Monday 31 March 2014

Dedication's What You Need

BBC Watch has published a fascinating account from Sam Green about how he finally convinced the BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee to uphold his complaint against the BBC for a Today report by Kevin Connolly. 

It took him two and a half years though. Many would have given up (which is a lesson for us all).

He encountered delaying tactics, faulty logic and deliberate obfuscation - and even now still doesn't know whether Today or Kevin Connolly actually accept the Trust's findings. Nor does he know what the BBC intends to do to make amends for this inaccurate and misleading report.

It's well worth reading in full. 

This Be The Verse

The new offence would make it a crime to do anything that deliberately harmed a child’s “physical intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development”.
This could include deliberately ignoring a child, or not showing them any love, over prolonged periods, damaging a child’s emotional development.
Other new offences could include forcing a child to witness domestic violence, making a child a scape goat or forcing degrading punishments upon them.
As many as 1.5 million British children are believed to suffer from neglect.
In the comments below that article and in the Telegraph's own leading article, practical concerns were raised that this could be very hard to police, that the definition of 'emotional cruelty' must be narrow and precise, and that it might lead to a considerable number of vexatious complaints and potential miscarriages of justice. 

Reassurance are given though that that this kind of law already works well in other countries and that only around 250 such cases are expected each year (rather than the 1.5 million cases that might possibly be expected from the Telegraph's figure.) In other words, we are assured that social workers won't be calling in the police on thousands upon thousands of families every year.

Won't they? After all we've had over-zealous social workers (the satanic abuse affair, most notoriously before) for, despite the strong case that cab be made for rescuing children in those 250 or so worst-case-scenario kinds of home through some change in the law (given the mental health issues that can result from such prolonged treatment ) it's hard not to hear alarm bells ringing at the thought of the potential dangers that could arise from this legislation. After all, expecting the state to be a perfect fairy-godmother is unwise at the best of times.

Such are the kinds of conflicted things I've been thinking whilst reading the Telegraph, Guardian and Spectator today. 

It's a good thing that I didn't just rely on the BBC today though. 

I've had two encounters with the BBC's coverage today.

The first was a website article in which everyone was in favour of the proposed new law. As it wasn't open to comments and no dissenting views were given.

The second was a discussion on Martha Kearney's The World at One where both guests (a Lib Dem MP and a lawyer) backed the proposed law, again with no dissenting view. 

Anyhow, here's a famous poem by Philip Larkin that seems rather appropriate. The state will need to read it daily if it passes such a law to make sure that there aren't many, many, many more that 250 such 'Cinderella Law' cases each year - and that the bulk of those aren't vexatious, based on all-too-common tensions between parents and children:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.   
    They may not mean to, but they do.   
They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,   
Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

“Islamophobia” and the BBC

I hope everyone will be watching tonight’s Panorama. Journalists like John Ware and Andrew Gilligan are too few and far between.

However, it’s the shenanigans behind the scenes that are hugely troubling. You’ve got to read the piece that is cross-posted on Harry’s Place and Trial by Jeory 
This affair should be ringing governmental and journalistic alarm bells. Together with other corrupt scandals and  practices such as the plot outlined in the infamous Trojan Horse letter (even though its authenticity is suspect, its substance is demonstrably valid) these emerging third-world tactics represent dots that the government and the media seem reluctant to join up. 

There will surely have to be a tipping point when merely dismissing everyone who speaks out as ‘Islamophobic’ and right wing isn’t an automatic gagging device. Let’s hope this programme ruffles a few feathers, and that this time they stay ruffled unlike Undercover Mosque which now seems a distant memory.  

Duncan Weldon: The shape of bias to come?

Radio 4 listeners got a sneak preview of TUC senior economist-turned Newsnight economics editor Duncan Weldon last week, and a chance to assess whether those concerns about the likelihood of him bringing more left-wing bias with him to Newsnight are likely to be borne out or not. 

He presented an edition of Analysis called Why Minsky Matters

The Minsky in question was the American post-Keynesian economist Hyman Minsky, and in the course of the programme we heard from various Keynsians, neo-Keynsians and post-Keynsians - namely George Magnus, Professor Steve Keen and Laurence Meyer, as well as Adair Turner and Wendy Carlin from the Keynesian Institute for New Economic Thinking. Each and every one of them is on what might be called the 'left side' of the present economic/political debate. Not one of them had a bad thing to say about Minsky's ideas. And neither did Duncan.

The one concession to non-Keynesian thought came with a brief (less than one minute) contribution from Joseph Salerno, an Austrian School economist who said Minsky got some things right and some thinks wrong. It would have been good to have heard about some of those things Minsky may have got wrong in more detail, because this Analysis gave every impression that he was right in every respect. 

Professor Salerno was then dismissed by Duncan Weldon in a way that doesn't bode well for his career on Newsnight. (Duncan said the economist who inspired the institute where Professor Salerno works isn't mentioned these days. Unlike Minksy.)

The most ominous bit though came when Duncan related some of Minksy's ideas to the present UK government's Help to Buy scheme. Guess who he invited to comment on it? Former Labour MP Kitty Ussher, who wasn't supportive of the scheme. 

OK, Duncan Weldon was making an argument for the importance of Minsky, and doing so - explicitly - in his old job as TUC senior economist rather than in his new job as a BBC reporter, so this out-and-out bias is still defensible. But woe betide him if he does something like this after he begins reporting for Newsnight!

Sunday 30 March 2014

Life's too short

Not all my precious time is spent blogging. I have parallel obligations; domestic servant, business partner, confidante to random strangers (dunno why) and a lot lot more. Ugh! I hate “lot lot.” I threw it in to see if you were listening.

Some of my time, and yours I bet, is spent looking for things in and around the home. My specialism is the vital message written on a piece of paper. Everything in the vicinity has to be sifted through and no paper must be left unturned. If whatever-it-is does turn up at the end of a hard day’s goose-chase, it infuriatingly reveals itself not to have been on a piece of paper at all, but on a greasy old brown envelope or a torn off bit of newspaper. Or a scrap of wood.
This time can never be reclaimed. What’s the moral?

Blogging also means reading, and I limit that to one or two core websites like Harry’s Place, the Spectator and the iPlayer. 

Harry’s Place has the most interesting btl comments and the articles often address subjects I like. I’m a mere infant compared to many of these commenters, you’ve noticed.

