Author Archives

David Keighley

Hall’s BBC Executive Board Climate Change Links

Hall’s BBC Executive Board Climate Change Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Rajan Manickavasagam

BBC Trustees Cement ‘climate change’ Prejudice

BBC Trustees Cement ‘climate change’ Prejudice

The just-published  BBC Trust Review of impartiality and accuracy of the BBC’s coverage of science: follow up is an extraordinary, document which I think is virtually unprecedented in terms of partisanship in the broadcast arena.  The BBC Trustees have reinforced with steely belligerence against those who dare to disagree, their 2012 ruling that, in effect, the debate about climate change alarmism is settled.

News-watch has previously highlighted that Fraser Steel, the BBC’s head of complaints, has recently decreed after a complaint from a Green Party activist  that audiences must be made  aware that climate sceptics such as  Lord Lawson are totally outvoted by a ‘consensus’ of science, and is  wrong in holding such ‘opinions’.

In BBC programmes, if ever he is invited to appear, he must therefore receive only ‘due impartiality’ (Trustee Newspeak for less airtime). The document published this week explains why he acted with such certainty.

This is a long and complex subject to deal with in a blog post, but the way the BBC arrived at establishing there is such consensus is a whole catalogue of biased decisions.

Act 1 was back in 2006-7, and is expertly detailed by Andrew Montford, who runs the Bishop Hill blog. Roger Harrabin, the Corporation’s chief environmental correspondent – himself clearly linked closely to green activism  – persuaded BBC news chiefs  to call a meeting of ‘scientists’ to seek advice on the topic about what was then called global warming.  It turned out that, although the BBC tried desperately hard to conceal who these so-called ’scientists’ were, most of them were in fact fully-paid up leading eco-warriors, many linked to the EU, who were  determined to foist their anti-capitalist views on the world via BBC airtime. They got their way.

Act 2 was in 2010-12, when the Trustees commissioned a report to see if that adoption of such partisanship was correct. They appointed for this ‘independent’ review Professor Steve Jones, who is  a known climate change alarmist and had regular paid employment from the BBC in their science programmes. Somehow, the Trustees missed or glossed over that a) he is  not independent, b) he is  a biologist and not an expert on climate,  and c)  that he is a political activist who has broadcast that private schools are a ‘cancer’ in the education system.

The Jones report, which appeared in 2012 was therefore rather unsurprisingly a partisan political tract.  It argued that climate change science was settled and that the BBC must work to virtually exclude from the airwaves anyone who disagreed with alarmism. The BBC was already doing that anyway, but the report gave the BBC the Trustees what they saw as the ‘independent;’ authority to continue with their disgracefully biased approach in this area of public policy that is costing the UK taxpayer countless wasted billions to pursue.

Spool forward to the latest report. Since Jones, the Trustees have been monitoring the science output further, and have asked the programme-making executives to respond to the points made.

The new document is a total charade and whitewash. Throughout, it s tone parrots without an iota of modesty that BBC science reporting is the best in the world.

The first section reinforces the commitment to bias by chillingly repeating that a ‘false balance’ between well-established fact and opinion must be avoided. That’s the BBC Trustees code for saying Lord Lawson has wrong-headed ‘opinions’ whereas those who support climate alarmism have been somehow proved right beyond doubt.

It then goes on to outline that this orthodoxy is being enforced by the holding of more meetings with selected ‘scientists’ and the creation internally of a ‘Science Forum’ (at what expense, one wonders?). This has already trained 75 ‘senior editorial figures’ in ensuring they understand where ‘consensus’ lies in the reporting of climate change. In other words, in true Harry Palmer style, they have been to a brainwashing boot camp to ensure they do not give too much airtime to Mr Lawson.

Even more chillingly, the document also reveals that the goal of  senior management is now to create a centralised science unit which will ensure that What the BBC Knows To Be True in science  is enforced across all the Corporation’s media platforms and that no-one transgresses the due impartiality rules .

The irony lost on the Trustees here is that this is not science, because science has never worked on consensus; so-called ‘truths’ are established by a robust process of continual ferment and experimentation.  What the BBC Trustees are actually promulgating is a new Article of Faith: that they know they are right about the science of climate change because they have consulted the right people and they have told them that it is right to be alarmed.  This new report shows they are pursuing that self-declared orthodoxy with an unfounded and reckless missionary zeal.

