Saturday, 22 April 2017


Our friends at the BBC are certainly worried about those 'stopwatches'. Nick Robinson famously doesn't like them (or calculators for that matter). And now it's Andrew Marr, writing in the Spectator, who appears to be hearing Time's wingèd chariot (in the form of a BBC bias watcher's stopwatch) hurrying near:
For broadcasters, the usual rules on being evenhanded could become ferociously complicated. If it is, as the Prime Minister says, our ‘Brexit election’ then you’d think we should give each side of that huge argument a fair crack of the whip. But if that looks like giving the Lib Dems and the SNP more airtime than their current parliamentary strength warrants, then both Labour and the Tories would strongly protest. Stopwatches will be brandished. For the next couple of months, life as a print journalist will seem a lot, lot easier.
Please excuse me while I ring for an ambulance as my heart has just started bleeding for Andrew Marr. 


  1. 'Stopwatch balance' is a canard. That's not say that panel balance isn't a thing, of course, or that sheer volume of voices on either side over the course of time isn't important, either. But 'stopwatch balance' is a false choice.

    As you demonstrated years ago with your 'Interruption Quotient" idea, Craig, eyes began to open about how the treatment of each side was the real concern. By making the debate about time allotments, the BBC can avoid discussing the way the handle each side of an issue, or the overt bias of the perspectives of their questions and editorializing.

    Marr himself is a classic example.

  2. Any organisation that controls £5 billion revenue per annum can make their own rules essentially.

    The quickest way to reform and one the BBC would find it hard to combat is to have the management board directly elected by licence fee payers in the same way building society boards are elected by members.

    The effect would be an overnight earthquake as far as the BBC are concerned.