BBC Ideas: an extravaganza of bias

BBC Ideas: an extravaganza of bias

News-watch has completed its biggest-ever survey into BBC output. It is utterly damning. The focus is BBC Ideas, a group of 600 or so short factual videos for ‘curious minds’ aimed at 18-45 year olds. The project – launched in 2018 –  is the brainchild of former Labour culture minister James Purnell during his tenure in charge of BBC radio and education.

His bequest to licence fee payers can be best described as a bewildering cacophony. In my desk, I have a Christmas stocking-filler present, a book  called 1,339 Facts To Make Your Jaw Drop. BBC Ideas seems to be the video version. 

Having problems going to the lavatory? Don’t worry, BBC Ideas has an answer to smooth your passage.

Are you a woman with a beard, facing a barrage of nasty discrimination? Ditto.

Or, is it that you are a transgender person, trying to make sense of your sexual identity? BBC Ideas tries especially hard to help here, by suggesting that the solution is to refer to the principles of quantum mechanics .  kid you not.

This is the BBC, and – as can already be gathered from the above  – the catalogue is not value-free. Around 250 titles can be regarded loosely as ‘neutral’. They tackle subjects such as tips for winning at Scrabble or sleeping better. That said, why the BBC wants to waste millions on covering such topics, which are already covered in abundance on You Tube or Ted Talks, could be the subject of a whole separate blog.   

The remaining 350 videos, though, are clearly political or contain political points  Balanced? All but two dozen have a blatant liberal-left or ‘woke’ agenda.

The major themes in this extravaganza of bias are climate change, feminism and gender, and discrimination against minorities of all kinds. The BBC Ideas catalogue can be regarded as a scatter-gun manifesto for the grievance culture. On route, it trashes British culture, history and achievements on a truly epic scale.   

it seems that the editors and producers have left no stone unturned in their quest to validate and propagate their values. The survey itself must be read to appreciate fully the extent of the woke propaganda – there is a summary and analysis of all the political content – but what follows gives a brief flavour.  The introduction to the report summarises:

‘Put bluntly, BBC Ideas casts its host nation as a continuing menace to the rest of the world and rotten to the core. As for the future, the main hopes are the abandonment of capitalism and a revolution, in line with post-modern critical theory and the most extreme demands of the Green lobby. The catalogue reveals, in sharp relief, that the Corporation is acting as a political campaigner, rather than a public service broadcaster bringing to audience attention a broad array of views and perspectives.’

On climate change, the videos project that unless there is the urgent action to end capitalism,  the use of fossil fuels, travelling by air, and all animal farming, Planet Earth is doomed. In their frantic desire to project this catastrophism, the producers see nothing wrong in using clearly terrified children in the videos, thus breaking child performance codes.  Around 50 titles feature environmental or climate change alarmism – with not a whisper of dissent.

On feminism and gender, the goal is to advocate that differences between men and women are a social construct, and that women – especially those who are not white – are heavily and unpleasantly  discriminated against in all areas of British life, with uncontested claims that such favouritism towards men is costing the economy billions of pounds annually (by  – who else? – Cherie Blair). The desire to sniff out evidence of the war against women also involved much sifting of history to unearth as many females as possible whose achievements had been allegedly disregarded. In BBC Ideas, there is no doubt who the real heroines of history are, and they include Simone de Beauvoir and the Greek poet Sappho. 

In the discrimination against minorities category, a main thread is  an unchallenged acceptance of what boils down to the Black Lives Matter agenda. Contributors tell us that the colonisation of America was genocide on an immense scale, probably bigger than that of the Holocaust. In this playbook, the Mercator atlas projection is an expression of white privilege; Muslim terrorism only exists because of economic deprivation; and those who do not support mass immigration are fascists. BBC Ideas editors have also bust a gut to illustrate how badly those who are physically or mentally disadvantaged are treated.   

Do the titles which contain what the report classes as ‘conservative’ content, go any way to balancing this deluge of bias? Jordan Peterson and his 12 rules for living are there; and so is a spokesperson from the Theos think-tank arguing  cogently that religion is still important. Another brave soul maintains that ‘populism’ is much maligned and is a valid and important expression  of democracy. But these are small drops in an ocean of BBC prejudice. 

News-watch has submitted complaints to Ofcom and the BBC about BBC Ideas, and the letters can be read here. But almost certainly, both bodies will find an excuse to reject them. BBC director general Tim Davie claims that his main priority is to ensure Charter obligations of impartiality are met. The evidence of this report is that he has an Herculean task, and that he is blind to the massive scale of the problem.  Depressingly,  there are no surprises in the report; it is confirmation of the scale of bias which has taken over all aspects of BBC output. The issue is why those charged by Parliament to oversee the Corporation, and the government itself are prepared to  do nothing about it. 