Why am I telling you this? Oh yes, I’m telling you because I first heard about the  Newsnight debacle on an H/P thread. The article was titled: “Who Speaks for British Muslims? Reflections on Newsnight”   with the sub heading: some perspectives on the recent  Newsnight debate. 

The Harry’s Place discussion veered off at a many faceted tangent and developed into a fascinating thread about Islam in general.  Disqus’s nesting system is helpful in that a ‘reply’ states which poster it’s addressing, but it throws the chronology out the window. If you happen to come upon the thread, say, a few days late, there’s a continuity problem, which is hard to unpick.

The so-called Newsnight ‘debate’ was also alluded to by Craig here. Debate it was not, but I thought it sounded like a spectacle one ought to watch. So I looked at it on iPlayer.

It was in fact a free-for-all involving the three most irritating male media-Muslims, whose individual incoherences merged into one unintelligible incoherence with Jeremy Paxman smirking in the background.
The item was introduced with a short film by Maajid Nawaz. It featured an excessive amount of smoking on hookas. 

Nawaz, Hasan and Ansar are notoriously verbose and apt to prefer the sound of their own voices to those of other people, but obviously the chaos wasn’t predictable enough for Jeremy Paxman, as he saw fit to exacerbate things with a provocative remark about Nawaz’s famous Jesus and Mo cartoon T shirt Tweet. This scuppered any hope of finding an answer to the original question:  “What is a spokesman for the Muslim community? What does it mean, how do you get the job?” 

Nawaz presents himself as a reformer. Actually he seems just as much of a self publicist as the other two, who also present themselves a reformers, of a slightly different, equally unconvincing strain. At the end of the day it’s the same old same old.

These gentlemen are never off our screens. My perfect unbiased BBC day would have to be Maajid/Mehdi/Mo-free, and it would also have to have at least one Woman’s Hour without a discussion about the veil or any other topic that starts from the premise that Muslim values are universally accepted, and/or of interest to  all and sundry. The unfortunate assumption that this is the case has crept by stealth into much of the BBC’s output. As Shirley Conran said ‘Life’s too short to stuff a Muslim.

I always find vital messages in the end. Usually under some papers on one of the surfaces I mentioned, or on the back of an old exercise book. It’s very satisfying.  Happy Mother’s day to me.

The BBC's new Business Editor - Kamal Ahmed

Rod Liddle has a fine, funny piece over at the Spectatorfrom which a few choice extracts may be drawn.

Rod agrees that, generally-speaking, there's "a limp-wristed, whining liberal bias within the BBC’s output," adding that "only a faux-lefty organisation could have poured so much money into, for example, David Hare’s tedious, clunking and predictable production Turks & Caicos, which you may have had the misfortune to have watched last week." (Didn't watch it). He says, though, that it's "the boss class [at the BBC] where the problem really resides; a complacent consensus of liberal opinion which they do not consider political at all, simply ‘civilised’". 

He singles out four areas "where the BBC has a long-standing problem - social affairs, foreign affairs, community affairs and especially the environment, where the coverage is often little more than a stream of tendentious propaganda - something many of us would agree with.

But Rod then bowls a surprising angle at us:
Oddly enough, the BBC’s business and economics coverage is the one area where the corporation seems less prone to bien-pensant bias. The former director-general Greg Dyke effected a sort of revolution at the beginning of this century, particularly in business coverage. Hitherto, if a firm cut 1,000 jobs and outsourced to Malaysia, the traditional mode of coverage was to rant at the managing director and interview some dispirited single mum who had just been kicked out of work. Then Dyke came in and suddenly the mode of coverage was to praise the managing director for making his firm fitter and leaner, share price up etc, and tell the single mum to start looking through the jobs columns, you lazy slattern. The excellent Jeff Randall, further to the right than a fish-knife, was appointed as the corporation’s first business editor, and there were no complaints then that his obvious political disposition made him unsuitable for the job.
I have to say I still hear a fair few interviews where managing directors get ranted at though, plus Jeff Randall was fairly quickly replaced by Robert Peston, but I suspect there's some truth in that. 

If you didn't know though,  Robert Peston has himself now moved sideways to become the BBC's economics editor. 

From what I can gather, this is a basic outline of Mr Ahmed's career so far:
- Scotland on Sunday, chief reporter 1993-1994
- The Guardian/Observer, media editor, political editor, executive editor, 1994-2007
- Equality and Human Rights Commission, head of communications 2007-09
- The Daily Telegraph, business editor, 2009-14
- BBC, business editor, 2014-
Whether he's further to the right than a fish-knife, further to the left than a tin-opener, or straight down the middle like a colander, only time will tell. 

A short Sunday

There's no time today for a detailed post about this morning's Sunday on Radio 4 (you may be relieved to hear), so here's a short one instead.

I will admit that it had me tutting even more than usual today - more tuts than a party involving Elvis' drummer Ron Tutt, actor Julian Rhind-Tutt and King Tutankhamun. 

Gay marriage was the leitmotif which ran throughout the programme. Archbishop Welby was asked about it, as was Chief Rabbi Mirvis, and so was a Catholic Conservative MP - so that's representatives of Anglicanism, Judaism and Catholicism. 

It's rare that you get a Conservative MP on Sunday - it's usually Labour or Liberal Democrat MPs who appear on the programme - but Conor Burns MP was invited on today to criticise his own Catholic bishop for excommunicating him over his vote for gay marriage. (This is a classic Sunday story.)

I may not be a Catholic but I've become slightly more clued-up on Catholic matters over the past couple of years or so, and if there's one English 'bogey-Bishop' for the likes of Edward Stourton and his fellow liberal Catholic Tabletistas, it's the new(ish), conservative-traditionalist Bishop of Portsmouth, Philip Egan. And, lo and behold, here he was being slated on Sunday - just as he's been slated in recent days in The Tablet. 

In fact, although I've never heard about  the story before, as soon as an unnamed bishop was mentioned as being the 'villain of the piece' I guessed it might be Bishop Egan. 

After the Bishop was well-and-truly bashed, Edward Stourton said, curtly, that they'd asked Philip Egan to come onto the programme to respond, and he'd said "No." I wonder why.

The opening report from an Anglican gathering of religious communities featured just two 'vox pops' out of the hundreds of people there, the first just happening to mention the hardship caused by the economic 'cuts'.

