Grade’s Herculean task to tackle the biased, woke BBC

Grade’s Herculean task to tackle the biased, woke BBC

MICHAEL Grade – Baron Grade of Yarmouth – becomes chairman of Ofcom today.

He takes over days after Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries published Up Nexther White Paper on the future of broadcasting.

Main points include that the current BBC licence fee funding regime will eventually come to an end, Channel 4 will be privatised and that ‘TV-like’ content will be subject to ‘harmful content’ restrictions regulated and policed by Ofcom.

The latter point apart – which Big Brother Watch fears will presage a new age of government censorship – many of the aspirations in the White Paper make sense and can be seen as necessary and often overdue adaptations to developments in the fast-changing broadcasting  arena.

Lord Grade – who takes the Conservative whip in the House of Lords – has a formidable industry track record, from being director of programmes of the former ITV company LWT in the 1970s, controller of BBC1 and chief executive of Channel 4 in the 1980s and 90s, to chairman of the BBC and then executive chair of ITV in the noughties.

It is rumoured in Westminster that he intends to be especially tough on the BBC and in particular to use Ofcom’s regulatory leverage over the BBC to ensure impartiality. He apparently has the full backing of Mrs Dorries, who, it is understood, pushed hard for his appointment.

But ambition will not mean a fig unless the Corporation’s epidemic-scale wokery and groupthink is rooted out. BBC bias is now so blatant that it is impossible to keep track, as Peter Hitchens eloquently pointed out at the weekend. 

On issues such as diversity and climate alarm, BBC troops see themselves as warriors of change and activists rather than chroniclers of events.

Changing the licence fee could have a powerful corrective impact, but there is no definite date or detail as yet. So in the short term, the only hope of rooting out bias is through Ofcom.

Against this background, in the 22,000 words of the White Paper, there are only six mentions of impartiality. The key passage at Chapter 2, section 1 states:

‘Looking forward, the government also wants to see the BBC taking steps to reform over the next six years. This includes taking action to improve on its impartiality, which is central to the BBC’s Mission and to maintaining trust with audiences. In that context we welcome the BBC’s 10-Point Impartiality and Editorial Standards Action Plan, published in October 2021, which aims to raise standards by ensuring that BBC programmes and content are fair, accurate, unbiased, and reflect the UK public. Alongside this, the BBC adopted the findings of the Serota Review into the BBC’s governance and culture in full. While the Action Plan is a good start, changes are necessary and they need to be delivered.’

Does that suggest definite action of the sort required? Only time – and Lord Grade – will determine.

His task, though, is Herculean.

Ofcom’s track record as BBC regulator – which it became at the start of the current Charter in 2017 – can only be described as complacent and inept. One of its key tasks in this domain is as appeals body on complaints. But in the four years since it took over, the Content Board has decided to investigate only six of the hundreds referred to it; none has been upheld. This chart illustrates vividly how dire the position is:

Part of the problem here is the Content Board is stuffed full of figures who have worked for the BBC, and is thus not independent. 

Also in Lord Grade’s in-tray related to impartiality is the Jewish bus incident on December 1 last year. A party of Jewish youths innocently celebrating Hanukkah in Oxford Street were terrorised and spat at by racist thugs. The BBC initially claimed they had evidence which showed that the attack had been at least partially provoked by an anti-Islamic insult from someone on board the bus. The Jewish community was outraged, and eventually the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit issued a highly-qualified apology of the sort routinely deployed to make issues go away. 

At this point, Ofcom stepped in – and keen to make it look as they took their regulatory responsibilities seriously – announced that they would also investigate. 

More than three months on, the Content Board has not yet published its findings. This defies belief. With the board having never yet ruled against the BBC, the suspicion is growing that that the inquiry announcement was a PR ploy to deflect criticism.

This is just a starter in the list of mammoth tasks Lord Grade will face in the coming months.

