A number of people have flagged up this piece by Julia Hartley-Brewer.
The BBC thinks all Eurosceptics are frothing extremists. How can we trust it to be neutral?
Ms H-B contends that the BBC is so inherently pro EU that it can’t see that it is inherently pro EU, therefore its pro EU bias is nothing more than doin’ a-what comes natur’ly.
There’s a creepy parallel in there somewhere... but I won’t digress just for the minute.
Of course Ms H-B has personal experience; as we know, she is no stranger to our screens. And, what’s more, she is a great fan of the BBC.
“I say this more in sorrow than in anger, as a staunch admirer and supporter of the BBC as a world-class British institution, but the truth is that many BBC employees, like those of the Guardian newspaper, move in a world where they rarely come across people with different views from their own.”
That’s a bit like me and Craig. No, really. We do accept that the BBC was once, and in some ways still is, a world class British institution. And we are quite sure that The BBC and the Guardian do move, hand and hand, through their own world, which causes us much sorrow as well as a certain amount of anger.
One of the things she cites, which may sound trivial, but then so do most examples of bias when isolated from the whole - is the habit of referring to ‘Europe’ rather than the EU. As if literally leaving Europe (in the geographical sense) would entail the British Isles casting off into seas unknown, rudderless. Up shit creek without a paddle so to speak. But:
“Europe is a physical continent, the EU is a political entity.”
She is also concerned about the unequal focus on the splits in the out camp - which of course, since Boris ‘came out’ - is no longer so apparent. Or not apparent at all.
When she wrote this piece, though, there was a certain amount of glee on the BBC's part over the Farage Galloway catastrophe.
(By the way, I did think Nigel Farage put the final nail in his credibility the other day when he announced that although political differences must be cast aside in cases of monumental importance like this, he would definitely ‘draw the line’ at embracing the BNP or the EDL.
Now I don’t know about you, but the views of the "demographic" Galloway might bring on board are as toxic as Galloway’s own views, and although something similar might be said of the BNP or the EDL, in my opinion Nigel Farage has definitely drawn his line in the wrong place.)
So, for the time being at least, the BBC will be as interested in the split in the In campaign as they have been in the split in the Out campaign, though perhaps for different reasons.
Another piece in the Telegraph of interest to BBC watchers is:
by Patrick Foster Media Correspondent.
The BBC has admitted taking more than £2 million in European Union funding over the past three years, in a move that critics said called into doubt the corporation’s impartiality over the forthcoming European referendum.The broadcaster said it had taken the cash under the European Union framework programme, to fund its research and development arm, which is working on projects such as 3D broadcasting, and ultra-high definition filming. [...]Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative MP and a stern critic of the corporation, said: “Everyone knows that the BBC has an inbuilt pro-EU bias, but it should be above reproach during this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to vote on the future of our relationship with Europe. It already receives £3.7 billion from the licence fee, and taking EU funding unavoidably creates the impression that it is being paid to do the EU’s bidding.”
“James Harding, the director of BBC News, told MPs in October that every one of the corporation’s journalists will be sent on a compulsory training course about the EU, in a bid to ensure impartial coverage of the referendum.”
At the foot of this article there’s a link to another piece from last August:
It’s by Ben Riley-Smith, political correspondent, concerning a letter to the BBC trust from John Whittingdale, another Tory “Outer” who also happens to be the Culture secretary.
...“John is absolute right,” said Liam Fox, the former defence secretary. “The BBC is in its very DNA now pro-European. I think its default position is Brussels right and everyone else wrong.”He added: “It is very important that as a public-funded broadcaster they remain highly impartial.”
Yet another link in this piece takes you to something called “Tories go to war with the BBC”
Haven’t seen much evidence of that though, have we? Must’ve been a phoney war.
So there is some sort of consensus that the BBC is inherently pro EU, but are under strict orders not to let it influence their broadcasting. Can they really do this? Will the pretence of impartiality be as farcical as their Twitter feeds? It’s early days. 3 more months to go.