Window-dresser Davie’s bogus BBC revolution

Window-dresser Davie’s bogus BBC revolution

Tim Davie, the BBC director general, has been in his post for six months, and on Thursday he delivered to staff his second raft of big ideas for reform. 

His first proposal, in his first week of office in September, was to make BBC impartiality his number one priority, with a crackdown on biased tweeting by staff.

How’s that commitment going?

Well, hours after his latest staff speech was delivered last week, BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty and her male sidekick, Charlie Stayt, were hauled over the coals by Corporation top brass and ‘reminded of BBC impartiality rules’.

In the scale of PR cock-ups, that was a pretty spectacular own goal. Davie claimed in his staff speech that BBC news was doing ‘an outstanding job delivering impartial output’; hours later, two high-profile presenters were sniggering and sneering like schoolchildren about the idea of a government minister being patriotic by having a Union Jack in his office.

That said, was there anything in Davie’s speech which gave hope that he was intent on improving BBC output and had the vision and drive to deliver it?

Don’t bank on it. The first half of his message was marked by smug complacency. According to the director general, BBC news is brilliant, programmes are spectacularly good, and audiences are soaring.

He evidenced this by quoting a raft of disconnected figures: BBC overall audience reach is 90 per cent; BBC news reaches 86 per cent (up from 81 per cent a year ago); overall BBC viewing is up 8 per cent in both January and February.

Davie carefully avoided quoting other audience research, for example showing that the BBC’s Christmas television audiences were at an all-time low (and reached less than 10 per cent of the population) despite the lockdown, and that less than half the population don’t trust BBC journalists to tell the truth. 

He did not mention that viewing of BBC television is in steep decline with all BBC services now attracting only a total of 31 per cent audience share. 

Put another way, despite the BBC’s £3.5billion licence fee income – more by miles than any other media company in the UK – its audience share is now only three times that for Sky or Viacom (which owns Channel 5).

Seemingly undaunted by this, Davie said he was cutting jobs to make running of the Corporation more efficient, with 900 fewer people now employed, and bureaucracy ‘stripped away’. Paperwork, he claimed, had been cut by over 30 per cent.

Another trumpeted step forward is in ‘diversity’. Despite his claim of reduced paperwork and less bureaucracy, Mr Davie said that every department now had specific targets to reach employment levels of 50 per cent women, 20 per cent ethnic minority and 12 per cent of mentally or physically disadvantaged individuals.

Also targeted is ‘sustainability’. Davie said the Corporation’s ‘clear and strong’ position on this is that ‘a 2030 net-zero target’ has now been set. What this means is as clear as mud, but almost certainly involves a blizzard of bureaucratic effort. Ditto ‘diversity’.

Davie made a point of adding that ‘the over-75s licence fee policy’ had been ‘implemented professionally’ and was ahead of targets. What he meant, of course, was that despite fierce opposition, the BBC is forcing the age group which contains the most lonely, poor and vulnerable section of the population to pay to receive BBC services and that pensioners are subject to prosecution by the ‘door-to-door salesmen’ who enforce licence fee payment.

The alleged meat of his speech was that over the next six years the corporation will shift its ‘journalistic and creative centre away from London’. This, claimed Davie, will create an ‘economic benefit’ for the regions of £850million, provide a dramatic jobs boost ‘and improve representation on and off screen’.

Looking at the small print – and trying to convert his gobbledygook into something comprehensible – it means that, for example, the Today programme is going to come from outside London at least 100 times a year; Newsbeat will be produced in Birmingham; 60 per cent of programmes will be made outside London; a team of 100 ‘digital journalists’ will be deployed across the UK outside London; and two ‘long-running drama series’ will be made outside London.

Davie claims that this will be ‘the biggest transformation of the BBC in decades’.

Will it? The BBC’s main problem is still that it is riddled with bias, obsessed by ‘woke’ virtue-signalling, and has a complaints process which is risibly stacked in the BBC’s favour, existing to defend the corporation rather than to address the concerns of audiences. The Salford Quays development, which a decade ago was meant to signal a major shift by the corporation away from London bias, is every bit as much a woke media bubble as the London operation.  

In prioritising drives towards ‘diversity’ and ‘sustainability’, and by being disingenuous about the massive fall in audiences and trust, Davie showed he is not addressing the real problems of the BBC but further encouraging the metro mindset on which it is based.  The Davie ‘transformation’ is little more than crude window-dressing.

