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Bias at the BBC?

Helen Boaden | 10:51 UK time, Tuesday, 24 October 2006

I am not surprised that some readers of the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail and the Express are furious with the BBC. If I had paid my licence fee in good faith for an organisation which claims it is passionately committed to impartiality, only to discover – according to the Mail on Sunday – that the organisation itself has admitted it is biased, I would be pretty livid.

According to the Mail on Sunday, and other recent press reports, we have admitted that we are an organisation of trendy, left-leaning liberals who are anti-American, biased against Christianity, in favour of multiculturalism, and staffed by people who wouldn’t know an unbiased fact if it hit them on the head.

The Mail on Sunday based its story on a leak from what it called a “secret” meeting of BBC executives and governors, and claims that it was our former political editor, Andrew Marr himself, who confessed to the liberal bias of the organisation. His take was reinforced by Jeff Randall, who until recently was our business editor. “If they say it, then it must be true” was the thrust of the story.

Well I was one of the people who was at the "secret" meeting. and I have to say the reality was somewhat different to the way the press are reporting it.

For a start, this wasn’t a secret meeting... it was streamed live on the web. The meeting was made up of executives, governors and lots of non-BBC people like John Lloyd from the FT and Janet Daley from the Daily Telegraph. It was planned as a serious seminar to investigate and understand better the BBC’s commitment to impartiality in an age in which spin and opinion riddle much of the world’s journalism. The seminar was part of a bigger project kicked off by Michael Grade earlier this year to re-examine the underlying principles of impartiality in the digital age when boundaries between conventional broadcasting and the new platforms will increasingly disappear.

To keep us all on our toes, a rich variety of formats was used during the day. I was on a "Hypothetical" – where a panel of people in charge is given a series of mounting “real life” crises and asked how they would handle each of them. It was fun, occasionally illuminating, and often very challenging.

There was for example a heated debate about the whether or not a Muslim newsreader should be allowed to wear a headscarf. Jon Snow was all in favour. BBC Washington correspondent Justin Webb was vehemently against. I had deep reservations because I felt a scarf would be a distraction from the news but pointed out - in the interests of debate - that if we banned the headscarf, how would we justify that cross which I was sure I had once seen Fiona Bruce wearing. From this discussion emerged the wholly untrue newspaper story that the BBC had banned Fiona’s cross.

The point of the Hypothetical is to generate discussion, debate and ideas. The situations aren’t real; the discussions aren’t binding and they certainly don’t define BBC policy.

There was discussion of the BBC’s culture and some provocative points were made.

Jeff Randall made a few good jokes about the occasional examples of political correctness he found among some BBC colleagues. I remembered an incident about 15 years ago when a freelance reporter working for me on a programme about bullying in Feltham Young Offenders’ Institution asked me if it was acceptable to broadcast what they had discovered: that most of the bullies in Feltham at that time were black and most of the victims were white. Not only was it acceptable, I told the reporter, if he had evidence of this he had a duty to report it. And so we did.

Andrew Marr made some comments about BBC culture being more liberal than the rest of the country – points he makes in his book on journalism.

The main thing is, however, they were both giving their personal opinions. That is entirely their right and what they had been asked to do in the interests of discussion. I disagree with them. I found their claim of liberal bias unconvincing – based on anecdote and attitude rather than evidence.

The BBC employs more than 20,000 people across the UK. It is not a chattering class club of the kind depicted by the papers. It is a hugely varied organisation with many different cultures and a huge variety of opinions on every single issue among its staff. What does unite BBC staff however, is a deep commitment to BBC values and at the heart of those values is a commitment to impartiality.

When I first joined the BBC I asked a very experienced and subtle journalist what was meant by BBC impartiality. “It means we don’t take sides,” he said. “We don’t take sides either explicitly or implicitly. We test all opinion toughly but fairly and we let the audience make up their own minds.”

It’s a simple but absolutely correct definition which audiences see, hear and read in our output everyday. In the end, the personal views of our staff are not the point. The issue is that their views and opinions never stray on air.

And that’s where the broad audience comes in. What really counts is not what a group of BBC executives and VIPs think, or indeed what a few columnists believe. The important thing is whether or not our audiences think we are biased. And on that the evidence is robust.

Asked recently which of the four main broadcasters they would term "trustworthy", nearly two thirds - 60% - cited the BBC. In contrast, 26% said ITV, 16% mentioned Channel 4, and 14% Sky. (Mori, 2006)

That research is very cheering but it never allows us to rest on our laurels. Impartiality is not so much a fixed point as a process of open mindedness which should be the basis for everything we do in journalism.

Part of that open mindedness is being tested in exercises like the Hypothetical which ran at the impartiality seminar. No one has all the answers on any subject and debate and discussion are vital if we are to ensure that impartiality remains a living reality rather than an empty claim.

It’s a shame that the newspapers have made mischief with the seminar, but we won’t let this small storm put us off trying to get impartiality right.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 12:39 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Nick wrote:

I think while many consider that the BBC tries hard to be impartial there is a general view that the BBC is not representative, and this comes across particularly in reports on Europe. A question that may be worth asking is what proportion of BBC employees read the Guardian compared to the nation as whole - and does this impact the way the organisation is seen.

It will always be difficult for an organisation sponsored by the state to not come across as left wing and in favour of big goverment.

  • 2.
  • At 12:40 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Jeremy Fagan wrote:

How fascinating to hear the Mail on Sunday accusing someone else of biased reporting! The Mail is one of the most biased and unreliable source of news around.

Quick question: do you think that total impartiality is achievable or aspiration? That is, do you think it is possible for someone completely to abandon their prejudices and biasses when reporting?