It wouldn't be liberal Catholic Sunday these days without some 'Pope Francis is great' piece, and here was Ed and David Willey (of the BBC) talking about how President Obama was wowed by the pontiff. David mentioned Pope Benedict in passing with that usual chilly tone in his voice. They also talked about a singing nun. 

They didn't talk though about the suspension of the Tablet's Vatican correspondent, Robert Mickens, for posting an offensive tweet about Pope Benedict. As Ed is a Tablet trustee, David Willey also writes for the Tablet and Robert Mickens used to be a regular commentator on Sunday, that may not be surprising.

I've written before about how Sunday has its own favoured charities. Islamic Relief is one of them and and, lo and behold, here they were again. 

This week Sunday went one step further and included a report from one manager of Islamic Relief, Martin Cottingham, followed by an interview with the director of Islamic Relief, Jehangir Malik. Mr Cottingham's report pretty much amounted to a puff-piece for the achievements of the charity - a Radio 4 appeal in disguise. (Is anyone on the Sunday team a trustee at Islamic Relief?)

Finally, Catholic script consultant Barbara Nicolosi-Harrington talked about the new Noah blockbuster, starring Russell Crowe. She give it two thumbs very firmly down - and rightly so by the sounds of it. 

Now, as Ed always says, enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Saturday 29 March 2014

The rest of the sardines

Actually, time is running out...and I'm about to lose an hour of my weekend when the clocks go forward tonight (don't forget!)...

So here's a quick breeze through the rest of this week's editions of Newsnight.

Finishing off Tuesday's edition, the debate on inheritance tax was balanced between someone who approves of it and someone who disapproves of it. The preceding report was a little less balanced though, tending towards the 'inheritance is the root of personal and social unhappiness' side of Newsnight's initial question - a tendency amplified by having a 'talking head' from just one side of that argument - namely Will Hutton of the Work Foundation praising the moral virtues of inheritance tax. The other 'talking head' didn't express a view on that, merely on the Conservatives' failure to live up to their election promises. Some might call that biased. 

Islamist terrorists might also describe Jeremy Paxman as biased for calling them "murderous bigots" in the introduction to the following piece on Somalia, but I'm prepared to forgive him.

The first of two jokey pieces mocking Michael Gove ended this edition of Newsnight.

Wednesday's edition began with the Farage/Clegg debate on LBC. It made Peter Oborne...hic...of the Telegraph even more red in the face...hic...than usual:  
Yesterday Newsnight's panel was a classic case of the endemic BBC bias against Ukip that dates back years. Newsnight invited three reporters into the studio. One was George Parker, respected for his excellent Lib Dem contacts, and political editor of the dogmatically pro-European Financial Times.
The second was Phil Collins (a former speechwriter for Tony Blair) of the Times, a paper which has been running a virulent attack campaign against Ukip. Only Melanie Philips [sic] shared some of Ukip’s views.
In short, Newsnight loaded its panel against Farage.
Well, yes. Newsnight might reply that George Parker is a neutral commentator (like themselves), but his comments aligned closely with those of the openly pro-European Phil Collins. If anything, Melanie Phillips [yes, all you 'Mad Mel' haters!] came closer to being a neutral commentator here, giving praise and damnation for both Nick and Nigel, so much so that Nigel Farage didn't really have a strong champion on the panel, and the segment was allowed to end with an ad hominem attack on the UKIP leader from the ex-Labour speechwriter. 

As for the rest of that night's Newsnight, well, Jeremy Paxman's interview with Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, Paxo's questions on Ukraine followed in the path of Emily Maitlis by plugging away at the idea of military action against Russia - what is it with Newsnight and this strange pushing of military action against Russia? - and, my goodness, how former golden boy Paul Kigame of Rwanda has fallen in the eyes of liberal-minded Westerners! Plus, the piece on debt was based on a report from the centre-left think tank Demos, which Demos had shared their research (exclusively) with Newsnight. The debate on giving the morning-after pill to teenage girls was well-balanced though.

Thursday night's edition began with gay marriage. BBC 5Live had carried out a survey that found that the British public is broadly supportive of gay marriage and that 80% of people said they'd be happy to attend a gay wedding. Strangely, Newsnight chose to place a negative spin on that, asking "Would you say, 'No, thanks' to an invitation to a gay wedding?' An exclusive BBC poll suggests 1 in 5 of us would refuse to go." According to Laura K's introduction that's "a sizeable chunk" of the population, and "many of us". To me it looks like just 20% - a smallish minority. The debate between pro-gay marriage author Philip Henscher and Melanie McDonagh of The Spectator that followed was balanced and good-natured. Both parties came out of it well (which can't always be said of all such debates). 

Chris Cook's report on the energy companies was fine, as was Laura K's interview with the boss of Ofgem, as was the programme's coverage of the traumatised Afghan war veterans story and her interviews on the subject of Egypt.

Those, however, who hate 'man-made climate change' stories, and think the BBC's 'environment analyst' Roger Harrabin is an 'environmental activist in disguise', might have been well-advised to have averted their eyes from what followed: Roger Harrabin's report on the 'man-made acidification' on the oceans. Dyspepsia might have resulted. The second of two jokey pieces mocking Michael Gove followed. 

I've nothing to say about Friday's edition as it seemed fine to me. 

The Crystal Methodist, the BBC and the Daily Mail

Tuesday's Newsnight was the edition which featured Jeremy Paxman's 17 minute-long interview with the disgraced former Co-operative Bank boss, Paul Flowers.

Taken together with Laura Kuenssberg's introductory report and her closing chat with Jeremy Paxman, that night's Newsnight gave over just under half an hour to this story - a considerable amount of time to give over to one man's self-justification.

The former Methodist minister clearly doesn't go a bundle on the old-fashioned idea that you should, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those that curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you", for as the Gospel of St. Luke says, "And if any Sunday newspaper strikes you on one cheek, offer them the other one too". 

Oh, no, Rev. Flowers is certainly not for turning the other cheek at all, and most definitely doesn't believe in loving his enemies, the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday. He smote back at those newspapers with all the strength - plus reserves of venom ("pseudo-fascist", "far-right"). Plus he was clearly prepared to smiteth his political opponents, the Tories, in the process too. 

Those who believe the BBC is left-biased have seized on this decision to give the Labour-supporting disgraced ex-bank boss a very sympathetic interview from Jeremy Paxman as clear proof of that bias.

