Friday 9 August 2019

How to lose influence and irritate people

A recap.

ITBB was set up about seven years ago to debate or pinpoint the BBC’s bias, but Craig and I  wrote a proviso into our ‘constitution’ allowing us to deviate and go off-topic if we wanted to.
We have an invisible preemptive, written-in apology for accidentally flouting Jacob Rees-Mogg’s list of grammatical crimes up to and including the Oxford comma and the odd typo.

At that time we thought Biased-BBC (the mothership) was growing away from us; we felt edged out by the sheer volume of material posted by the one-man blitzkrieg that was ‘Alan’, who disappeared as anonymously as he arrived. (His disappearance may not be as complete as all that)
We weren’t trying to duplicate or compete with Biased BBC. We ran in tandem with it, if you like.

Craig has never had a harsh rebuke; a couple of mild ones perhaps, but I’m not afraid of being criticised or disagreed with, (as I have been) and It’s fine. The original aim was to create a lively blog with its own identity. 

It’s gratifying that Craig’s strong and stable observations, characteristically underpinned by statistics and specific examples, have been picked up by The Conservative Woman and are often cross-posted on their lively site. The one where people take notice.

The Biased-BBC blog did have some genuine influence at one time. The old magenta design is still my favourite iteration of that blog. I’m thinking that 2009 - 2012 marked the high point - the pinnacle -  of my blogging life. You can still access historic Biased-BBC content via the current Biased-BBC archive, which goes waaayy back. Sadly, nothing much has changed chez Beeb. If anything the bias is worse; more entrenched and more invisible to the unseeing perpetrators.

However, the zeitgeist has shifted. Amongst huge swathes of the public the BBC is perceived as biased, lefty and shamelessly - hopelessly -  pandering to a youth market that has moved on. It’s not ordinary missing the target - it’s M & S missing the target. Dear Beeb, you’re spitting in the faces of your core customer and chasing after some unattainable target with an ardour that will never be reciprocated. More and more people say they find radio 4 unlistenable. 

This disillusionment with the BBC is so widespread that blogs like this are redundant, or soon will be. We are being self-indulgent here, especially in the light of the fact that we have had very little or no impact on the BBC at all.

I don’t really know who the Biased-BBC site owners were in 2007 (before David Vance’s reign) but they must have been delighted with these contemporaneous articles by the BBC’s Martin Belam.
Here’s what Martin Belam wrote about the Biased-BBC blog in March 2007:
“I’m sure that I qualify genetically as a Beeboid, and so view the site through a prism of my own telly-tax funded bias, but I enjoy reading the Biased BBC blog. And I do mean enjoy. I always used to keep it in my subscribed RSS feeds when I worked at the BBC, and still dip into it from time to time in Austria. 
And there are a few reasons why I still find it an useful and enjoyable place to visit on the internet, not least of which is the fact that the issues being debated on the pages of the site are issues that link me back to home.

That’s nice, ain’t it though?
“It was also at least partly as a result of the Biased BBC comments thread that the notorious From Our Own Correspondent piece where Barbara Plett said she cried about Yasser Arafat has been appended with a note that the piece had been the subject of a complaint that had been upheld by the BBC Governors.
 Excellent result!
“I find though, that there is a real difference between what is written on the blog "proper", and what is posted on the regular open comments thread. Biased BBC usually operates an "Open comments thread" near, or at the top, of the homepage, which is refreshed every few days. These threads can often run into hundreds of inter-twining comments which can be quite difficult to pick through. 
What I find a shame about all this is that I think that the mainstream body of the site, the actual posts written by the editors and named contributors, sometimes raise points that the BBC should be aware of, and seek to address within both the online journalistic and broadcast operations of the corporation.
So, a dig at some of the shakier, more fanciful contributors to the open threads, but an observation that reveals a possible weakness in the current B-BBC ‘running’ open thread format, which has virtually replaced the authored above-the-line articles.