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.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/whats-going-on-at-the-bbc-5pv7dz9fn (£)

Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack: Surprise, surprise! Next BBC Religion Editor is yet another Muslim

Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack: Surprise, surprise! Next BBC Religion Editor is yet another Muslim

This post by Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack originally appeared on The Conservative Woman

WHAT would any outside observer think of a company which after a ‘competitive recruitment process’ continually appointed individuals from the same socio/cultural/religious grouping? Is it possible to conclude that the company had an agenda?

The BBC, after a long delay which caused a former World Service religious affairs correspondent to question its commitment to religious broadcasting, has appointed a new Religion Editor, Aleem Maqbool. It announced that ‘following a competitive recruitment process . . . Aleem will take the lead on the BBC’s expert analysis and insight on the major themes and issues affecting different faiths in the UK and around the world’. Currently BBC News North American Correspondent, Maqbool is a journalist of considerable experience having also reported from Pakistan, Gaza/West Bank and Egypt. He is due to take up his post early this spring.

He follows the disgraced Martin Bashir who stepped down last year with serious health issues. Bashir’s decision may also have been influenced by the resurfacing of the controversy surrounding his fabrication of evidence to procure the infamous interview with Princess Diana which made his name internationally known and helped procure lucrative employment in the American media.

During his stay in the USA he was forced to resign from the cable TV channel MSNBC having made ‘ill-judged’ comments about Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska and vice-presidential candidate. When even MSNBC, who are notorious for their one-sided journalism, are forced to take note of your behaviour, you must be out-on-a-limb biased.

Despite the scandals which seemed to follow him, Bashir eventually returned to the UK to work for the BBC once again. Fabricating evidence, which was known by the BBC in 1996, long before Bashir left for America in 1999, and being crudely partial were no obstacles to the BBC top brass thinking you were just the man to be Religion Editor.

Bashir had followed Aaqil Ahmed to the top job in BBC religious broadcasting. In 2009 the BBC had appointed Ahmed to what was then termed Head of Religion and Ethics. His time in charge was dogged by controversy, particularly his outspoken commitment to multicultural broadcasting and his perceived bias against Christianity. Ahmed responded to Church of England complaints about the lack of religious broadcasting by saying the C of E was ‘living in the past’. This was at a time when overall volume of programming had doubled and religious output on BBC television had fallen. A strange case of reverse empire-building.

Although our country was founded on Christian values Ahmed also thought Christianity should not be treated any differently from Islam or other religions. Mark Thompson, then Director General, only slightly disagreed. Thompson thought Islam should be treated more sensitively by the media than Christianity because Muslims are a religious minority in Britain and, as such, their faith should be given different coverage from that of more established faith groups. Ahmed left in 2016 after the BBC axed the role of Head of Religion and Ethics and replaced it with an executive team.

In 2017 the BBC promoted Fatima Salaria and put her in charge of commissioning religious output. Salaria was best known for commissioning Muslims Like Us, a reality-style show, plus a series of programmes about radicalisation. She had already faced a backlash in 2016 after giving Abdul Haqq, a convicted fraudster and former boxing champion, a platform on Muslims Like Us. Haqq, previously known as Anthony Small, was a member of the inner circle of the notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary. Before going on the programme Haqq had openly expressed support for ISIS.

Professor Anthony Glees, of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, was of the opinion that ‘if a BBC executive makes a programme that is notorious and then the BBC promotes them, it tells me that the BBC has in that area lost its moral compass’. Nevertheless the corporation, never willing to admit a mistake, defended their choice of candidate. A spokesman said: ‘People should be judged by their ability to do the job, not their religious background. Fatima was appointed as she is an extremely talented commissioner.’

There has been an undeniable decline in Christian adherence in recent years and a growth of Islam. This, however, is not as radical as the BBC appears to think. According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2011, the last census for which we have results, 59.3 per cent of the population of England and Wales still self-identified as Christian, with only 4.8 per cent identifying as Muslim, whilst in Scotland only 1.4 per cent identified as Muslim.

