BBC and bias

#1
Good article in the times - I agree with many points based on much of the news coverage of the BBC - which is a shame as they often have slightly better programming than ITV - at times requiring an IQ higher than your testicle count

The Times

Great capital city. Shame about the awful BBCGerard Baker
For someone who has not lived in the city for more than a decade, the occasional trip to London is a reminder of how richly it deserves its new reputation as the world’s capital.

As my colleague James Harding wrote in times2 this week, there’s a vibrancy about London these days that easily eclipses New York or Paris or Tokyo. To many residents, perhaps, life in London may be a struggle against rising crime and a crowded Tube and overpriced housing, but from an international perspective, it is truly the world’s preeminent urban locale.

In fact, in anything other than the most literal, geographic expression of the term, London is really no longer an English city at all. Its great economic dynamo, the City, powers corporations from Shanghai to Seattle. Its labour force, drawn to it by the opportunities of its free markets, is much more polyglot and multinational than any other urban concentration in the world.

But there’s salt to this strawberry. London’s political culture has been uprooted from its English heritage. It is run — if you can call it that — by a sort of postmodern communist Mayor, whose political voice — minus the annoying nasal whine — would sound right at home in Paris, Bologna or San Francisco. It hosts a metropolitan elite that loftily gazes three ways: outward, at the supposed superiority of anything not British; inward, at its own ineffable genius; and down its elegantly pampered nose, at the provincial trivialities that consume the dreary lives of the rest of the population.

But worst of all; much more, much more baleful than any of these irritations, is the political, cultural and intellectual hegemony exercised by the ultimate self-serving metropolitan monopoly, the BBC. Much worse because, unlike mayors and snobs, its domination of the rest of the country is so complete and so permanent.

On a recent trip back to Britain, I happened to hear on the BBC an interview with Helen Mirren, shortly before her Oscars triumph. Amid the usual probing sort of questioning that is the currency of celebrity journalism (“How do you manage to look so young? Is there anyone since Shakespeare who has come close to matching your talent?”) one particular gem caught my attention.

Dame Helen was asked how difficult it had been to play such an “unsympathetic character” as the Queen, the eponymous heroine of her recent film. She replied, quite tartly, that she didn’t find the Queen unsympathetic at all and launched into her now familiar riff about how she thought Elizabeth II really, surprisingly, quite agreeable.

It was a little incident, a small crystal in the battering hailstorm of drivel that pours daily through the airwaves. And yet to my mind it signified something so large. It had nothing to do with politics or Iraq or America. It was so telling in its revelation of prejudices and presumptions precisely because it was on such a slight matter as the sensibilities of an actress.

It betrayed an absolutely rock-solid assumption that the Queen is fundamentally unsympathetic, and that anyone who might still harbour some respect for the monarch — or indeed for that matter, the military or the Church, or the countryside or the joint stock company or any of the great English bequests to the world — must be some reactionary old buffer out in the sticks who has not had the benefit of the London media’s cultural enlightenment.

More than that, the question — all fawning and fraternal and friendly — contained within it an assumption that, of course, every thoughtful person shares the same view.

You really do have to leave the country to appreciate fully how pernicious the BBC’s grasp of the nation’s cultural and political soul has become. The groupthink and assumptions implicit in almost everything broadcast by BBC News, and even less explicitly by much else of the corporation’s output, lie like a suffocating blanket over the national consciousness.

This is the mindset that sees the effortless superiority, at every turn, of benign collectivism over selfish individualism, exploited worker over unscrupulous capitalist, enlightened European over brutish American, thoughtful atheist over dumb believer, persecuted Arab over callous Israeli; and that believes the West is the perpetrator of just about every ill that has ever befallen the world — from colonialism to global warming.

I’m often told, when I take on like this, that I’m ignoring the quality of BBC output. But I spent almost a decade in the employ of the BBC and I can say, without demeaning my gifted colleagues at The Times, that it has probably one of the highest concentrations of talent of any institution in the world. But that, of course, is the problem. It perpetuates its power by attracting and retaining an educated elite that is distinguished by its unstinting devotion to collectivist values. I’ve no doubt it does what it does very well. It is what it does I object to.

