News-watch calls for scrapping of ‘biased’ BBC complaints system

News-watch calls for scrapping of ‘biased’ BBC complaints system

News-watch has told culture minister John Whittingdale’s review of the BBC  that the current BBC complaints system is not fit for purpose.

The 10,000 word submission argues that it should be replaced by scrutiny through a completely independent body.

It provides comprehensive evidence – from News-watch’s own experience of submitting complaints – that the Trustees, who police BBC impartiality and have overall responsibility for complaints, are too much in the sway of BBC management and are not robustly independent.

The introduction to the submission states:

“News-watch  has unique experience over the past 16 years in dealing with the BBC about issues of impartiality relating especially to the coverage of the affairs of the European Union[1].  We have found that the current structure of BBC governance favours too much the interests of the BBC itself, is not properly independent, and, because of multiple operational inadequacies, is not fit for purpose. There is brick-wall negativity in dealing with complaints[2].

The Trustees have obdurately and unreasonably refused to accept extensive evidence that the EU-related output has continuing serious shortcomings of the type first highlighted in the Lord Wilson of Dinton report of 2005.

The findings of News-watch, based on the systematic monitoring of BBC output and analysis using rigorous academic methodology, include: under-representation and poor understanding of the eurosceptic perspective, a continual tendency to view the European Union through the prism of Conservative splits, a failure to discuss properly the case for withdrawal, and severe under-reporting of EU affairs, to the extent that it is ‘bias by omission’.”

Full report here.


[1] News-watch has been analysing BBC output on a structured basis, in accordance with academic practice of media monitoring, since 1999.

More than 6,000 hours of news and current affairs programmes have been systematically logged and analysed on a regular basis through longitudinal surveys. It is arguably the largest research project ever undertaken into BBC output.  An archive of this work is here: .
[2] In 2014, according to the Trustees’ complaints bulletin, only nine complaints out of 144 considered by the Editorial Standards Committee were upheld.

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1 comment

  • Excellent contribution, David.

    I made a complaint about Question Time in October 2014. It has taken over a year to go through the whole process.

    And, that process included being ignored for 3 months, having to get my MP to chase the BBC.

    The whole format is being passed through a series of smug BBC contacts, who simply re-gurgitate the same “we are committed to being impartial” message.

    With such a thick stonewall defence, it is hardly surprising BBC statistics imply we’re all very happy with their liberal left pro-EU bias.


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