BBC Bias

James Townsend: Challenging the BBC’s Covid Project Fear narrative

James Townsend: Challenging the BBC’s Covid Project Fear narrative

This post by James Townsend originally appeared on The Conservative Woman

YOU may have seen some of my recent threads which have slowly been gaining traction in the Twittersphere. They have covered a range of topics, including defending TV presenter Beverley Turner from unwarranted attacks on Good Morning Britain and the Jeremy Vine Show, to questioning Sage scientist Susan Michie and exposing the government’s approach around mandatory vaccinations.

Nothing prepared me, however, for the reaction I would get following a Twitter thread published on Thursday afternoon questioning a BBC headline report into an apparent ‘third covid wave’ in the North East, specifically within the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust (NTHNFT). In the days that followed it had tripled my Twitter following, attracted 1.5million views (impressions), and was amplified to audiences in Dutch, Spanish and Arabic, among others.

I’ve been followed by scientists, blue tick celebrities, political commentators, teachers, business owners, concerned parents, and everyone in between. It was also the lead item on Friday’s UK Column news where they discussed it at length. And now I find myself writing in a publication which I’ve long been an admirer of. The reaction has been overwhelming.

Why did it resonate with so many people, I wondered? Before I answer that question, here’s a recap. It’s a long read but please do follow it to the end.

Now a predictable few have tried rubbishing the thread by claiming either ‘there’s a lag on deaths, so it’s too soon to see an uptick in fatalities’ or ‘a lack of deaths doesn’t mean a hospital is not overwhelmed’. The former point neglects to mention that cases have been rising for weeks and the latter fails to consider the context of the supposedly deadly pandemic we’re living through. Both of these arguments have, of course, an element of truth in them but they deliberately sidestep the central point of the thread.

The reason it resonated with so many people is because British citizens have become totally fed up with the relentless fear-based propaganda espoused by the UK government, the NHS, and the mainstream media. It’s a narrative so strong and underpinned by a poisonous culture of cancelling those we disagree with, that professionals like myself feel that writing under a pseudonym is the only viable option. It’s a conundrum I eventually hope to overcome. As we get to winter, when deaths from respiratory viruses naturally rise, we will no doubt have ‘deaths with/of covid’ plastered all across our television screens once again. Until that time, whilst deaths are negligible over the summer months, cases are used to sustain the fear despite it not necessarily translating to sick or infectious people. No context is ever given to the viewer that, yes, from an extremely low base cases and hospitalisations may be rising, but that still isn’t translating into many (or, any, in the case of NTHNFT) deaths.

There has been a long and palpable silence from Hugh Pym since my thread challenged his impartiality although if I had been the press officer advising him, I may well have come to the same conclusion. Why? Well, there is simply no justification for a supposedly balanced health editor not to give the context of mortality figures, whilst running a segment which would terrify many of your average viewers through its hyperbole and emotional, fear-based rhetoric.

As I said in conclusion to a previous thread, if the mainstream media won’t do their jobs by offering context and balance then I will have to keep shining a light on these shoddy examples of journalism.

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Daily Mail jumps on the BBC climate zealots’ bandwagon

Daily Mail jumps on the BBC climate zealots’ bandwagon

HOW much further into the mire of hard-line prejudice can the MSM – particularly the BBC – go in its blatant, militant anti-scientific and anti-free-speech perversion of climate science?

In Saturday’s Daily Mail, under the headline ‘Green fury as BBC tells kids climate change isn’t all bad’, reporter Jim Norton said the BBC had come under strong attack from climate alarmist zealots. 

The Corporation’s crime? It had dared to suggest in the GCSE revision section of BBC Bitesize (dedicated to educational content for children) that increased global temperatures and the so-called ‘greenhouse effect’ might generate benefits such as more vigorous plant growth (fired by rising levels of carbon dioxide), and healthier outdoor lifestyles.

Norton said the offending item had been removed after Guardian writer George Monbiot, ‘a lifelong environmental activist’, had declared that such suggestions were an ‘absolute disgrace’. Such is the power that the BBC house organ the Guardian now wields over the so-called ‘impartial’ Corporation.

Norton larded his Mail article with equally disapproving comments from an array of other outraged climate activists such as the lofty heights of ‘Extinction Rebellion’s southeast group’ and ‘the chief executive of a group of schools in Bedfordshire’. For good measure to drive his alarmist message home, he said the Queen had on Thursday accepted that tackling climate change meant we would have to change lifestyles, and that ‘government advisers’ had last month stated that the UK was woefully unprepared to deal with the climate emergency.

Nowhere in the torrent of greenie outrage and indignation is included a quote from anyone who disagreed with Monbiot, who has no qualifications in climate science.

Norton said the BBC had responded to the onslaught by ‘amending the content’ to be in line with current curricula, and to twist the knife, he also pointed out that the Corporation allegedly had form in terms of not reporting climate alarmism with sufficient disdain. 