Photo by NASA on The Commons

BBC media action ‘spends 500k on climate alarmism’.

BBC media action ‘spends 500k on climate alarmism’.

BBC Media Action   has spent an astonishing £500,000 on a cod survey in Asia that is designed to spread alarm about climate change among some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. Its methodology is so laughably inept that it doesn’t bear a moment’s scrutiny: how can lay respondents know with certainty (as the survey asked them) how much local climate has changed?

For the uninitiated, BBC Media Action was set up in 2011 to work alongside the BBC World Service in delivering desirable change in developing countries. It claims to be an ‘independent body’, but  is funded  by taxes because much of its money comes from  the Department for International Development and the EU. Further, at least half its board of Trustees is actually nominated by the BBC. The current chairman, Peter Horrocks (a former editor of Newsnight)  is also in charge of the BBC World Service broadcasting operation.

News-watch has been investigating Media Action (and its predecessor body, the World Service Trust)  for several years. News of the Asian surveywas posted  two months ago on the News-watch website, and it has also been noted that its activities were likely to be intensified with the influx of £20m of funds from backers such as the EU – and also because the World Service is expanding massively. The goal is to double the audience in five years.

That may well presage more of the Asian style surveys.  If so, it will amount to blatant climate change alarmism on an unprecedented scale.

Most appalling s is that Media Action is deliberately targeting vulnerable young people, with the effect of inculcating a hugely negative worldview and a deep loathing for capitalism. The Asian report is full of unmitigated gloom and threatens famine, drought and disease on a massive scale. Despite the mental damage it causes, targeting the impressionable young has always been regarded as legitimate by those with extreme political causes because – like Prince Charles – they believe they are ‘saving the world’ and that validates any tactics, no matter how repugnant or morally questionable.

John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Commons media and culture committee, the main parliamentary BBC watchdog, professes that he is ‘astonished’ that the survey was authorised and claims it is a waste of money. But with respect to this very fair-minded man, it seems  that he and his committee colleagues have been fast asleep on their watch.

The reality is that Media Action works as it does because it has the backing of the highest levels of the BBC. Here’s the evidence:

Alison Hastings,  the Trustee who chairs the editorial standards committee (ESC),  the internal editorial watchdog, issued a Trustee statement four years ago which, in effect, said that those who disagree with climate change alarmism would get only very limited exposure because there was a ‘consensus’ that they were wrong.

Diana Coyle, the current Trustees deputy chairman, who is hoping to become the next chairman, is a stakeholder advisor to EDF Energy, a company which is working systematically to harvest as much cash as possible from the government for renewable and green energy provision.

Richard Ayre, a colleague of Ms Hastings on the ESC, was a career BBC journalist before becoming a quangocrat. He is also is a former chairman (2003-5) of a body called Article 19. This fights for freedom of expression, but like many such leftist organisations, also has a major climate change alarmist agenda. Its website declares:

At the national level, greening the economy will include improving fiscal policy reform, reducing environmentally harmful subsidies, employing new market–‐based instruments, and targeting public Investments to “green” key sectors.

Finally,  the most recent recruit to the ESC and the Trustees.Is Nick Prettejohn, His career is in the financial services sector, and he has recently also been appointed chairman of Scottish Widows Group. His new company website states:

Fundamentally SWIP believes that strong climate policies from governments are the essential pre-requisite to addressing climate risk. Without strong climate policies we will fail to mitigate climate change.

So, to recap. The BBC has been caught red-handed spending half a million pounds on a project specifically designed to spread climate change alarm and panic among some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities.

But, chilling as this is, the evidence is not actually hidden, nor is it new. It is going on blatantly in broad daylight, aided and abetted by Trustees who are seemingly hell-bent on a climate change crusade.

So when is  Mr Whittingdale, and his committee going to wake up and intervene? The BBC itself won’t change because the rot is in the inside from the very top downwards. The only hope is that Parliament will act with the teeth it sadly only sometimes bares.  BBC Media Action   has spent an astonishing £500,000 on a cod survey in Asia that is designed to spread alarm about climate change among some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. Its methodology is so laughably inept that it doesn’t bear a moment’s scrutiny: how can lay respondents know with certainty (as the survey asked them) how much local climate has changed?