The last three people in charge of religious broadcasting and a commissioning editor appointed by the BBC have been British Asians, three of them Muslims and one from a Muslim family. Even in a day when only 59 per cent of the population self-identify as Christians, can we seriously believe that since 2009 there were no suitably qualified Christian candidates for these posts? In the meantime, from a Muslim population of at most 4.8 per cent, suitable candidates seem to abound.

This could be understood as the usual BBC endeavour to celebrate diversity and multiculturalism. However, there are grounds for seeing it as more than merely an attempt to make amends for perceived bias in the past by reverse bias today, mistaken though that would be. It could be seen as a deliberate expression of the scorn which those in the upper echelons of the BBC hold towards Christianity and the British values which come from it, and the promotion and normalisation of Islam.

It would appear that the BBC has a clear agenda to emphasise a small minority of society over the majority, nevertheless expecting that we should gladly continue to pay a licence fee in its support, whether we agree with such policies or not.

News-watch in Freedom of Information battle with BBC

News-watch in Freedom of Information battle with BBC

News-watch is battling the Information Commissioner and the BBC about the Corporation’s refusal to release basic information about how it collects data about impartiality and the subjects of complaints made by the public about programmes.

The long drawn-out fight was the focus this week (2 February) of an appeal before a first-tier tribunal by News-watch against the Information Commissioner. A ruling on the matter is expected within 28 days.

The process began in March 2020 when News-watch requested further information about a survey contained in the BBC’s annual reports and accounts for 2018/19 showing that 52 percent of respondents to an IPSOS MORI poll commissioned by the BBC thought the Corporation provided ‘impartial news’ but only 44 percent turned to the BBC if they wanted impartial news.

The extra information requested under FoI  included the details of the brief given to IPSOS Mori, the nature of the sample who were asked and the details of how the results were collated and interpreted. This was considered by News-watch to be a matter of major public interest because such data is used by BBC as proof that its output – despite claims to the contrary – is indeed impartial.

In parallel, News-watch also asked for the release of all complaints made to the BBC from 2015 to the present about impartiality on the ground that the Corporation only makes public the topics of those which it deems fit to do so.

The BBC refused the application point bank,  principally  on the ground that it has  a derogation from the FOI Act which allows a refusal if the material involved is held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature’. News-watch appealed to the Information Commissioner against the ruling, but he broadly upheld the BBC’s stance and it was at that stage that News-watch appealed against him.

David Keighley, Managing Director of News-watch, commented:

“The BBC claims to be making efforts to be more impartial, so it is a matter of huge concern to licence-fee payers that it is so secretive about how it gauges that it is not biased, and also will not tell the public the content of the majority of complaints it receives about impartiality.

“News-watch has demonstrated that the BBC complaints process as it currently operates is not fit for purpose and stonewalls the vast majority of audience concerns. The purpose of this legal action is to force the Corporation to become more open and to stop this absurd claim that this sort of data should be confidential.”  

BBC REPORTS ENERGY BILLS CRISIS – WITHOUT MENTIONING NET ZERO

BBC REPORTS ENERGY BILLS CRISIS – WITHOUT MENTIONING NET ZERO

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.

