Friday, 16 December 2011

Response From the BBC

This was the BBC response - in blog form to my complaint.
My response to this complaint is copied below


The challenge of reporting Britain's role in Europe

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Helen Boaden | 17:03 UK time, Monday, 12 December 2011
The issues involved in British membership of the European Union represent a faultline that runs not just through UK politics but through British society. It is a topic that frequently enrages viewers, listeners and readers like few others.
You only have to look at the poll in today's Times, suggesting widespread support for the Prime Minister's action at last week's summit, to see the depth and power of Euro-scepticism across the country. Like any highly controversial subject, it is always challenging for an impartial news organisation to report without inflaming strong views on either side of the debate.
Trust must be at the heart of the BBC's relationship with its audiences and that is why we listen carefully to the range of feedback audiences give us. We've had some criticism of our coverage over the weekend claiming it was too "pro-European". I've watched, heard and read a great deal of what we did and without any sense of complacency, I think we reported events fairly and accurately and tried hard to capture a very wide range of views about last week's summit.
It is not our job to hail any summit on any subject as a "triumph" or a "disaster". Our role is simply to report and analyse events and their fall-out.
Nobody disputes that there was a big row in Brussels last week or that the Prime Minister's approach left him standing alone among European leaders - but there is considerable disagreement about whether or not that is a good thing and what it might mean politically and economically. Our job is to explain what happened and interrogate the different perspectives taken on Mr Cameron's stance so that our audiences can judge for themselves.
So on Friday and over the weekend we attempted to discover just what it was that the Prime Minister had vetoed, which safeguards he was seeking for the City of London, and what had changed for the UK and for Europe. We questioned a wide range of politicians and we picked up the unease among Liberal Democrats, which burst into the open with Nick Clegg's appearance on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday.
We've backed this up with analysis of the political and economic implications by our most trusted and respected editors: Nick Robinson, Gavin Hewitt, Robert Peston, Stephanie Flanders and a host of other correspondents.
Almost inevitably, this process leads to politicians having to field some uncomfortable questions from BBC interviewers. We don't do that because we have some hidden agenda but because the public expects us as an independent and impartial broadcaster to hold governments and opposition parties to account.
Over the weekend news programmes have featured in-depth interviews with George Osborne and William Hague for the Conservatives, Nick Clegg for the Liberal Democrats, a range of Euro-sceptic voices and some highly critical Labour politicians. All have different views, all have been allowed to express them - and rightly so.
It is the nature of contentious subjects - Europe, climate change, the Middle East - that they polarise opinion. Among those who feel strongly about them, BBC News is often accused of "taking sides". We must always be open to criticism of course - we don't get everything right. But criticism, however ferocious, should never deter us from focussing on the basics: telling the story accurately and fairly, testing it against a wide range of opinions and challenging all those opinions with rigour.
It's not an approach that makes us popular with everyone of course, but it may explain why audiences have remained so loyal to BBC News output over many decades.
Helen Boaden is the BBC Director of News

This was my response to this piece of BBC spin

Thank you for the response by Boaden to accusations of BBC bias over reporting EU Treaty. There was no apology at all for the BBC reporting style. To précis, the blog seems to say 1 There was no bias 2 That the reporting bias was only an illusion to those viewers that have a strong opinion.
Was the hysterical hyperbole that I awoke to at 06.30 that Friday morning from the BBC reporter just an illusion because I have a strong view? If so, how do you explain the corresponding balance of the Sky News report? I didn't see whingeing criticism there. The contrast was obvious. I accuse the BBC of harbouring the gravest of contempt for the frustrated viewers who cannot get the BBC to answer to their biased reporting. The BBC simply denies bias and hides behind the Trust which is tragically not answerable to an external regulator. The BBC hides behind an FOI act get out clause which allows them to conceal the numbers of complaints on the balance of reporting bias on the grounds this undermines their independence. Are you willing to tell me whether there was fair and reasonable balance of complaints about BBC pro and anti EU reporting bias that morning or is the BBC going to continue to conceal its institutional bias behind a technicality. Your refusal to admit bias is going to foment accusations of breaches of codes of impartiality and further resentment of mandatory payment of the TV licence. Please do simply say you will present it with all the other complaints to the Trust board.

I am awaiting an answer to this from the Beeb. You know it's going to be inadequate

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Complaint to BBC re Institutional Bias

I sent the following complaint to the BBC today. I shall be posting their no doubt lame comment.

"I was appalled to wake up to the BBC breakfast news reporter from the EU summit spouting hysterical hyperbole over Cameron's veto. After an agonizingly biased diatribe, I eventually changed channel to Sky News where I was warmly greeted with an eminently more balanced discussion of the veto. On this channel, David Buik from BCG partners gave a very refreshing and sensible statement over the importance of protecting our financial services industry from potentially ruinous proposed centrally agreed transaction taxes. The presenters themselves asked very sensible questions and generated interesting opinions. The BBC news coverage since this demonstration of biased hysteria has simply not been able to hide its pro European position and once again it has required the paper press and bloggers to uncover the institutional bias that, like a cancer, just cannot seem to be stamped out of the BBC. No doubt, (as you always do when responding to accusations of bias), point out other pieces of BBC coverage that do have a balanced debate and you will convince yourselves and try to convince me that that is commensurate with impartiality. The fact that your opening coverage of the summit was so candidly critical of Cameron's decision rather negates this as answer to accusations of bias. I accuse you of once again violating your duty to impartiality and state my resentment of the mandatory licence fee the TV viewing nation has, by law, to pay to hear this form of State run propaganda. "