BBC Bias Digest 5 August 2020

BBC ‘FACES PENSIONER REVOLT’:  Paul Revoir (Daily Mail 5/8) said that the Age UK  charity had warned that the 10-page letter sent out to the over-75s to explain the new licence fee arrangements was too ‘long and complex’ and failed to make clear when the elderly would get a demand for payment. Mr Revoir reported that Age UK director Caroline Abrahams had warned that some of the recipients would be determined not to pay for a licence ‘come what may’. He said that the community organisation Silver Voices was urging all over-60s to cancel their direct debit payments and instead to send monthly, backdated cheques to TV Licensing, thereby causing administrative chaos but keeping within the law.  A group spokesman had said:

‘It defies belief that, as a second wave of coronavirus marches over the horizon, the BBC are doing this. It shows a lack of compassion, a lack of empathy, a lack of understanding.’

Mr Revoir said the BBC had said they had hired 800 additional staff to deal with queries from the over-75s and had received 300,000 calls on the matter since March.


BBC OVER-75s ‘FACE CYBERTHREAT’: David Snelling (Express 5/8) said that over-75s who were now having to pay for their television licences were facing a threat from cyber criminals, who were trying to steal their personal data by tricking them. He added that a common scam was the use of a text message which claimed to be an offer of a free year of television viewing. Mr Snelling said that the offer would be ‘hugely tempting’ because of the anger generated by the imposition of the new charge. He quoted a cybersecurity expert, who said that such messages looked convincing and were designed to make vulnerable victims act quickly.


BBC ‘SPREADS RECKLESS RUMOURS’ ABOUT BEIRUT ATTACK: Craig Byers (Is the BBC Biased? 5/4) noted that Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen had filed a report saying that there were ‘theories’ that an Israeli attack had caused the huge explosion in Beirut on the evening of August 4. Mr Byers noted that the BBC’s ‘specialist disinformation and social media correspondent’ Marianna Spring had already warned that such reports were ‘unfounded’ and risked spreading misinformation. Mr Byers added:

‘Both Hezbollah and Israel have ruled it out as an Israeli attack and the Israel government has offered to help Lebanon recover from this terrible catastrophe. Why on earth would he (Jeremy Bowen) spread rumours of an Israeli attack? Isn’t that astonishingly reckless and irresponsible from the BBC’s Middle East editor so soon after a devastating event?’

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