Mail on Sunday editorial slams ‘useless’ BBC complaints process

Mail on Sunday editorial slams ‘useless’ BBC complaints process

The Mail on Sunday December 26, 2021

The BBC is Silencing the viewers who should be heard

THE BBC’s existence is an attempt to answer a series of linked riddles. How can you sustain a national broadcaster to pursue the best in everything, free from commercial pressure? How can the state collect the funds for such a body, without turning it into a lapdog of the ruling party? How can such a corporation be regulated to ensure impartiality? Once, the BBC contained so many men and women who profoundly believed in its mission that this task was easier and governments worried about it less. But since the 1960s, a growing number of BBC personnel have decided these high principles do not apply to them. If nobody stops them, they turn the Corporation into a megaphone for their largely Left-wing opinions. And, increasingly, nobody does stop them. The public have noticed and so they turn to the BBC’s own complaints system in the hope of having some influence. But as we report today, that system is more or less useless. Its supposed backstop is the quango Ofcom, crammed with ex-BBC staffers and marinated in the same ideas. And the first stage of the complaints procedure itself is just a sort of spongy layer, outsourced to the service company Capita, apparently designed to soak up and ignore public discontent. As we report today, only a tiny number of complaints – roughly one in a thousand – ever reach the real complaints department, the grandly named Executive Complaints Unit. Most viewers almost certainly do not know how to get their grievances past Capita’s software. This is a mockery of the licence-payer. Whatever the right answer is to the BBC’s complaints, this is the wrong one. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is correct to be worried and should act swiftly to ensure the voice of the viewers is actually heard in the Corporation’s sequestered corridors.

 

… while broadcaster investigates less than 0.1% of its complaints

By Anna Mikhailova

DEPUTY POLITICAL EDITOR

THE BBC’s complaints process faces being overhauled by the Culture Secretary amid concerns too few are being treated seriously. Analysis presented to Nadine Dorries shows that out of almost half a million complaints in the year 2020-21, less than 0.1 per cent were investigated by the Corporation’s Executive Complaints Unit. It follows concerns from MPs that the BBC is ‘marking its own homework’ and needs to Stop handling complaints from viewers and listeners in-house.

The data, seen by The Mall on Sunday, shows that just 455 of 462,255 complaints were looked at by the Executive Complaints Unit in 2020/21. Of these, only 185 were escalated to the media regulator Ofcom – 0.04 per cent of the total. That year – a record number for complaints – included 23,674 about Emily Maitlis’s critical monologue about Dominic Cummings on Newsnight in May 2020. In 2019-20, 759 out of 368,377 complaints were looked at by the Executive Complaints Unit – or 0.2 per cent -while 233 were escalated to Ofcom, some 0.06 per cent.

The unit represents the second stage of the BBC’s complaints process. The first stage is out-sourced to private firm Capita. Ian Paisley, the DUP MP for North Antrim, said:

‘The figures are absolutely astounding. No other credible complaints process would justify those outcomes. There is something systemically wrong with the system that has to be changed.’

Ms Dorries is expected to look at the complaints system as part of next year’s mid-term review of the BBC’s Royal Charter. A Government source said:

‘The process needs to maintain public confidence. With so few corn-plaints being reviewed, it raises serious questions.’

The BBC said referring cases to the Executive Complaints Unit is down to complainants. However, it is up to them to tell the BBC they are unhappy with the response they received from the network. The process of referring to the unit is contained in a lengthy 52-page document that has to be downloaded from the BBC website.

Last night, the BBC refused to reveal how many complaints are handled entirely by Capita on its behalf. A spokesman said.

‘The BBC has a thorough, transparent and easy to use complaints process, We keep the process under review. This includes a public consultation held last year following which we made changes to increase transparency and the information provided to audiences.’

An Ofcom spokesman said: ‘We have consistently called for the BBC to be more transparent.’

News-watch Survey – The Nationality and Borders Bill

News-watch monitored the 18 hours of original programming broadcast by GB News between 6am and midnight on 6 July10 and compared its coverage of the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill on eleven of the BBC’s main television and radio programmes, along with the BBC News Channel, amounting to 27 hours and 10 minutes of BBC airtime.

The survey set out to assess whether the BBC was meeting its public purpose obligation to provide ‘a range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other United Kingdom news providers.’