For the uninitiated, BBC Media Action was set up in 2011 to work alongside the BBC World Service in delivering desirable change in developing countries. It claims to be an ‘independent body’, but  is funded  by taxes because much of its money comes from  the Department for International Development and the EU. Further, at least half its board of Trustees is actually nominated by the BBC. The current chairman, Peter Horrocks (a former editor of Newsnight)  is also in charge of the BBC World Service broadcasting operation.

News-watch has been investigating Media Action (and its predecessor body, the World Service Trust)  for several years. News of the Asian surveywas posted  two months ago on the News-watch website, and it has also been noted that its activities were likely to be intensified with the influx of £20m of funds from backers such as the EU – and also because the World Service is expanding massively. The goal is to double the audience in five years.

That may well presage more of the Asian style surveys.  If so, it will amount to blatant climate change alarmism on an unprecedented scale.

Most appalling s is that Media Action is deliberately targeting vulnerable young people, with the effect of inculcating a hugely negative worldview and a deep loathing for capitalism. The Asian report is full of unmitigated gloom and threatens famine, drought and disease on a massive scale. Despite the mental damage it causes, targeting the impressionable young has always been regarded as legitimate by those with extreme political causes because – like Prince Charles – they believe they are ‘saving the world’ and that validates any tactics, no matter how repugnant or morally questionable.

John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Commons media and culture committee, the main parliamentary BBC watchdog, professes that he is ’astonished’ that the survey was authorised and claims it is a waste of money. But with respect to this very fair-minded man, it seems  that he and his committee colleagues have been fast asleep on their watch.

The reality is that Media Action works as it does because it has the backing of the highest levels of the BBC. Here’s the evidence:

Alison Hastings,  the Trustee who chairs the editorial standards committee (ESC),  the internal editorial watchdog, issued a Trustee statement four years ago which, in effect, said that those who disagree with climate change alarmism would get only very limited exposure because there was a ‘consensus’ that they were wrong.

Diana Coyle, the current Trustees deputy chairman, who is hoping to become the next chairman, is a stakeholder advisor to EDF Energy, a company which is working systematically to harvest as much cash as possible from the government for renewable and green energy provision.

Richard Ayre, a colleague of Ms Hastings on the ESC, was a career BBC journalist before becoming a quangocrat. He is also is a former chairman (2003-5) of a body called Article 19. This fights for freedom of expression, but like many such leftist organisations, also has a major climate change alarmist agenda. Its website declares:

At the national level, greening the economy will include improving fiscal policy reform, reducing environmentally harmful subsidies, employing new market–‐based instruments, and targeting public Investments to “green” key sectors.

Finally,  the most recent recruit to the ESC and the Trustees.Is Nick Prettejohn, His career is in the financial services sector, and he has recently also been appointed chairman of Scottish Widows Group. His new company website states:

Fundamentally SWIP believes that strong climate policies from governments are the essential pre-requisite to addressing climate risk. Without strong climate policies we will fail to mitigate climate change.

So, to recap. The BBC has been caught red-handed spending half a million pounds on a project specifically designed to spread climate change alarm and panic among some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities.

But, chilling as this is, the evidence is not actually hidden, nor is it new. It is going on blatantly in broad daylight, aided and abetted by Trustees who are seemingly hell-bent on a climate change crusade.

So when is  Mr Whittingdale, and his committee going to wake up and intervene? The BBC itself won’t change because the rot is in the inside from the very top downwards. The only hope is that Parliament will act with the teeth it sadly only sometimes bares.

Photo by ToastyKen

BBC complaints ruling: ‘Is major threat to free speech’

To the Guardian and presumably its diminishing band of readers, the issue of climate change alarmism is settled. We are all going to fry and they know it beyond doubt. They have an army of correspondents who tell us so.

Many disagree strongly, but the Guardian is entitled to its views. That’s the reality of a free press:  a newspaper can choose its own editorial policy, no matter how biased or against the odds.

Not so the BBC. It’s governed by a Royal Charter which dictates that on matters of public controversy, it must be even handed and balanced in its coverage of events.

But it appears that any pretence of this has gradually been abandoned by the liberal elite that now run it – as the latest ruling by the Corporation’s head of complaints, Fraser Steel has vividly and chillingly shown.  The Corporation is now acting like its own version of Big Brother, dictating what we should think about key issues of national and international debate. And guess what? Its army of publicly-funded staff are uncompromisingly pursuing a leftist agenda.