He stated: ‘In 2018, [the BBC] accepted failures in its coverage of climate change after a series of apologies and censures for not challenging sceptics during interviews.’

So there we have it. The Daily Mail hath spoken, and the BBC coverage of ‘climate change’ in all its alleged manifestations is simply not alarmist enough.

TCW readers will need no reminding how risible and far from the truth this is. The BBC’s reporting of climate change has since 2005 – when it held a meeting of climate and environmental activists who dictated its stance – been militant hardline propaganda. How this was decided is detailed in a book by Andrew Montford of the Global Warming Policy Forum The Propaganda Bureau.

Far from being balanced, the Corporation condemns all those who disagree with alarmism as ‘deniers’ irrespective of their qualifications or the strength of their analysis. To the BBC they are, in effect, foaming-at-the-mouth, dangerous imbeciles, the equivalent of flat-earthers or Creationists.

James Stephenson, news editor of BBC News and Current Affairs, summarised the Corporation approach on BBC Radio 4 Feedback in 2018: 

‘We will not have the kind of discussions that you’ve heard occasionally in the past, where you have someone who is outlining the scientific position on man-made climate change and someone else who says that’s not the case. We’ve moved away from that and beyond that, on the basis that while they’re entitled to their opinion, and those opinions definitely still exist, they are to the margins of the scientific consensus, and we don’t want to be giving the audience the impression that it’s a sort of 50/50 arm-wrestle between those two positions.’

As the miasma that is the world climate change industry prepares to descend on Glasgow on October 31, and as Boris Johnson doubles down on his efforts to reverse the industrial revolution by forcing us all into a new form of fuel and food poverty, it is of massive concern that the MSM, including the Daily Mail, are reporting with all guns blazing this brand of intolerant, anti-scientific propaganda.

The pandemic has put us all at the mercy of technocratic dictators who have dangerously tampered with the foundations of our democracy and Western civilisation itself. Behind them, ready to take over the reins, are battalions of climate zealots. And instead of seeking to debunk their delusion, Great Britain’s fourth estate is firing it up to new heights of alarmism.

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Bashir wasn’t the first BBC royal interview scandal

Bashir wasn’t the first BBC royal interview scandal

DIGGING into the Martin Bashir affair for TCW has reminded me of another huge scandal about BBC integrity in 1985 in which I was centrally involved. It showed that then, as ten years later, nothing would stop senior BBC management from flagrantly breaking editorial guidelines if these got in their way. On that occasion it cost them a rumoured £750,000 in civil damages, equivalent to at least £2.3million today.

In a High Court ruling, the Corporation were adjudged to be guilty of a ‘scandalous breach of copyright’ against the ITV breakfast channel TV-am, which was at that time trouncing the BBC’s Breakfast Time in the ratings, much to senior management’s chagrin.

The fulcrum of the case was the BBC’s piracy of an interview secured by TV-am presenter Nick Owen with Princess Michael of Kent concerning her father’s alleged involvement with the Nazi SS during the Second World War. News of the connection was a huge national story and everybody wanted to get the princess’s reaction.

Owen had known her for some time, and he said at the time that she decided to talk him exclusively to avoid a media scrum and to get the ordeal over in one go.

The BBC were having none of that.

I had joined TV-am as head of the press office from the BBC, where I had been head of news and current affairs publicity, just two weeks earlier.

TV-am boss Bruce Gyngell put me in charge of all external relations in connection with the interview, one of the first major news exclusives secured by TV-am. The station had been through a disastrous launch – to a significant extent because the BBC set out to sabotage it – and in early 1985 was beginning a determined and successful fight back under Gyngell’s expert leadership. In that context, the interview was ratings gold dust, and Bruce was determined to keep it as an exclusive.

The BBC argued however that because Princess Michael was a royal, the material should be made available to other stations under established pooling arrangements which applied on royal events to limit the size of the media pack.

Our legal advice was that this interview was emphatically not pool material because Princess Michael had decreed otherwise. So when, as the hours ticked down to transmission, the editor of BBC Breakfast Time rang me and asked for a copy of the interview for their programme the following day, my answer was an emphatic ‘no’.

He was not happy, and during the evening there followed a series of calls to me from BBC executives of escalating seniority, culminating with the overall boss of BBC News.

They used every trick in the book from honeyed words to outright threats to try to crack my defences, but my instruction from Bruce Gyngell against the onslaught was to stand firm.

At 11pm came the final weapon in the BBC’s arsenal. It was an Exocet. That evening the Queen was hosting a state dinner at Windsor Castle for Hastings Banda, the president of Malawi. Still on duty, I picked up the phone. ‘Are you David Keighley?’ a cut-glass voice inquired. When I replied that I was, the voice continued, ‘Well, I am Michael Shea, the Queen’s press secretary.’ He told me he was rather displeased with TV-am because he been called out of the banquet and acidly continued, ‘And I am telling you, no, ordering you, to give the Princess Michael interview to the BBC because the royal rota rules apply.’