News-watch finding:  GB News more impartial than the BBC on immigration

News-watch finding: GB News more impartial than the BBC on immigration

An in-depth survey by News-watch of the recently-launched television news channel GB News has found that its coverage of sensitive immigration issues was more balanced, detailed and wide-ranging than that of the BBC’s news programmes and BBC News 24. The BBC  coverage was weighted very strongly towards those opposed to stricter controls on immigration. By comparison, GB News incorporated that perspective (with more coverage than that on the BBC), but also included the opinions of those who are demanding stricter controls in line with the government’s Immigration Bill.

This is the report’s executive summary:

GB News launched on June 13, 2021, with a specific aim stated its editorial charter to present high quality balanced news and to ensure that all opinions were reflected and respected, including those from members of the public,  in its output.

This survey was conducted to examine whether the news channel is meeting these editorial ambitions, and also to compare the quality and range of its news coverage with that of the BBC. In this connection the BBC’s Charter stipulates that the news it provides must meet the highest editorial standards and provide ‘a range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other United Kingdom news providers’. In other words, better than its rivals.

The survey covered all the output of GB News and selected BBC news programmes from 6am to midnight on July 6, 2021, a day chosen at random. The treatment of one of the day’s biggest news items – the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill (details of which were announced on that day) – was the focus of analysis.

All relevant programme items were fully transcribed and 24 themes related to coverage were isolated, including factual descriptions of the bill, the perspectives of the government and campaigners, statistics on the numbers making the crossing, possible solutions to the crisis, and opinions from members of the general public.

Significant differences in the quality and quantity of coverage emerged. GB News covered the bill and its ramifications, together with opinion for and against, in much more detail. The BBC devoted 3.3% of its available airtime in the monitored programmes, compared to 12.4% of total airtime by GB News.

The BBC’s relevant content was skewed heavily towards that the new bill would deter genuine asylum seekers entering the UK.  That of GB News also incorporated similar negative views of the bill, but contained a wider spectrum of views in its favour and unlike the BBC, included substantial input from members of the public on a matter of huge public concern[1].

The BBC output in the survey –  from 11 flagship news programmes plus the content of the News Channel –  devoted just 54 minutes of airtime to the story, half of which was repetitive short items on the News Channel. Six of the main news programmes (such as BBC2 Newsnight and the BBC1 News at Ten) ignored the story, and the biggest chunk of original coverage (approximately 12 minutes) was a discussion on BBC2 Politics Live.

GB News, by contrast, devoted a total of 134 minutes to coverage , and it featured prominently in all seven of the monitored programmes.

As is shown in the full report (p.3) In 18 of the 24 identified themes, the GB News coverage was more detailed than the BBC’s. The biggest differences were in the following categories:

  • Opinions from the Public – GB News 3,185 words, nothing from the BBC;
  • People Smuggling Gangs and Illegality – 2,546 words on GB News against only 542 from the BBC;
  • Were those crossing the Channel genuine asylum seekers or economic migrants? – coverage on GB News was 2,348 words, with only 53 words from the BBC.

Four themes were covered by GB News but not at all by the BBC:

  • Opinions from the public;
  • Criticisms from the UKIP/Brexit Party perspective about the potential effectiveness of the bill (672 words – an interview with Nigel Farage);
  • That the incomers could be dangerous because many were adults posing as children and not genuine asylum seekers (339 words);
  • The asylum system potentially being at breaking point (223 words).

Only two themes of the BBC coverage (amounting to less than two minutes) were not covered by GB News:

  • UK cutting its international aid budget (131 words);
  • Criticism of the general media coverage of asylum issues (118 words)

Interviews

Substantial differences between the BBC and GB News also emerged from the interview sequences. The BBC interviewed six contributors about the bill compared with seven on GB News, but the word count discrepancy was much greater: 3,029 words (BBC) against 5,259. Thus GB News devoted significantly more airtime to exploration of a range of opinion about the story.

On the BBC, most space was devoted to figures who opposed the bill because they believed it made it tougher for genuine asylum seekers to enter the UK, and who were deeply critical of the UK’s record of the treatment of genuine refugees. The main interview sequence on BBC2 Politics Live (representing 25 per cent of the airtime devoted to the bill) featured a government minister ranged against three spokespeople who for a range of political, economic and human rights reasons, strongly opposed the bill.

