Here’s a gem of BBC groupthink from last night’s BBC Six O’Clock News

, transcribed in full:

George Alagiah: The number of immigrants arriving in Britain is too high, that’s what the Conservative leader, David Cameron’s said, in his first ever major speech on the issue. He says there’s an unsustainable pressure on public services because of a rising population. The Tories say that there should be strict annual limits on the number of migrants allowed to come here from outside the EU, which would be substantially lower than the figure coming in now.

We then cut to a clip of David Cameron:

David Cameron: Well at the moment the net figure, that’s the difference between people coming and people going to live elsewhere, the net figure, is about 200,000, so that’s two million over ten years, it’s a large number. We think it should be substantially lower than that, I’m not naming the number today, because we think what should happen is a conversation between business on the one hand, that talks about the skills we need in Britain, and public services on the other, about the pressure that immigration brings, and we should arrive at the number, arrive at the limit, through those conversations.

3, 2, 1 and we’re back in the studio with George:

George Alagiah: Well, lets speak to our Political Editor, Nick Robinson, Nick, David Cameron is aware presumably that immigration has proven to be a rather controversial topic for Tory leaders in the past…

We then cut to Nick Robinson, ‘Going live!’, outside at Westminster:

Nick Robinson: So aware that the ‘I’ word, immigration, has barely passed his lips since he became Tory leader, aware yes that Michael Howard, who he worked for of course, and before him, William Hague, were accused of playing the race card when when they spoke of immigration…

Were they Nick, were the Conservatives, sorry Beeboids, let’s use your term, the Tories accused of ‘playing the race card’ when raising legitimate public concerns about population growth, pressure on public services and the establishment of substantial unassimilated foreign communities in the UK on a far larger scale than ever before? Were they really? Who would have done a thing like that?

Nick Robinson: …but quite a bit has changed since then George, first of all the Tories policy now talks of immigration and does not mention controls on asylum seekers. Secondly, there is much greater public concern about a rising population. Thirdly, David Cameron today was careful to talk about family breakdown, as well as immigration, contributing to that increased population and pressure on public services. There could be trouble ahead though when he finally does give us a number, if he ever does, of the number that he wants to come into this country. Why George? He cannot limit the number of Europeans coming, from the EU, those he limits therefore, and let’s just say it, are unlikely to have white faces, they’re likely to have faces that are black and brown, and the controversy will continue. (emphasis added)

George Alagiah: Nick, thank you.

And there we have it: the race card, played by Nick Robinson and the BBC – doing Labour’s dirty work for them. The BBC. It’s what we do.

P.S. In related news, Guido reports former Beeboid Julie Etchingham revealing her leftie prejudices more directly than usual. Her views are usually plain from her disdainful manner when interviewing eviiil toreeeys, but yesterday, whilst Cameron’s speech was being carried live on Sky News, as Cameron said: “Let me outline the action that a Conservative government would take. As we have seen, some of the increase in population size results from natural change – birth rates, death rates. Here our policy should be obvious… “, Botchingham opened her gob, microphone switched on, and said “Extermination!”. Nice – a true professional. It’s a pity that ITN didn’t pick one of Sky’s better presenters to keep Sir Trevor company when News at Ten returns.

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On Thursday night the Guardian broke a story, published on Friday, that Peer was paid to introduce lobbyist to minister

, concerning the payment of cash to former Labour frontbencher, Lord Hoyle, formerly Doug Hoyle, a onetime government whip, MP for Warrington and chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, by a lobbyist:

…for an introduction to Lord Drayson, the defence minister in charge of billions of pounds of military procurement, according to evidence obtained by the Guardian.

The story was mentioned briefly in Newsnight’s round-up on Thursday of Friday’s newspapers, but not all, at least not noticeably so, by any other BBC news programme until Friday’s Newsnight, where Michael Crick had a filmed report with various interviews, but played it down, in the subsequent studio discussion, as not much of a scandal.