Back in February, Lord Lawson – who became so concerned about climate change alarmism that he has set up the Global Warming Policy Foundation – appeared on the Today programme to react to the appallingly cack-handed official response to the Somerset floods. Many believed they had been greatly made worse by the Environment Agency’s green and alarmist approach to flood management, and Lord Lawson said so. That in itself was a miracle – for once, the Today programme allowed an opponent of its worldview to put a different perspective.

On the programme with him was Sir Brian Hoskins, a well known alarmist, who is so fervent in his views about the topic that he believes that billions of pounds must be spent on combating the environment dragons he sees in every temperature change. He is also hugely active in pursuing his cause, a one man-band of propaganda who has huge resources behind him, regular unchallenged access to BBC microphones, and the ear of government.

After the programme, one Chit Chong, a member of the Green party, wrote to the BBC and complained that allowing both men too put their views was totally unfair, because  a consensus of scientists believed that Lord Lawson was wrong and Sir Brian was ‘right’. He argued that the BBC had given too much airtime to Lord Lawson’s views. The greenie warrior stated that the Corporation had, in effect, legitimised the illegitimate.

Enter Fraser Steel, the BBC’s complaints chief. And in jaw-dropping, nakedly Orwellian fashion, he has now ruled that Chit Chong was right. According to a leaked report of his findings in – surprise, surprise, the Guardian – Mr Steel has said that Lord Lawson’s views on climate change alarmism  ‘are not supported by computer modelling and scientific research’ and ‘this was not made sufficiently clear to the audience’.  He reportedly concludes:

“I don’t believe this was made sufficiently clear to the audience… it is important to ensure that such views are put into the appropriate context and given due (rather than equal) weight.”

If this is true, let’s not mince words. What this means is that because the BBC has decreed that climate change alarmism is proved by ‘consensus’, Lord Lawson, and those who doubt the BBC’s alarmism,  should not ever be given equal airtime to put their case, if at all. And it also raises the ludicrous prospect that before any such broadcast involving an opponent of alarmism, there should be editorial comment that such views are not supported by consensus.  So in future, this, in effect, is what must happen (if Lord Lawson is ever asked to appear again, which now must be in doubt):

John Humphrys: “With me now is Lord Lawson. I have to tell you first that the BBC has decided that the point of view he is expressing is not backed by scientific facts because a consensus of scientists tell us that this is the case.  Now Lord Lawson, what do you think about this matter?”

This, surely,  is a chilling assault against the concept of free speech.  It’s hard to discover anything about Fraser Steel or his background because the BBC website says nothing about him other than that he is head of the complaints unit. But what we now appear to have in place have is an army of BBC bureaucrats armed with a set of  cock-eyed, right-on rules; they use their own brand of prejudice in measuring every damn piece of BBC broadcasting  to see if it measures up to the Corporation’s Own Version of The Truth.

Europhile Quango Queen ‘Backed by Cameron for BBC top job’

Europhile Quango Queen ‘Backed by Cameron for BBC top job’

With perhaps wearying predictability, another major Europhile is firmly in the frame to become as successor to Lord Patten as BBC chairman.

It’s rumoured that she is Diana Coyle, the current deputy chairman, an economist who has written books on the topic and also worked in the Independent newspaper as a commentator.  Interviews for the job take place next month.

Ms Coyle is married to Rory Cellan Jones, the BBC’s staid technology editor and her career over the past decade has been as a quango queen. Like so many of these figures, she also serves – without a breath of irony – on the Competition Commission.

Few people will have heard of Ms Coyle, but she has been a BBC governor since 2006 and, according to the Guardian, has become a strong favourite to become chairman because David Cameron wants a woman in the role and also because she is seen as a safe pair of hands.

Could the real reason be, however, that he actually wants someone who will be totally on his side in his stated position that membership of the EU is good for the UK?

Certainly, Ms Coyle avidly shares Lord Patten’s enthusiasm for the EU.   She wrote in the Independent when Blair-Brown battle about the UK’s euro membership was at its height:

The defenders of sterling are, in the main, a group of elderly men with more stake in their past than in our future. They clothe their gut anti-Europeanism and Little Englandism in the language of rational economic argument[1].

The following year, Ms Coyle was equally vehement in her dismissal of the idea that an inflationary boom in Ireland was caused by the euro. She maintained that it was only Eurosceptics who supported such views[2].