GB News interviews included almost as much pro-asylum seeker opinion against the bill as on the BBC (1,484 against 1,567 words), but also contained views from a range of perspectives which welcomed the bill, including the government, a think-tank worried about overall immigration levels and border control officials who wanted to stop people-smuggling.

The BBC’s first public purpose in its Charter, covering news provision, states:

The BBC should provide duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding of all parts of the United Kingdom and of the wider world. Its content should be provided to the highest editorial standards. It should offer a range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other United Kingdom news providers, using the highest calibre presenters and journalists, and championing freedom of expression, so that all audiences can engage fully with major local, regional, national, United Kingdom and global issues and participate in the democratic process, at all levels, as active and informed citizens.

It contains a specific requirement that the corporation provides a news service better than other news providers. This findings are that only shows that only three weeks after its launch GB News covered a major national story in greater depth and at a much higher quality than the BBC, not least because it better achieved ‘due impartiality’ in providing a range of views about the bill, including public opinion.

It is arguable that the BBC’s coverage did not meet its public purpose obligations because it was both clearly biased and failed ‘to provide a range and depth of analysis not available from other UK news providers.’ In sharp contrast, GB News clearly met the requirements of its own Editorial Charter.

BBC Director General Tim Davie, appearing before the House of Commons DCMS Select Committee meeting of September 21, 2021, said that he was worried about what he described ‘BBC groupthink’ and was on a mission to ensure that an appropriate variety of opinion was featured in corporation output. On the evidence of this paper, he has a very long way to go.

[1] This was also despite that the total amount of monitored BBC programming added up to more than 27 hours, compared with 18 hours of the GB News output.

 

The full News-watch report is available here.

 

Craig Byers: Even Libby Purves is slamming Radio 4

Craig Byers: Even Libby Purves is slamming Radio 4

Even former Radio 4 stalwart, ex-Midweek presenter and self-declared ”life-long loyalist and listener” Libby Purves – though in many ways as ‘BBC as can be’ in her outlook – sees that David Blunkett has a point about her favourite channel BBC Radio 4.
In her latest Times column she says that the BBC shouldn’t ignore him, and although she thinks it’s ”not all the way there yet” she obviously thinks it’s a lot of way there when she agrees with him that ”if [Radio 4] starts thinking that its mission to educate is largely moral and progressive, that information should be skewed towards this and entertainment come a poor third, it is in trouble.”
It’s a problem, she says, when ”fine issues…overwhelm the casual, accidentally met joys and surprises of the schedule, drag guilt into comedy and make drama predictable and drear”…which sums up the problem pretty well.
”Radio 4’s screechingly left comedy grates often”, she adds, and new Radio 4 dramas are usually ”dismal”.
She concludes, ”David Blunkett, I feel your pain.”
It’s bad enough for the BBC when a serious Labour ‘big-hitter’ like Lord Blunkett expresses the concerns we’ve been expressing over the years, but when Libby Purves – of all people – comes out in support of him then the BBC ought to take heed.
Dropping ‘below the line’, the highest-rated comment below Libby’s piece says, ”I used to say Radio 4 was worth the licence fee on its own. No more. I have switched it off. I am fed up with having propaganda rammed in my ears”. And this is at The Times.
The second-highest-rated comment said, ”I can’t help myself, and I know it’s silly, but whenever I switch on radio 4 I listen to the first 10 words I hear. Invariably they are about race, gender or climate. Try it.”
It’s the kind of experiment I like, so I tried it around 9.06pm tonight and didn’t hear anything about those three things in the first 10 words, though in the first 20 words I heard ”ash dieback”, which is similarly depressing. But the phrase ”climate change” duly arrived just over a minute later, so I’m giving that to the Times’s second-highest-rated commenter as being near enough to be considered a bullseye.
Craig Byers: “BBC Hit By New Bashir Shame”