  • 4.
  • At 12:51 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Jay Webster wrote:

I am certain that the BBC has a political bias. Last year I completed a project at University that came to the conclusion that the BBC does have a political bias, although compared to other news outlets such as Channel 4 and ITV, it was fairly independent. I use the BBC as my main source for news because I know that elsewhere is more bias. Email me and I can send you a copy of the project!

punkeatpop@hotmail.com

  • 5.
  • At 12:51 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Phil Vallely wrote:

What a disgrace the BBC are.
Always crowing about their impartiality but the other news organisations are not funded by indirect taxation. The public have a right to expect higher standards of the BBC but the BBC seems to follow a more tabloid agenda by the day.
Every time I look on the website or teletext I see headlines which do not convey the subject matter accurately but merely put a news spin on it.
The BBC also conducts investigative work intom all parts of the establishement EXCEPT itself. How can that be unbiased?
The BBC should subject itself to the same accountability to which it subjects others. I cannot see Jeremy Paxman being allowed to present 'Points of view'.

  • 6.
  • At 12:51 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Joe King wrote:

It's a pity your "test all opinion toughly but fairly and we let the audience make up their own minds" when you print press releases as statements of fact.

The various house price surveys conducted by vested interests is a good case in point. Often they are repeated without your journalists having read the full report, thereby publishing spin rather than fact. The BBC website is the biggest culprit here.

  • 7.
  • At 12:53 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

I trust the BBC for factual reporting. I also trust the Daily Mail for factual reporting. When it comes to opinion, I find both tend to slide off towards absurdity.

  • 8.
  • At 12:54 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Alex wrote:

Glad to see you're not taking the comments of the Mails and the Express too seriously.

The greatest shame, of course, is that those with an ounce of intelligence and more than a hint of healthy cynicism, know full well that items were extracted selectively from the broadcast to back up a pre-conceived story which fits the papers' agendas.

Those without these mental facilities, sadly, believe what they are told to believe by these rather sad journalists.

Keep up the good work Beeb - those who retain the power of independent thought still trust you !

  • 9.
  • At 12:55 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Ben wrote:

Not surprising to note from your editorial that the BBC considers itself to be free of Bais.

The BBC worldveiw is so skewed that you seem incapable of seeing your own failings when they are right in front of you. The best you can manage is a debate where you find there to be no case to answer.

Since every time I turn on the news I am met by smugness and complacency I now try to avoid watching BBC News where I can.

No wonder Sky is winning all the journalism awards.

  • 10.
  • At 12:56 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • gregor aitken wrote:

please start telling us the truth, whether it comes from a veiled muslim, a devout catholic or a staunch atheist, just tell us the truth.

Your meant to inform us about the state so we can protect ourselves from it, yet you love to help propogate the terrorist myth.

Chemical bombs on planes, yet even with only a basic understanding of chemestry it is clear that there is no magic exploding liquid,

The BBC are letting the people down, by not fulfiling its democratic role.

And people are dying as a result

Please amend this situation

  • 11.
  • At 12:58 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • John wrote:

The press is a serious danger to democracy in this country. There should be some way of forcing them to retract publicly the damaging statements of this sort that they regularly make. The constant drip, drip, drip of false or misleading information perverts public opinion and undermines any rational approach to social understanding or change.
The trouble is that they have power without responsibility. They constantly require "accountability" on the part of others, but who are they accountable to? Only to their shareholders, and their shareholders are interested in profit, not truth.

  • 12.
  • At 01:01 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Vincent Coles wrote:

"an organisation of trendy, left-leaning liberals who are anti-American, biased against Christianity, in favour of multiculturalism, and staffed by people who wouldn’t know an unbiased fact if it hit them on the head" - the reason why the Daily Mail's story is so believable is???

  • 13.
  • At 01:01 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • John Westwood wrote:

The BBC might not be overtly or purposely biased but it can create the impression of bias by the content it shows. Prime example is Iraq/Afghanistan, always the bad news, hardly ever the good news on successful projects, of which there are hundreds. Paradoxically good news is not always "Good News" for a broadcaster.

  • 14.
  • At 01:01 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Dee wrote:

The BBC IS bias. There is a BBC Wales, NI and Scotland, so where is BBC England? How many English voices are there on the BBC Scotland programmes? We are inundated with Scottish voices on local TV and radio in England.
Watch Cbeebies and you'll hardly see a white face, let alone a white face that has an English voice.

The BBC IS bais - against England and against the English. The BBC DOES promote multiculturalism.

We should be given a choice as to whether or not we want to pay for and received BBC programmes. The BBC robs us blind with government approval.

  • 15.
  • At 01:06 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Matthew wrote:

Isn't "hypothetical" an adjective?

  • 16.
  • At 01:06 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • nesjo wrote:

Oh what a storm in a teacup. More than 1000 words frothing on a topic about which, frankly, 99.99999 percent of the population doesn't care two hoots.

Go and find some real news to report on.

Helen, I don't own a newspaper, just a blog, but I certainly agree with those papers that say the BBC is biased. It is especially biased against the US.

Ten years ago, I didn't notice this -- maybe I was too innocent or maybe the BBC was more balanced, but today there's no doubt in my mind that the BBC is biased, and not just against the US. This is a sad and sorry state of affairs and nothing that you've posted here suggests that things are going to get better.

I think it hilarious that a right wing rag like the Mail is accusing the BBC of having a left-wing bias. Compared to the Mail, pretty much everyone has a left-wing bias as everything is to the left of them.

I'm surprised, however, that the BBC was only rated at 60%. I pretty much disregard anything on Sky until I see it confirmed by the BBC.

Channel 4's news coverage is usually excellent, and I do like watching it - only because they allow more time for discussion than the BBCs bulletins.

If people want to see a biased news programme, may I suggest they watch Fox News? Then let them complain about the impartiality of the BBC.