The most powerful assault on this interview - and the BBC - came (perhaps unsurprisingly) from Stephen Glover at the Daily Mail:
But the interview of Paul Flowers constituted an abdication of proper journalism. That, and the way the BBC promoted it throughout its news programmes as a hugely important exclusive - whereas, in fact, it was intended as a piece of anti-Tory propaganda - betray some pretty twisted journalistic values. The truth is that the BBC would not have exposed his deviant behaviour and colossal mistakes - as newspaper journalism has done - in a thousand years.  
I think that Laura Kuenssberg's introductory report and her closing discussion with Paxo provided some counter-balance, going into some detail about his failings as a banker, mentioning his Labour links (and suggesting those should be borne in mind when he tried to implicate the Conservatives in the mess at the Co-op), and noting how his version of events in the Newsnight interview was different to his parliamentary evidence but, still, I think it's fair to say that the programme failed to robustly challenge/question his accusations. (For example, the was no attempt to explain how his two accounts differ.)

What was needed - quite obviously I'd have thought - was either a Conservative spokesman or a Daily Mail spokesman to respond (preferably both). 

Neither appeared, either on that night's programme or on the following nights' programmes, which seems rather remiss. 

Going back to Stephen Glover at the Daily Mail though...

He singled out Newsnight editor Ian Katz for particular criticism:
Mr Katz recently strengthened the Left-of-Centre line-up on the programme by appointing Duncan Weldon, a former Labour adviser and senior economist at the Trade Union Congress, who has very little journalistic experience. But he is a good Leftie!
The same Mr Katz gleefully tweeted Mr Flowers's outrageous remarks about the Mail on Sunday when the show had ended. Is this how a grown-up editor should behave? Is it serious journalism? No, and no.
Newsnight has nearly always had a Left-wing bias, but Mr  Katz appears to be in the process of shamelessly consolidating it. The appointment of Mr Weldon (another apparent Leftie, Chris Cook, has also recently jumped aboard as policy editor) amounts to another rude gesture towards those who don't share his prejudices.
Now, there's obviously something in that [as I've written before] and Ian Katz would certainly be best keeping off Twitter but, given Newsnight newbie Chris Cook's previously role as a Conservative Party advisor [specifically to David Willetts], it's very hard not to raise a Roger Moore-style eyebrow at Stephen Glover's casual assertion that he's probably a Leftie. [I would guess, I suspect more accurately, that he's a pro-EU Tory wet.]

That kind of confident but likely-to-be completely wrong assertion is something we BBC bashers have to guard against, he says sententiously [having done it himself on more than one occasion]...

...and so is seeing quality in a BBC journalist only if he or she happens to do something we like, such as giving some grief to one of our ideological opponents. 

Here's an absolute peach of an example of that particular specimen of faulty thought (based on nothing more than a single interview), courtesy of the self-same Mr Glover: 
Of course, the BBC has many fine journalists. Paxo should be one of them. Another may be Laura Kuenssberg — one promising recent recruit to Newsnight — who not long ago brilliantly eviscerated Harriet Harman over her links to the Paedophile Information Exchange during the Seventies.
Do you see what he did there? [Even though I think he's right].

Still, he's correct that Newsnight came far too close to absolving Rev. Flowers of his sins, with Jeremy Paxman (of all people) being his puppy-like confessor. Plus Newsnight - and the BBC as a whole - were too willing to plug his anti-Tory, anti-Mail message, and Newsnight failed to adequately challenge his claims, or plug the anti-Labour counter argument.

As a human being, I don't feel entirely unsympathetic to him [having faced what he faced in so short a space of time], but self-pity and self-promotion [much on evidence here] aren't entirely winning qualities either, and serving revenge as a cold dish isn't exactly endearing either - especially when the server has been a Christian preacher. 

When seagulls follow the trawler...

A famous French philosopher once said, 'When seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.'

Well, we here at Is the BBC biased? have been following Newsnight for much the same reason, though we're after bias rather than sardines (though I for one wouldn't object to coming across the odd sardine or two in the process.) 

Has Newsnight thrown lots of sardines into the sea this week?

The following posts will take it day by day. (They will come in dribs and drabs, as it's lovely and sunny outside).

Monday's edition featured a discussion of the 'Maajid Nawaz Affair', and pitted Mr Nawaz against the controversial "community activist" Mo Ansar and the controversial Huff Post UK' editor Mehdi Hasan. 

Mr Nawaz was 'in the dock', and the charge against him was that of being "unfair to Islam" - a charge clearly stated in Jeremy Paxman's introductory remarks. 

In fairness, however, Maajid Nawaz had just been allowed to present his own Newsnight report so it doesn't seem improper for him to be challenged by two people in the subsequent discussion.

Newsnight came in for some stick for reporting Mr Nawaz's original protest against the BBC's censorship of the Jesus & Mo cartoon [on The Big Questions] by itself refusing to show that cartoon for fearing of offending some Muslims. Newsnight chose to take sides, and took the side of those 'offended Muslims' against Maajid Nawaz. Editor Ian Katz said that there was “no clear journalistic case to use” the cartoon, and said that “describing” it was sufficient. He claimed that it “causes great offence to many, not just extremists” and said that to run it would be “journalistic machismo”.

Well, this Monday Ian Katz must have surging with testosterone as Newsnight did indeed finally broadcast the cartoon, with Mo visible for all to see. 

Clearly a change of heart on Ian Katz's part. 

The Ukraine-Russia discussion was certainly biased against Vladimir Putin, with the wife of Putin's arch critic, the Polish foreign minister, appearing alongside a Canadian liberal and an Oxford University professor, and the criticisms of the Russian leader and his policies came thick and fast. 

That, incidentally, is the second time Anne Applebaum has been on Newsnight (slamming Putin) in the past three weeks. It's ages since I've seen or heard Alex Pravda on the BBC; indeed, I'd quite forgotten his existence. He used to be on quite a lot around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. As, of course, did Michael Ignatieff, who used to be BBC Two's furrow-browed intellectual of choice around that time, acting as a presenter on several BBC programmes. (He hasn't changed). 

