Saturday, 25 March 2017

Further reading

Other BBC-related news this week concerns James Purnell's call for the BBC to be given top billing over rivals like Sky, Netflix and Amazon in TV guides, and for this to be enforced by law. This is something that News-watch's David Keighley describes elsewhere [see below] as "patronising, droit de seigneur" behaviour and an attempt to "steamroller Parliament". 

Also, as well as that letter from over 70 MPs calling for the BBC to get a grip over its Brexit coverage, former culture secretary John Whittingdale has warned that MPs might "escalate" their concerns about the BBC to Ofcom if the corporation fails to stop its negative bias over Brexit - though, to quote David again, Ofcom might not be the tiger Mr Whittingdale hopes it will be:
The focus of Ofcom boss Sharon White seems, however, to be elsewhere. At an Oxford media conference earlier this month her main concern was ‘diversity’ and the lack of older women on BBC screens.  Another major problem is that the Ofcom Content Board, which will be the final court of appeal in complaints about BBC output, is chock-full of ex-BBC figures.
Both of those stories came from the Daily Telegraph.  

Over at The Conservative Woman David Keighley himself reports the outcome of his complaint to the BBC about their coverage of the death of Arkadiusz Jozwik shortly after the Brexit vote - a death the BBC's initial reporting linked closely to claims that the Leave vote on June 23rd had resulted in a rise in hate crimes, presenting viewers with the idea of a frenzied hate-filled gang of youths targeting a Polish man. The police, however, later dismissed the 'hate crime' claim and one boy has now been convicted of manslaughter. David pursued the BBC doggedly through all the stages of the BBC's complaints process (Complaints Unit, Editorial Standards), eventually reaching the stage so many have reached before - receiving notification that his complaint is "not upheld" and won't be taken any further. "Surprise, surprise!", as David says. 

The Daily Mail, meanwhile, has a story of BBC 'fakery'. According to the paper, the producers of Reggie Yates's series Hidden Australia wanted to show Aborigines drinking to back up their 'ravaged by alcohol addiction't theme and then "panicked when they realised they didn't have enough footage of drinking", So they roped in some footage of a wake as a 'party scene'. The BBC has apologised for misleading viewers and removed the programme from the iPlayer. The BBC's apology does, however, make it sound as if the independent production company behind it was to blame. It has "banned" them as a result, according to the Mail.

The Mail has a piece today about how unfunny viewers found last night's Comic Relief. I didn't watch it myself so I wouldn't know. We did the usual Comic Relief collection at work but, oddly, no one (and certainly not me) took up the suggestion that we all come to work in our pyjamas. I have seen one clip of it though that made me laugh - though it wasn't an intentional joke. Click here and view the top video. (It involves Russell Brand, though there's no swearing). 

Oddly the sharpest criticism of Comic Relief comes from an article in The Guardian by David Lammy MP. He criticises Comic Relief for perpetuating patronising stereotypes about Africans: 

He points out that many African countries have been doing well recently - and not just as a result of Western charity - with life expectancy and GDP rising significantly in the majority of them. As I didn't watch this year's Comic Relief I can't say whether his characterisation remains true, though it certainly fits with my memories of watching it in years gone by.

Now, all the 'right-wing papers', of course, covered the MPs' open letter about BBC bias, not very favourably for the BBC. The 'left-wing' papers, equally 'of course perhaps', rallied to the BBC. Brian Reade in the Daily Mirror accuses the MPs of trying to "gag" the BBC and calls its "a dumb move" and the Guardian's media editor Jame Martinson accuses the MPs of "blaming the messenger". Though the far-left isn't keen on the BBC, the centre-left still seems fully on board. 

Talking of far-left critics of the BBC, the New Statesman has an interview with the famous Laura Kuenssberg. 'She treads very carefully' is all I'll say about that. 

And at the right-wing equivalent of the New Statesman, the Spectator, there's that Rod Liddle piece which Sue wrote about yesterday. As Sue said, it seems to echo much of what we've been saying to a striking degree. (And I agree with pretty much everything he writes there, even down to his praise for Carrie Gracie).

Plus he tells (or re-tells) anecdotes from his days as a BBC editor (on Today): of the then BBC’s controller of editorial policy who told him that people like us who complain about pro-EU BBC bias are "mad"; of the BBC Brussels office knocking down stories of EU "bureaucratic profligacy and incompetence" because they were so pro-EU; of the BBC chief correspondent who wrote a book about European populists called "Preachers of Hate"; and of his being told that only one person at Newsnight had voted Leave (which is one more than expected!).  

That's enough 'further reading' for today.


  1. thanks for your post. It is very important to give publicity to complaints "not upheld " when someone has gone to all the time and effort to challenge the BBC right through the the complaints procedure - well done to David! these efforts are appreciated because the BBC has to spend much in time, effort and employ people and resources in dealing with this and if more people bothered them and went to the top, then maybe would think about putting on such programmes. eg We would even get a tape recording of the radio programme we complained about years ago . One interesting example was Jeremy Bowen's reading of the anti Semitic newspaper report in from " What the papers say" Radio 4 - only the BBC had to go to the expense of re- doing the recording because Jeremy's voice on the original was so full of hate!

  2. I missed the story of Purnell demanding that Parliament passes a law to make the BBC have top billing in the tv guides. The law already favors the BBC and gives them an unfair privileged advantage above all other broadcaster: it's called the license fee. This would basically be a state directive for the public to get their information from the state broadcaster first.

    Purnell's call for a legal block to competition for the BBC is basically proof of all the negative things said about them regarding their desire for power and influence above all else.

  3. The joys of the BBC complaints process are not for the faint of heart. And process is what it is, as result is seldom to be anticipated. By design.

    I have scored one win. But few would know it as it was as buried as the BBC could make it.

    I have also several Trust 'got it about rights', based mainly on 'belief'.

    They don't like facts and evidence, and when cornered by them simply ban you. Trust and transparency in unique BBC style.

    The story about the BBC fakery is simply another example of their one degree of separation self delusion. If they commission it and run it, if the shape goes the way of the pear, it is nothing to do with the BBC. Moving on...

    In extreme cases where the spotlight is bright and not deflected, then sacrifices need to be made, and a member of staff may meet the underside of a bus.

    But though this may hurt reputationally, the sting is usually mild, especially at senior level. Often time, money and a new title await.

    Think Helen Boaden or Jasime Lawrence. Or, Russel and Jonathan for that matter.

    Meanwhile, in a helicopter above Ciff's apartment...

    1. ... and then there is the BBC FOI.

      So far every question rejected, mainly as a #purposesof rejection, but on occasion a 'we think we'll take too long and so we have decided not to'.