  • 19.
  • At 01:10 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Adam wrote:

Gosh, you mean some of the things we read in the Daily Mail are not actually true? I'm shocked and horrified!

Seriously though, I am generally very impressed at how good a job you at the BBC do of presenting the news impartially. I've noticed that you tend to get criticised for a left-wing bias about as often as you get criticised for a right-wing bias, which shows that you are probably getting things about right. Keep up the good work!

And isn't there a lovely irony about the Daily Mail accusing another news organisation of not being totally impartial?

  • 20.
  • At 01:11 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Morris wrote:

Assuming there were a preponderance of "liberals" in the BBC it would just confirm Al Franken's observation in Lies and the Lying Liars...that journalists beyond a certain level tend to be better-educated than the majority and have realised eg that knowing gay people hasn't automatically led to personal disaster. The idea that liberal ideas are anything to be ashamed of is the most pernicious of the deceits peddled by the right-wing muck-sheets.
BTW where's Randall gone? The CBI?

  • 21.
  • At 01:12 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Ritter wrote:

Helen - interesting article

You reference a MORI poll in your article - do you have a link to the source please? I'd be interested to read further.

Thanks

  • 22.
  • At 01:13 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Jonathan Ledbury wrote:

Dear Helen,

I have always trusted the integrity of the BBC and it is my main source of information. I log on to your site every day to catch up on the latest news and have never questioned the voracity of the information.

Keep up the good work,

Jonathan

  • 23.
  • At 01:13 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Matt wrote:

The BBC is blatently biased, but not in the way discussed in Helen Boaden's article. Over the past few years it is biased towards sensational news coverage, and therefore biased towards delivering the news that all other news sources cover rather than deciding on what they believe the public need to know. For example, there was a recent article on energy wastage where the UK came out as the worst, Fair enough but the important point was saving energy, not the report which only asked 5000 across the whole of Europe (actually only 5 countries) what sort of report is this to base articles on?
when the sample size is 0.0006%

  • 24.
  • At 01:15 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Timothy Wright wrote:

What planet are you on? You folks are so liberal, anti christian, afraid of Islam, anti israel, etc... The most frustrating thing for me is that every one is bias but we are supposed to believe that journalists are unbiased.

My friend showed me FOX news from the US, they are on the right-far right. I wish they would admit it because everyone knows it.

I wish you would admit you are biased to the left and get on what you do very well.

Tim

  • 25.
  • At 01:16 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Bill. Saville wrote:

Who are these nebulous people from whom she found the evidence that the BBC is the most trusted. It may well have been true in the past but certainly not today. Why does she go on about someone being allowed to wear a cross, as though it was some wonderful gesture on the part of the BBC. This is still in after all a Christian country. Not mainly Christian, Christian. Any other creed, colour or religion must accept this and if Muslims as an example wish to live here they should not expect any special treatment

  • 26.
  • At 01:17 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • John Wells wrote:

This comment by Helen Boaden illustrates why some people may consider the BBC to be biased. If 60% considered the BBC to be trustworthy, 40% did not consider the BBC trustworthy which I would see as a worrying figure. Also 60% is not nearly two thirds; it is 10% short. This is spin and its presence makes the audience wonder about bias.

  • 27.
  • At 01:17 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Gordon McStraun wrote:

The partiality of the BBC is never more obvisou than when covering the outer edges of politics. If The Politics Show is covering a story about the British National Party, they will invite a speaker from the Anti Nazi League instead. You may not like 'em, but they pay their licence fee just like everyone else.

  • 28.
  • At 01:18 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Peter wrote:

Looking at it the other way, a whopping 40% don't think the BBC is impartial. That is not really a success story at all. Stop trying to justify the status quo.

  • 29.
  • At 01:18 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Ben wrote:

If you're not biased, how come virtually every headline these days is about how some small group of Muslims are upset about something? Where are the headlines about all the other people in Britain who also have problems to deal with and issues that upset and offend them?

You are so biased you can't even see it.

  • 30.
  • At 01:21 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • M Heywood wrote:

Impartiality is not only about what people say but who says it. For instance, there are 4 permanent moslem commentators on the Have your Say website. Why? I have written any number of mild comments to the Have your Say website and never had them published. Why? The same old moslem commentators appear time and again on programmes like Dateline London and in the studio. Moslem opinion is required about everything. Why? Question Time attracts the same leftie audiences who time and time again match the panel's own biases against Israel. Why? The BBC continues to self regulate. Why? The BBC should be like every other broadcasting company and earn its keep. It has gone too long with its own policies and agenda, using reporters from the middle east married to palestinians or living in arab countries to "impartially" report the news - not. Don't suppose you'll print this either. You also self-censor.

  • 31.
  • At 01:21 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Roddy Jenkins wrote:

Had to laugh when I saw where ther source of these allegations came from. Says it all really. Wasn't aware we were still in the 'silly season' for news....

  • 32.
  • At 01:24 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Nigel Moorcroft wrote:

Dear Ms Boaden
I am somewhat surprised by your assertion that the BBC is not biased certainly you tokenise ,trivialise or marginalise the opinion of
middle or right political opinions in the United Kingdom whilst commending the liberal and militant left .The film clips used to illustrate the United Kingdon are to the majority Urban or London centric and illustrate a United Kingdom unrecognisable to the majority of your viewers.It is time for the BBC to canvas a broad church of opinion and outside the cities of Britain would be a good place to start

  • 33.
  • At 01:25 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Ferg the Pedant wrote:

In the end, the personal views of our staff are not the point. The issue is that their views and opinions never stray on air.

What about the weather reports? The weather people are always saying things like "Well, it's been a miserable day for most". Surely that's just their opinion. Lots of people probably had really nice days.

