Sunday 26 March 2017

Guess what? (updated)

And talking of News-watch, their latest in-depth investigation of the BBC's Brexit coverage is a long-term study of BBC Radio 4 in action - specifically Today's dedicated business coverage. 

Unlike the likes of Cardiff University, News-watch have (correctly) taken the maximal approach and covered every business spot on Today over a six month period. 

In summary, the stats show that of the 366 guest speakers featured:
192 (53%) were negative about the impact of Brexit
114 (31%) were neutral contributions
60 (16%) were positive about the impact of Brexit
In other words, "there were three times more anti-Brexit speakers than pro-Brexit ones invited by the BBC to participate in the prestigious slot". 

And, to make matters worse, a mere 2% (10 contributors) were with supporters of withdrawal from the EU. 

The striking thing about this study is that, unlike Cardiff University, all the data on which the findings are posited is laid out in exemplary detail in the report's appendices, available for everyone (BBC detractor or BBC defender) to see and react to. So if the above stats seem astonishing, then just look at the evidence and prepare to be astonished.

I have to say that as someone who often drives to work hearing some of those Today business slots, the feeling of being in the presence of bias is quite powerful - and this report, complete with detailed summaries of every business slot, shows why: It's not just the guest selection, it's also the framing of/steering of the debate in a negative direction by the BBC reporter/interviewer. (The case studies showing this are rather fascinating).

It will be very interesting to see the BBC's reaction to this report's damning and (I'd say) difficult-to-dispute findings.

Update: The Express has an article about these findings.

Further update: The report is also covered by the Sun, and the paper has an editorial about it (alas neither, as far as I can see, yet online). The article quotes the BBC's characteristically arrogant-sounding response. (It sounds to me as if they didn't take too kindly to News-watch's findings):
This flawed analysis is from a group with a slanted perspective and the BBC's coverage has impartially presented an accurate reflection of the business community's viewpoints. 
The BBC has and will continue to cover Brexit in a responsible and impartial way independent of political pressure. The job of impartial journalism is to scrutinise the issues and interrogate the relevant voices, not advocate for a position.
It's precisely for this reason the public trusts the BBC.
You'll note that the BBC spokesman doesn't care to spell out any of those 'flaws'. As with my 2009-10 interruptions stats, they seem to think that a simple dismissive wave of the hand is all that's needed.

And, of course, News-watch isn't asking for the BBC to 'advocate for a position'; it's showing that Today offered a heavily-unbalanced range of speakers and was simply asking for them to report fairly and impartially.

Another update: The Daily Telegraph has an article about the findings as well.


  1. I'd guess they'll report it somewhere obscure and then forget about it!

  2. What a great study they've done. The background information that many Beeboids apparently thought the Leave side simply didn't deserve credibility at all provides the foundation for the data of guests mostly backing that up.

    Plus, the reminder that the BBC certainly does have the intention of setting the news agenda, despite all the protestations that they don't even dream of influencing anyone, or that they have the kind of influence detractors claim.

  3. I feel that the FACT that the BBC have exhibited such obvious anti-Brexit bias is compounded by undermining the direction that the British people, their licence payers, have chosen.

    If anything, now the decision has been made, the BBC should be showing bias in favour of Brexit.

    That is the role of the BBC. It should remain impartial with regards to political decisions or parties, but if the country goes to war, enters a sporting tournament, or makes a choice regarding trading relationships, it should be generally supportive.

    The British Broadcasting Corporation should be supportive of Britain and the British. As I listen to it it seems to be the opposite.

  4. To be honest, it was a bad decision to focus on the big business community. They were and probably still are anti-Brexit, certainly overwhelmingly so to begin with. So the BBC has a ready made defence.

    They don't have any defence against producing a Newsnight Panel that featured numerous times during the campaign and voted 9-1 to Remain!!! Towards the end Evan Davis stated it wasn't scientifically selected, which begs the question: how was it selected.

    1. The BBC doesn't need to defend itself. It answers to no one. This is the fact. It holds us in contempt and insults us with the reply that the public trust them. It knows it is insulting us and enjoys insulting us. Sorry to say but this is the way things are.


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