Somewhat shaken, I responded that I disagreed and told him that our legal advice was that it was our exclusive. Shea’s tone turned icy. He told me in very direct language that (a) I was wrong, and (b) there would be ‘consequences’.

We stuck to our guns, but the following morning at 6.50am BBC Breakfast Time showed the interview almost in its entirety. We had started broadcasting 25 minutes earlier and they simply recorded it and re-ran it. As brazen as that. Aware of the possibility that the BBC would try this, we had made our TV-am strapline at the foot of the screen double the usual size. The BBC blanked out the lower half of the screen to obliterate our ID, so on their version it looked as if Nick Owen and the princess were peering over a wall! There was no attribution whatsoever of how the interview had been obtained. In their arrogance the BBC had indulged in an act of major copyright piracy.

After we came off air at 9am, the TV-am news director Bill Ludford and I hurried from Camden Lock to the Inner Temple where we instructed our legal team in seeking a High Court injunction to stop further showings of our interview and return the pirated copies of it. We also applied for substantial damages for breach of copyright.

Two hours later, the injunction and return order were granted with Mr Justice Walton in the Chancery Division calling it a ‘scandalous breach of copyright’. The BBC, again in its arrogance, and with flagrant disregard for licence fee cash, appealed. Another hour later, that too was turned down in equally forthright language.

The subsequent damages case was resolved out of court in TV-am’s favour.

The episode showed in spades that when it comes to journalistic integrity, the Corporation has the morals of an alley cat. TV-am at that stage, thanks to the BBC’s blunderbuss attempts to sink it, was a struggling minnow which had only recently been on the edge of bankruptcy. But BBC news chiefs could not bear the idea of being outflanked or told they were wrong. Their flagrant act of copyright piracy, as with the Bashir and Cliff Richard cases, illustrates that in pursuit of their interests their editorial guidelines are little more than a window-dressing sham.

 

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An end to BBC bias? Don’t count on it

An end to BBC bias? Don’t count on it

The Bashir affair has brought into sharp focus again that BBC journalism is not fair and impartial, as its Charter requires. But after decades of bias in BBC reporting of the EU, what are the chances of genuine change?

Much has been written about the Lord Dyson report into the 1995 BBC Panorama interview of Princess Diana. Columnists and politicians galore are clamouring for urgent action to mend the Corporation’s broken ways. According to Lord Dyson these primarily included lying in pursuit of a story, coupled with massive brick-walling by senior management against any suggestion of wrongdoing.

And it seems that steps to reform and rein in the excesses of BBC bias and rank bad journalism might now be under consideration as part of the Corporation’s mid-term Charter review, due in 2022. Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, has suggested that structural governance reform will be on the agenda.

But don’t hold your breath. Much in a similar vein was written in 2012 when the BBC was caught entirely wrong-footed over its handling of Jimmy Savile. Or when the corporation in 2019 was landed with a £2 million+ legal bill for its cruel, vastly over-the-top coverage of baseless claims of sexual misconduct against Cliff Richard. Once again, with the latter, senior management disgracefully claimed no wrongdoing in their hounding of the singer. The High Court Judge in the case very strongly disagreed.

Through it all, the BBC has so far survived intact, a bloated, £3.5 billion-a-year protected state relic from an age when broadcast frequencies were a scarce resource. The danger is that despite the evidence of incompetence, almost unlimited arrogance and moral turpitude, the Corporation carries on regardless because no-one has the political guts or will tackle a massive overhaul.

The core problem is that the BBC will never admit misconduct, and has been immune to outside complaints for most of its history because it is its own judge and jury in that domain in most respects.

No government from those of Margaret Thatcher onward has dared grasp the nettle of genuine root-and-branch reform.

Under the new Charter operational from 2017, Ofcom assumed a regulatory role over some BBC matters including the conduct of BBC journalism. But this was too little, too late, and the Ofcom scrutiny has so far proved totally ineffectual, not least because most of its content board appointees are former BBC advisors or employees and have the same mindset as the Corporation itself.

So how can this problem be solved? Over the past 40 years – arguably since Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979 –  the BBC  has become increasingly opinionated and left-wing to the extent now that no part of its output is unaffected. Even the BBC1 programme Antiques Roadshow is larded with lectures by presenter Fiona Bruce on topics such as the evils of Britain’s colonial past.

In this vein, News-watch recently conducted a thorough survey of BBC Ideas, a catalogue of 600 or so five-minute videos ‘for the curious minded’

This is a project launched by former Labour culture secretary James Purnell at vast expense when he was BBC director of radio and education. The findings? of the titles, the majority (around 350) have controversial or political content in subject areas such as history, race, capitalism, climate change and feminism. Only 25 of them have points which could be regarded as ‘conservative’.  The rest could have been taken from a manual on how to construct ‘woke’ propaganda based on post-modern critical theory.