  • 34.
  • At 01:25 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Timothy B wrote:

I am from England, been here in U.S.A. for 5 years now. I have watched and listened to the news channels here, and find a certain bias here, sometimes fair coverage, sometimes very selective.
I still get my news each day from the B.B.C., where I find the coverage and balance to be fair.
What should carry more weight however is a man I work with, who gets his news daily for all the same reasons from the B.B.C. He finds it covers more stories from a neutral standpoint, even having B.B.C. news as his homepage. And this Gentleman has no links to the U.K. at all, purely chosen on content.

Well done B.B.C.

Is the meeting still available for viewing on the web?

  • 36.
  • At 01:25 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Geraint wrote:

A long post about something regarded as trivial. Has the rattled BBC management instructed you, Helen, to leap to its defence? The BBC reminds me of a university, a school, a hospital, in fact big business.... in fact, probably most organisations.... to protect itself and say it's in the right in every scenario. How sad. I don't know about other readers but I am getting tired of this auto-defence mode the BBC enters regardless of whether it is in the right or wrong. I am not saying the BBC is in the wrong but I just despise the conveyed attitude of 'whiter than white' each and every time the integrity of the BBC might come in to question.

A sterling defence Helen. I congratulate you. But don't kid yourself that this is a 'small storm'. Because when the Director of BBC news doesn't even have the decency to accept that mistakes have been made in the past with news reporting and political output that has clearly been anything but impartial, then it can't be too long before the BBC poll tax is scrapped once and for all. Get your head out of the sand.

  • 38.
  • At 01:33 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Henry Atherton wrote:

I was surprised, as a North American, to discover the BBC is slanted against us.
I read the news on the BBC every day and have not caught that bias - unless you mean that the BBC often reports negative economic and other news from the USA which is surpressed here, and one of the reasons I read the BBC.

  • 39.
  • At 01:36 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Richard Thomas wrote:

The BBC needs to be more blatantly impartial if people are to believe it. My fiancée is French, and knows that the BBC claims to be impartial. We were watching John Simpson's report on the rioting in France a year ago, and he used the words "...I think...". "There", said my fiancée, "the BBC isn't impartial". If the BBC wants to be seen to be impartial, it needs to avoid phrases that could be seen to be partial, or a correspondent expressing a point-of-view.

  • 40.
  • At 01:37 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • jp wrote:

Anybody with an open mind who reads the "USS Neverdock" & "Biased BBC" weblogs will not have a lot of difficulty in deciding the level of BBC bias - it is absolutely endemic within the organisation

  • 41.
  • At 01:38 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Andy wrote:

Helen - I don't believe that BBC News is biased and find it very amusing that the Daily Mail has the audacity to comment on these sorts of things … people in glass houses and all that!

However, I would like to bring something else to your attention. I regularly watch the BBC News – be it Breakfast, 6pm or 10pm – and while I find the reports informative, I am becoming slightly concerned that now and again you are falling into the trap of using inaccurate language and sensationalising stories.

There have been a number of times over the past months where the presenters have read headlines that, after hearing the whole report, appear to be slightly “tabloid-esque.” By this I mean that in hindsight it appeared that the headline was there to shock the viewer into listening to the report, rather than give an accurate picture of what the report was about.

I don’t think that it’s a massive problem at the moment but believe that the BBC should never have to compromise its standard of reporting in order to chase ratings. I pay my license fee (mostly cause I’d be fined if not!) but partly because it frees the BBC from having to cave into market-forces, owner prejudice or the chasing of ratings.

This is honestly not a rant to question professionalism etc but I thought that it was a point to raise as this blog is commenting on the standard of reporting!

  • 42.
  • At 01:41 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • J Seal wrote:

I would have to differ with you. I find the BBC PARTICULARLY biased with regards the middle east.

I find the reporting hugely biased against the state of Israel and hugely biased towards the Palestinians.

Perhaps you can inform me why the Israelis deemed it necessary to at one stage put a block on reports from the BBC, why Orla Guerin was given a new role in the face of huge criticism and why Barbara Plett received so much criticism when announcing she 'cried' over the death of Yasser Arafat.

Yes all clearly unbiased.

Here's betting that YET AGAIN my comments aren't printed here...........

  • 43.
  • At 01:41 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Alexander Patrick wrote:

Dear Helen Boaden
Having a meeting and going through a few scenarios with a 'selected few' does nothing to change the institutionalised leftwing/liberal BIAS at the BBC. Biased against Israel,christians,N.America,the conservative party etc etc not only in content but also in attitude and manner of presentation.
Even your attempts to be un biased are slanted with the negative/mocking attitudes of several presenters especially on radio4 Today program and others.
This is especially the case on several Radio 4 comedy programs where the same left wing 'comics' are recycled from program to program with no new edged right wing participants or even genuine comics
I attended a BBC open consultation evening in Dundee several months ago .
These concerns were raised by the majority of those attending.Where is that in your statistics?
Asking about 'trustworthiness'has got no relevance to bias - totally unscientific.
I agree with the Mail I feel cheated at HAVING to pay for a licence for some of this stuff

  • 44.
  • At 01:42 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Barry Bridges wrote:

So the BBC sets to distance itself from claims of impartiality by suggesting the comments made were personal and not professional opinions? Isn't this rather laughable? I fail to see how the division between a staff member's personal and professional opinion alters this controversy. Or is it another example of the BBC covering its back and forcing people to toe the party line?

In a democratic country in which all television viewers are forced to pay a licence fee, more should be made of the fact not that 60% of people consider the BBC trustworthy, but that 40% do not! To try and claim that 'we're more trustworthy than the next man' is not an acceptable tactic when the next man isn't publicly funded...