It may therefore be assumed, that, as a Europhile,  like Lord Patten, she supports the EU in its climate change alarmism policies. This is evident in a book she wrote in 2011, The Economics of Enough. This is an account of an interview she gave about her work:

Diane Coyle, author of The Economics of Enough, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the future and the ideas in her book. Coyle argues that the financial crisis, the entitlement crisis, and climate change all reflect a failure to deal with the future appropriately. The conversation ranges across a wide range of issues including debt, the financial sector, and the demographic challenges of an aging population that is promised generous retirement and health benefits. Coyle argues for better measurement of the government budget and suggests ways that the political process might be made more effective[3]

What is also striking is that Ms Coyle, alongside Lord Patten, is an advisor to EDF Energy, which like other energy companies, is perpetuating climate change alarmism so that it can line its pockets with green energy and renewable government subsidies.

That, of course, chimes with the BBC’s own agenda. Her long-time BBC Trust colleague is Alison Hastings, who has decreed that the promulgation of climate change alarmism is compulsory for all BBC journalists.

One thing is certain about Ms Coyle if she does land the chairman’s role.  She won’t be pressing for any significant changes in the BBC’s journalism.  She has already declared:

“I’ve always valued the BBC, not least as the best provider of news coverage in the world. Its impartiality and comprehensive coverage underpin its vital civic role.”

Given that the BBC Trustees are supposed also to be watchdogs in terms of standards, that’s a terrifying expression of complacency.

 

[1] Independent, 8 April 1999

[2]  “IMF verdict on Ireland to disappoint euro-sceptics”, Independent, 7 August 2000.

[3] http://www.econtalk.org/archives/_featuring/diane_coyle/

Photo by R/DV/RS

Paxman ‘Shows BBC decline’

Paxman ‘Shows BBC decline’

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

Photo by dullhunk

BBC Glastonbury Extravaganza: Why and at what cost?

BBC Glastonbury Extravaganza: Why and at what cost?

Headline of the week about the BBC is that they are sending 300 staff to cover the Glastonbury festival to deliver around 80 hours of coverage on their main channels on television and radio.

Heading the junket are those brilliant broadcasters Fearne Cotton and Lauren Laverne. Several newspapers have focused on the story because the total is higher than the 272 being sent to cover the World Cup in Brazil.

Actually, the total at Glastonbury for the BBC is probably significantly more because almost certainly there will be a further freelancers and contractors supporting the Corporation presence.

This type of story is not really new. Back in 2009, it was noted that there were more BBC workers at the festival than there had been at the Beijing Olympics the previous year, at an estimated cost to the corporation of £1.5m. What price today?

Those who usually attend include the BBC’s creative director Alan Yentob.  He has held a reception for festival goers at licence-fee payers’ expense at his nearby Somerset home.

The BBC claims with customary intransigence that every one of their contingent is needed because this is a ‘major cultural event’.

Says who?  Well, of course, the BBC itself. Over the years the corporation’s massive presence there has elevated awareness of the festival to stratospheric levels.

And why?  The event actually accommodates just 135,000 people and costs £210 for a ticket, so it’s not exactly mass market. And this year’s headline acts – who include Dolly Parton and Robert Plant – are not exactly at the cutting edge of musical innovation or taste (though obviously enjoyed by many).

So the real reasons probably lie elsewhere. Is it that the BBC likes what Glastonbury stands for? The festival started life as an icon of the drug-taking counter-culture and the suspicion must be that in the BBC’s collective eyes remains at its centre. And – probably more crucially – it’s also a platform for charity sponsors who share the BBC’s values on issues such as climate change alarmism. One of them is Greenpeace, which says:

“This year there will be a new centrepiece the massive  Aurora the giant polar bear!… a messenger from the Arctic reminding Festival goers that it’s an area under threat like never before. Attendees can hear her stories, and join in with the children’s workshops where everyone is welcome. All around the field are Greenpeace campaigners who can bring Festival goers up to date with their campaigns like the Arctic, giving the facts about things like fracking, flooding and even what’s behind the climate chaos that threatens us all.”

Major eco-activism is thus centrally on the agenda, including terrifying children and telling us that we are all going to die. That’s exactly the propaganda that the boys and girls at the BBC love spreading so much, and is endorsed at the highest levels.

Meanwhile, as saturation-level Glastonbury and Brazil football coverage looms, the 8,000 strong BBC news division continues to practise bias by omission over news issues that truly matter. This weekend, the EU has announced a new health and safety law framework that, as many commentators note, will usher the dawn of both a Draconian new regime and severely further erode national sovereignty. So what do the battalions of BBC news staff make of this alarming new development? On the BBC website, there’s not a peep.