News-watch has also thoroughly scrutinised the Corporation’s EU coverage for more than two decades, and – as readers of this blog are painfully aware – this is the domain in which the most crass corporation bias has operated.  The 40 or so News-watch reports since 1999 summarised here show a massive weighting towards pro-EU opinion up to and including the Brexit referendum and then continuing through the Brexit process itself to the present day.  When has the BBC constructed a programme which shows the problems of the EU, and revealing that it is ultimately a huge anti-democratic project?

The BBC’s response to those News-watch reports? It has been characterised throughout by the same arrogance and stonewalling identified by Lord Dyson in his report on Bashir.  Corporation senior management – including many of those involved in the Prince Diana interview – chose to ignore them all. Without providing a shred of evidence, they claimed that they were worthless.

An easy and respectful way of testing their veracity would have been to appoint an independent panel to assess the quality of the News-watch work. But that possibility was never even on the BBC’s agenda.  They preferred instead to launch ad hominem attacks against me and eminent Eurosceptic Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who partially funded the News-watch work.

A key character in the Bashir affair identified by Lord Dyson was Anne Sloman, who was BBC chief political adviser, and therefore one of the key advisers to Tony Hall, who was then BBC director of news. Sloman was among those who investigated in 1996 claims of impropriety against Martin Bashir, and despite abundant evidence to the contrary, concluded that he was ‘honourable’.

She betrayed similar arrogance in her treatment of News-watch and the claims of anti-EU bias. In an editorial meeting in which the Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle was present (in his then role of editor of the BBC Today programme), she asserted that eurosceptics like Lord Pearson were ‘mad’ and therefore should be ignored. Her treatment of me was even more outrageous. At a summer drinks meeting between Parliamentarians and the BBC attended by Lord Pearson, she told him that the reports I was compiling should be ignored because I had been ‘sacked by the BBC’.  This was an outright and baseless falsehood.  I had worked for the BBC for seven years without a blemish on my staff reports and had been promoted regularly throughout. I left the BBC because I found a more senior job at the ITV breakfast television station TV-am, where I became director of public affairs.

As a result of her claims, I was forced to fire off (at considerable expense) a pre-action letter for defamation of character, and she huffily backed down. But her intention was clear. She wanted me out of the way, to be discredited and taken off the case.

This illustrates that a basic tactic of BBC senior managers at the BBC is to try to destroy or discredit those who oppose it. That applied in the Bashir case with the graphics designer who drew the forged bank statements, with BBC Newsnight journalists in 2011-13 who wanted to blow the whistle on the BBC’s treatment of Jimmy Savile (their BBC contracts were not renewed) and in the Cliff Richard affair, when the BBC tactic was to throw the blame on to South Yorkshire police.

So how can be the BBC senior management be so arrogant and disdainful towards those who oppose the Corporation?  A central problem is that the BBC’s Charter gives the Corporation almost unassailable independence. It was as designed to protect BBC journalism from political interference. Noble aim. But the drafters of the legislation surely never envisaged that the Corporation would, in effect, go rogue – as its approach to EU coverage and BBC Ideas shows – and become an enemy of the country and the culture which pays for it.  A dangerous enemy, too, because its goals appear increasingly to be the complete denigration and destruction of Western values.

A manifestation of its unassailability is that the BBC complaints process is not fit for purpose. It is designed to protect the BBC rather than to deal conscientiously with the concerns of audiences. The complaints process could be a shop window for BBC transparency, and for the further debate of matters of public controversy. Instead it has become another brick wall which the BBC hides behind and a vehicle to discredit opponents. An example of this is that New-watch has within the past month received a warning letter from the complaints unit (which is sub-contracted to facilities company Capita) warning us that we are making too many complaints and that they are too complicated to deal with so we are wasting Corporation resources.

A second manifestation is that the BBC refuses to produce any independent evidence to verify its impartiality. Instead, it relies on opinion polls. This is absurd and simply not good enough. News-watch reports into the BBC output are based on scrupulously-applied academic principles which can be seen and debated by anyone. By contrast, the BBC simply tells the world it knows it is impartial, and therefore it is. Yet the Corporation provides no evidence to support its position and claims it would be a waste of time to do so. That is an absurdly arrogant stance for an organisation in receipt of £3.5 billion of public funding to adopt.

In that context, as cries for reforms intensify, an acid test of the government’s intent will be whether the proposed structural reforms include such monitoring and an overhaul of the complaints system. Only when these operate on an independent basis and thus hold the BBC genuinely to account will BBC bias end.  As things stand, it is an obdurate, arrogant and unprincipled law unto itself.