Experience suggests there’d have been a good deal more interest in this story across the BBC if Hoyle was an eviiil Toreeey. Strange that.

MEP and Daily Telegraph leader writer Daniel Hannan has been in touch

to report some shockingly biased BBC reporting concerning some comments of his.

Hannan blogged on Thursday, ‘Cast-iron guarantee’ must not rust, about how the Conservatives should handle the EU Treaty. In it he called on his party to make sure they play no games on the issue, saying:

My party calls Gordon Brown a liar because of his sophistry over Europe, and we are right to do so. Let us play no games of our own.

There was no criticism of David Cameron, and in fact nothing but praise for him. But the BBC reported this as Pressure on Cameron over EU poll:

Daniel Hannan MEP told Mr Cameron to “stop playing games” on the issue.

As Hannan writes today, My BBC Barney:

the Beeb made up a false quotation and attributed it to me. This is the sort of thing you get fired for at the Telegraph.

Will anyone at the BBC be fired or at least disciplined for this fabrication?

Whilst it is possible to read Hannan’s original blog post as very oblique criticism of Cameron that’s very much a matter of interpretation and a big stretch at that. But that is beside the point. The BBC quotes Hannan saying that Cameron should “stop playing games” – something Hannan did not say.

The BBC’s fabrication has been online, unamended according to Newssniffer, since 6pm on Friday. The BBC should at the very least correct this story – and publish their correction with the same prominence as the original story, rather than the usual sleazy BBC stealth edit, and issue a public apology to Hannan.

All in all, a fine example of the BBC’s dreadful propensity for making up the news – the BBC wants to push the BBC line about Pressure on Cameron over EU poll, so the BBC scouts about for material to back the BBC line, and then just makes up a quote to hang their story on anyway. Appaling.

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Jonathan Calder of Liberal England asks Why doesn’t the BBC name Emily Thornberry?

Parliament’s standards watchdog, Sir Philip Mawer, has criticised the behaviour of an MP who inserted a quote into an official press release as “unwise”. Sir Philip didn’t name the MP in his annual report, but as Jonathan points out, it takes little effort to find that the MP in question is Emily Thornberry, Labour MP for Islington South, subject of a report by the House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges (PDF).

Obviously too much effort though for our fearless and inquisitive BBC Views Online cut’n’pasters, who confined themselves to reporting MP ‘unwise’ to alter news release. I suspect they’d have managed a bit more of a splash if the MP was an eviiil Toreeey though.

via Iain Dale.

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Sky TV (BSkyB) have applied to Ofcom to remove

their three free-to-air channels, Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky Three, from Freeview (Digital Terrestrial Television, DTT) to replace them with five pay TV channels. This will also require new Freeview equipment for those wishing to subscribe.

I don’t mind Freeview having subscription services on it – indeed, if it did, there would be even less argument than ever for the unique way the BBC is funded by the tellytax rather than through subscriber choice*.

The issue, of course, is that removing Sky News from the free-to-air channels on Freeview will be a serious blow to consumer choice and broadcasting competition, leaving only the BBC providing readily available rolling news coverage on Freeview.

Therefore, Biased BBC calls upon everyone who cares about our democracy and freedom of choice in news services on Freeview to object to this proposal, at least in so far as it affects the availability of Sky News on Freeview.

More details about the proposals are available from Ofcom in the form of an Executive Summary and a PDF of the full proposal.

There are several ways to respond, probably the easiest being online using Ofcom’s online response form. It’s not necessary to answer all of the questions.

* Not surprisingly, when Freeview came into being, the BBC, acting in its own narrow self-interest as usual (rather than the public interest you would expect of a tax-funded public service), ensured that there was no requirement in the Freeview standard for Freeview boxes to have provision for subscription services – with the result that many current boxes aren’t subscription capable. (Though what the BBC didn’t bargain on of course is that the price of Freeview equipment has fallen so dramatically that their self-interested ‘fixing’ of the standard is rapidly ceasing to be a valid objection to the BBC becoming a subscription service).