The bit about Labour's poorly-received reaction to the Budget balances out criticism of Newsnight I read last week, when Ed Miliband's widely-panned performance in response to the Budget was buried under booze and bingo, and on Newsnight's strong emphasis on the "pensioners blowing their pensions on new lamborghinis" angle. Some (such as at Biased BBC) saw that as clear pro-Labour bias.

This edition tackled that, and the opinion polls showing Labour and the Conservatives being almost neck-and-neck, and Jeremy Paxman questioned Hazel Blears about whether Ed Miliband is any good. (She hasn't changed either).

Did that come about because Ian Katz spotted the charge of clear bias and decided to counter that this week? Or did it come about because The Guardian had published a letter from a bunch of think tanks calling for Labour to adopt a number of clear political positions - one of whom was featured in the report? We'll never know. 

The package did begin, however, with Jeremy Paxman repeated the programme's dig at "pensioners blowing their pensions on new lamborghinis", along with other Paxmanesque sneers at the measure.

A few sardines then, but not particularly tasty ones. There are far tastier ones to come....

'Newsnight': 24-28 March

Time again for this week's list of stories covered by Newsnight (plus details of those interviewed). What does it tell us (if anything) about BBC bias?

Monday 24/3

1. Missing Malaysian airliner. Interview with David Mearns of Water Recoveries & Stephen Trimble of Flight International.
2. Maajid Nawaz - What's life like for Muslims who go outside the mainstream?: "We'll ask if this kind of portrayal is fair to Islam?" Interview with Maajid Nawaz, community activist Mo Ansar & Mehdi Hasan of Huffington Post UK.
3. Russia-Ukraine. Interview with Anne Applebaum, Washington Post; Dr Alex Pravda of Oxford University & Professor Michael Ignatieff of Harvard University.
4. Labour's response to the Budget. Interview with Hazel Blears MP (Labour)
5. John Lennon's poetry.

Tuesday 25/3
1. Interview with disgraced Co-Op boss. Interview with Paul Flowers.
2. Inheritance tax. "Is the right to pass on wealth the entitlement of everyone or the root of personal and social unhappiness?" Interview with Michelle Mone, founder of 'Ultimo' lingerie & Peter Buffett, musician and philanthropist.
3. Somalia. "Firefights on the frontline of the latest al-Qaeda battlefield".
   [Closing credits: Michael Gove's rap enthusiasm. Mr Bean, the Gentleman Rhymer, performs, with mock-ups of Michael Gove in various kinds of rap gear behind]

Wednesday 26/3
1. Farage v Clegg debate. Interview with George Parker of the FT, social commentator Melanie Phillips & Philip Collins of The Times.
2. NATO & Russia. Interview with Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond (Con)
3. Rwanda. "Is this man, the President of Rwanda, having his political enemies assassinated?"
4. Debt. "And what happened to the Britain that had a horror of going into debt?" (Based on a report from Demos.)
5. Teenagers & morning-after pills. Interview with Lex Croucher, video blogger & Chantal Norbi-Scott, student.
   [closing credits: A 'viral' video about a fire and a trapped construction worker]

Thursday 27/3
1. Gay marriage: "Would you say, 'No, thanks' to an invitation to a gay wedding?' An exclusive BBC poll suggests 1 in 5 of us would refuse to go." Interview with Melanie McDonagh of The Spectator and author/campaigner Philip Henscher.
2. Energy companies: "15 years of privatisation and we still haven't got in right...Why start another investigation now? Could it be just another political fix and, more to the point perhaps, is it a good idea?" Interview with Dermot Nolan of Ofgem
3. Man-made acidification of the seas: "We know about global warming, but are carbon emissions turning our oceans into acid?"
4. Traumatised Afghan war veterans. The stories of two children of war veterans. Interview with Mike Griffiths, Director of Personnel Services for the British Army, 2008-11
5. Egypt. "Democracies are rarely born without pain but after just three years, post the revolution, has Egypt given up altogether?" Interview with Dr Mona Makram-Ebeid, former member of the Egyptian parliament & Abdullah al-Haddad, Muslim Brotherhood.
   [Closing credits: Michael Gove's rap enthusiasm. Newsnight sets his rap, to the music of Wham]

Friday 28/3
1. Missing Malaysian airliner: "Can we be sure we're being told all this is to know?" Interview with Daniel Tan, whose brother was on Flight MH370.
2. The Front National's rise in France.
3. Tech start-ups: "Tech start-ups were trumpeted by the government as being the great engines of economic growth, but has it all stalled?" Interview with Eileen Burbidge of Passion Capital & Andrew Orlowski, editor of The Register.
4. Rap/art: "The Wu Tang Clain rap their way into the art market, pressing a priceless single copy of their new album."
   [The government's ban of prisoners receiving books in jail: A clip from Porridge.]

Friday 28 March 2014

"I misdirected myself"

More about the complaint I mentioned in an earlier post. See the Editorial Standards Findings here 

“44 years to the day since the guns fell silent in the Six Day war between Israel and its Arab enemies. And it sometimes seems that the consequences of that conflict have made the news on an almost daily basis ever since. “ 
So began the introduction to a piece on the Today programme (radio 4, 10th June 2011) “on the 44th anniversary of the end of the Six Day War.” It continued thus:
“At the end of the fighting Israel had conquered so much Arab territory it was three times the size it had been at the beginning. The idea that some of that captured territory should be traded for peace with its Arab neighbours and the Palestinians was born not long afterwards.  “But the longer the outline of a deal has been around the further it feels from being realised. It was most recently in the headlines when Barack Obama said he thought Israel's 67 borders were the starting point for agreement. But he had to row back when Israel's Prime Minister said they were unacceptable, indefensible.  “Our correspondent Kevin Connolly considers how close or remote a deal seems now on the ground in Israel.” 
(Emphases mine.)
Anyone relying on the above introduction for an informative picture of the historic or current situation would likely be misled because of two very important facts that were omitted. 
A.) 90% of the captured land had been returned to Egypt. 
B.) Peace treaties between Israel and both Jordan and Egypt included the transfer of conquered territory. 

The erroneous impression given was that a.) Israel currently retains captured land amounting to three times its pre 1967 size, and b.) Israel is not prepared to trade ‘land for peace’ therefore, the current ‘absence of peace’ is impliedly down to the intransigence of Israel. The body of Kevin Connolly’s report contained further material that reinforced this misrepresentation.

