The BBC can be incredibly dull (ie stupid)

in some respects, and incredibly nuanced (ie. sophisticated) in others. Yet another example here of where essentially the Beeb are harrying the US over operations in Iraq. They recently reported the fall in attacks on US troops, masked carefully by a headline about increased attacks on Iraqis (see Tues ‘Different Tactics’). Now they report a denial by the US that extra troops are needed for a worsening security situation in Iraq- but who asked the question? Who said attacks ON US TROOPS were ‘unabating’? Surely not the Beeb, because they knew very well from their own findings that US troops in themselves were finding life easier in recent times. If that doesn’t trip the reader into assuming the worst for the US, there’s always the ‘isolated US’ argument which follows it.

Now cut to a different story, about Internet fraud (no less) in Nigeria. There are so many interesting angles on this that the Beeb misses- not least the comical one that the 419 fraud is so unbelievably simple yet apparently catches so many Westerners (you’ve probably received one of these- I know I have- and binned it). The serious one is that apparently Nigeria is so poor (despite oil earnings) that this fraud is a significant national earner. Another would be the irony of Nigeria’s ruling class cracking down on fraud in the light off the above fact. All goes sailing by, and we’re as ignorant about real Nigeria as ever- and misled over goings on in Iraq. Looking round for alternative sources of African News, I was not overwhelmed with the choice. Is this an argument in favour of the Beeb? The best of a bad lot? Or is it an argument for reform to create more competitive British news providers? Here’s one place anyway (not that I give it my blessing). Update– Having explored my own link I do bless it, kind of. Update2.Readers of the Beeb article will notice links to Nigerian corruption stories (good)- these are just simply too understated to be taken seriously in my opinion (bad). Update3.Maybe my ‘dullness’, maybe slippery language (suit yourself), but the ‘unabating onslaught’ referred to in the Beeb report is reportedly on ‘coalition targets’ rather than US Soldiers as I implied.

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7 Responses to The BBC can be incredibly dull (ie stupid)

  1. Mark Holland says:

    I’ve just noticed that the various regional BBC stations are broadcast in the upper regions of Sky digital. Above the radio and below the porn. As I was flicking through at 8:59 they were reading out last night’s lottery numbers and BBC1 England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all had the same image and same words in the voice over but in 4 different voices to match the region.

    So get this 4 people to read the same link. Talk about a waste of money.


  2. Robert Dammers says:

    Oh come on Mark, there was no waste of money in that particular case. They have a continuity announcer for each independent programme stream – so for each regional variation, the announcer reads the lottery numbers before going on to announce the local programme. Even if the next programme isn’t local, they will still have the announcer there for later announcements (they are not on piece-work, after all!)

    Of course, there is another question, which is whether the regional variations are a necessary function of public service broadcasting – the local news on ITV doesn’t seem significantly better or worse than tha on BBC, so why don’t the BBC focus on the national public service role?

    (having said that, I’m pretty pleased with our BBC office in Tunbridge Wells, so perhaps I’d better shut up!).


  3. jules says:

    I live in the Look North area.Every day there is a hard luck tale requiring the provision of more public funds.
    Some stories are so weak/outrageous that I wonder whether the intention is to make my blood boil. Or do they really think that the taxpayer’s pocket is bottomless?


  4. Mark Holland says:

    Hi Robert,

    You seem to have the technical edge on me as I’m not entirely sure what an “independent programme stream ” is. But given that they’d just come out of Breakfast and were going into Kilroy I don’t know how independent thay would have to be. (I realise Breakfast has those regional news segments mind you.)

    I’m not overly passionate about this topic so I don’t want to get carried away here, it’s not about bias after all. It’s simply that I came across it and was just rather surprised to hear 4 different people reading the same script at the same time. I myself speak in a non-descript ‘English’ accent and can pull off pretty good Welsh, Scots and NI accents so, with some help from tape recorder, perhaps I could do the job solo!

    My gripe with the local news is geographic. I must be near the border of an internal region within the region – on both BBC and ITV. Do you get Meridian? So do I but ours is full of news of parts west of here yet parts east of here th


  5. Mark Holland says:

    truncated me!

    …that are nearer don’t get covered.


  6. les says:

    News24 female presenter this pm –
    quote something like “Breaking news. George Bush is visiting Baghdad.
    Well he will be looking for a photo opportunity”

    I hope she felt somewhat ashamed for this crass cynicism when she saw the delighted reception given by the brave US troops.


  7. Robert Dammers says:

    It’s not really technical – each of the regional variants (South East, London, South West, East Anglia, Scotland, Wales and so on) will have some varying programmes during the day (most obviously the local news and weather) which will need announcing, and if there is a localised failure mode of the network (eg a South Eastern transmitter out) that will be announced on a local basis, too. So that is the sort of place continuity announcers go to learn their trade. That’s the reason a different person reads the lottery numbers in each region – they are there to announce the local programmes (Newsroom South East with Giles Dilnot, or whatever!).