A necessary word here about our sponsor. Anything critical of the BBC written by an employee of Rupert Murdoch is instantly dismissed. It’s not an unreasonable instinct. Outside Murdochland it is solemnly assumed that each morning the drones of News Corporation are given their marching orders on how to interpret every event so that it conforms precisely to the commercial and political instincts of the proprietor.

In the real world, not only does the Murdoch media have only a fraction of the reach of the BBC, but a casual glance at its output demonstrates it is far less monolithic in its outlook than is the BBC.

Fortunately, in the US this week, I was struck by an article on the oped pages of The New York Times, the very citadel of leftish political correctness. Written by an apparently completely sane professor at a prestigious US university and entitled “Biased Broadcasting Corporation”, it assailed the BBC’s Middle Eastern services for their consistently antiWestern tone and content.

When the editorial pages of The New York Times accuse the BBC of anti-Western bias it is worth taking notice. It is a little like Osama bin Laden accusing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of being a bit harsh on the Jews. It suggests that in other, even pretty unlikely, parts of the world, people are waking up to the menace to our values represented by the BBC. The British sadly, seem curiously content to remain in thrall to it.
 
#3
BlotBangRub said:
Buggers Broadcasting Communism
In 2003 nicknamed "baghdad broadcasting cooperation" as they were obsessed with pouncing on the slightest break in the advance to claim a new vietnam. They were kind of right in the end - but the way in which it happened was very different.

Or also nicknamed "blair's broadcasting cooperation" by many on this site
 
#4
BBC bias is not a new suggestion, I remember that there was an open university programme on media studies looking at the miners strike. In the program it highlighted bbc reporting which continually emphasised that the strike weakening.

Was the bbc biased or are the news reporters (and possibly the general public) more interested in failure?
 
#5
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/gerard_baker/article1522471.ece

Fortunately, in the US this week, I was struck by an article on the oped pages of The New York Times, the very citadel of leftish political correctness. Written by an apparently completely sane professor at a prestigious US university and entitled “Biased Broadcasting Corporation”, it assailed the BBC’s Middle Eastern services for their consistently antiWestern tone and content.
Let's look, what the 'sane' professor wrote.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/15/opinion/15stewart.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

The Biased Broadcasting Corporation

By FRANK H. STEWART
Published: March 15, 2007
Jerusalem
Of course the comment itself is absolutely unbiased and the profeccor apparently is very influental. So leading British newspapers hurry to reproduce his opinion.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/03/17/wbeeb17.xml

Frank H. Stewart is a professor in the department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a visiting scholar at New York University.
Let's return to his original article.

In 2004, the United States established its own Arabic-language satellite television station, Al Hurra. But Al Hurra has not been a success, and stations like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiyya, based in the Gulf states, continue to dominate the region.

Those stations will soon face a formidable rival. The BBC World Service plans to start an Arabic television service this fall, and the BBC knows what it is doing. It has been broadcasting in Arabic on the radio for more than 60 years and has a huge audience.

This new television station might sound like good news for America. Many of us pick up BBC broadcasts in English, and we respect their quality. But the World Service in English is one thing, and the World Service in Arabic is another entirely. If the BBC’s Arabic TV programs resemble its radio programs, then they will be just as anti-Western as anything that comes out of the Gulf, if not more so. They will serve to increase, rather than to diminish, tensions, hostilities and misunderstandings among nations.
One could ask in this context: what is better - Al-Jazeera of BBC-Arabic for the West or maybe Al Hurra (second edition) should be created?

...the words and deeds of Western leaders, particularly the American president and the British prime minister, are subject to minute analysis, generally on the assumption that behind them lies a hidden and disreputable agenda.
Shame! We all know that highly esteemed mr.Blair is one of the beacons of true democracy. He always (almost always) tells truth and of course hasn't any hidden agenda. As for learned mr.Bush then he is a famous defender of human rights, great warrior and true democrat ... sorry republican.

