Sunday 15 May 2016

Keeping Tabs on BBC One's 'News at Six'

Given that the BBC's EU referendum coverage stepped up a gear again last week (after a week-long lull), here's an update on ITBB's thrilling ongoing study on BBC One's News at Six - specifically our simple count of which side's angle comes first in either the headlines or the whole bulletin

Here's the full, updated list (since the official referendum launch)::

15/4 Remain [George Osborne warns that mortgage rates could go up if the UK votes to leave]
16/4 Leave [Boris tells Barack Obama to keep his nose out]
17/4 Remain [A French government minister saying Britain would have a much weaker hand when negotiating trade deals if it voted to leave the EU]
18/4 Remain [The United Kingdom will be permanently poorer, says George Osborne, if voters decide to leave the EU]
19/4 Leave [Michael Gove accuses the Remain side of scaremongering and using patronising arguments]
20/4 Remain [20/4 Eight former U.S. Treasury Secretaries have signed an article in the Times warning of the risk of Britain leaving the European Union]
22/4 Remain [Barack Obama's big 'back of the queue' warning]
23/4 Remain [Barack Obama implores the young not to pull back from the rest of the world]
25/4 Remain [Theresa May says we should vote to stay in EU for security but leave the ECHR]
28/4 Remain [David Cameron campaigning alongside former TUC boss Brendan Barber, calling for Jeremy Corbyn to join him]
29/4 Leave  [Nigel Farage criticises other Leave campaigners saying they aren't the right people to talk about the EU and immigration]
8/5 Remain [Two former intelligence chiefs say Britain's security could be effected by a vote to leave the European Union]
9/5 Remain [David Cameron says ' Stay in the EU to maintain stability in Europe']
11/5 Remain [The EU referendum. Gordon Brown makes the case to remain.]
12/5 Remain [A warning from the Bank of England: Leaving the EU could trigger a recession.]
13/5  Remain [Christine Lagarde, IMF, warns leaving the EU could have bad to very, very bad economic consequence]
14/5 Remain [A vote to leave the European Union could tip the British economy back into recession David Cameron warns]

That now takes our running totals to: 
Remain - 14
Leave - 3
To say there's a bit of an imbalance there would be a large understatement. The 'Remain' angle has now been the leading angle on the BBC One bulletin's EU referendum coverage nearly 5 times as often as the Leave angle (as I'm sure you'd worked out for yourself!)

What does this tell us? That the Remain campaign is very good at getting its agenda into the media? Or that the BBC is biased towards Remain? Or both? 


  1. It seems there's another layer to this. Two of the three Leave items are main Leave voices criticizing something the Remain campaign has done, while all of the Remain items are campaign messages in some form. The third Leave item is Farage criticizing his own side, and I'd suggest that this is in fact part of the Leave Splits! narrative and should in fact be counted as either neutral or yet another Remain item.

    1. Yes, I noted that last time I did this:

      And if the BBC leads this evening's bulletin with 'Boris Johnson has been widely condemned for comparing the EU with Hitler', that will be another one that probably ought to go as a Remain item.

  2. They really don't care do they? I think for the BBC, this is something akin to The Great Patriotic War for the Soviet Union.

    As far as they are concerned, it's do or die, and they are all happy to be rounded up and shot for being partisans (or in their terms, a slap on the wrist from Ofcom).

    They must see the greater danger of a Leave victory - not the sorts of "risks" that Cameron talks about - but the risks to their health, wealth and wellbeing. I think they can see that upon a Leave victory there would be a risk of a democratic revolution against political correctness. Whatever might have been agreed about the BBC now could easily be unpicked by a radical Johnsonian government. Who knows where it might lead? We could end up with a Swiss style democracy which would be the death knell for political correctness. I think they just all smell danger and in an act of collective cognitive dissonance manage to ignore the oturageous bias they are displaying.


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