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: An open letter to the new director-general

BBC bias: An open letter to the new director-general

THE BBC’s bias on Brexit has been proven beyond doubt. That is the Telegraph‘s response to News-watch’s latest report on the BBC’s Brexit coverage this week. In the words of Robin Aitken, former BBC producer and author of The Noble Liar (an excoriating and deeply perceptive book about BBC bias) our report shows an overwhelming pro-EU slant in BBC coverage from the close analysis of one random week.

The conclusion we reached, and Aitken concurs with, is that the Corporation is still regarding Brexit through the lens of Project Fear.

The question Aitken raises is whether the new director general of the BBC will take it seriously. Your move, Tim Davie, he says.

As he reports, we are indeed seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Davie to discuss how he intends to meet his pledge to make BBC impartiality a priority. And we are still waiting to hear whether he is prepared to put his money where his mouth is and, unlike his predecessor, accord News-watch the time of day and the respect its long-term independent monitoring of the BBC’s Brexit output deserves.

To encourage him on the path he’s promised, here is our open letter to him in advance of that meeting.

Dear Mr Davie

On September 3, in your first address to staff after taking over as director general, you stated that impartiality – as required by the BBC Charter – would be your main priority. 

You have announced measures which require staff not to post biased remarks or opinions on social media.

That sounds good, and was handled by the gargantuan 350-strong BBC PR machine to achieve maximum impact but, with respect,  BBC bias is not confined to ill-advised tweets – crass as they may be – from John Simpson and Gary Lineker.

Everything from comedy to drama and from the educational content of BBC Bitesize and BBC Ideas is also infected with woke, partisan zeal. 

One indication of the scale of the rot is the latest News-watch report.

Which, as Robin Aitken outlined, shows that despite everything that has happened since the 2016 referendum and the imminent departure from the EU ratified by the 2019 general election, the corporation is still pursuing Project Fear about life outside the EU, and is still swamping EU coverage with the views of  those who oppose Brexit or are pro-EU .

On top of that, not one programme has ever been broadcast by the BBC which explores possible benefits of departure. In sharp contrast, hundreds of hours of programmes have been devoted to climate alarmism and the supposed benefits of electric cars, so called ‘green’ energy and a carbon-free future.

But the reality is that a full audit of the extent of BBC failures of impartiality would take a team of dozens of scribes and analysts working round the clock for years to achieve.

Mr Davie, you are thus faced with a Herculean task in rooting out bias. But as yet, you have given no indication to the outside world – other than instituting the Tweet purge – about how you intend to achieve this.

Many viewers, of course, do not believe that reform is possible, which is why recent surveys show that  the majority no longer want to pay the BBC licence fee and don’t trust BBC news. 

But the current Charter is in place until 2027, and as the agenda for our forthcoming meeting, may I suggest the following urgent action points as a basis for our discussions and instant attention?

Find top-level advisers who are genuinely independent and will give you a perspective other than the stifling wokery which has infected the Corporation at every level.  Put some of them on the internal management board so their views are heeded.

Ditch opinion polls as a way of determining whether BBC output is impartial and get properly in touch with real people out there north of Watford and west of Oxford who will tell you what needs changing.

Institute instead rigorous monitoring of BBC output compiled by independent advisers who are not in the BBC or woke bubble. This will make the constant struggle to be unbiased a properly transparent process.

Scrap the current internal complaints system and put the 350 BBC publicists (combined pay £15million-a-year plus?)  to work instead in scrutinising output to get rid of liberal bias and in ensuring complaints are properly investigated rather than being seen as an intrusion.

Abandon your defence of the BBC licence fee and the outmoded notion of universal provision and start planning now for major change to reflect changes in the media environment. It’s only when the  Corporation has to fight in the marketplace for audiences that it will become fully responsive to audience needs and preferences, and it will be all the better for it.

Make genuine ‘diversity’ an important internal and output goal without the BBC being an overt arm of the woke ‘racism’ agenda and a fanatical tick-box exercise.

Scrap in its present form the lavish BBC Academy and relaunch it as the bastion of rigorous professional integrity and training to ensure that audiences across the whole of the UK are properly served.

Inject new life into the programme-making process by ditching tired formats such as Question Time and Newsnight – both around 40 years old – and replace them with new offerings which genuinely incorporate diversity of views.

Tell those who write for the BBC that they are not on a mission to convert the audience into woke-infected zombies but rather to stimulate them with challenging, fresh material containing a variety of perspectives and views.

At every level, celebrate British history and culture rather than preaching the message that we are a nation who should be ashamed of our past, and are tarred with blood-guilt. End once and for all the Biased Broadcasting Corporation and make the first ‘B’ stand for British in the full sense of the word.

BBC reporting of pandemic ‘is alarmist and biased’

BBC reporting of pandemic ‘is alarmist and biased’

This item, by Andrew Isherwood, a structural engineer living and working in the north of England, brings into sharp focus one man’s impressions of the BBC’s mis-reporting of the facts about Covid-19. He wrote in submitting the article: ‘I am not a scientist but the direction and decisions being made within government seem at odds to the information that seems to be in the public domain and then not having the information factually represented in the media seems wrong.’

