Monday 28 November 2016


Talking about David Keighley, News-watch has posted a summary of their latest findings today, monitoring something we here at ITBB didn't think to monitor: BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat - and specifically Newsbeat's pre-referendum coverage. 

Among the many striking findings of the News-watch study (all summarised at David's blog) are the following:

  • Newsbeat audiences were 1.5 times more likely to encounter a Remain supporter than a Leave supporter. 238 guest speakers contributed to the various discussions on the referendum. The analysis shows that 45% spoke in favour of Remain, 30% in favour of Leave, with a further 25% giving a neutral, undecided or factual perspective.
  • In 38 Newsbeat reports with guest speakers, 19 (50%), showed a speaker weighting in favour of Remain. Only five similarly favoured ‘leave’. Fourteen had even numbers of speakers. This demonstrates a severe imbalance in favour of Remain.
  • Politicians supporting Remain outnumbered those wanting Leave by 47 to 34. In terms of the number of words spoken by politicians, Remain supporters received 64% of the airtime, compared to 36% for Leave – a ratio of approximately 2:1.
  • There was a much greater breadth of opinion in Remain contributions – they came from Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Green Party. Conversely, the Leave side featured only Conservatives and UKIP. There were no Leave contributions from the Labour party or wider Left. There was no input at all from the nationalist parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

And that's only for starters. Many of the points are highly intriguing, eg:

  • Opponents of current levels of immigration were cast as xenophobic and inward-looking, whereas the comment from those who approved of immigration were made to appear outward-looking, open and broad-minded.
  • Opinions and alleged facts in favour of Leave were robustly scrutinised, made to look ignorant or contradictory, xenophobic or unfounded (Section 2.4). The most striking example of this was that the Leave claim that EU membership cost the UK £350 million a week was categorically said to be untrue, whereas, George Osborne’s estimation that Brexit would cost each household £4,300 annually was subjected to far less scrutiny.

The full report will make for fascinating reading. It will hopefully put a tiger among the (BBC) peacocks - though (BBC) peacocks are stubborn, proud creatures who will, doubtless, still pronounce themselves unbiased even as their last tail feather disappears into the tiger's mouth. 


  1. Very good. So there is now hard data on this for Dateline, Newsnight, and Newsbeat. A clear institutional bias is trending here. Am I forgetting another programme for which you've got data?

    1. Also BBC One's News at Six. Very clear bias in its choice of headlines and main angles across the pre-referendum period. The ratio ended up 3:1 for Remain.

  2. Isn't just a fact that the BBC is anti-Brexit? They know it, we know it, they know we know it.

    The problem is that the BBC doesn't care we know it. It appears that the BBC is confident that no one will hold them to account for this bias.

    1. Imagine if, at the next General Election, UKIP put in their manifesto that they would carry out an audit upon the BBC's political 'balance'. First, the Beeb would show their institutional bias by attempting to silence the UKIP views, and then, who knows what might happen?


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