Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:


Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

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Respected technology news website The Inquirer

reports on Why the BBC is rubbish, in an article by Andrew Thomas, who sounds like a man after my own heart. Here are some excerpts:

At the beginning of the last century, its newsreaders spoke proper English and wore dinner jackets even though they were only on radio, or the wireless, as it was then known. It was a trusted and respected organisation, much as the London Times used to be before it was taken over by an antipodean charlatan.

Today, the news is read by excitable young folk with impenetrable regional accents who find it impossible to sit down while spouting forth in some hateful modern argot about some soap star’s new hairstyle.

The BBC’s charter states that it should be ‘free from both political and commercial influence’. A laudable aim and one that the BBC completely ignores.

And:

And while on the subject of pseudo journalism, when did journalists stop interviewing the people directly involved in the news? In a story on the Prime Minister, the BBC news anchor will interview the BBC Political Editor, rather than the man himself. A science correspondent will be wheeled in to explain some new technical wonderment, rather than the boffins who developed it and an economics reporter will be interviewed on some shady business deal instead of the man who’s just fled the country taking the pension fund with him.

And:

The ‘commercial influence’ aspect of the BBC’s charter extends beyond straightforward advertising. For years, the BBC’s technology coverage has been beneath contempt. Not only do correspondents genuinely believe that ‘the CPU is the brain of the computer’ and that ‘the sun goes behind the Earth’ during a lunar eclipse, but their coverage could hardly be called objective.

It is all to easy to see the BBC technology desk wetting themselves every time an Apple press release arrives. If it contains the word ‘iPod’, you can imagine them fainting with excitement.

All too true! Do read the whole thing.

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Some Contradiction Here I Think …

The main item on Today’s 7 am news was to the effect that “Peter Halliday is to be sentenced today after pleading guilty to abusing choirboys over a period of five years. But the Church of England knew that he had admitted the offences 17 years ago.” An in-depth report (RealAudio) follwed at 7.35.

Now it’s not unreasonable that they should be reporting such things, although the prominent billing is probably because the story is a Today exclusive.

But what’s this item at 7.15 ?

“Academics have uncovered a book written by a man who could well be considered the first advocate for gay rights (RealAudio). We speak to Dr Hal Gladfelder of Manchester University.”

John Humphrys even invited Dr Gladfelder, author of such seminal works as “Plague Spots: Deviance and the Body in the Writings of John Cleland” to give a potted history of homosexual rights in the UK, interrupting Dr Gladfelder at the mention of Roy Jenkins with the enthusiastic comment ‘that great reforming Home Secretary !‘.

The actual document discovered by Dr Gladfelder is called ‘Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplified’. It is available to Project Muse subscribers.

Perhaps the BBC, so exercised by people who abuse choirboys without criminal sanction, should check out the definition of ‘pederasty‘.

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What they cover, and why

When the US lower House votes on a military funding deadline (a long acknowledged and anticipated event), the BBC has no need, and I would argue, no right, to make that its headline. Yet it does.

It is internal US politicking, and given the primacy of both President and Congress, of little moment.

Meanwhile, to the right on the BBC front page is a totally pointless video entitled “Dubya Dances”. Notwithstanding the inappropriateness of using Bush’s ill-intentioned nickname, it’s simply a clip of Bush dancing at an African anti-malarial meeting. Not only does this have no purpose save to make Bush look ridiculous excerpted from context, it also demeans the seriousness of his program to help Africa with malaria (which, I should add, they do cover, in routine fashion), and would no doubt irritate many US conservatives at a time when the lefty politicians are rooting for US defeat in Iraq.

It tallies quite well with the BBC’s general desire to caricature Bush though, after the fashion of the BushHitler posterthey gave such pride of place to.

Ps. I wonder where they get their “Dubya dancing” fancies from? Not things like this, I hope?

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Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:


Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

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Today’s Times reports Blue Peter ‘sorry’ over goat killing:

Blue Peter has apologised for showing children the ritual slaughter of a goat in scenes that included the animal’s agonised death throes.

Ofcom criticised the BBC after viewers complained that the scenes, shown without warning, were shocking and wholly unsuitable for children.

The footage was shown in a feature about a village in Oman preparing for the Eid ul-Fitr festival. The killing was shown in long-shot and from behind, so that the method of slaughter was not visible, but the BBC admitted that the death throes were apparent. Ofcom said the goat was clearly seen “twitching” in close-up as it expired and considered that the final moments of its death were “not appropriate on this occasion”.