  • 45.
  • At 01:43 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Adam Cooper wrote:

An interesting piece and shows some of the differences between print and TV news media in their approach. Fortunately the majority of the population obtain most of their news from the TV, and much of that from the BBC. That's the good news. The bad news is that tbe BBC is open to bias, as the Glasgow study of your reporting showed (though this bias arose from the power of the Israeli media machine to dominate the story). In addition, there is a tendency in the BBC to simply parrot the Govt's view on things, (e.g. the views on the original Lancet story about mortality in Iraq) and this may partly be because half of the comms staff in Govt depts were once journalists (some of them BBC. In addition, trust of the BBC and it being a 'trustworthy source' are two different things, one being perception, one 'reality'. Channel 4 has exceptionally good news approach - but is trusted less - why? So I wouldn't let "60% trust you" be a guide of whether the journalism is of the right standard on its own. Anyway, those are just my thoughts.

The impartiality of BBC news has definitely improved overall post-Hutton, but there is still some treading on eggs around politically sensitive areas, e.g. the Middle East, where facts are sometimes still obscured by the desire to appear "fair", especially in the main news bulletins.

Jeremy Bowen has often been the only correspondent on any channel to properly describe the situation from all points of view; but more reporters are braving the truth, which is to be welcomed.

For example, this: number of Palestinian deaths in Gaza over past three months = 300. Israeli = 2, one of which was "friendly fire" - this fact was served up cold at the end of a recent BBC bulletin. This kind of contextual reporting will no doubt enrage certain sections of the British public, but to misrepresent the truth by not stating these kinds of facts would be a travesty.

  • 47.
  • At 01:46 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • S Andrews wrote:

I appreciate the BBC's impartial position, however if you want to give all sides a fair hearing, you still ought to put it in context.

For example, when debating an issue you often interview one person from each side and give them equal air time. This is impartial. However you ought to give, impartially, the context. Particularly when one side is a minority and/or extreme in their views and/or radical and/or promoting violence I think it would be beneficial for all your viewers to be reminded about the standing of the interviewees and the general current view of the public and of government. It can be easy to jump to false conclusions about the validity of interviewees when they are given a 'fair' opportunity to speak by the BBC.

In short, minority campaigners should be presented as such.

  • 48.
  • At 01:49 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Edwin wrote:

The BBC's anti-Jewish bias is nowhere mentioned in Ms Broaden's entire discourse. That demonstrates her bias, does it not?

"If two disparate and opposed groups of people accuse you of bias, then you've probably got it right" or words to that effect.

  • 50.
  • At 01:56 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Paul White wrote:


Trouble is that leaves 40% of us who think the BBC is not always trustworthy - and we have to pay the license fee too.

Any independant observer can only conclude that the BBC does have a culture that is left/liberal and worryingly politically correct.

Any organisation that declares itslef 'hideously white' has clealy adopted a political standpoint shoulder to shoulder with the self loathing of the PC Nazis.

Why is white 'hideous'anyway?

  • 51.
  • At 01:57 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • John Ellis wrote:

Good piece by Helen. In any event, what makes the Mail/Telegraph/Sun any more right on their side of the partiality equation? The red-tops and Murdoch media sicken me with their 24-hour diatribe of poison and disinformation - they are akin to US shock jocks such as Rush Limbaugh. By and large the BBC is impartial, sometimes (as with global warming) dangerously so. I am happy for the BBC to continue to attempt to penetrate what lies behind news and broadcast reality on the ground.

  • 52.
  • At 02:01 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Des Currie wrote:

Allow me to point out the following with regard to the cross and the veil.
The argument would go that if the Muslim woman were not to wear a veil while broadcasting then it should be the same with someone wearing a cross.
However, the adversaries of the veil are at pains to point out that the veil is not a religious or cultural issue but simply a matter of personal desire in their contacts with others.
The BBC (even if for the sake of debate) introduces the proposition that suggests that the cross holds a similar status to the veil, entirely disregarding the forgoing view of those against the veil as not being a religious issue.
And so the BBC has created the news by weighing one proposition against a separate proposition merely for the sake of pacifying the actual debate, that being the right of everyone to make sound value judgement on the terms with which they will interact with others.
The only possible conclusion one can in fact come to is that the Muslim veil is an exclusionary structure which may offend those that are subject to dealing with the wearer, whereas the wearing of a cross is simply the wearer's desire, which can only offend those whose agenda is dubious.
Des Currie

  • 53.
  • At 02:03 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Oli wrote:

It is sad to see the BBC shifting to appease ignorant viewpoints regularly printed in the right-wing tabloids. The BBC should report news in an objective manner, reflecting the full and diverse nature of British cultures.
Some of the examples given in this blog entry do constitute tokenism, a clear example of this can be found in the mention of Black inmates in a YOI. The editor is right to agree that the story should have been reported, but the specificity of oppression faced by black youth should have been placed in a wider social context, including such issues as racism and police brutality. This would simply constitute a detailed approach to the story at hand.

Objectivity does often mean contradicting sloppy thought and casual discrimination. Sloppy attitudes or irrational prejudice, such as Islamophobia, are of course 'politically correct' in so far as they represent poorly informed political orthodoxy.

  • 54.
  • At 02:04 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • John, Devon wrote:

The BBC seems to be accused of bias by anyone who doesn't agree with what's being said. I didn't buy the Mail story in the first place (pot calling the kettle black!!) but it's good to have confirmation that the story was a load of rubbish.

I worry more about the BBC's tendency to report "celebrity" antics (Madonna, McCartney, Hammond just in the last few days) more prominently than real news. There is for example very little on a day-to-day basis about Israel in Gaza, Darfur, Myanmar/Burma, the Lourdes Resistance Army, Nigeria (unless British hostages are released), etc. etc. Nowadays I mostly go to the Website for real news!