As for the deeds of these two then BBC-Arabic doesn't scrutinize them exactly in interests of 'American and British governments'.
 
#6
I was struck by a similar thought this morning. I was listening to Jonathan Ross on Radio 2. I find him fairly entertaining and quite funny, rather moreso than he used to be. He was interviewing Richard Wilson (Best known for his Victor Meldrew character)
Wilson was describing a play that he is appearing in that is based on the premise that the next election is a close run thing and the narrow majority means that the whips role bcomes rather more important than it is now. Fair enough so far. Wilson then went on to say that he was confident that the tories would lose the next election and that it would be a narrow labour victory. Fine - it's an opinion. Pressed further he began to refer to the labour party in terms of "we must...". This was just accepted as the case by Ross without question, suggesting that Ross was also a supporter. I don't mind that Ross and Wilson are Labour supporters but what happened to impartiality in the BBC?
It really struck me that the there is a very vocal minority in support of the present government that is able, through being well placed in the media, to have an influence out of all proportion to its size.

It used to be said that you could never find anyone who voted tory yet they kept getting in. Now, I can't find anyone who supports labour yet they're still in power.

There's something rotten about it it all.
 
#7
The BBC often uses the word 'we' in what I view as an inappropriate fashion.

This is usually in terms of expressing political opinion.

The most annoying example for me was during the referendum on the Belfast Agreement when BBC radio constanty stated things like 'we hope' when discussing the possible outcome.

I voted no along with a sizeable portion of the electorate and I did telephone to complain about the bias.

So much for impartiality.

Also the BBC constantly refers to England sports teams as 'we' on national broadcasts.
 
#8
The BBC was wobbling before Bliar assumed power and ultimate control, but now I believe it has toppled.

It appears to me, taking just two well-known broadcasters, that: Naughtie is as 'red' as tomato sauce and never minds showing the fact; and Humphrys is an ill-mannered, interrupting, irritating, self-satisfied socialist with a capital S (champagne variety of course). Why does this man, who is perfectly pleasant and well-mannered on his General Knowledge programme, have to behave like an unreconstructed lout on 'Today' on Radio 4?

I have been assured by an employee of Bliar's Broadcasting Cooperative, that if you are not sexually deviant, ethnically in a minority and well to the left politically, you have Bob Hope or No Hope of a job there.

Needs sorting, and not by Tessa 'Shambles R Us' Jowell.
 
#9
Dame Helen was asked how difficult it had been to play such an “unsympathetic character” as the Queen, the eponymous heroine of her recent film. She replied, quite tartly, that she didn’t find the Queen unsympathetic at all and launched into her now familiar riff about how she thought Elizabeth II really, surprisingly, quite agreeable.

This article is BS based on selective extract from an interview. I remember the interview with Helen Mirren. Helen Mirren was introduced as having expressed republican - i.e. anti-monarchist views. Under those circumstances its not unreasonable to ask how she felt about playing a character unsympathetic to her own views.

Point to anywhere else where the BBE has described the Monarch as an unsympathetic character.
 
#10
This article is BS based on selective extract from an interview. I remember the interview with Helen Mirren. Helen Mirren was introduced as having expressed republican - i.e. anti-monarchist views. Under those circumstances its not unreasonable to ask how she felt about playing a character unsympathetic to her own views.
A fair point. I too have seen interviews with Mirren in which she has stated she previously had republican views.

I wonder whe she changed?

The day she was made a dame?
 
#12
lsquared said:
The BBC was wobbling before Bliar assumed power and ultimate control, but now I believe it has toppled.

It appears to me, taking just two well-known broadcasters, that: Naughtie is as 'red' as tomato sauce and never minds showing the fact; and Humphrys is an ill-mannered, interrupting, irritating, self-satisfied socialist with a capital S (champagne variety of course). Why does this man, who is perfectly pleasant and well-mannered on his General Knowledge programme, have to behave like an unreconstructed lout on 'Today' on Radio 4?