The BBC said Blue Peter had recognised immediately that the subject should not have been shown in such detail and apologised to viewers and children the day after broadcast.


The Sun’s coverage of multi-culti fun on Blue Peter

Hmmm. The BBC’s claim that “Blue Peter had recognised immediately that the subject should not have been shown in such detail” is utter tosh. When we first covered this appaling story back on January 23rd, I noted that:

…having searched through BBC Views Online’s search engine, the Blue Peter Homepage and the BBC’s Press Office, I can find no references to this apology from the editor of Blue Peter – has it passed you by Beeboids? There’s still time to get an article up on BBC Views Online’s Entertainment page, the place where you normally need no excuse to toot the BBC’s horn!

Even now, searching Google for site:bbc.co.uk “blue peter” oman goat slaughter returns just one result, a BBC Complaints response allegedly published on 19 Jan 2007, in which Richard Marson, Editor of Blue Peter, states:

We thought long and hard about the treatment of this story. We decided to include it because it is a fact of life not only in Oman but all over the world and we felt that it was important to show the link between the food that people eat and where it actually comes from.

So, on the one hand, we have the editor of Blue Peter saying “we thought long and hard about the treatment of this story” and on the other we have “Blue Peter… recognised immediately that the subject should not have been shown in such detail”. Well, which is it?

And even if they did recognise their error immediately afterwards, shouldn’t it have been just as obvious immediately before it was broadcast? We are talking about alleged broadcasting professionals here, aren’t we? Has anyone been punished or reprimanded over this now admitted error?

P.S. Beeboids: There’s still time to get an article up on BBC Views Online’s Entertainment page about this BBC story – you know you would if another broadcaster had done this…

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Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:


Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

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According to Natasha Kaplinsky on the BBC One O’Clock Views today:

The BBC has confirmed that an Iraqi bomb has got through the armour of a Challenger tank for the first time.

- quite why the BBC are able to confirm this, since they don’t operate the tanks, escapes me. Perhaps they’re using ‘confirmed’ in the same way as that other lazy BBC-ism, “the BBC has learned”, when of course the BBC’s job is to report, rather than to toot it’s own trumpet at every opportunity, even during news bulletins it seems.

Moreover, a roadside bomb capable of defeating the armour of a Challenger II tank is not your average roadside bomb – it must be a sophisticated shaped-charge device, difficult to design and difficult to manufacture without sophisticated equipment, so is almost certainly not an ‘Iraqi bomb’. It’s much more likely to be an Iranian bomb, but in the absence of proof, the BBC would be more accurate to describe it as a ‘bomb in Iraq’ rather than an ‘Iraqi bomb’.

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*** Stealth edit alert *** Stealth edit alert ***:

BBC Views Online’s sleazy stealth editors have been in action again (though I doubt that they are ever really out of action – it’s just that we don’t always spot it happening).

On Saturday morning BBC Views Online reported Migration ‘tipping point reached’, beginning:

Immigration could lead to the political break-up of Britain, according to think-tank Civitas.

A pamphlet by the group suggests that Britain may have reached a “tipping point” beyond which it could no longer be seen as a single nation.

Looking at the same story today, it has been modified, stealthily, as follows:

Immigration could lead to the political break-up of Britain, according to right-wing think-tank Civitas.

A pamphlet by the group suggests that Britain may have reached a “tipping point” beyond which it could no longer be seen as a single nation.

You can see the original version of the article courtesy of Google’s cache (until Google next refreshes their cache in a day or two).

The strange thing is that Civitas, a widely respected think-tank, is deliberately non-partisan, as set out on their About Civitas page:

Intellectual orientation

All think tanks have a point of view, and unthinking commentators always want to know whether an organisation is left wing or right wing. Those who think for themselves know how misleading these categories are. Civitas is not easy to position on the left-right spectrum. Most of our staff have no current or past party affiliation, but our director of community studies, Norman Dennis, is a member of the Labour party in Sunderland and our Director, David Green, was a Labour party member for over ten years and a Labour councillor in Newcastle upon Tyne for about six years. To avoid the tug of party loyalty, Civitas is non-partisan in politics.

Moreover, our principal concerns are not the property of any one political party. The focus of Civitas on encouraging social cohesion is shared by many who would describe themselves as on the left.