On the other hand, (au contraire!)  the current user-friendly comments field has transformed the open threads, and many interesting nuggets of news and views can be picked up from it. Including a rare sighting of a right-wing (non-lefty) comedian H/T Stewgreen. No, it’s not Jeremy Clarkson, but Will Franken - sounds like a question. (Well will he?) I bet he’s never been asked that before.

The characters featured in 2007 B-BBC have come and gone, as characters will, but the principle stays the same. One of Belam’s blog posts features B-BBC’s take on (man-made) global warming, 
and one is about Israel and Palestine, which I’ll quote from below:
“The coverage of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is probably the most challenging area the BBC faces in balancing news coverage, and I'm certainly not one of those people who believes that the BBC gets it spot on in every report on every output medium. It should also be pointed out that a few minutes on Google will turn up plenty of people arguing that the BBC offers a pro-Israeli slant on the news. However, the general consensus of opinion on the Biased BBC blog is that the BBC is blatantly and repeatedly biased against Israel in their coverage of the situation.

Complaints from both sides? For a tiny moment, I thought he was going to conclude that they must be getting something right.
“An independent study commissioned by the old BBC Board of Governors didn't find that to be the case, in fact it slightly erred on the side that the BBC didn't put across fully the disparity between the two sides, and thus was doing a disservice to the Palestinians. Previous to that, the contents of the 2004 Balen Report are not fully known, thanks to the BBC's attempts to prevent it being released into the public domain, but this is thought to be more critical of the coverage in the other direction. 
Some commentators on the Biased BBC blog are not arguing that the BBC should take a neutral stance on the issue, they believe the corporation should 'grow a backbone' and stand up for what they say is right. And frequently on the site commentators leave references to the "Pretendistinians", which serves to make their own particular bias on the issue quite clear.
That was almost the same as the familiar accusation: “You don’t want balance, you just want your kind of bias” Later in the piece he says:
Biased BBC believes that the BBC is pro-Palestinian despite any evidence to the contrary because, as you've previously identified, they are right-wing loons who believe that Thatcher was a bit soft. Whenever an Israeli spokesman comes on, they're never questioned as to why they claim to be more peaceful than Iran, despite attacking all their neighbours pretty regularly, or why, despite this, they should be allowed nuclear weapons and Iran shouldn't. Obviously, by criticising Israel, I am a dreadful nazi anti-semite, but so be it.
Clearly he does qualify as a bona fide Beeboid if he believes that making a completely context-free assertion that Israel  is guilty of “attacking all their neighbours pretty regularly” is enough to invalidate its claim to be ‘peaceful’ is an example of a reasonable, ‘non-antisemitic’, criticism of Israel, not to mention negatively equating Israel with Iran in a brazen advertisement of his own ignorance. I suppose he got his dis-info from Jeremy Bowen.

Of course, there wasn’t BREXIT in those days. Over the last almost seven years!! here at ITBB we’ve picked up a healthy tally of page-views and a distinct identity of our own. At present we are distinguishable from Biased-BBC by our labour intensive above-the-line offerings, (working day and night) in the hope that one day someone important from the BBC will come along and say “Hello Craig and Sue, you were right all along. How can we change for the better?”   

Dominic Casciani may not belie-e-e-ve it but we do this for nowt, (try not to make too many mistakes, trying to spell names correctly, finding links and images) and we charge £0 per hour, which is below the minimum wage.

Why do we do it? Yes indeed. Why.

Vanity; to stave off dementia; for mental exercise; for your entertainment; waiting for someone important from the BBC will come along and humbly ask ‘how can we change?’


  1. ... one day someone important from the BBC will come along and say “Hello Craig and Sue, you were right all along. How can we change for the better?” ...

    There is no reason that ITBBCB? should wish for this outcome and dance to the tune of the BBC. The outcome I would hope for is a Public Inquiry into the BBC's impartiality, which would seek submissions from interested parties. The wealth of evidence patiently collected and correlated by Craig and Sue should be presented to it. It would provide a mighty blow to the unresponsive complacency of the BBC.