Thank you to Biased BBC reader Ali P.

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Following up on recent revelations about the BBC invasion of Facebook

, Samuel Coates, deputy editor of Conservativehome, has cleverly found a silver lining to such wholesale Beeboid waste of tellytaxpayer’s time – revealing that there are eleven times more ‘liberals’ at the BBC than ‘conservatives’.

Facebook lets you target advertising at people based on various criteria, including their workplace and their declared political outlook (using the American terms liberal, moderate and conservative to represent left of centre, centre and right of centre views).

Currently there are 10,580 known BBC people registered on Facebook. Of these, 1,800 have indicated their political views, as follows:


BBC staff profiles on Facebook:

All BBC staff

10,580

BBC liberals

1,340

BBC moderates

340

BBC conservatives

120

It’s not a scientific survey, but it’s certainly indicative of the imbalance of views represented by those who work for our beloved state broadcasting institution.

For good measure, Samuel goes on to compare the breakdown of BBC political views on Facebook with those of the general UK and London populations on Facebook. It turns out that across the UK, the ratio of liberals to conservatives on Facebook is just 2.5 to 1, with London at 3 to 1 – a long way short of the BBC’s 11 to 1.

There may be an argument that the use of the American terms liberal, moderate and conservative causes confusion, but in that case, why does it seem to cause so much more confusion at the BBC than among the UK population at large?

I wonder how long it will take for the BBC to forbid their employees from indicating their political views on their Facebook profiles…

Update (1pm): Samuel adds:

There are tonnes of stats out there waiting to be found via Flyers Pro in Facebook’s Advertising section, including that the Lib-Con ratio is fairly even throughout the demographics of BBC employees, with men having a very slightly better ratio than women and over thirties slightly better than twentysomethings.

Thank you to Samuel for the tip. Top stuff!

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Biased BBC reader Robinhas kindly submitted this article

Biased BBC reader Robinhas kindly submitted this article:

For the BBC, natural disasters seem to be a golden opportunity to attack President Bush and to amplify the prevailing pro-climate change bigotry. Take the Californian bush fires, which some of the online reporting acknowledges have actually been part of the American climate scene for time immemorial.

Yet in paragraph five of BBC News Online’s main report of the fires, the finger of blame for some part of the problem is sneakily but firmly being pointed at George W.:

A White House spokeswoman said Mr Bush, whose administration was accused of a sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina two years ago, wanted to “witness first-hand” the crisis.

Not per se bias, but the implication is clear. Dear George W. He simply can’t get it right when it comes to climate change. Or anything.

In their background report on the fires, reporter Tim Egan raises the global warming problem in the intro by declaring that the fires “are set to become the norm” for many months of the year. Further down, he gives the reason, and begins to wax lyrical about the main theme of his piece:

We can expect longer, more damaging fire seasons. And they will threaten more homes. Two trends – climate change, and a population surge into the open country – are converging in a place where fire has long had a home.

Oh yes? He goes on to quote the UN’s notorious Intergovernmental Climate Change Panel as the main source that this is happening, and buttresses it with mentions of a geographer’s view that local tree-ring data supports the theory that California is getting hotter. No mention, though, as would be expected in reporting of this kind, of the balancing cautionary notes sounded by those such as Steve McIntyre on his excellent Climate Audit blog, where he points out, in an item posted on October 12, A Little Secretthat the very data that is being cited by Mr Egan as rock-solid proof of global warming hasn’t been properly measured or evaluated in decades.

The BBC – full of hot air, and making it hotter all the time.

Thank you Robin. Most appreciated. Other Biased BBC readers are very welcome to submit articles for the main blog too via biasedbbc@gmail.com, either as a one off or with a view to joining the team permanently. Your help will be much appreciated.

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Word reaches the Biased BBC bunker of an exciting new blog: Nick Reynolds at Work

, by, not surprisingly, given its modest name, Biased BBC commenter and sometime BBC employee, Nick Reynolds.