At the present time the BBC News seems to be reinforcing the government’s message, reporting death statistics and infection rates that misrepresent the data, together with the trends of the diseases. As an example, the death rates being quoted are the reported daily deaths, which are not when an individual died. This paints a skewed picture of the actual daily death rate, with the apparent death rate significantly exceeding the actual trend – the date of reported death suggests a pattern of rapidly increasing deaths when the data includes deaths that occurred, in some cases, months in the past. Using the date of recorded death shows a trend that is level and not increasing at the rates experienced in March. – ref NHS link :-

Reference to the work completed by Professor Heneghan at the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, at Oxford University, shows the progression of the virus has resulted in marginal increases in the death rate, since the end the first wave, when compared to recorded respiratory deaths from flu infections over previous years – none of their work has been reported in the mainstream news by the BBC. It’s also worth noting that the current death rate from COVID being less than that of flu deaths in the 1990’s prior to introduction of flu vaccine in 2000.

The data presented in daily BBC bulletins captures the positive COVID test rates as a measure of the progression of the disease. Reference to CEBM’s data suggests that a more representative measure of virus transmission trends should be based upon the specimen test date i.e. recorded date of test, not the reported test date, to attain a better understanding of progression of the virus. This method of reporting takes better account of when the test was taken to manage fluctuation in reporting date.

Reporting the daily reported cases in the current manner is misrepresentative and alarmist, perpetrating an aire of panic in the population – The piece of work completed by CEBM demonstrates, through the use of the available data, that the predicted exponential growth of the infection, defined by the Chief Science Officer, is not being realised, for the ‘second wave’. The specimen recorded rates of infection show a slow increase in infection rates, In lieu of the current data of the reported positive test infection rates.

What has never been reported, is the poor accuracy of the PCR test employed by the government to test for COVID…..with the relatively low concentration of COVID in the population, the nature of the test results in a significant false positive rate, again skewing the actual trends of the disease. Together with the fact that the test can record strains of other coronavirus DNA, dead COVID cells, asymptomatic COVID etc.

The Oxford team have also highlighted the poor accuracy rate of the PCR test, which changed some aspects of the testing approach by government, but the not the fundamental flaws in the accuracy of the test – none of their work has been presented in the mainstream news by the BBC – refer to the CEBM website for details.

It’s apparent that hospital admissions are increasing, but again the information stated in bulletins does not represent the information published on the NHS website. BBC reports currently suggest around 500 hospital admissions in to the NHS but what isn’t being addressed is that there are approx 200 daily discharge of patients ie there is an approx circa 300 net increase. The news reports present the picture that the number of admissions are overwhelming hospitals with new admissions, when the net impact of hospital admissions is around 300, with around 5% patients being treated in the NHS being tested positive for COVID. See link below. Also In a normal winter cycle the NHS expect around a 1000 daily admissions for respiratory illness – Not widely reported but buried in a BBC web article.

The impact of the continued lockdown on the economy, impact on mental health, deaths from treatable and chronic diseases are being massively overlooked when compared to the impact of COVID on a relative small percentage of the population. Daily deaths from cancer and the lack of treatment of these, and chronic patients, whose treatment is not being addressed by the NHS, because of the continued focus on COVID, will far outstrip the deaths from COVID. Again, this impact is not being reported or addressed in a balanced way.

The BBC should be reporting all the facts and bringing balance to the debate. It’s apparent that the continued damaging lockdown approach by the UK Government, based on theIr version of the science, is focused on the worst case infection / death scenario. Comparison of the data from other countries, who we are told we are following closely, shows the impact to be less onerous than the current predicted patterns of the disease mortality predicted by the Government Scientists

Whilst I appreciate the impact of COVID on families across the country and the pain resulting from the losses, it’s important that the decisions made by our government, that are impacting the lives of millions of the population now and for years to come, should be based on a balanced view of the science, which from the attached research from CEBM shows this not to be the case.

The BBC have a duty to present all the facts and information, to promote debate, to challenge the science and subsequent decisions that will have a profound effect on the population, economy and health now, and in the future.

 

Kathy Gyngell: How dare they? BBC robs the poor to feed millions to its fat-cat presenters

Kathy Gyngell: How dare they? BBC robs the poor to feed millions to its fat-cat presenters

Guest post from Kathy Gyngell – this first appeared on The Conservative Woman

LITERALLY, how dare they? BBC arrogance and entitlement knows no bounds.

Yesterday, because it has to, the corporation published its very own Rich List of its on-air and front-of-house staff paid more than £150,000 per annum in its annual report for 2019-2020. All compulsorily paid for by you and me, including millions of over-75s.