  • 55.
  • At 02:05 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Elizabeth wrote:

You are deluding yourself if you don't think that your reporting is bias or that your make-up at the top of the organsation is reflective of the general population. I personally don't care what your views are on any given subject - I should never know what they are. I expect you and others working at the BBC to simply report accurately in an even handed way what is happening in world. It is possible you know to carry out your work without imposing your own opinions on others. I do it every day as a barrister. Its called professional detachment. Lets have more rigorous and intelligent discussion/reporting. The BBC news service has become led by personalities - thus we now have light weights presenting and or reporting on the news/events. I have just watched a former footballer presenting (badly) Working Lunch. I die inside everytime Andrew Marr presents his Sunday programme. It brings a new meaning to smugness. Rarely does he interogate those who appear-its like a bad chat show. Thank goodness for Andrew Neil who is about the only decent journalist left on TV. Good old John (the chosen one on radio 4) is still there doing what we expect of the BBC- but for how long. Please do your job- leave the politics and your views on the social ills of the world at home.

  • 56.
  • At 02:07 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • GF wrote:

I applaud the new turn of the Beeb's "approachability" policy and the recent effort to address perceived or real biases.

I hope the debate gets some teeth though; railing against the injustices dealt out by rags like the Mail and Express is shooting fish in a barrel. I'd rather hear about the reporting restrictions imposed on Frances Harrison in Iran and how you square that with absolute impartiality, or the definitive story as to whether the "terrorism" word was banned in the aftermath of July 7. That would be a real window into the efforts made to play a straight bat, or not.

And of that 20,000 strong political rainbow that makes up the BBC headcount: how many of them set the agenda and tone of BBC's prime news output? Their political diversity is under scrutiny, not Doris from the tape library or John from the canteen.

I know I believe that only liberal and left thinking people choose the direction and tone of news.bbc, News 24 and the two prime BBC1 bulletins. I am open to persuasion that that is not the case, but I have yet to read or hear any supporting argument.

Finally, "trustworthy" does not equate to politically neutral. For instance, I trust Jon Snow at C4 but he is not neutral. If you really want to know what the public believes about the political shape of BBC News, why not poll them directly?

  • 57.
  • At 02:09 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Ken Peggs wrote:

The views of the people in these talkbacks certainly seem to be skewed. Often I wonder if there is some sort of attempt to fill them with Daily Mail type viewpoints, co-ordinated by some blog somewhere.

Nick's column suffers the same effect - now, compare those two to the the sort of repsonses in a "have your say" feedback, where you need to get people to click 'recommend' to boost your comment. The highest rated comments are generally much more indicative of public opinion.

I think there should be some sort of ability for the "silent majority" to rate feedback in the "The Editors" blog, and Nick's blog, so we can see what views and arguments the public does tend to agree with, and thus make them more representative of public opinon than the persecuted "white van man's burden" type posts we see quite a lot of at the moment.

  • 58.
  • At 02:09 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Vindication!....for me not you. Quite the opposite, I am clearly not the only one who has observed and voiced the opinion that BBC's reporting of the news doesn't even come close to its lofty stated goal of evenhandedness. "BBC impartiality" means whatever BBC wants it to mean which by current standards means as I see it, biased as charged.

Boundaries between conventional boadcasting and new platforms are not the issue, boundaries between reporting the facts and voicing an editorial opinion are. It is not that BBC cannot and should not express its own views, it's that it should not mix them inseparably with reporting of facts. The audience should have no problems making a distinction.

BBC's methods of engaging in polemics disguised as news are many and varied, some blatant and some very subtle. What does a reporter think an interviewee will say about a sensitive topic in a part of the world where all news is tightly controlled, the teaching of history custom tailored by government propaganda, and dissent severly punished, especially if that nation is at war or in conflict? Yet BBC persists in reporting the "man in the street", opinions allowing his government an indirect platform to have its views parroted without BBC's audience necessarily making a direct connection between what they hear and why no other opinion is likely in that interview. Another is redefinition of terminology, refusal to use certain words which have clear and commonly understood meanings such as "terrorist", and use of pejorative catch phrases like "so called."

The events which led to the Hutton Report were only the tip of a huge iceberg. BBC has done more to damage relations between the US and Britain, and between the US and Europe than any other English speaking media outlet, perhaps as much as the French government itself. The irony is that not only does BBC and its employees owe their right to speak freely directly to the kind of actions they condemn most like the war in Iraq, action taken in earlier generations against other brutal tyrants, they owe their very lives to it.

There is only one real cure for BBC's bias and that is a thorough house cleaning from top to bottom. That is the only way BBC can restore its one time reputation for reporting the news fairly and accurately. There is no amount of papering over which will sweep the dirt under the rug. The people who run BBC are more interested in promulgating their own political viewpoint than in maintaining high standards of journalism and that will never change no matter how many seminars they attend.

  • 59.
  • At 02:10 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Maximo Hertelendy wrote:

I don't have an insight into the minds of the BBC people, but I can say it's far more unbiased than anything else we can see on international television (I'm argentinian). This might sound as an exaggeration, but I feel BBC content's intention is always to give the watcher the biggest amount of information possible, and leave him construct his own opinion on the issue. At least, I think it's one of the big players with less editorialization (unless explicit), and it makes me feel like I'm being invited to process information, not just being fed.

  • 60.
  • At 02:12 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Alistair Compton wrote:

It is strange that the reason you find Jeff Randall's and Andrew Marr's agruments unconvincing is that they are based on anecdote. After all, isn't this what you are doing when you attempt to refute the charge of political correctness by recalling an event showing the opposite? It should also be noted that the event occurred 15 years ago so isn't very useful for assessing current thinking in the BBC

  • 61.
  • At 02:12 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • M wrote:

Most people that claim bias just tend to be lobbying for a particular group, and fall silent when invited to describe in detail the political center ground - a full description of the most neutral terms and behaviours required to present impartial news.