  2. I have a dream.. one day Craig and Sue will replace Samira Ahmed!

    Until then I really appreciate the work you both put into your pieces which clearly try a lot harder than the BBC to produce fair accounts, often with real evidence, not the infamous 'some say' beloved of the BBC.

  3. It's true that a lot of people are coming round to the view that the BBC is absurdly biased but still most people think the BBC is balanced...not surprising since the BBC pumps out output designed to disguise its bias (if you are never told the Dayton shooter was a Left Wing Democrat or the El Paso shooter was an Eco-doomster you won't know how biased the BBC is in focussing purely on White Supremacism as a motive for such mass shootings).

    It's true Radio 4 is now pretty unlistenable-to. I take it in very small doses these days, purely for bias monitoring purposes really. They lost about 7% (750,000) of their listeners in 2018. I suspect the remaining listeners are listening a lot less as well.

    Anyway, I think we do have to realise that the BBC has now moved on from just being biased to being an active censor and also a socially subversive institution. As an active censor it is consciously ensuring certain views get zero exposure. You will, for instance, never hear Tommy Robinson interviewed in a studio again. In fact you probably won't hear UK-based Islamic extremists either.

    What you are getting now is a lot of race-based material and pushing of the "outcome parity" doctrine. This holds that there must be actual equality of outcome between "races" (hardly ever defined) in all fields, although in practice this means things like senior management positions in companies and the criminal justice system, rather than footballers or the arts.

    The BBC is actively promoting this doctrine which can only create envy, division and resentment and an endless cycle of failed governmental initiatives. Moreover it isn't the sort of doctrine that stops at the first station...once you are on this journey you are going to the end of the line and as we have seen in some other countries, the idea of group justice and reparations soon starts to shade into confiscation and revenge.

  4. This doesn’t relate to the content i.e. whether the Radio Four is cutting edge or M & S, but it is interesting. It also deserves more than my rather cursory examination:

    Total weekly audience between March 1999 and March 2019 were at their lowest between September 1999 and September 2000. After that there was a peak between September 2016 and March 2018. My guess would be that the peak probably correlates to the maximum interest in the Brexit debate. This has nothing to do with the quality of the debate. People were almost certainly tuning in to any source of information. Whether the recent decline has anything to with a general sense of boredom with the Brexit process or all of the other factors Sue mentions is open to debate.

    The hours per listener graph is vey revealing and is far less encouraging to BBC.

    I found an article in The Independent from a year ago that characterised (not unsurprisingly considering its source) the million listeners who had dropped out as disgruntled Labour supporters dismayed at Radio Four’s swing to the right! No doubt there are people on the hard left who view the BBC in its entirety as a right wing conspiracy, but I think this is implausible. Even more so a year later with the parallel exodus of members from the Labour Party.

    The M & S explanation is much more believable. And of course the abject surrender to PC totalitarianism.

    1. Terry re audience stats
      don't trust them
      #1 I think in the last 2 years they change the calculating parameters
      something like a person is counted in reach if they listen 10 minutes in a month
      whereas before it was 5 mins in a week
      #2 Weekly or Monthly Reach is a rubbish metric anyway
      .. You can tell from the number of contemporary tweets how few people are listening.
      That is why is often easy to get a live response from the presenter.

  5. Some links
    - @BBCWatch cover BBC's anti-Israel bias
    - David Keighley's occasional postings : on his blog has monitored BBC news output since 1999
    .. and see his posts on Conservative woman
    - For GlobalWarming someone on Twitter posts Paul Homewood's blog posts

    1. is pretty much a rolling discussion about BBC bunk & MSM bunk
      Each thread's pages have about 30 comments and a new open thread is opened 3 times/week

      The great thing is that if you find great material on Twitter/Youtube/Facebook all you do is pickup the URL by righclicking over the timestamp
      then paste it into your comment
      and then the whole tweet or Youtube video auto-embeds
      Plus you can include a web photo by grabbing its URL

      With multiple graphic comments a page can get noisy, It would be good if posts appeared in collapsed form so that you only see the first 4 lines.

      Viewing via a tool like Inoreader allows this
      It can also show you comments in "newest first" order instead of threaded.


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