BBC Bias

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 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.

Jane Kelly: The BBC, where history really is bunk

Jane Kelly: The BBC, where history really is bunk

This post by Jane Kelly originally appeared on The Conservative Woman

An eight-part drama about the Nuremberg Trials has started on Radio 4. BBC commissioning editor Rhian Roberts said it was ‘designed to present phenomenal moments of history in a compelling style so we can all continue to understand how our world was shaped by them’.

What we got was inexplicable: no Hartley Shawcross, Britain’s lead prosecutor, whose opening speech, lasting two days, disputed the idea that the trials were ‘victor’s justice’ or revenge. We got attacks on Britain and Churchill compared unfavourably to Stalin. ‘At least he wasn’t a hypocrite.’ America rather than Germany appeared to be in the dock.

The narrator is a posh young gel, the trope of the sexy female spy, apparently groomed only for marriage, recruited to SOE because she is good at skiing and more importantly, she hates her class. Not a common attitude among toff girls at the time, but this is the New History, termed ‘Presentism’, where the past is judged by our own standards and blame freely apportioned, usually to white middle-class men. This is called ‘Critical Race Theory’ and it challenges previous interpretations of culture and education, pitching the accusation of white racism into every subject. The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, established as a national memorial in 1965 by a combination of public subscription and government contributions, have just removed the ‘Winston’ from their name, claiming he was a racist.

Of course, history has always been a propaganda tool. When Henry Ford said ‘History is bunk’ in 1921, he meant it was often manipulated. His maxim has been cynically espoused by the Left who insist that it is no more than worthless disinformation, written by victors and imperialists. That theory is now overlaid by Marx, who said all history is about class struggle. This blurring of boundaries between teaching subject knowledge and preaching politics has profoundly affected the teaching of history and in some cases almost abolished it. With post-pandemic confusion in schools, the grip of Marxist teaching may get stronger. As education secretary, Michael Gove wanted to bring back traditional, chronological history teaching and his departure was a loss. Oxford’s vice-chancellor Louise Richardson has just greeted the start of the new academic term by declaring she is ‘embarrassed’ that Gove was a student there, while calling for ‘more ideological diversity,’ i.e. more people who think like her.

Now that history teaching is so poor, it’s not always easy for people to articulate their instinctive desire to defend the historical past. Robert Tombs, Professor Emeritus of French History at Cambridge, has started an internet site called History Reclaimed offering unbiased facts about ‘dead white males’, such as Darwin, who are being traduced. He aims to target ‘ideologically-driven distortions’ about our history. ‘You read in the paper that Churchill is a racist and you think could that really be true,’ he says. ‘History has become one of the major battlegrounds in the culture wars that are causing anger and alarm across the democratic world.’ His site will publish ‘short and accessible pieces’ for the public and ministers, civil servants, trustees of museums and galleries and local authorities who may suffer woke bullying. ‘There must be local councillors who think, what is the truth about this?’ says Tombs. ‘Should we pull it down, put up an explanation, or what? We’ll provide what I hope will be solid and historical explanations.’

He and his co-editor, Cambridge history professor David Abulafia, want to arm everyone against the thinking which associates imperialism and slavery exclusively with Europeans. ‘Adherents of Critical Race Theory place Europe at the heart of their arguments,’ says Abulafia, ‘ignoring empire-building and enslavement in Mongol Eurasia, or among the Aztecs and Incas.’ He might add African kingdoms such as Dahomey.  ‘What is deeply contentious,’ he says, ‘is the insistence that everything significant in world history flowed out of the slave trade to the Americas.’

Strangely, while everything apparently flowed from the evils of European culture, we are not allowed to believe that anything significant ever happened in Europe; the term ‘Renaissance’ has been replaced by ‘Early Modern’ as it suggested some particularity in the West, deliberately distracting from cultural advances in Africa and the Middle East. What we were once taught to call the ‘Enlightenment’ was apparently a racist enterprise. Abulafia points to the injustice and inaccuracy of the woke view that the cultivation of sugar, tobacco and cotton by slaves provided all the capital and raw materials for the Industrial Revolution, ignoring the massive profits from the earlier wool industry and Agricultural Revolution. Alleging that all UK wealth derives from black slavery ignores centuries of back-breaking labour by British people on the land and in heavy industry.

‘Unless we push back, this will continue to be imposed on the British public,’ says Professor Doug Stokes, who teaches international relations at Exeter, one of 40 academics connected to the site. ‘This country has played a hugely progressive role in history: Magna Carta; the abolition movement; fighting the Nazis. People should feel proud of that.’

Hopefully British history can be reclaimed. We may even take pride again in some of what we once had; Professor Tombs has been invited on to the new government Heritage Advisory Board created to establish guidelines on how to deal with ‘difficult heritage’ and ‘help boards make effective decisions about how to deal with objects that are contested within the government’s policy framework of “retain and explain”.’

Perhaps the professor’s new site should be called The Bunker, a cache where de-bunkers can themselves be debunked, a safe haven for truth and nuance, just in time to save them from extinction.

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.

Photo by CDC from Pexels
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.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels
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.

 

Photo by Anthony from Pexels
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.