BBC BIAS DIGEST 3 JANUARY, 2021

BBC ‘LAUNCHES BITTER LAST-MINUTE ANTI-BREXIT ONSLAUGHT’: Chris Hastings (Mail 3/1) said that BBC broadcasters and presenters had launched ‘ a bitter last-ditch onslaught against Brexit in the New Year schedules. He added that the UK’s departure from the EU on December 31 had coincided with what critics had said were ‘ill-tempered tirades, offensive remarks and heavily biased reportage’. Among them were:

  • Comedian Nish Kumar, appearing on Graham Norton’s BBC1 New Year’s Eve special, had described Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage as ‘a sack of meat brought to life by a witch’s curse’, adding, ‘now we have finally completed Brexit, I predict we will have a taste for leaving things and will vote to leave more stuff, starting with the continent of Europe, then the United Nations and finally the Earth by strapping rockets under the country and blasting off into space.’
  • Another comedian, Frankie Boyle, hosting a special edition of his BBC2 show ‘New World Order’, had said that Brexit was like finding cancer had spread to the walls of your house, and that, sooner or later, Britain would ‘re-enter Europe’ – as refugees.
  • In News output, business editor Simon Jack had spoken of firms facing ‘a mountain of new paperwork’ to deal with trade with the EU; politics editor Laura Kuenssberg had also warned of extra paperwork covering trade and holidays; and Katya Adler, the Europe editor, had also spoken of difficulties with trade.

Mr Hastings reported that the BBC had responded by stating that the corporation was ‘impartial on all topics’ and featured a variety of different perspectives.

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST 2 JANUARY, 2020

‘ALMOST HALF OF BRITONS DON’T TRUST BBC’: A report in the Times  (£ 2/1) said that, according to a YouGov poll, almost half of Britons thought  the BBC no longer represented their values amid declining levels of trust in the broadcaster, down from 62% in 2016.

The report said:

‘The results are understood to chime with the unpublished research recently conducted by the BBC which found that residents of well-off and diverse neighbourhoods held the broadcaster in higher esteem than people from poorer and less diverse communities.

‘The findings also tally with an Ofcom report in November which said that the BBC’s bedrock older middle-class audience was going off it. The report added that it was seen as the least impartial public service broadcaster, below ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Channel 5. Fifty-four per cent of adults believe that it provides impartial news.

‘The new research, by YouGov, found 44% of the public thought that the BBC represented their values badly. This was particularly true of older people, with 48% saying that the BBC did not adequately represent their views. In the north of England it was 51% and Scotland 47%. Among those who voted for Brexit, 58% were unhappy with the overall stance of the corporation.

‘Asked how their views of the BBC had changed over the year only 4% said that its values had become more like theirs while 33% said it had become less like theirs. Older male viewers outside London and the southeast were the most likely to be dissatisfied with the BBC’s perceived values.

‘The findings come before a government review on public sector broadcasting. Boris Johnson has made little secret of his desire to reform the BBC amid speculation that the licence fee in its present form could be scrapped.’

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST 20 DECEMBER 2020

“MAJORITY OBJECT TO BBC LICENCE FEE’: Glen Owen (Mail 20/12) reported that 40% of those questioned in a poll commissioned by the Defund the BBC Campaign wanted the abolition of the BBC licence fee, compares to 37% who supported the £157.50 annual charge.  He said the poll had also found that 15% of respondents  had asserted they would not watch any BBC programmes during Christmas , while 33% said they would only watch the BBC for five hours or less.  In the same report, Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns condemned the BBC’s ‘dismal’ Christmas schedule as ‘dispiriting’, and ‘littered with endless repeats and cheap game shows’.

 

BBC CORRESPONDENT ACCUSES TRUMP OF ‘CATASTROPHIC’ FAILURE’: Craig Byers (Is the BBC Biased? 19/12) said that the BBC’s New York correspondent Nick Bryant had claimed in a year-end posting for the BBC Radio 4 programme From Our Own Correspondent that Donald Trump’s handling  of the coronavirus outbreak could come to be seen as ‘the most catastrophic domestic policy failure of the past 100 years’.  Mr Byers also noted that Mr Bryant had suggested that male heads of state had handled the pandemic worse than female ones, and had quoted Donald Trump’s America, Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil and Boris Johnson’s Britain as three example of ‘macho’, swaggering populist surfers who had discovered that the virus ‘could not be sloganed away’.

He concluded: ‘It really is extraordinary how the BBC can claim to be impartial when its senior reporters are given free rein to write and broadcast such one-sided, contentious stuff.’