This formed the basis of the complaint. It doesn’t seem all that complicated to me, but for some reason it took three years for the powers that be to determine the accuracy or otherwise of the case. 
Why the long delay, one might wonder. Quite a mystery, it seems, unless you take into account that the people defending the BBC don’t particularly care whether the audience was negatively influenced in respect of Israel’s willingness to achieve peace, or negatively influenced about Israel, period. Sort of careless and irresponsible?

The first stage of the complaint’s journey went badly from the outset. The initial response from BBC Audience Services, whoever they are, was speedy, but defensive and slightly irrelevant in that it didn’t address the complaint properly.   
“the item was clearly about the current situation in relation to the Palestinians, and not the past. The purpose in using the statistic on Israel’s expanded territory was to explain the scale of change which the conflict created. It was not always possible to encompass the complex history of relations between Israel and the Palestinians in each individual report”
I think that means that the audience should have supplied the missing bits for themselves - the BBC can’t be expected to repeat every historic detail each time it reports on the Middle East.   However, any fule kno that some details are more relevant than others. (Come to think of it, this excuse is considerably weakened by the BBC’s repetition of certain appendices that are habitually tagged onto much of their other M.E. reporting.)

So. All that may well be true, but it was still misleading in a way that reflected negatively upon Israel, and did not address the actual complaint.

It seems there was a second stage to the stage, (1) which deals only with the  part of the complaint that concerns Israel’s willingness or otherwise to trade land for peace. Let’s call it part B.
By this time the matter had been raised with Kevin Connolly, who  “acknowledged that the return of the Sinai Peninsula could have been mentioned”  but claimed that mentioning it was not essential because “the goal of the package was to illustrate that progress towards lasting peace does not seem imminent”. 
Leaving exactly the unfairly negative impression to which the complainant objected

At last the complaint reached Stage 2. The complainant continued to argue the case,  and three months later received an undated letter from the Head of the Editorial Complaints Unit, which stated it had provisionally decided to uphold that part of the complaint (part B) because of the breach of accuracy. (they recognised that it was misleading)

However, three months later still, the complainant wrote again to ask whether the “decision had been finalised” and lo and behold, not only had it not been finalised, it had been reversed! The reply stated that the undated ‘letter’ was not a letter at all, but an internal draft for consultation only, and the complaint, after all, was not now going to be upheld. i.e.,on reflection, they had unrecognised that it was misleading.

 Why? Because they had found a technicality that they thought would let them off the hook. 
“The return of the Sinai did not constitute ‘Land for Peace’ so the significance of any incorrect impression as to the extent of territory Israel had withdrawn from was much reduced and the ECU decided it would not therefore have affected listeners’ understanding of the question under consideration in the report.” 

The complainant composed a rebuttal, challenging the ECU’s interpretation of the contents of the Camp David Accords, but, having received no response, wrote again.
After a six month hiatus, the Head of the ECU replied. An apology for the delay, accompanied by the staggering news that he had again revised his decision! He had now, after all, decided to uphold the complaint in relation to the allegation concerning Israel’s willingness to exchange land for peace.

This is the part that I admire for its honesty. However - if one were to crow too loudly about the absurdity of major decisions like this appearing to hang on the whim of an indecisive individual who happened to have got out of bed on the wrong (or the right) side that morning, one might just make the ECU close ranks and never be open and honest again.

 So I for one won’t say anything. I’ll just include the pertinent passage.

 “One consequence of returning to the matter after a long gap is that I have found myself approaching it, if not exactly with fresh eyes, then with a degree of critical detachment from my earlier line of thought. With the benefit of that detachment, I now believe I misdirected myself by entering into the question of whether the return of Sinai to Egypt was an instance of “land for peace”. ... it remained clear throughout the piece that the kind of agreement under consideration was a final settlement which would secure peace on all relevant fronts. In that context, the meaning to be taken from the phrase “land for peace” was precisely such a settlement, and the question of whether the phrase also has a sense which would apply to the return of Sinai therefore doesn’t seem to me to arise from the item.” 

He misdirected himself? No, but yes. Much too much like W1A. 
The other section of the complaint - Let’s call it section A.) follows a similarly convoluted journey.  
The ECU acknowledged the possibility that some listeners might be misled, but the Head of the ECU had also revised his reasoning for rejecting this aspect of the complaint. These were provided to the complainant. 

Let’s assume the revised reasoning was revised with equally robust methodology, at the very least three times the size of the original methodology.  Anyhow, it was also upheld.

Now we come to the untimely delay. I paraphrase. 
"We lost your complaint when we moved office and we sent you the wrong document before sending you a letter telling you that we had sent it to you in error, during which time we changed our mind about whether or not to uphold your complaint.  At the end of this process we did find that our three year delay didn’t break any Editorial Guidelines."
Finding: Not upheld. 

All the verbiage (excessive) in this "Editorial Standards Findings Appeals to the Trust and other editorial issues considered by the Editorial Standards Committee" has been dreamed up over the course of three years just to defend the BBC’s slipshod, careless, misleading, inaccurate, couldn’t care-less approach when it comes to negative reporting of Israel, not to mention the dithering, whimsical, serendipitous, mood-swingery of the arbiter of complaints.  

That was an instant reaction to the BBC’s findings. Give me a year or two, and with the benefit of hindsight, a possible degree of critical detachment and perhaps a couple of fresh eyes, I might revise my opinion.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

The perfect bias-free BBC day (Part II)


After Sunday and the Radio 4 Appeal - Mariella Frostrup appealing on behalf of the BBC's Sports Relief - came Sunday Worship (8.05am). 

I'm entirely with Chrish (in the comments) in describing this Syrian Orthodox Service as powerful, and full of interesting information. I also thought the call to prayer/extemporising of Christian song at the end of communion was stunning, and enjoyed the hymns in in Arabic and Aramaic. The weaving of voices - including the head of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Britain, the kidnapped/very probably murdered Archbishop of Aleppo [a "dear friend" of the presenter Martin Palmer], the Grand Mufti of Syria [whose own son was assassinated by terrorists], and our very own Prince Charles - was well wrought, and the nature of the persecution faced by Christians in the countries surrounding Israel has rarely been so forcefully conveyed on the BBC before. 

The essential message was (courtesy of Ephesians 4):
Be ye angry, but sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your wrath, yet do not make room for the devil. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, together with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Why should a Christian act of service find its place in a post describing an unbiased day at the BBC? Isn't it biased in favour of Christianity and, therefore, against non-Christian religions and atheists? 