Be ready to be shocked at the sheer uncaring arrogance and brass neck of it in this time of growing unemployment and job uncertainty, when young people’s futures have never looked bleaker because of the coronavirus pandemic. You can see the full list in the BBC Group Annual Report and Accounts 2019/20 published yesterday.

It takes no more than a glance down it to see that the long list of reporters, news hosts and celebrities are being paid, on average, rather more than £150,000, too. A lot more in fact.

At the top is Gary Lineker on £1.75million – a figure reported shortly afterwards to have been reduced this year to a still eye-watering £1.35million per annum, a pay cut the Match of the Day star is understood to have graciously agreed for his new five-year contract.

How did the footballer-turned-crisp-salesman greet the news of the publication of his continuing annual windfall? With humility? With gratitude?

No, Lineker sent out a tweet that shows his contempt for the little people who pay his salary. He said: ‘Oh dear. Thoughts are with the haters at this difficult time.’

Think of that next time you see his smug, smirky face pontificating on Match of the Day.

Settling into the first-class seats on the BBC gravy train with Lineker is Zoe Ball on £1.36million after pocketing a £1million pay rise.

Then comes Graham Norton on £729,999, Steve Wright (who he? I hear you ask) at £479,999, Fiona Bruce on £454,999, Vanessa Feltz on a nice little earner at £409,999 and Claudia Winkleman bringing up the ‘celeb’ rear on a cool £365,000–£369,999 for rather less than a year’s work. Please do turn to pages 82 to 85 of the report for the full mind-boggling list.

Then find me one iota of justification for the inflated salaries for these so-called celebrities who even the kindest would have to admit are no Terry Wogans, Two Ronnies or Bruce Forsyths, the real entertainers of decades past.

The over-rewarded and mainly indifferent editors, reporters and presenters who make up the rest of the list are the reason I have had BBC TV and radio switched off in my home for a long time. Lockdown was bad enough without being driven mad on a daily basis by the BBC’s entitled ones – their propaganda, inanities, bad grammar and substandard reporting.

If I never hear the harassing Nick Robinson (£299,999 per annum) or the maddeningly smug and patronising tones of Mishal Husain (£269,999) ever again, I will be happy. As for the egregious and self opinionated Emily Maitlis on £374,999, well, words fail me.

I am bemused about why I have to pay for their overblown salaries (by any standards) in order to turn on my television.

Nor does this list provide the full story of the BBC’s excesses. I have little doubt there will be plenty of characters just saved from the glare of publicity by coming in at £149,999, just under the ceiling for non-disclosure.

And let’s not forget what the bosses (the BBC execs) are paid. Tim Davie, the BBC’s new director-general, was already on £400,000 last year, no doubt now due to catch up with his predecessor’s £450,000 a year, which is well over double what the Prime Minister gets.

And it doesn’t stop with him. Read the astonishingly long list of backroom executives in receipt of well over £150,000 on pages 85 to 88 of the report.

All the while, the BBC  is robbing cash-strapped Brits to pay staff who are not in demand elsewhere, or they surely would have already left for other channels.

That is the big lie that the BBC feeds us – that these oh-so-talented stars would quit if they didn’t have golden handcuffs. Ha ha! The truth is that most would be unemployable elsewhere, or would have to take huge pay cuts.

There simply aren’t enough prime slots to go round for the fact cats in today’s media outside the protective cocoon of the BBC. They’re not as irreplaceable as they think. It’s their domination of their spots – their monopoly of the airtime – that makes them famous, not their charm, wit or ability.

I vote that the Beeb cut their pay down to 10 per cent of their current amount and tell them if they can find better-paid work anywhere else, go. I bet none would. Who wants them?

That the corporation has seen fit to pay such inflated salaries in recent years for a biased propaganda service that many choose not to watch, and with so many people furloughed or facing redundancy or seeing their businesses closing, is nothing less than an outrage.

And to those over-75s who were war and pre-war babies, for whom watching television provides an essential source of information and acts as a crutch against loneliness and isolation, from whom the greedy BBC steal licence fee money, it is no less than a kick in the teeth.

Mr Davie, you are going to have to do better than this if you don’t want a mass protest over the licence fee.

Nicholas Burnett: Can Tim Davie Turn the Tide of Bias?

Nicholas Burnett: Can Tim Davie Turn the Tide of Bias?

This is a Guest Post from Nicholas Burnett from The Conservative Woman:

THE paradox of the Western World is encapsulated by the angst the BBC so willingly brings upon itself. Once a central plank of British culture, it is now part of a pro-globalising bourgeois media-set who will report ‘largely peaceful protests’ straight-faced against a backdrop of burning cities. It’s as if there is something the rest of us are not privy to. And of course, there is.

Black Lives Matter, a far-Left Marxist organisation, was immediately hailed. BBC coverage continually affirmed the BLM narrative, at times taking a campaigning tone for the cause. Like many, I objected to the clearly favourable line on a movement which descended into rioting, but the wider issue is the corporation’s merger with Left-leaning identity politics.

