Saturday 28 June 2014

Who's giving feedback to 'Feedback'?

Since that remarkable interview between John Humphrys and Roger Bolton on Feedback (back on 14 March), where Mr Humphrys outlined his reasons for saying that the BBC had "a liberal bias" and Mr Bolton argued against him rather testily, Feedback has dealt with the issue of bias on a number of further occasions.

In the closing weeks of the last series of the programme, they focused on criticisms of the BBC for inviting 'sceptical' non-scientists like Lord Lawson to give their views on climate change. So far in this new series, Feedback has discussed (a) criticism of the BBC for giving UKIP too much airtime and (b) criticism of the BBC for failing to cover a 50,000 strong march against the coalition's cuts

All of these are familiar claims of BBC for those who follow Twitter, if not to those who tend to follow blogs like this. They are criticisms from people who don't believe that "liberal bias" is the problem and that the bias - if it lies anywhere - lies in the opposite direction. The complaints about the BBC's 'non coverage' of that anti-cuts march, for instance, have been legion on Twitter (that, and the huge number of ongoing complaints about BBC anti-independence bias in the Scottish referendum debate).

Were I of a conspiratorial frame of mind I might say that Feedback, whose presenter has always been open in stating his personal belief that the BBC doesn't have a liberal bias, is actively pushing this counter-argument. Are they trying to show that claims of liberal bias are nonsense? 

Of course, it could just be that there really have been lots of emails to Feedback complaining about these very things. After all, as I said earlier, the anti-UKIP/anti-coalition-cuts brigade have certainly been out in force on Twitter in recent weeks complaining incessantly about both things and their kindred spirits among Radio 4's large listenership are just the sort of who would write to Feedback about it. 

And maybe far, far fewer people who complain about liberal bias at the BBC on blogs like this - or below the line at the Telegraph, Breitbart London or the Spectator - actually wrote to Feedback to complain about anything relating to bias. If so, Feedback's failure to cover 'our kind of criticism' of the BBC would be understandable and 'we' have only ourselves to blame. 

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