To which the obvious reply is that the vast majority of Radio 4's output is secular (despite Thought for the Day each day), so a small space for a weekly Christian service in a country that many listeners (like me) still think of as a Judeo-Christian country is surely acceptable to all but the most intransigent atheist.

As a non-intransigent atheist, I love such services - just as I love hymns, Christmas carols, churches and cathedrals, church choirs, church rituals, baptisms, marriages and funeral services, the King James Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, religious poetry (George Herbert, T.S. Eliot), fine sermons, great works of Christian apology (C.S. Lewis and his Screwtape Letters), etc.

I think it's wonderful that Radio 4 broadcasts a weekly Christian Sunday service. So that's going into my idea of a good, unbiased day of BBC broadcasting.

A Point of View (8.45am) might also have a place - as short, intelligent 'think pieces' are perfect for radio.

Regular readers of Is the BBC biased? will, however, be well aware of that list...the one that proved the programme's left-liberal bias in the clearest terms possible: A Point of View went nearly four years without a single right-of-centre presenter. There were plenty of left-leaning ones of course). Only when Roger Scruton came along did that very long, bias-provoked drought finally come to an end.

Since then (August 2013), Roger Scruton has re-appeared but remains the only right-winger in the A Point of View village, with additional left-leaning speakers adding to that list (William Dalrymple, AL Kennedy) to reinforce the programme's overwhelming left-liberal bias.

So for A Point of View to take its place in my 'perfect day' of BBC broadcasting, it would have to very radically address its own failings when it comes to providing a proper range of points of views appropriate to an 'impartial' broadcaster...and that obviously means not just inviting Roger Scruton into the studio for a short run every eight months.

Variety should be the spice of BBC life. A dozen blossoming flowers from the left, a dozen from the right, a dozen from nowhere-easily-identifiable - that would do nicely, wouldn't it?

So, having (in my imagination) listened to Will Self's fourth A Point of View the week before, my imaginary perfect BBC day would have me waking up to the start of a run of talks from Theodore Dalrymple. Imagine that at the BBC! (Hard, isn't it?)

And, yes, Tweet of the Day would definitely be there, representing natural history - regardless of the voting habits of its presenter (if that presenter keeps those political beliefs out of her/her talk about the sand martin, goldeneye, house sparrow, lesser-spotted oddie and rook. Tweet of the Day is a fabulous series. (Should have mentioned that earlier perhaps).

Ah, but could Paddy O'Connell and Broadcasting House (9.00am) ever find a place in my idea of a good, unbiased day of BBC broadcasting? Surely not?

Oh, I certainly used to have a right go at Broadcasting House for bias on a very regular basis, especially in 2009-10 (when I used to call it Gordcasting House on the strength of Paddy's apparent pro-Labour proclivities), then at Biased BBC [in very regular comments] and, yes, we at Is the BBC biased? are still at it [not quite so very regularly], making the case that there's still a problem with bias at BH....

...but, speak it softly, I've come round to the view that the programme isn't as bad as it used to be and - above anything else on Sunday 23 March - this particular edition of the programme spurred me into making a PARTIAL defence of that day's BBC broadcasting on an earlier post as....speak it very softly....I thought it was absolutely superb - and I didn't smell even the faintest whiff of bias from it either. No, not even from Paddy.

There was Professor Mark Almond on Russia (fascinating, unexpected), The Sky of Night's Maggie Aderin-Pocock judging Lord West, Dame Ann Leslie and Nigel Havers's explanations of the discovery of gravitational waves (funny), that fine piece on the youth orchestra of Afghanistan (inspiring, worrying), an interview about Magna Carta (informative), and an entertaining paper review featuring a Labour baroness, a Conservative lord and Maggie Aderin-Pocock (balanced). Plus Paddy kept his opinions to himself, and made me laugh on several occasions too.

Diversion: The Magna Carta.

The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta next year prompted the Magna Carta bit...

From BH, I learned that there are four existing copies of the Magna Carta - two in the British Library, one in Lincoln and one in Salisbury. All four will be gathered together for the very first time next year to mark the anniversary.

The copy Paddy looked at was, as he put it, about the size of a tabloid newspaper - if entirely spread out. The Latin writing is brown, and feint on brown paper, using a very compact script. The medieval scribes, the lady from the British Library told us, used many abbreviated words to save space and there are two-and-a-half thousand words crammed into a single sheet of parchment.

There were 63 clauses in Magna Carta. Only three of them are still valid in law today: the very first one, protecting the rights and liberties of the English Church; the one that protects the rights and liberties of the City of London, and other towns, ports and boroughs; and - buried away in the middle, without any prominence - the most famous clause of all, the one that says that no free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, except by the judgement of his equals or by the law of the land, and no one shall justice delayed or denied to him.

That's what I learned from this particular edition of Broadcasting House. It's the sort of thing that my idea of an unbiased day of BBC broadcasting would (and should) provide - along with the rest of the features of this present edition.

Hopefully, even though I'm using just one day of BBC Radio 4 broadcasting as an example, you're getting a very strong sense of what I want from the BBC - and what I don't want. More tomorrow.

Monday 24 March 2014

The perfect bias-free BBC day (Part I)

AdrianD posted a thought-provoking comment on our 'Daytime Radio 4' thread today:
AdrianD 24 March 2014 10:42
I’m not sure whether you, or anyone who contributes to this blog, has done this before, but I think it would be interesting to see what you thought a good, non-biased, day of BBC broadcasting might look like. Apologies if you have (please send a link). I know what I want to see less of – I was just wondering what you would like to see more of. Thanks.
Oddly (or otherwise) we have never done such a thing, but it really is an interesting idea, isn't it?

I shall write here as if I'm replying to AdrianD [which, I hope he won't mind], and continue with the theme over several posts as it will give me the chance to dig a little deeper into things, as the day in question provides a useful (if untypical) case study of BBC bias:

As you probably worked out from the blue bits of that post [and an earlier comment or so], I thought that much of Sunday 23 March 2014's Radio 4 output (or at least its daytime broadcasting) lived up to my idea of what a good, non-biased day of BBC broadcasting should be like.