BBC BIAS DIGEST 13 DECEMBER 2020

SURVEY FINDS 74 PERCENT OF BBC COMEDY IS BIASED TO LEFT:   Christopher Hope (£ Telegraph 13/12) said that the BBC had been accused of ‘flagrant bias’,  after a survey of comedy output during November (available here) had found  that 74 per cent of comedy contributors on its main channels were given to left-leaning, ‘woke’-supporting or anti-Brexit comics.  He reported that the survey – conducted by the Common Sense Campaign –

had identified that only two contributors in the 364 slots had openly expressed pro-Brexit or Conservative sympathies. Mr Hope noted that Tim Davie, the BBC director general, had already acknowledged that the BBC’s comedy output was seen to be too one-sided, but reported that a BBC spokesman had responded to the survey by stating that the corporation did not analyse comedy by comparing numbers, but judged it on whether it was funny and whether it reflected ‘ a range of different views’.

 

BBC BOTANIST: ‘GARDENING IS RACIST’: Harry Howard (Mail 13/12) said that BBC Countryfile presenter James Wong – a botanist – had come under attack after claiming on a series of Twitter posts that British gardening had racism ‘baked into its DNA because of its ‘fetishisation’ of terms such as ‘heritage’ and ‘native’.  Mr Howard noted that Mr Wong had approved a tweet which stated: ‘Gardens are denied their political agency because they too often reveal uncomfortable politics of individual ownership, spatial inequity and unsustainable practices.’

BBC BIAS DIGEST 9 DECEMBER 2020

BBC INSERT ‘FINGER-WAGGING PREJUDICE’ INTO VICAR OF DIBLEY:  Allison Pearson (£ Telegraph 9/12), noting that the eponymous character played by actress Dawn French in BBC1’s comedy series The Vicar of Dibley would ‘take the knee’ – in line with Black Lives Matter protocol to acknowledge white racism  –  stated that it was no surprise that ‘some people’ were upset that the Christmas version of the show had shoehorned in references to the BLM movement.  Ms Pearson opined:

‘Deep sigh. Is nowhere safe from this aggressively sanctimonious new religion? Clearly not. Dibley’s vicar, Geraldine Kennedy (Dawn French), takes the knee on the village green while the church organ plays in the background – if you can imagine such a thing. I prefer not to. Getting down on one knee is something Britons used to only do to propose marriage or tie a shoelace. What on earth will the Dibley Parish Council make of this incongruous juxtaposition of gentle English comedy and furious US identity politics? One member, Jim Trott (Trevor Peacock), who is known for his slow wits, inappropriate sexual references (is that even allowed any more?) and for stuttering “no” repeatedly, would probably say, “No, no, no no no…” And I reckon a few million viewers could agree with him.

‘. . . The BBC obviously finds this difficult to comprehend but rather a lot of white, middle-class people pay the licence fee and they quite enjoy seeing their lives represented amid the hourly, finger-wagging lectures from News and Drama about how dreadful this country is and how appallingly prejudiced we all are. The Ten O’Clock News’s recent obituary of Peter Alliss appeared to take a sideswipe at the well-loved golf commentator because the 89-year-old had made a few jokey remarks which didn’t find favour with the po-faced thirtysomething Corbynistas who seem to make up most of the corporations’s staff. Although not its audience, funnily enough.’

BASHIR ACCUSED OF ‘DESPICABLE’ CONDUCT:  Sam Greenhill (Mail 2/12) reported that the BBC’s journalist Martin Bashir – who had conducted the corporation’s 1995 Panorama interview of Princess Diana – had been accused of being ‘despicable’ in the way he behaved in a murder case in 1991. Mr Greenhill said that Karen Hadaway, the mother of a nine-year-old child who had been murdered in the notorious ‘Babes in the Wood’ double killing in 1986, had handed some of her child’s clothes to Mr Bashir after he promised to take them away for DNA testing because police investigation of the murders had been put on hold. Mr Greenhill added that Mrs Hadaway had not heard from Mr Bashir again and that she had since claimed that the clothes had never been returned. Mr Greenhill further reported that there had been speculation that the absence of the clothes had delayed the eventual police resolution of the case by more than 20 years.