It’s not Nick’s first blog though. He has been blogging for a while within the Berlin Firewall that protects the denizens of the People’s Democratic Republic of Shepherd’s Bush from the reality of life, commonsense and popular opinion in modern Britain. Though perestroika is underway in the PDRofSB, glasnost is yet to arrive – we’re only to see “stuff from my internal blog which is OK to be shared with the wider world”. Still, having seen some of Nick’s ‘internal’ posts, he’s probably acting in everyone’s best interest!

Nick’s first big post, My ‘Friends’ At Biased BBC, is from the current issue of Pravda, known to BBC employees as Ariel – the BBC’s in house magazine – where it was published under the heading Don’t Dismiss Biased BBC, Join The Conversation Instead.

Nick writes that:

…there I was, sitting there, writing some guidelines on personal blogs, and thinking “I’d better find out more about this blogging thing.

I fired up Google blog search and searched for “BBC”. To my surprise I saw right at the top of the page a link to something called “Biased BBC”. My surprise turned to alarm as I clicked on to a purple and white web page filled with anti-BBC invective and examples of so-called “bias”. I remember saying to my colleagues “Have you seen this?”

Shocking! There is a world outside the BBC! And some of it doesn’t like us! My goodness, next we’ll have conscientious objectors refusing to pay the tellytax, being rounded up and dealt with by KGBBC goons just for possessing equipment capable of being used for receiving non-BBC approved broadcasts!

But alas, Nick hasn’t yet seen through the BBC entirely:

But in two years there’s only been one piece of BBC content highlighted by Biased BBC where I thought there was a real problem. There have been three or four where I have thought they might have half a point. But these have been sloppy journalism or poor phrasing, not bias. Considering the huge amount of web pages and other content that the BBC publishes, and that we’re human beings who sometimes make mistakes, not a bad record. Biased BBC proves its opposite; the BBC is not biased.

We live in hope for Nick though! However, ever a keen Beeboid (I put that in just for your credibility Nick), Nick knows a good thing when he sees it. Although he doesn’t agree with Biased BBC, he seems quite taken with the Biased BBC approach. I expect we’ll be receving a takeover ordffer, otherwise known as an ‘annexation’, just as soon as the BBC Borg has finished digesting its latest victim, Lonely Planet. (It is of course wrong to say that Lonely Planet is a victim – the real victims will be Lonely Planet’s erstwhile competitors).

Biased BBC denizens David Gregory and the pseudonymous ‘John Reith’ are both namechecked too. Nick says that ‘John Reith’:

…does fantastic work, debating and rebutting, with humour and occasionally acerbic comment. I’m still trying to work out who he is. He’s an ambassador for the BBC, a real champion. Yet he must feel that if he uses his real name he will get in trouble. It’s a terrible indictment of the BBC’s culture that someone supporting the organisation so well can’t use their real name.

…and there was me thinking that John Reith’s anonymity was to protect him from his fellow Biased BBC readers, tired of the careful selectivity of his arguments and his disappearances when the BBC is caught red-handed. I should have realised: ‘John Reith’ is a true Beeboid – like the frightened Russian of jokes past, so wary of his suspicious comrades that, when asked what he thinks of Comrade Thompson, he leads his questioner all across the city, rows out into the middle of a big lake, where, absolutely safe from listening ears, he whispers his confession: “I like him…”!

Martin Belam, a former (and I expect future) BBC employee, who has blogged about Biased BBC at length before, has blogged about Nick’s Pravda piece too, Biased BBC blog in the BBC’s Ariel newspaper, complete with a stylish photo of Nick’s Pravda article – showing a drawing of a resident of the Biased BBC bunker being tapped on the shoulder by the BBC Big Brother.

Like Nick, Martin takes the view that:

I don’t often agree with what I read on [Biased BBC], but I do agree with Nick that they… turn up examples of ‘sloppy journalism’ and ‘poor phrasing’, rather than evidence of a concerted top-down pre-planned slant on everything the BBC produces.