Craig Byers: “BBC Hit By New Bashir Shame”

“The BBC has a really grim bit of reading in The Mail on Sunday. This is another Martin Bashir-related story. Goes on for pages and pages and it is tough stuff for BBC people to read”, said Andrew Marr this morning.
He didn’t elaborate, or mention the story again.
This morning’s BBC News Channel paper review also merely mentioned it, with Victoria Derbyshire laying heavy emphasis on her own words, “it claims”.
The Mail on Sunday’s remarkable investigation into how Martin Bashir took the Babes In The Wood victim’s bloodied clothes from her mother, and then lost them, focuses on how that was followed by “derisory” efforts to find them by the BBC.
The loss, the Mail reports, was only found out when the mother asked for them back to help police review the evidence and help convict the chief suspect.
As with the Princess Diana scandal, it’s the allegations of a cover-up by the BBC that are particularly telling:

At the time, a BBC spokesman announced ‘extensive inquiries’ had been made to find them.

But we can reveal today that the Corporation failed to even carry out the most basic checks, including speaking directly to Bashir.

Key journalists who worked alongside him on the Babes In The Wood documentary also said they were never contacted.

Nor were the families of Karen and fellow victim Nicola Fellows, nor a forensic scientist named by the programme’s editor as an expert who could analyse scene-of-crime material.

The acting director-general of the BBC at the time, Mark Byford, has also admitted no ‘formal investigation’ was held into the missing clothes.

Well might Julian Knight MP say in reaction, “These allegations, if proven, would amount to one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the BBC. This could be the BBC’s Milly Dowler phone hacking moment.”

His Commons Culture select committee will be interviewing Tim Davie on Tuesday.

—————

Update – The story was discussed during this morning’s Broadcasting House paper review. Only one guest commented on it, namely  former Conservative MP for North Devon Peter Heaton-Jones, who also previously worked for…guess who?…yes, the BBC:

Paddy O’Connell: What is the front page of the Mail on Sunday, Peter?

Peter Heaton-Jones: Well, yes I thought I should dip into the world of journalism from my previous life Paddy, and so…the Mail on Sunday is obsessed with the BBC, has been for some time, shows no signs of waning. So you can read about the BBC and the Mail‘s view of it on pages 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and 26, should you be so disposed. I love the BBC. I worked here for 20 years and I think that the licence fee is the right way to fund the BBC. Let me get that out of the way first. But the Mail says one thing in its editorial which I think has some substance to it, and it’s this: They…quote, “The BBC’s closed and haughty elite with its insistence on being judge and jury in any case where it comes under criticism, ploughs on regardless”. And I just think if there’s one lesson for the BBC to learn, it’s you can get it wrong sometimes, don’t always defend yourself to the hilt if someone accuses you of getting something wrong.

Paddy O’Connell: And this front page is another scandal involving the disgraced journalist Martin Bashir.

Peter Heaton-Jones: Yes, “BBC hit by new Bashir shame”, they say on page 1 – and about 18 other pages. It’s not a good story, which I don’t think I want to go into detail about Paddy, but it’s another example of how I think the Mail and certain other newspapers will try to find any chink in the BBC’s armour. They are there, but they find them very actively.

—————-

Further update [Sunday evening] –  The BBC has radically undermined BBC apologist Peter Heaton-Jones tonight.

He said it wasn’t a good story, but the BBC obviously disagrees. They’ve taken onboard the Mail on Sunday‘s investigation.

As a result, the BBC has now issued an apology, saying they’re “extremely sorry over the loss of the murdered schoolgirl’s clothes.

This is important, and needs exploring further, though the BBC website report – true to form – spins the ‘cover-up’ claim as wrong, to the BBC’s advantage.

Maybe time will tell, or maybe it won’t.

Whatever, well done to the Mail on Sunday, however many pages they took over it.