BBC Bias Digest 26 July 2020

BBC VETERAN ATTACKS ‘SPITEFUL AND VENOMOUS’ REPORT ABOUT CHURCHILL:  Writing in the Mail on Sunday (26/7), veteran BBC investigative reporter Tom Mangold – who joined the Corporation in 1964 –  expressed ‘sadness’ at the BBC, provoked by watching ‘for the tenth time’ an ‘outrageous’ News at Ten report which branded Winston Churchill a racist responsible for the 1943 Bengal Famine. He described the six-minute report as ‘biased, partial, unbalanced and filled with the spite and venom of the worst of toxic woke culture now pulsing through the heart of the Corporation’, adding ‘Viewers were left in no doubt that the reporter agreed with her own preferential report’.

Mr Mangold said that had led him to wonder ‘what on earth has happened’, given that the BBC’s charter remains ‘unequivocal’ about its statutory commitment to impartiality.  He added:

“Today that holy contract is well and truly broken. And so it is that News at Ten is allowed to use Huw Edwards’s authority and credibility – and the Corporation’s reputation for truth – to call Churchill a racist killer. The protester who sprayed graffiti on the statue of the wartime leader during the Black Lives Matter protests, accusing him of racism, must be overwhelmed with gratitude at the BBC’s vindication”.

Mr Mangold attributed the breach in obligations  down to ‘the BBC’s bizarre obsession with youth, diversity and the ever-growing pressure of woke argument’. He suggested that it ‘threatens to become its final act of self-harm’ because the movements the BBC is seeking to appeal to ‘still represent in total only a very small part of Britain’, a ‘minority audience’.

He continued that,  though ‘the BBC at its best is the most wonderful public service broadcaster in the world’, now suddenly, the Twitter trolls, the social media addicts, the young, the immature and the often daft have become the BBC’s recruitment and audience target.’ He concluded:  ‘If you believe Winston Churchill was a racist killer, sit back and enjoy the product. If not, try to help the BBC leap off the greasy slope down which it is sliding faster every day.’

 

BBC ‘NOT HELPING’ NOSTALGIA TV SERIES: Simon Heffer , discussing the nostalgia TV service Talking Pictures (£ Daily Telegraph, 25/7) -which was run from a garden shed and claimed to have up had 6 million viewers a week  –  reported that the BBC had refused to sell founder Noel Cronin the rights to the 1960s TV series Z-Cars and Dixon of Dock Green.  Mr Heffer speculated that ‘either [the BBC] is being the dog in the manger, or perhaps its executives realise they have misjudged the viewing public, and have retro plans of their own’. He added that the latter would be better, as the Corporation was continuing ‘to force upon viewers programmes pandering to the right-on, metropolitan prejudices of the small but noisy minority they meet at dinner parties’. Mr Heffer  concluded: ‘If it really does think such nonsense, then the sooner the licence fee is abolished, the better.’

 

JOHN HUMPHRYS: ‘EU IS WONDERFUL ORGANISATION’: The Sunday Times (£ 26/7) reported comments made by former Today presenter John Humphrys during a Times Radio interview in which he said he was  ‘not a fan’ of Boris Johnson, claimed not to remember who he voted for in the 2019 general election and expanded on his Remain vote in the EU referendum. Mr Humphrys had said:

‘I felt fairly strongly about it. But I did my job, which was to question both sides with equal vim and vigour. I was born in the war. I believed one of the ways to stop it happening again was to join this wonderful organisation where the countries in Europe would be friends. That was what drove me to vote remain.’

The article also noted that Mr Humphrys had been accused of ‘seeming (to be) Eurosceptic’ in interviews by critics.

 

‘CREATIVE DIVERSITY’ AT THE BBC: The Observer (26/7) interviewed June Sarpong, the BBC’s director of creative diversity, quoting her saying that she had ‘rarely’ been on sets ‘where there were other people of colour’.  The article  also noted that the corporation was spending £12m of its commissioning budget ‘to making diverse and inclusive content’ for the next three years, devoting £100m of the current television commissioning budget to ‘on-air inclusivity’ and bringing in a mandatory off-screen target for ‘20% diversity across the networks for new commissions’ from April 2021.

 

BBC ‘GIVING NICOLA STURGEON A ‘PLATFORM TO SCORE PARTY POLITICAL POINTS’: The Sunday Times (£ 26/7),reported claims by opposition politicians that the BBC in Scotland hasd given Nicola Sturgeon an ‘unacceptable platform to score political points’ by continuing to broadcast her hour-long Covid-19 briefings on the BBC’s main Scottish channel while they ‘struggle for airtime’.  It was reported that the Labour Party has requested a breakdown of how much airtime has been given to Ms Sturgeon and Scotland’s other political leaders but it was said that the request this has been ‘declined’ by the BBC.

Labour party deputy leader Jackie Baillie had said:

‘The BBC’s refusal to answer these extremely significant and important questions is highly disappointing. The BBC has a duty to ensure that it remains an impartial broadcaster and that important broadcasts such as the first minister’s coronavirus briefings do not degenerate into the party political sniping and grandstanding we have seen in recent weeks. I urge the BBC to seriously reconsider its refusal to answer these very simple questions. If we cannot rely on the national broadcaster to be straightforward in its dealings, then serious questions around impartiality and professionalism will be raised.’.

 

ESTHER MCVEY ATTACKS OVER-75s LICENCE FEE DECISION: Former minister Esther McVey, and leader of the Blue Collar Conservatism group (Sunday Express 26/7) had warned that the BBC ‘could be mortally wounded’ by its decision to go ahead with requiring over-75s to pay £157.50 for their licence fee from August 1. She had asserted:

‘I think the best thing that you could do to keep the public on board is to actually be a public service broadcaster and look after the people in this country who pay £5billion a year for the service.’

The article noted that Ms McVey was one of 66 Conservative MPs in her BCC group who had written to BBC director general Tony Hall last week questioning the need to penalise over-75s when savings could be made elsewhere.

 

LICENCE FEE IMPLEMENTATION ‘DISTINCTLY AMATEURISH’:  Media correspondent Rosamund Urwin (£ Sunday Times 26/7) warned that the BBC was in danger of making a ‘complete hash’ of the implementation of the decision to force over-75s to pay for their licence fees. She reported that Caroline Abrams of Age UK had claimed that implementation was  ‘distinctly amateurish’ because the TV Licensing unit would only start issuing the 4.5 million ‘payment invitation’ letters on August 1 – the date the new fees were due –   and they would be  posted in batches, ‘so many pensioners face a longer wait’. Ms Abrams claimed the approach smacked of being a last-minute decision,  of a last-minute decision’ and added that it did not give much confidence that it would be well- administered.

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