  • 62.
  • At 02:13 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • John wrote:

Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail and the Express. These are hardly three papers which should be listened too. For them to question impartiality is a joke - they make up stories to fit their agenda. The publish half-truths, fiction and exageration every day.

This was an interesting piece but I do hope the BBC is not concerned about the opinions of such poor quality publications. If a paper wished to give itself credibility, criticising a credible organisation could be a cheap way of doing so in some people's eyes.

  • 63.
  • At 02:16 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Sam wrote:

If all the conservative rags hold the opinion that the bbc leans left, could they please explain to me why it is the BBC is always attacking New Labour?

  • 64.
  • At 02:22 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Bart Read wrote:

Well said Helen. I must admit I'm fairly tired of the persistent scaremongering and scandal-mongering of certain portions of the press, and I find it hard to fathom the agenda of any group of people who seem to operate by trying to inspire large portions of the population to live their lives in a perpetual state of moral outrage over issues that are little more than carefully embroidered fictions. I can only imagine that even by their standards it must have been an exceptionally slow news day for them to print these particular "stories".

  • 65.
  • At 02:26 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • S Atkinson wrote:

Yes, I can quite understand why the Mail piece annoyed you so much, but the link to the story and more importantly the Mail's readers' comments(not sure about my apostrophe allocation there) were comedy gold.

Basically, they were delighted at confirmation that the BBC is staffed exclusively by politically correct lesbian communist conspirators with an agenda to Destroy British Family Life As We Know It.

Between that and the poster who pointed to the total "absence of political satire" on the Beeb, it was enough to make my day.

We all love to have our prejudices confirmed, whether it be the average Mail reader's about the BBC, or mine about the average Mail reader. How nice to have one story that could do both...

  • 66.
  • At 02:29 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Bryan Turner wrote:

I would beg to differ on the percieved demographic of the BBC. I'm sure if you actually looked at the people responsible for the output of the BBC. e.g. Journalists, Editors, Producers etc. you would find a very clear bias towards middle class mostly left leaning liberals. There may be 20,000 people working for the BBC but only a small percentage of these contribute directly to the content (rather than the presentation) of the BBC's output.

That may sound like sime kind of rant from the late Linda Lee-Potter but I'm sure this would be born out if you examined the figures.

The clear problem with this is that the majority view is always expressed by people that don't represent it's intended audience.

It's clear when speaking to people in the street that they just don't have the same concerns at BBC Journo's. If everyone in the UK lived in West London then perhaps there would be proper representation.

  • 67.
  • At 02:33 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Martyn Gay wrote:

I find it amusing that the Mail On Sunday et al would criticize others for a lack of impartiality. The MOS/Daily Mail tends to read like a party political broadcast.

  • 68.
  • At 02:34 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Richard Davies wrote:

Helen,

If you're not biased then why is it that names such as Stephen Lawrence and Anthony Walker are now 'household names' in the UK whereas I challenge you to find anyone in the street who could identify Glasgow teenager Kriss Donald (you might have to look him up on Google, as I doubt you've ever heard of him yourself)

The inference is clear - black victims of racist murders are considered somehow more newsworthy by the BBC than white victims.

If it isn't so then please explain why you have failed to publish any details of Kriss Donald's horrific and brutal murder outside of Scotland.

  • 69.
  • At 02:34 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Tom wrote:

Helen Boaden thinks it's not newsworthy that Andrew Marr believes "BBC culture [is] more liberal than the rest of the country". That one of the BBC's most senior correspondents believes that the national corporation doesn't represent the country is surely something that should seriously be addressed?

  • 70.
  • At 02:35 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Andy wrote:

This is the reason I prefer the bbc online news to the newspapers like the daily mail.
There may be a good reason for newspapers to represent certain sides of political ideology, but you just can't trust the stories they write in them as they're all too willing to twist the truth to put the spin on it.
Since most newspapers are owned by a few people anyway, what they say goes.
I think the newspapers are just jealous of the trust people have in a national institution like the bbc. Institutions have a place in keeping our country democratic, which involves reporting both sides.

  • 71.
  • At 02:35 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Julian Mamlok wrote:

If the BBC really believes it is not biased, could we please have the video recording of the "secret meeting" posted for us all to watch and form our own opinions. If it was streamed but not taped, why not?

I think the BBC is very good, but not perfect; it does show bias in my opinion. It is too politically correct, and on topics that I do know about I also find its reports are often shallow and/or poorly researched.

Helen,

How about posting the meeting stream again and letting us make up our own minds ? ( After all you wouldn't want to present a biased account would you? )

It is interesting however that Helen Boaden doesn't address many of the specifics e.g. it is okay for a Bible to go into room 101 but not a Koran.

A robust defense here. Lets face it, the Daily Mail seldom have positive things to say about the BBC anyway, but its nice to see this post nonetheless.

I blogged about this issue too. (www.paulhurst.blogspot.com)and although I think the overall idea of impartiality is slightly idealistic and largely unachievable, I do think the BBC deals with things fairly and with balance. For me, thats just as important as 'so-called' impartiality.

Anyway, this post made interesting reading and I'm sure we'll all be repeating ourselves again on this topic in the not-too-distant future.

