The trouble with the BBC

I encountered this rather good twitter feed on the gradual changes to the News offering from the BBC and their consequences from a certain Niall Fleming, who writes as though he has some inside knowledge. Whether he does or not, his conclusions, I feel are worthy of note. I offer the piece completely unedited as I think speaks for itself – the link is here:

News bulletins as read by Dougall, Baker, Whitmore, Kendall etc gave no impression of political opinion. As bulletins were extended into “programmes”, initially a reaction to News at Ten, interpretive content entered opening the BBC News to accusations of bias from both sides.

Senior reporters and correspondents became “editors” bringing in their own content. These editors were and are frequently “interviewed” by the news reader. So gradually the “news” takes second place to the on screen “editor” opinion.

Those same “editors” frequently appear on current affairs programmes, such as the Daily Politics, Newsnight etc, further “shaping” News into opinion.

The make up of current affairs programmes, presenters and production teams, does not reflect any political balance. In fact it is worse because it has become “celebrity” driven, where for some bizarre reason a second rate right winger with odd hair is considered a heavyweight.

Take Today. Redhead, Timpson and Hobday reflected the three main U.K. parties. It was very rare for a politician to be interviewed by a natural sympathiser. So a form of balance was maintained. Once Humphreys and Naughtie came in intellect and balance were jettisoned.

Question Time is “celebrity” culture and outsourcing gone mad. This allows skewed audience selection, manipulation in editing and the ability to disguise right wing panellists as representing an “independent” perspective. The Taxpayers Alliance being one example.

HIGNFY and Mock the Week have lost their edge through contract pressure from the BBC trust. HIGNFY after the move to BBC1 and MTW after the departures of Parsons and Boyle. You can’t get more dissimilar people than Ann Widdecombe, Will Self and Stephen Fry. All boycott HIGNFY.

So a new broadcasting act must restore the requirement for political balance across MSM, separate News and Current Affairs in the BBC, and insist that BBC Current Affairs programmes are produced in house and not outsourced.

So now I’ve really discovered why I don’t watch BBC news and listen less and less to its radio…


  1. Samuel Johnson -

    British claims of political bias on the BBC have always been made and always discounted on the grounds that as long as both, or all, sides were making them. The overall impression of impartiality was reasonably credible.

    As an Irish listener and viewer who has listened and watch from both sides (Ireland & the continent), as well as from the UK, for over 50 years, my impression accords with Mr Fleming’s. That is, as someone disinterested (not uninterested) in UK politics.

    The YouTube documentary “London Calling” is worth a look for any with illusions still to shed. There’s plenty more evidence of political interference in the BBC and of its lack of real independence, but it’s only in recent years I have given up on it entirely. It is little better than Fox News with a little gravitas. A study a while ago showed that Fox viewers were more misinformed than people who followed no news at all. Seems likely to be the case with BBC viewers too. The interruption of England’s Truman Show by the break-up of the UK, which a non-supine BBC might have forestalled, is going to be interesting to watch.

    1. Peter May -

      Trouble is it’s not a spectator sport if you’re part of it!
      Still on the bright side, the planet might be fried by then….

      1. Samuel Johnson -

        Ireland still has skin in the game (more than we’d like). As Sean has documented, in terms of exports its down from about 50% to less than a fifth of that and falling. But peace is the larger, more important prize. We saw shamelessly broken promises to EU citizens today. Tomorrow we may see NI thrown under the bus, and peace with it.

        Not really a Spectator sport for the Irish, and its one watched through a one-way mirror down the Irish sea.

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