Saturday 6 April 2019

Sally Bundock v Tim Martin

An interview of Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin by Business Briefing's Sally Bundock in late March generated a fair few complaints. The main accusations are that Sally was rude and disgracefully (pro-Remain) biased, and barely allowed Mr. Martin to put his points across. You can watch the whole thing for yourselves here:

The BBC's complaints website has now posted the BBC's response to the criticism:

We received complaints from people who felt that Sally Bundock was rude towards Tim Martin, and that this was biased against Brexit. 
Mr Martin was invited onto the programme to talk about the way the government are handling the Brexit negotiations. We’re sorry if you felt Sally was rude, this was not her intention. Sally was trying to get to the bottom of what a ‘No Deal’ Brexit would look like from a business perspective, so her interruptions were simply to try and extract a clear explanation. It is the job of the interviewer to put across the questions that we think the listeners would like to be asked, and this was the case when Sally challenged Mr Martin on the point of tariffs. 
Regular listeners to the Business Briefing programme will be familiar with Sally’s interviewing style. She treats all of the programme’s contributors in a similar manner, and challenges or pushes for clarification when necessary. We're satisfied that by the end of the interview Mr Martin was able to put across his argument in full. 
The BBC continues to report Brexit impartially and features a wide range of different perspectives across our news coverage.

Well, that's a typical BBC response, isn't it? But are they right?

Obviously, they may have a point that this is how Sally Bundock treats all her interviewees, regardless of their views. If that's her interviewing style and she uses it against Remainers and much as Leavers then that's fine. Only monitoring her interviews for a while would show whether that's the case, or not. So until I do that I can't say one way or the other.

All I can say is that I've done a bit of counting as far as this Sally Bundock/Tim Martin interview goes. The interview lasted 7m 46s and she talked for 3m 40s of it. In other words, with all her interruptions and her talking-over she talked for a full 47% of the interview. It wasn't quite a monologue on her part, but Tim Martin might have been better having a lie-in that morning. Maybe she needs to tone her interviewing style down a bit?


  1. She starts with "What's your take on how Parliament is handling the process?" Hardly a business orientated question!

    Her first intervention is "We do have to leave with some sort of deal", going on to parrot the May-EU line that we first have to have a Withdrawal Agreement followed by discussions about a trade deal. This is a highly politicised intervention - she states it as fact not as the PM's opinion or even "some say" or "the EU says". Nope - it's just hard "Reality-Checked" fact.

    She seems a bit thick to me. Even the antipodean Radio 4 Remainiac business reporter sounds way more intelligent than her.

  2. Shoddy and semi-literate response to the complaint - and that old clich├ęd formula: We are sorry if you felt...

    Oh, dear. My impression of that is that she was intent on having an argument and her own position holding sway over his instead of listening to what he had to say.

  3. Don't pay the BBC Licence Tax.


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