…which isn’t so far from my own view – as with the Jeff Randall quote in our sidebar, the BBC isn’t a grand conspiracy – it’s an unaccountable public sector organisation, bloated by years of government largesse, with many staff of a public sector mien quite inimical to the benefits of free-market competition among other things. We make no claim that Biased BBC is solely about BBC bias – far from it. There’s plenty of scope for exposing ‘sloppy journalism’, ‘poor phrasing’ and a range of other BBC issues, including BBC waste, incompetence, stupidity, ignorance and so on, including, every now and again, mention of some the BBC’s good points too.

P.S. Wikipedia has a scan of Ariel from 07NOV2006, complete with a sub-head that reads:

When it pays to fight for the right to know, page 4

I bet that article wasn’t about the Balen Report, which for some strange reason the BBC remains ever so keen to hide from the tellytaxpayers who pay for the BBC and who’ve paid for the BBC’s expensive lawyers to keep it hidden.

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News at Ten back – with Sir Trevor! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

MediaGrauniad reports that:

ITV is bringing back News at Ten with Sir Trevor McDonald and Sky News presenter Julie Etchingham.

Michael Grade, the ITV executive chairman, has hinted before that he would like to resurrect this much-missed broadcasting institution and it is understood that ITV1′s late bulletin will switch from 10.30pm to its historic home at 10pm next year, MediaGuardian.co.uk can reveal.

…after Michael Grade admitted in March that getting rid of News at Ten was “a shocking mistake … it damaged ITV more than anything”. The Grauniad also reports that:

The confusion allowed the BBC to move its main news bulletin to 10pm, allowing BBC1 greater sway in the 9pm prime time hour.

…which isn’t quite the whole story. The excellent News at Ten was dropped by shortsighted ITV executives in March 1999 after 30 years of broadcasting, one of whom, David Liddiment, admitted in 2003 that:

ITV would be better off today if it had never tried to move News at Ten. Commercially it would still have a free ride at 9pm because the Nine O’Clock News would still be there, and corporately the political opprobrium heaped on ITV and its shareholders for tampering with a national news treasure would have been avoided. Instead they got the worst of all worlds.

Eighteen months later, after much complaint from all who cared about democracy and choice, ITV was forced to reconsider, bringing back News at Ten at least three days a week from early 2001.

But alas, our story of naked opportunism gone wrong and sort of put right doesn’t end there.

The main villain of this piece is, of course, the BBC, our supposed public service broadcaster. In August 2000, the BBC, led by arch-villain Greg Dyke, taking advantage of ITV’s ill-fated blunder, announced that it would move its flagship Nine O’Clock News to become the BBC Ten O’Clock News from September 2001.

When ITV was forced into sort of doing the right thing once more from early 2001, you’d expect that the BBC, naturally wishing to serve the public, would put its plans to move the Nine O’Clock News in September 2001 on hold. But no, not a bit of it. The BBC, aggressive and anti-competitive as ever, brought its plan forward by a year, with the BBC Ten O’Clock News starting in October 2000.

News at Ten duly returned for three days a week in 2001, but with its shifting schedule it languished against its by now established anti-competitive rival. Eventually, in early 2004, the current ITV News at 10.30 was born – an inadequate compromise, still crowded out by the BBC Ten O’Clock News immediately before it and by Newsnight up against it on BBC2.

With the amalgamation of various BBC News teams into one news operation, let us hope that Mark Thompson, willingly or otherwise, seizes the chance to put this historic wrong right, and bring back the BBC’s Nine O’Clock News – ensuring a choice of prime time news programmes for everyone – a choice of times and a choice of viewpoints, and of course the prospect of the Nine O’Clock News, ITN’s News at Ten and then Newsnight for the real news junkies among us.

It would be good for Britain and good for the British public. Bringing back the BBC’s Nine O’Clock News would be a great first step on the road back to the BBC being a true public service broadcaster at the service of the British people, rather than the expansionist, anti-competitive state-funded monopoly that it has unashamedly been over the last few years.