Photo by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer

Selective Leaking: BBC knocks down its own UKIP Aunt Sally

Selective Leaking: BBC knocks down its own UKIP Aunt Sally

One of the ways that the BBC defends itself against criticism is to say that viewers have complained in ‘record numbers’ against particular aspects of programming.

It’s particularly effective because it creates a smokescreen of the Corporation’s own making and largely within its own control that generates newspaper headlines in the BBC’s favour.

And here, the BBC’s house organ, the Guardian has dutifully bitten, with a story that trumpets that there has been a ‘record number of complaints’ about the BBC coverage of recent elections because it gave too much coverage of UKIP that was too often biased in favour of its leader Nigel Farage.

The trigger  has been perhaps that the Daily Mail, among others, claimed earlier this week  in an editorial  that BBC coverage of the recent elections had been seriously biased against UKIP.

The vehicle of the release of this supposed barrage of complaints  against the BBC’s UKIP coverage was  BBC’s own programme Newswatch, in which the BBC’s own political editor, Nick Robinson was ‘challenged’ to explain why so much coverage was carried.

How very cosy.

The News-watch that runs this site is actually carrying out a properly objective study of the BBC’s election coverage. It’s a massive task that will take at least two months, and will analyse line by line what was actually said about the case for EU withdrawal  on eight of the leading news and current affairs programmes, including R4’s Today, World at One, PM and The World Tonight.

One thing that is already sure is that in the past, News-watch surveys have shown that BBC coverage of the withdrawal case has been seriously biased because over thousands of hours of programming, there has been no effort to explore properly the issues involved.  At the same time, as the Civitas paper shows, the BBC has sought to enlist academic legitimacy to their coverage efforts, which News-watch has demonstrated are deeply flawed.

This Guardian/Newswatch  exercise mentioned above is much more crude: in reality, the BBC setting up its own Aunt Sally (the fake spectre of too much UKIP coverage), with Nick Robinson riding to the rescue to knock it down.

Photo by (Mick Baker)rooster

Caught red-handed: BBC anti-withdrawal bias

Caught red-handed: BBC anti-withdrawal bias

The BBC swears until it is blue in the face that it is not biased against the case for withdrawal from the EU, and that it reports the campaign fairly. It engaged at vast expense Stuart Prebble, a former BBC trainee, and long-time chum of BBC Trustee David Liddiment, to write a highly questionable academic report that said so.

But this is a big fat economy with the truth, as events at the end of the European Parliament election campaign have revealed graphically.

First, as Guido Fawkes has adroitly revealed, Jasmine Lawrence, one of the roster of editors of the BBC News Channel, has let slip in her (now deleted) Twitter account the BBC’s corporate derisive view of UKIP.  They are ‘sexists’ and ‘racists’.  And second, the BBC complaints bureaucracy has been forced to admit that the May 18 News Review Radio 4 programme seriously misrepresented the views about UKIP of Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens.

Mr Prebble, it will be recalled, penned his ‘objective’ report about BBC EU output for his chums at the corporation against a background in which John Humphrys, one of the corporation’s most high-profile presenters, and Mark Thompson, a former director general, were thinking privately (and eventually admitted publicly) that despite outward protestations of fairness, the corporation’s EU coverage was in fact deeply biased against those who supported withdrawal.

Mr Prebble went out of his way to pour a massive bucket of cold water over research by News-watch – conducted over more than 15 years – that showed beyond doubt that what Mr Humphrys and Mr Thompson thought privately was true.  He pointedly ignored statistics taken from sustained monitoring of the Today programme by News-watch that showed that less than  0.004% of programme time was taken by ‘come outers’ talking about their case, together with transcript analysis which emonstrated that interviews with eurosceptics focused relentlessly on the negative and rarely, if ever, touched on the actual arguments against the EU.

News-watch has consistently shown that the reality of the corporation’s EU coverage is that it is, and always has been, pro-EU and has often been venomously negative against those who want to leave.