It was one of the best days of BBC broadcasting that I've ever heard, and I fancied PARTIALLY defending it in that post as being atypically unbiased...though, by some accounts, I only made it look even worse for the BBC's reputation for impartiality!

Looking at this Sunday's Radio 4 methodically then...

I always like Bells on Sunday (5.45am): a bit of history & British geography - plus bells. Who, atheist or believer, hates church bells (except the odd noise-averse grump)? Two minutes of weekly bliss.

As I commented on an earlier thread, I thought this week's edition of Lent Talks (5.47am) made up for/balanced out Bonnie Greer's dreary effort the week before. Yes, the speaker made a left-wing point or two along the way, but that's only to be expected for the wife of the dean of Liverpool [Anglican] Cathedral these days. (See various surveys on the disconnect between the liberal C of E leadership and its more conservative membership). But, still, I liked her talk.

There are a few more episodes to go, so an assessment of whether it represents unbiased broadcasting will have to wait. My idea of unbiased BBC broadcasting would be that each programme surprised me in some way, from contrasting angles.

Has that usually happened with Lent Talks?

Too often, past series of Lent Talks have espoused concerns that seem (to me) to reflect with I think of as the BBC's natural biases.

Take last year's series: Its presenters were (1) a Thought for the Day liberal Anglican, (2) a Muslim, (3) a Labour baroness, (4) a well-connected charity worker, (5) a gay Jew who feels abandoned for being gay, and (6) a fiction writer.

That's the sort of thing that makes me write about BBC bias.

We'll see where the rest of this series goes.

Next up came that edition of Something Understood (6.05am) about which I wrote with such mixed feelings yesterday....

A great series, often a jewel among Radio 4's output, usually thoughtfully constructed yet whimsical...yes, such a programme would undoubtedly be a part of my kind of BBC broadcasting day. On a good day, it appeals to believers, non-believers, and those who lie somewhere in-between.

(Two Palestinian poets in two weeks though, and no Israeli poems for months?...oh dear (as I'm sure you'll agree, Adrian.))

Its main presenter has long been that nice Mark Tully (see Sue and myself's discussion of him here). Alongside him have been John McCarthy, Chris Brookes, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Tom Robinson, Lucy Mangan, & various BBC reporters (including the ever-excellent Samira Ahmed)...which is, undeniably, about as left-liberal a collection of people as you could gather together to host a weekly BBC Radio 4 programme.

Conservative voices need not apply it seems - a recurring theme with such BBC Radio 4 staples, as we shall see...

Pause for thought

So where are we now?

Just beginning Sunday morning on Radio 4, yet using it as our kind of BBC broadcasting day.

Praise so far then for Bells on Sunday and Lent Talks (and, therefore, both included in my model BBC day on the strength of this week's editions), balanced by qualified praise for Something Understood (only conditionally included, due to this week's lapses) all set in the context of evidence-backed claims of left-liberal bias on the part of both Lent Talks and Something Understood.  (Deny that evidence if you can!)

Both of those provide easy-to-prove claims of BBC left-liberal bias [and, please!, feel free to ask me to go back over several years and prove it even more! ---- In fact, don't bother: I'll do it myself over the coming weeks!].

Next up came an edition of On Your Farm (6.35am) that had me hanging on its every word. 

It related the experiences of a farming family on the Somerset plains, and pushed no apparent agenda (just as I want it) whist so doing. The slow,-slowish,-suddenly fast, &, soon after, very-fast -indeed rise of the flood waters was made to hit home, as was exactly what it meant for the farmer, his family and his cattle. The willingness of British people to come to this good farmer's aid was something I found deeply reassuring.

The programme's presenter here was our old friend Charlotte Smith, whose past feminist agenda-pushing has provoked a pair of previous posts at "Is" (here and here). My vision of an unbiased BBC day of broadcasting would involve Charlotte reporting at she did here (rather than as she did there.) 

My ideal Sunday BBC schedule would have to include my pet project, Sunday (7.10am), as the idea of a religious current affairs programme at breakfast on Sunday morning appeals to even an atheist like me... but, oh, the eternal, devilish bias!...It's so off-putting.

Alan at Biased BBC has (by his own confession) moved his tanks onto my lawn today (good man!) by outlining his own feelings about the clear bias embedded in the latest edition of this most reliably liberal-biased of BBC Radio 4 programmes, and Chrish did the same in the comments field of my own thread about this programme. 

They both made explicit what I made implicit - that Sunday is strongly and instinctively left-liberal in orientation - something this blog has, if it has proved anything, has proved beyond doubt. (Surely? 73 posts about it, and counting!)

So, to keep on answering AdrianD...

...just what do I want from Sunday? What should it be doing in my perfect BBC day (while we're all drinking sangria in the park, hanging on, and reaping what we sow)?

Well, will I want is a range of views (from atheist to creationist, as it were) on matters religious, though with a central focus on mainstream Judeo-Christian beliefs. That wouldn't neglect Britain's new minority religions - Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, Buddhism, etc - but nor would it make such a great fuss about just one of them at the expense of all the this week's edition most certainly did. Nor would it ignore those who doubt or reject religious belief. 

It would also be the kind of programme that doesn't just push a liberal Catholic perspective on Catholic matters, or that prefers liberal Jews to Orthodox Jews (as guests), or that promotes left-wing causes and dismisses right-wing causes, or that advances socially liberal morality at the expense of socially conservative morality...or that...until this blog stopped it...promotes a left-leaning Catholic magazine at the expense of a right-leaning Catholic magazine in the most blatant way imaginable. 

I want Sunday to keep repenting of its sins, putting its rosary to good use, wearing its Sunday best and giving us an agenda-free buffet of religious affairs. (Mmm...cheese and pickles, sausage rolls, crisps, hot-cross buns and egg sandwiches).

Some of its features and reports already achieve that, of course. Too many don't though. 

Second pause for thought

So where are we now? 

Well, we're finding that the BBC can often be heavily biased, but that sometimes even those sometimes-biased (and biased in-only-one-direction) programmes - Lent Talks, Something Understood, On Your Farm and Sunday - can be good in parts and, on occasions, wonderful...and that such is the BBC for you.

We're still near the beginning of our perfect BBC day. ("You made me forget myself/I thought I was someone else").

Over the coming days, we'll continue outlining what a good, non-biased, day of BBC broadcasting might look like. 

Will the way that real day, this Sunday, reflect those hopes? 

No flicking!!