(Read the rest for further details).

Perhaps this is a case where the unthinking lefties at Views Online don’t care much for the message, hence them helpfully labelling Civitas, incorrectly, as right-wing, lest anyone else should care to think for themselves.

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Nationalists.

The following BBC story, Three killed at Turkish publisher, describes how three people have had their throats slit at a publishing house in Turkey that produces Bibles, or bibles as the BBC puts it. All the bold type in the excerpts below was added by me.

Nationalists had protested at the publishing house in the past, accusing it of involvement in missionary activities, local media reported.

There is a rising wave of nationalist feeling in Turkey, the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford reports, with Christian minorities complaining of pressure and harassment.

In the most serious incident so far, a Catholic priest was killed last year by a teenage nationalist gunman as he prayed in his church.

[…]

Malatya is known here as a very nationalistic city, often with an extreme religious undertone, our correspondent adds.

It is the hometown of Mehmet Ali Agca, who in 1981 shot Pope John Paul II.

Turkey’s Christian community comprises less than 1% of its population. More than 99% of the Turkish population is Nationalist.

I changed the very last word of the article.

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Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:


Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

One more thing. A commenter, Bryan, pointed out that our monthly archives seem to have disappeared. Presumably this is something to do with the new version of Blogger. Anyone know how to rectify this? The material is still there, because searching for key words works fine – in fact better than it did in the old version of Blogger.

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Framed and unframed pictures

When the charges against the lacrosse team at Duke University were first laid the BBC covered it in this article by Daniel Lak.

The article correctly takes no explicit view about the truth or otherwise of the charge, as at that time investigations were still proceeding. A great deal of the article, in fact, is not about the details of the particular case at all. Rather it is “framing” – all about the race, gender and class issues that make it a big story. Fair enough. I hate to say this, but no broadcaster could cover all of the rape trials that take place in the world. The reason this one resonated was the contrast between the rich white frat boys and the poor black stripper, an unmarried mother. This wider interest is why we had the digressions into the history of North Carolina and into the current position of blacks in America.

In some relatively small ways the article was not quite as impartial as it should have been. For instance in this excerpt:

Civil rights activists, African studies professors, feminists, black community leaders and a lot of the stalwarts of the left that you find on any American campus have all lined up behind the victim and her claims.

Lacrosse team members and their parents, athletes past and present and various right-wing commentators in the US media hint darkly that the woman was either lying or had been assaulted before she came to the party.

-there should have been an “alleged” before the word “victim” and the picture of the stalwarts of the left lining up behind a victim is more positive than the “dark hints” ascribed to the right wing commentators. Still, the article does cite both white frat boys and black strippers as being the targets of “easy vilification.”

Now let’s move on to the account of the dropping of all charges against the Duke lacrosse players. (Hat tip: Terry Johnson) I thought more highly of this article than Mr Johnson did. It does make pretty clear that these men were innocent, unlike the pathetic grasping at straws (“We’ll never know what really happened that night”) I came across in some feminist websites. The facts are all there.

But it’s an unframed picture. There is little or nothing about the wider context that makes it a big story. The blogs and the media had as much to say about such issues as political correctness having overridden the presumption of innocence than they did about the individuals concerned. But with the BBC story, in contrast to the earlier one, it’s “just the facts ma’am, just the facts.” We hear that Nifong, the prosecutor, may be charged with witholding evidence – but not a word about why he seemed so madly determined to pursue the case long after the weaknesses in it had been exposed. (Winning an election and maximising his pension have been suggested.) Or why so much of the Duke academic community instantly assumed that their own students were guilty and went into candlelit vigil mode.

Justin Webb is quoted as saying “the charges had outraged many Americans, reminding them of the treatment of black people by privileged whites in years gone by.” I could not tell whether he meant that many Americans were shocked by what they believed to be a crime by arrogant white men against a poor black woman, reminding them of the way that white men could once rape black women with impunity – or whether he meant that many Americans saw the way that large sections of the university faculty and media acted as if the accused were already proven guilty by reason of race alone as reminiscent of the lynch law of the past but with the races reversed.

Neither of the two BBC articles I have cited has much wrong with it individually. Nor should the writer of either be specifically criticised in relation to the other – they were written quite separately.

My point is that the BBC has a strong but unconscious tendency to provide a frame for pictures upon which it wants the eye to linger and to dispense with a frame for pictures it finds unattractive.

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