 

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST 1 DECEMBER 2020

BBC ‘PRE-JUDGES DIANA INQUIRY’: Robert Mendick (£ Telegraph 1/12) reported that the BBC had been accused of pre-judging the outcome of its inquiry by retired judge Lord Dyson into the circumstances surrounding the 1995 interview of Princess Diana by Martin Bashir, who had been a BBC Panorama journalist. Mr Mendick explained that lawyers for Allan Waller, who had been head of security for Earl Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother, had written to the BBC  accusing Martin Bashir of ‘conspiracy to create an instrument of fraud’ (allegedly, forged bank statements purporting to show payments to a former employee of Lord Spencer). He added that the BBC legal department had responded that it believed the corporation did not bear any liability.  Mr Mendick said that ‘there would be anger’ that the BBC appeared to have made its own findings about the claims before the Dyson inquiry had properly started.

BBC BIAS DIGEST 22 NOVEMBER 2020

MPs DEMAND PM REINS IN  BBC ‘WOKE’ BIAS: Glen Owen (Mail 21/11) said that Conservative MPs had written to prime minister Boris Johnson demanding that he launch a fightback against the ‘politically correct woke agenda of institutions including the BBC. Mr Owen reported that the letter, from 60 MPs and peers in the Common Sense group, chaired by senior backbencher Sir John Hayes, was asking for a number of ‘drastic’ measures including decriminalising non-payment of the BBC licence fee on the basis that it was time ‘to defend British traditions and values’ as well as standing  against ‘the senseless woke whingers and the soulless militants who despise the best of Britain’.  Mr Owen quoted from the letter, written in the context of the BBC’s decision to remove the word ‘faggot’ from the The Pogues’ Christmas song Fairytale of New York in deference to the LGBTQ+ lobby:

‘In light of the BBC’s repeated refusal to address its organisation’s undoubted liberal bias, illustrated most recently by its bizarre decision to censor a well-known Christmas song (perhaps, similarly, the whole canon of popular music is to be reviewed by a highly paid zealot!), we believe it is now time to decriminalise the licence fee, so enabling ordinary Britons to choose whether or not to pay for the BBC’s content.’

Mr Owen noted that the BBC had said Fairytale Of New York would be played with its full lyrics on some stations, but not Radio 1, whose young listeners ‘are particularly sensitive to derogatory terms for gender and sexuality’.

MANGOLD ‘ASTONISHED’ BY OMISSION IN BBC PRINCESS DI PROBE:  An article in the Mail (22/10) said that veteran BBC investigative journalist Tom Mangold had ‘expressed astonishment’  that the BBC panel set up by the corporation ’s management board to investigate whether the BBC Panorama interview of Princess Diana by Martin Bashir in 1995 had been properly set up and conducted  would not investigate as part of its remit whether there had been a ‘cover-up’ within BBC ranks.   The piece quoted Mr Mangold, who had been a ‘leading light’ on Panorama when the interview occurred:

‘I am somewhat baffled by the complete absence of any reference in Lord Dyson’s (the former judge chairing the inquiry) brief to investigating the events within the BBC after the story of the forgeries broke.’

It was also stated that Mr Mangold has previously spoken about his conviction that executives on the programme had ‘conspired, lied, deceived and cheated’ to hush up the scandal, adding: ‘The true story is much bigger than Bashir.’

It was further reported that Mr Mangold had outlined the points he believed Lord Dyson must address in investigating the (alleged) use of faked bank statements and other ruses which led to Diana agreeing to the world exclusive interview.

He suggested the questions should be: ‘1. What steps did the BBC and, in particular, Martin Bashir take with a view to obtaining the Panorama interview in 1995?

‘2. Were those steps appropriate, particularly in regard to the BBC’s editorial standards at the time?

‘3. To what extent did the actions of the BBC and, in particular, Martin Bashir influence Diana’s decision to give an interview?

‘4. What knowledge did the BBC have in 1995 and 1996 of the relevant evidence, such as the forged bank statements?

‘5. How effectively did the BBC investigate the circumstances leading to the interview?’

BBC ‘MUST DIVERSIFY AWAY FROM WHAT WHITE PEOPLE THINK’: Jemma Carr (Mail 20/11) reported that Jonathan Munro, the BBC’s head of newsgathering, speaking at a Creative Coalition conference and Media Masters podcast, had said that the BBC should ‘diversify’ its senior news staff because editorial meetings tended to be dominated ‘by what white people think’.  Ms Carr said that Mr Munro had noted that when he had joined the BBC in 2014, every member of his team had been a Caucasian male, and a consequence of the lack of diversity had been that in the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire of 2017 – which had killed 72 people – the BBC news teams had not understood the gravity of issues faced by council house tenants.  Ms Carr also reported that Mark Mardell, who had retired as presenter of the BBC World This Weekend programme, had warned the BBC against ‘annoying and dismaying’ its basic audience in its pursuit of the diversity agenda.