The Peter Hitchen episode shows how deep and pervasive this hostility actually is. The full account of what Mr Hitchen wrote and what the BBC broadcast is up on Biased BBC. He was quoted in News Review on May 18 as saying that UKIP was ‘doddery’, ‘farcical’ and ‘very unclear about its goals’. The quote came in a newspaper review sequence which contained a torrent of anti-UKIP comments, including that they were racists.   Mr Hitchens’ comments were taken completely out of context from a much longer item in a way which even the most novice reporter would have known was gross misrepresentation.

The BBC is actually going to broadcast an apology (something that very, very rarely happens). This shows how crass the journalism was, but it doesn’t deal at all with the main issue. As Mr Hitchens points out, they routinely do this with his views on such topics. And as New-watch research shows such negativity fits with the BBC’s overall pattern of anti-withdrawal reporting.

Miss Lawrence and her twittering is a different matter. This was a middle-ranking BBC news executive, who tweeted:

#WhyImVotingUkip – to stand up for white, middle class, middle aged men w sexist/racist views, totally under represented in politics today—
Jasmine Lawrence (@journomummy) May 21, 2014

The ‘Why I’m Voting UKIP’ Twitter tag was actually set up as a vehicle for those who want to pour vile opprobrium on both UKIP and the case for withdrawal. It is filled with venomous invective that shows the nastier side of political ‘debate’.  That Miss Lawrence felt it appropriate for an ‘objective’ BBC senior staff member to comment there defies belief. It is surely a disciplinary matter.

But hang on!  This is the BBC that both routinely villifies EU withdrawal, and believes beyond doubt that manmade climate change is a serious threat and that it must report the debate about such matters accordingly, suppressing comment from those who disagree.  Perhaps, in that deliberately anti-capitalist climate,  Miss Lawrence automatically assumed  that espousing withdrawal is racist, and that this gave her permission to go into attack dog mode. The BBC have been saying so for at least 15 years, and much of the other media is joining in, so what’s wrong with that?

Photo by shawncampbell

BBC Plugs Sham EU ‘Debate’ About EU Presidency

BBC Plugs Sham EU ‘Debate’ About EU Presidency

A frequent problem in the BBC’s coverage of EU issues, as John Humphrys has accepted, is a failure to present the full facts:  bias by omission.

If the BBC collectively doesn’t like an aspect of UK policy – such as the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ – there is a relentless editorial focus against it. No stone is left unturned by BBC reporters in finding opposition to the measure, and correspondents take every opportunity to fire barbs against it.

But the Corporation is in favour of the EU project as a whole, and News-watch research has shown that its stance regularly leads to both bias by omission and distortion.

This was definitely the case in coverage of the so-called ‘debate’ held on Thursday night (May 15) by the EU featuring leaders of five groups in the European Parliament.  The BBC billed it online as the political equivalent of the Eurovision song contest.  And though words of caution were buried in the small print of the reports, the concerted aim was clearly to project the event as a triumph of EU democracy.

Gavin Hewitt, the BBC’s Europe editor, trumpeted in the beginning of his article that this was part of the ‘EU’s election race’ and that the debate featured ‘five candidates for Europe’s top job’- the presidency of the European Commission.   He also faithfully reflected the EU’s claim that this was a ‘great debate’ and gave the clear impression that it was part of the May 22 elections for the European Parliament.

Mr Hewitt further suggested that the exchanges – between the five leaders of  the pro-EU groupings in  the European Parliament – were a key event towards the ‘election’  not just of MEPs, but also to the EU’s top political and administrative job, the presidency of the  EU Commission.

FACT 1:  the poll to elect MEPs on May has nothing to do with the presidency of the EU Commission. Some in the EU want this to change, but there is little prospect of this.

FACT 2:  the next president of the European Commission will most likely be chosen by the Council of Ministers when they meeting in Brussels at the end of June.  In theory, the appointment could be blocked by the European Parliament, but this is most unlikely.

FACT 3:  the European Commission, which in effect drives the EU legislative process (though the European Parliament can recommend some changes), is not and never has been elected.

FACT 4: Was this a debate anyway? As even Gavin Hewitt noted, all the participants agreed that the way forward for the EU was further integration.

The ‘debate’ on Thursday night might therefore be regarded as nothing at all to do with ‘democracy’, but rather a cynical and blatant PR exercise to distort or disguise the real nature of how the EU operates.

Gavin Hewitt must know this – and indeed, his report contains hints that this is the case – but he projected instead above all else that this was both part of the European elections and would have an impact.  He ignored and down-weighted the key facts.  It was thus a classic case of bias by omission.

Photo by Cédric Puisney