Times – “Bias at the Beeb – Official“
There are some things you do not need an official report to tell you – that John Prescott thinks he is a babe magnet, that President Mugabe is not entirely in favour of white farmers and that Al-Qaeda takes a pretty dim view of the West. The report commissioned by the BBC into itself concluded with something equally blindingly obvious. It said that the organisation is institutionally biased and especially gullible to the blandishments of politically driven celebrities, such as Bono and Bob Geldof. Almost anyone in Britain could have told the BBC that for free, but maybe it’s better to have it in an official report.
Even taking into account the small but insistent internal voice pointing out that the Times is part of the Great Satan Murdoch’s media empire, there’s not much to disagree with there.
” … what emerges from the report is a picture of an organisation with a liberal, anti-American bias and an almost teenage fascination with fashionable causes … the BBC is a self-perpetuating liberal arts club.”
Telegraph – “BBC report finds bias within corporation”
The BBC has failed to promote proper debate on major political issues because of the inherent liberal culture of its staff, a report commissioned by the corporation has concluded. The report claims that coverage of single-issue political causes, such as climate change and poverty, can be biased – and is particularly critical of Live 8 coverage, which it says amounted to endorsement.
After a year-long investigation the report, published today, maintains that the corporation’s coverage of day-to-day politics is fair and impartial. But it says coverage of Live 8, the 2005 anti-poverty concerts organised by rock star campaigners Bob Geldof and Bono and writer Richard Curtis, failed to properly debate the issues raised. Instead, at a time when the corporation was renegotiating its charter with the government, it allowed itself to effectively become a promotional tool for Live 8, which was strongly supported by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Geldof, Bono and Curtis were attempting to pressure world leaders at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, which was taking place at the same time, to help reduce poverty in developing countries under the banner ‘Make Poverty History’.
Mr Blair said the campaign was a “mighty achievement”. The huge Live 8 concerts across the world were its culmination and the BBC cleared its schedules to show them, with coverage on BBC One, Two and Three and Radio One and Two. Around the same time it also screened a specially-written episode of Curtis’s popular sitcom The Vicar of Dibley that featured a minute long Make Poverty History video and saw characters urged to support it. And it aired another Curtis drama, The Girl in the Café, in which Bill Nighy falls in love with an anti-poverty campaigner – even giving Gordon Brown an advance copy. The BBC also ran a week long Africa special featuring a series of documentaries by Geldof and a day celebrating the National Health Service, prompting Sky News political editor Adam Boulton to tell a House of Lords select committee it was in danger of peddling government propaganda.
The report concludes BBC staff must be more willing to challenge their own beliefs.
(En passant, the BBCs uncritical coverage of the millionaires Geldof, Bono and Curtis illustrates neatly a feature of modern philanthropy. In Victorian times a rich man with a conscience would put his hands in his own pockets to fund a worthy cause – a tradition which continues in America (Bill Gates, Warren Buffett) to this day. Across the water the favoured option of a charitably inclined multimillionaire is to get poorer people to fund your favourite causes via higher taxation – while in some cases avoiding such taxes yourself.)
Strangely the Observer headlines its report “Vicar of Dibley accused of breaking BBC guidelines“. Can’t imagine why. But they also have BBC insider Richard Tait’s view of the report.
UPDATE 18/06 – Commenter Richy is clairvoyant !
“If overly critical then surely the it’ll be placed in the “england” section or the “entertainment” section.”
“Entertainment” it is !
You can find the report here. Plenty of pdfs to get through. The “impartiality monitoring group” doesn’t look like a diverse cross-section of British political opinion to me – you do wonder what political perspectives the man who “co-founded the Democracy Coalition for Children and Young
People” or Kat Fletcher bring to the party.
More coverage at Times (also under Entertainment), Telegraph, Mail, more Sunday Times. Oh, and apologies for calling a BBC Trustee a BBC ‘insider’. Cultural misunderstanding … via commenter JBH, the Michael Crick anecdote about BBC execs all being Guardian readers. Sounds too good to be true – Mr Crick seems to have a puckish sense of humour. But I’m sure it “illustrates a wider truth”, as Dan Rather and Piers Morgan would say.