy’s book, but it can it can be distilled as follows:

  • Nasty forces of conservatism conspired throughout BBC history to muzzle its journalism and limit unreasonably the licence fee, with Thatcher and Churchill heading the rogues’ gallery. Special opprobrium is heaped on Lord Rees-Mogg, ex-editor of the Times and a BBC trustee in the Thatcher era, with a quote from Deputy Director General Alan Protheroe that he was a ‘malevolent man’ who disliked the BBC to his very core and soul – ‘if he had one’.
  • For a century, the BBC has heroically fought – after a shaky start until it became a Corporation funded by the licence fee – to champion the authentic voice of the British people, and to the disgust of the ruling class, has managed to do so with landmark programmes such as Cathy Come Home and Boys from the Blackstuff.
  • The Corporation is a national treasure which must be preserved at all costs.

These broad-brushstroke propaganda arguments are supplemented by a self-congratulatory 100th anniversary section of the BBC website comprising 100 faces, 100 voices and 100 objects which was partly curated in association with Professor Hendy.

Back to the book, and Hendy proselytises throughout his narrative that the BBC is popular and meets audience needs. He avoids contemporary evidence of rapidly falling audience figures and a huge decline in public trust in its impartiality, reflected for example in an Ofcom News Consumption survey in 2021, in which only 55 per cent of those surveyed rated the Corporation’s record on impartiality to be satisfactory.

His approach towards those he sees as enemies of the Corporation is particularly simplistic and egregious. He claims that ‘academic study after academic study’ has established that the BBC output in recent years has tilted to the right rather than the left. Close scrutiny reveals that his findings are based on just three carefully selected surveys, each of which News-watch has demonstrated is based on deeply flawed methodology: for example. here in a Civitas paper.

Footnote: True to form, no financial or other contractual details were disclosed when Mr Hendy was appointed ‘official BBC historian’. To remedy the deficit, News-watch is filing a Freedom of Information request about the deal.

The BBC, skewered through its rotten core

The BBC, skewered through its rotten core

Few readers of News-watch  will need convincing that the BBC is biased. The Corporation’s track record of hating Britain and its values in a helter-skelter quest for ‘diversity’, and as a political campaigner against conservative values and in favour of liberal-left causes such as climate alarmism, lockdowns and much more, has been chronicled voluminously in these pages.

Now university lecturer David Sedgwick’s latest book, Is That True Or Did You Hear It On The BBC?  brings a series of fresh and meticulously researched insights into the gargantuan scale of the bias. It shows that without doubt the BBC complaints system is rotten to the core.

The book has been published at an opportune moment. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is assembling her Mid-Term Review of the Corporation. The public consultation phase has closed (July 29). Of course, her tenure in office may be short, but she has at least taken steps in the framing of the review to attack BBC bias head-on. Her appointment rattled the BBC, and executives are fighting tooth and nail to thwart her ambitions.

Meanwhile, Director General Tim Davie – despite a deluge of evidence to the contrary after almost two years in office – risibly continues to claim that his top priority is restoring impartiality. He has ordered a raft of measures allegedly to tackle the problems, including a politburo-style ‘10-point plan’.

Close scrutiny of the measures, however, reveals that they are little more than all-too-familiar BBC window-dressing and an exercise in kicking the can down the road. There is, for example, an acceptance that output should be subject to independent (non-BBC) review. To deal with this, four consultants have been appointed by the BBC, so the idea that they are truly ‘independent’ is yet more BBC flannel.

The peerless BBC blogger Craig Byers explains the inadequacies of the 10-point plan in further detail here.

Sedgwick has already written two books about the BBC, and a review of one of them is on TCW Defending Freedom here. In 21 illuminating case studies of BBC bias at its most flagrant, his latest title nails exactly why Davie’s measures are the equivalent of tackling a petrochemical blaze with a water-pistol. His key line of argument is that throughout its 100-year history, the BBC has blindly supported the social and economic objectives of ‘society’s wealthiest and most powerful entities’, and does not report news but rather ‘news narrative’ and is therefore ‘a hugely valuable asset of global power’.

Some might disagree with his suggestion that the 1984 miners’ strike was part of a popular uprising against the establishment, but his main point, that the BBC in 2022 has swallowed the World Economic Forum ‘Build Back Better’ agenda and is thus supporting undemocratic political agitation against the interests of the British people who are forced to pay to receive it, is strongly made.

The book begins with the BBC’s current main activist hobby horse: fanning alarm about the climate. The Corporation’s so-called environment ‘reporters’ trumpeted in 2004 that the Maldives were a ‘paradise facing extinction’ and that the 360,000 inhabitants would soon be forced to evacuate. Eighteen years on, says Sedgwick, the population and tourism have both doubled, and more than $800million is being ploughed into expanding the main airport to meet the mushrooming demand. A survey of atolls worldwide has shown a growth in landmass of 8 per cent over the past 60 years.