I have been assured by an employee of Bliar's Broadcasting Cooperative, that if you are not sexually deviant, ethnically in a minority and well to the left politically, you have Bob Hope or No Hope of a job there.

Needs sorting, and not by Tessa 'Shambles R Us' Jowell.
You should try watching the BBC breakfast news on TV. It should be renamed The Global Warming Show. If the second coming happened today, tomorrow's headline would be about how the evil middle classes are destroying the world with their four by fours.

It's not surprising that the BBC has ended up the way it is. It's funded by the government and one of the main priorities of New Labour has been control of the media.
 
#13
The Beeb may be excessively PC at times but I dont think its biased towards any particular viewpoint, sceptical of the govt yes but biased no.

For its faults it is still far preferable to the shock jock Fox News that the knobbers in that article would like us all to see.

Besides in this day and age when we have the world's news at our fingertips on the internet, there's no point whining about bias, just switch off.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#14
Taz,

The BBC is irredeemably left of centre. The only doubts it has are around whether it hates Tony Blair more than the Tories.
 
#15
Why are we always subject to the england and wales bias of the bbc it is always most noticable on the "National" news when stating statistics on the NHS, Education, Policing, Uemployment the list goes on. Why can they not mention Scotland in the news does Scotland Have no unemployment no policing dificulties, education issues. If this is a national company then let English viewers see how they compare to Scottish viewers and PLEASE BBC stop trying to pass off facts and figures from England as those of the Whole UK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
#16
isongard said:
Why are we always subject to the england and wales bias of the bbc it is always most noticable on the "National" news when stating statistics on the NHS, Education, Policing, Uemployment the list goes on. Why can they not mention Scotland in the news does Scotland Have no unemployment no policing dificulties, education issues. If this is a national company then let English viewers see how they compare to Scottish viewers and PLEASE BBC stop trying to pass off facts and figures from England as those of the Whole UK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Whilst I tend to agree with you that BBC acts as the English Broadcasting Corporation too much consider the numbers below:

Astonishing really the influence Scotland has over the rest of the nation.
It puts it into perspective when you consider that the population of London is 3/4 the size of the population of Scotland, Wales and NI combined.

Incidentally I consider myself British (and always have done) rather than English/Scottish etc.
 
#17
i believe you missed the point regardles of the population numbers it is the National News not the english news can you not see how easy it is for the nationalists in scotland to advance the case for independance. I am scottish but i serve the whole of the United Kingdom not half of it
 
#18
EX_STAB said:
isongard said:
Why are we always subject to the england and wales bias of the bbc it is always most noticable on the "National" news when stating statistics on the NHS, Education, Policing, Uemployment the list goes on. Why can they not mention Scotland in the news does Scotland Have no unemployment no policing dificulties, education issues. If this is a national company then let English viewers see how they compare to Scottish viewers and PLEASE BBC stop trying to pass off facts and figures from England as those of the Whole UK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Whilst I tend to agree with you that BBC acts as the English Broadcasting Corporation too much consider the numbers below:

Astonishing really the influence Scotland has over the rest of the nation.
It puts it into perspective when you consider that the population of London is 3/4 the size of the population of Scotland, Wales and NI combined.

Incidentally I consider myself British (and always have done) rather than English/Scottish etc.
Hats off to you Ex_Stab. How many times have I watched BBC News for the footie results only to find them reviewing the Premiership and then the SPL, for the benefit of a few former inhabitants of the Tartan Toilet?

This, of course, leaves them no time to mention any scores from the Coca-Cola Championship, where Sunderland AFC are doing magnificently IMHO.

I have to phone up north to get an update.

On another point, a lot of people here have mentioned the 'bias' of BBC producers. Why not start off a thread about their sheer, gobsmacking ignorance?
 

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