I complained to the BBC in June. I pointed out that under the BLM narrative white people are summarily accused of racism; that the BBC fails to balance its sudden specific interest in police brutality with a wider context; conflating American experience with the British is absurd and that the far greater cause of violent black deaths is ignored. I finished ‘I despair for race relations following the hysterical coverage and tensions you have abetted’. And I genuinely do. If anyone at the BBC thinks its approach will have a generally wholesome impact on race relations they are deluded. One only has to see the thinking behind UKBLM how divisive their message is.

https://twitter.com/Never_Again2020/status/1298982384059084802

In response, the BBC claimed its reporting ‘reflects the global impact . . . and the strength of feeling . . . galvanised’ insisting that it ‘will continue to report impartially on issues highlighted as this story develops’. When it talks about ‘global impact’ and ‘strength of feeling’ one can only assume it is referring to its own echo chamber which includes other Leftist cultural institutions, academics and campaigners. You can respond back to the BBC if you are unhappy with its first reply, which I did, and two months on no follow-up has been received (rather an email suggesting I try Ofcom as they are oh-so-busy right now).

BLM has explicit aims to destabilise society. Surely its inflammatory messaging is relevant to the looting and violence continuing in America as well as abuse of and attacks on police officers on both sides of the Atlantic? When 36 police officers were injured in London in that first weekend of unrest in June, the BBC talked of ‘largely peaceful protests’ and omitted to inform viewers about what BLM thinks about our police. None of this matters to the BBC in the same way it would (and did) do when those ‘protesting’ are white nationalists. The BBC believes it has an active duty to stand against racism but it conflates the narrative of activism with reporting, apparently assuming the righteous position of BLM from the outset.

Throughout the summer, in the midst of racial tension stoked by Marxist agitators, the BBC chose to amplify individuals’ claims of racism against the police without challenge or context. The same sense of grievance plays out in much of the ‘woke’ narrative too often consuming BBC News output. Many black people don’t feel deeply offended by white society. Many gays feel awkward with train carriages painted in their name. Many women roll their eyes when the next round of gender-pay grievance figures is headlined. Conservative views are omitted from the BBC’s narrative as it gives credence to ‘strong feeling’ over balanced rational coverage. Britons do care about fairness, tolerance and equality but not the version pushed by activists.

Michael Collins, author of The Likes of Us: A Biography of the White Working Class, touched on the issue of race in a recent interview with Peter Whittle: ‘We kind of covered it ’cos we had to . . . we are being educated by people that didn’t have that experience’.  

White working-class Londoners did the BLM thing 40 years ago, moving through and beyond racial tensions as a community that got on with it. The liberal middle classes have apparently suddenly discovered this cause, delivering the message with a tone that insists on national self-reflection and demands a review and cleansing of the past. Many see through this preaching for what it is: vanity.

The ruling elites with a globalised worldview in both the USA and here in the UK were sent packing by electorates in 2016 yet a bourgeois liberal class have retained their position as cultural custodians and decanters of information in the media they control. Trump and Brexit were shocking to these elites but self-explained as mere interruptions to their assured hegemony which with the ‘right information’ the electorate could and would be corrected to understand what’s good for them. The explanation BBC Newsnight editor Lewis Goodall has for public dissatisfaction with output lies somewhere around the retort that ‘sometimes the truth hurts’:

Unfortunately there is another ‘truth’ to which the BBC is oblivious: Brexit didn’t go away and far from being shamed as an embarrassing irony of the misinformed, Trump is hot on the heels of Biden in the American polls and may well be about to take round two. What are the liberals not seeing? Perhaps they, too, need ‘unconscious bias’ training about working-class Britons?

The BBC continues unabashed with a declaration for more diversity. What it sees is not unique among our institutions’ worldview: race, sexuality and gender have become primary factors in the worth and measurement of people. For example, after the selection of Kamala Harris as Biden’s candidate for vice president I was left knowing little about her beyond her sex and race – I could have figured those out for myself. By choosing this path it taps into a navel-gazing narcissism which will only demand ever more attention.

For institutions, identity politics may cynically keep bureaucratic claims of inequality and discrimination at bay but ‘being seen to do something’ hardly lays the foundations for lasting change or growth. For the individual, identity politics may help the existentially weak claim a sense of Self, but it hardly builds real character, resilient enough to integrate into the whole of society ‘just as oneself is’. Last week the Huffington Post reported claims of institutional racism within the BBC with employees of its Africa service complaining that having a white manager is akin to ‘working the cotton plantations’ of old.

This really is what you reap when you sow a vision of humanity that goes no deeper than the immutable characteristics of birth and assumes those are the determiners of our life experience.

We are told that incoming director-general Tim Davie is seeking to reform the BBC and make its output more politically diverse. But will he be able to turn back the tide?

 

Image by Patrick Behn from Pixabay