P.S. Next we need to get dear Sandy Gall, now eighty, back into Afghanistan for ITN! Anyone who remembers his marvellous reports from the 1980s knows he’ll make a better job of it than John “Liberator” Simpson ever could :-)

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Back in September, Newssniffer caught a classic example of leftie Beeboid spinning.

The original BBC Views Online article, Rocket injures dozens in Israel, was published just after midnight on September 11th, as shown by Newssniffer.

The article progressed through a number of drafts, with version 7, at 9am, gaining a box-quote reading:

We will act, but I think it’s very important to make the point that there is no reason for this [attack]

Mark Regev

Israeli government spokesman

Skip forward fifty minutes and several revisions later to version 11, at 9.50am, and our box-quote is amended to read:

We will act, but I think it’s very important to make the point that there is no reason for this

Mark Regev

Israeli government spokesman

Did you spot the subtle change? Yes, the implied word, [attack], that put Mark Regev’s comment in its true context was deleted, leaving him sounding like he was saying that the Israelis would respond, but that there would be no reason for their response, rather than that there was no reason for the attack. And that’s the way it has been ever since.

A small but telling example of a Beeboid going out of their way to spin Mark Regev’s words as subtly as they could into what they wanted him to say, rather than what he actually meant.

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Catching up on recent events

Apologies for the brief interruption in posts. Catching up on recent events:

Too much management at the BBC writes Jeff Randall in the Telegraph, in an article that expands on the views he expressed on Newsnight last week (see clip below).

He starts off once again by pointing out the insanity of cutting news and documentary budgets whilst preserving some of the lowest common denominator dross that passes for content on BBC3, before pointing out the BBC’s ample girth – girth of the variety endemic in poorly managed public organisations:

If this sounds like special pleading for former colleagues, let’s be clear: consolidation of many BBC News reporting jobs is long overdue.

There is daily duplication, which not only squanders resources but frequently borders on the harassment of outside sources. Director general Mark Thompson is right to call for a more integrated newsroom.

When I was the BBC’s business editor (2001-05), Standard Life’s communications chief telephoned me at the end of a very busy day to beg for help. “We’ve had about 80 press calls and 35 of those have been from the BBC. Is there no co-ordination?”

I was too embarrassed to tell him the truth. Once a big story hits the wires, desk-bound BBC news-gatherers simply hit the phones.

In the case of Standard Life, it had taken calls from the BBC’s business unit, several shows at Five Live and Radio Four, regional radio outlets, BBC Scotland (lots from there), BBC Online, Breakfast TV, the One O’clock News, the Six O’clock News and the Ten O’Clock News. Oh yes, and News 24.

On another occasion, I was in Calais to cover a Eurotunnel shareholders’ meeting for the Ten O’Clock News. I arrived to find swarms of BBC reporters, producers and film crews falling over each other; the corporation had sent more people than the rest of the British media put together. In the evening, we filled three tables in a local restaurant.

…duplication (to put it mildly) that most people, Mark Thompson included, are only too well aware of.

I very much agree with Randall’s view that:

If Thompson closed Today and Newsnight completely, he would save £13 million, less than 0.4 per cent of his total budget. Chipping away at them makes no sense. Quite the reverse: these are much-admired shows from which the BBC gets the biggest bang for its buck. By any measure, they deserve more support.

The money that Thompson is hoping to claw back through the elimination of newsroom clutter should be reinvested in blue-chip journalism, not squandered on crackpot programming for the lowest common denominator.

…if only we could get BBC News in general and Today in particular away from the “public good, private bad” statist mentality also endemic in public organisations. I’m not sure that is feasible though, but given that public service programmes like Today and Newsnight are so relatively cheap (in comparison to Jonathan Ross and other non public services), perhaps there’s a case for funding two or three equivalents of each show – without the false notion of ‘impartiality’ that we see and hear now – with production teams independent of each other and the BBC. Something to discuss perhaps…

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