Another example is a forensic dissection of the so-called Harlow ‘race-hate murder’ of Arkadiusz Jozwik, a Polish man, soon after the Brexit vote in September 2016. Daniel Sandford’s television news reports trumpeted it as a race killing, and BBC2 Newsnight embellished the sensationalism by including claims that Nigel Farage had ‘blood on his hands’. Eventually it emerged that Jozwik had provoked a gang of youths by himself being racist and was punched in retaliation. One youth was convicted of manslaughter. The outrageous BBC reporting was also covered on TCW Defending Freedom, for example here. 

Sedgwick chronicles how the BBC rejected all claims of bias over the case, but three years later broadcast a programme intended to put the record straight. It was titled The Brexit Murder? thus compounding the original Sandford claims and confirming that even when seemingly trying to correct errors, the Corporation is so mired in its own confirmation bias that it cannot do so.

For its 100th anniversary celebrations, the broadcaster appointed as an ‘official BBC historian’ Sussex University media studies don (and former BBC producer) David Hendy.  He has written The BBC: A People’s History, which is best described as pro-BBC propaganda, and an extension of how the BBC attacks all those who criticise it. Hendy, in essence, argues that those who criticise the BBC are mainly right-wing, malicious axe-grinders. I hope to review it for TCW soon.

Sedgwick’s clear analysis is a valuable counter-balance to Hendy’s flummery.

BBC ‘arrogant’ dismissal of Sunday Times

BBC ‘arrogant’ dismissal of Sunday Times

The Sunday Times has a rather feeble (in analytical terms) news story today (February 20) under the heading of What’s Going on at the BBC? by media editor Rosamund Unwin which postulates that because of cuts in staffing levels (leading to poor editorial decisions), standards of BBC journalism are falling, as is evidenced by Amol Rajan’s questionably-handled interview last week of Novak Djokovic (which revealed nothing even though it was granted headline status) and the Oxford Street bus incident.

Her premise is fundamentally wrong – the ‘decline’ is actually a continuation of long-standing inherent bias and weakness – but what is interesting about the piece is the quote it attracted from the BBC. A spokesman said: “We don’t feel that highlighting a few unrelated pieces of output from across the BBC says anything meaningful about a 24-hour worldwide news operation.”

This yet another arrogant variation in the theme of that only they at the BBC know and can judge what is going on editorially. Everyone else attempting to do so is deluded. (£)



Today’s lead story (February 3)  in much of the media is that Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is planning to spend billions of pounds to cushion the impact on householders of a huge rise in domestic heating charges which will take effect from April.

According to green policy watchdog Net Zero Watch, the government will make £6 billion of loans available to energy companies so that they can pass on rebates of £200 per household, cutting the average bill after the increase from £1,900 to £1,700. .

Dr John Constable, director of energy for Net Zero Watch, says that the loans are a ‘terrible idea’ that would set an undesirable and unsustainable precedent, and also not solve the underlying problem, which was that the price crisis had been caused by the government’s net zero energy policies.

He said:

“Loans to the energy companies are a simply terrible idea and show that the No. 10 operation cannot face up to the failure of the green policies which lie behind the current crisis, and are costing consumers well over £10 billion a year Even Germany has agreed to cut 25 billion Euros of renewables subsidies from energy bills in an effort to protect consumers. The Prime MInister has put Net Zero and energy company shareholders before the public interest. He will not be forgiven.”

Elsewhere,  in the Telegraph, columnist Allister Heath also makes no bones about whose fault the energy price rises are. He states:

“All of which brings us to energy policy, another case study in extreme failure. A sensible government would urgently accelerate its nuclear plans by creating a powerful agency modelled on the vaccines taskforce. As a temporary solution, such an administration would also push to extract more oil and gas, including by fracking. “Instead, a government that no longer believes in markets will now simply pretend that prices are much lower than they are. The Treasury will lend billions to energy companies to allow them to moderate price rises; customers will then pay higher bills in the future to ensure the Treasury (hopefully) recoups its money”

And how is the BBC reporting the cost-of-living crisis?  There are two main stories online, one headed ‘Millions braced as energy price rise to be revealed’,   and the second a background piece ‘I’m so cold it feels like I’m sleeping outside’.

The first story reports the speculation about the government’s energy company loans and includes comment that the money released will not be enough to make energy affordable to most households, together with a call from Labour for a windfall tax on energy suppliers such as Shell.  There’s no mention, however, that the price increases are thought to have been largely triggered by the government’s pursuit of so-called renewable energy under the net zero strategy.

The second story focuses on a 54-year old disabled black woman who is ‘desperately trying to keep her energy bills down’, and who reporter Michael Buchanan says is ‘one of millions’ set to be affected by the increased energy bills. He adds that the rise is thought – which would tip 4 million households into ‘fuel stress’ (10% of budgets spent on fuel) –  to have been caused by ‘a big increase in global wholesale prices’.

Surprise, surprise, yet again there is no mention of the impact of net zero policies.