Paul

Being a liberal left-wing academic myself, I find it hard to believe that the Beeb is being branded as biased on these grounds. Of course, there is a subtle bias in the choice of programming and the methods you at the BBC use to convey facts. Its inescabable. However, to me the BBC is still overley conservative with some of its views. Such as a lot of the anti-drugs propaganda and some of the coverage of the views of the political parties. However, to the likes of reporters of the Mirror etc and the 'reality TV generation', because you attempt to use words which are longer than 6 letters long, you are accused of being a clique. Our society cannot accept intelligence as anything other than snobbery. What a shame.

  • 76.
  • At 02:43 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Neil wrote:

Your bias is shown not so much in the detail but in the 'selection of stories' chosen for the front page. Sometimes i cringe when i see what your 'major headlines' are. Other times the front page is almost like a crass tabloid. Honestly, the BBC is still a good news website but i do think it has fallen in standard.

  • 77.
  • At 02:43 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • John Gibson wrote:

Please tell me, do you recruit more through 'The Guardian' or the (much larger broadsheet circulation) 'The Daily Telegraph?

  • 78.
  • At 02:46 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Dougie Jones wrote:

BBC - Definitely biased

The BBC is biased when it comes to the British Isles. Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland are treated as mere footnotes. It should really be called the EBC as that's what it is focussed on. The BBC's Great Britons series was a prime example of its prejudice against the smaller British countries. The top 10 consisted of 10 Englishmen. Where was Alexander Graham Bell, John Logie Baird and Alexander Fleming? The inventors of the telephone, television, and the discoverer of Penicillin.

Just one example among many....

Do you mean that the BBC will now broadcast:

1) opinions in favour of leaving the EU

2) scientists who do not accept global warming

3) the facts about the position of Christians in Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan?

  • 80.
  • At 02:48 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • SimonNewman wrote:

I certainly was not furious with the BBC in response to the Mail's article. I found it refreshing and commendable that the BBC was showing awareness of its institutional bias and was prepared to discuss the issue. All organisations are prone to group-think, the best that can be hoped for is that they'll consider the validity of other viewpoints now and then. This article's holier-than-thou denial that such bias even exists is annoying, though!

  • 81.
  • At 02:50 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Rodolphe Mortreuil wrote:

The article is a well constructed rebuke, but could the case be made that in a world awash with "news" the choice of what gets coverage - and the prominence of that coverage - might constitute a indication of bias? I am certainly not advocating this as a fact, only raising a point.

I certainly count myself one of the 60% who will consider the BBC a more trustworthy source of news than others. Incidentally, is there a public source for that survey? The total of 116% is a little surprising.

  • 82.
  • At 02:51 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Keith Thomas wrote:

I don't agree at all Helen.

Having worked for a major media outlet in customer services I know that bias is rife across the media.

During the Iraq invasion we had calls from reserchers,editors and journalists from across Europe and Africa.

The number of comments regarding "cherry-picking" or "selective editing" of infomation,so that journalist will publish anything to support orginal viewpoint was horrfic.

Some of these comments and requests came from BBC employees.

My own reading of what Government reports say including the Iraq Survey Group,9/11 commission,Hutton,Butler et al backs this up.

And how many "soundbites" are taken out of context?

The problem is that rather than reporting the news,with the advent of 24 hour news.and the growth of international media, instead of following a "government" line,they now follow there own agenda, in the hope to "influence" policy makers to follow a particular line.

Look at the increased number of "pundits" now spouting tripe that wouldn't be normally be given the light of day.

Sadly the BBC, like the rest of "McWorlds" press,is not interested in balenced reporting but in perpetulating discourse in order to gain the viewing figures.

Of course Helen if you don't believe me,ask Andrew Gilligan or John Humphry....

  • 83.
  • At 02:53 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Nick Carding wrote:

Words like 'impartiality' and 'unbiased' sound straightforward and easily defined (if not always achieved), but in reality they are minefields. Take your 'we don't take sides' definition, for instance. If, during WW2 one of your reporters had access to the facts about what was happening to Jews in Germany, what would 'not taking sides' or 'unbiased reporting' involve? Surely not the giving of equal weight and/or moral standing to the arguments on both sides (for and against extermination)? And would your reporter have been required to pass no opinion or judgement on what he knew? Surely not. Yet that is what the stance you set out in your piece implies. It's too simplistic a view, and one that ignores the duties (as well as rights) conferred by civilization. Sometimes even-handedness itself can be a form of bias - and a pernicious one at that.

  • 84.
  • At 02:54 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Richard wrote:

Yesterday evening (23/10/06) the news website had a grinning picture of Mr Howard on the front page relating to the cash-for-peers investigation, a veritable left-wing celebration of being able to have a pop at the conservative party and their old ways.

Biased? We shall when Mr Blair has his interview shan't we?

One of my friends (whom works for the beeb) recommended to me: If you ever want to give the impression of fitting in, just take a copy of the Guardian to the interview.

  • 85.
  • At 02:54 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Ruwan Weerakkody wrote:

The comment regarding the headscarf and likening it to a small cross worn around the neck is in itself sufficient for any sane person to see that the author herself is a "left-leaning liberal" who prefers the cult-like phenomenon of so called political 'correctness' (that seems to gloss every BBC production)to plain common sense. In my opinion, if the BBC's chief POLITICAL correspondent admits to it being politically liberal and left-leaning, what more needs to be said?

  • 86.
  • At 02:58 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Andrea Burniske wrote:

I have difficulty with the concept of impartiality. I have a graduate degree in journalism, and know therefore that this concept emerged from trends in the late 19th century to sell more advertising by not alienating potential sponsors by an blantantly political stance, and also from Walter Lipman (sp?) who later decided that no, impartiality is impossible for human beings.

I think there is a big difference between having an opinion, and pursuing sensationalism (with is actually impartiality as well, as it is mainly in support of selling ads, just as 'objectivity' is)

I live and work abroad in developing nations and have done for more than a decade. I always watch BBC World News, forsaking the less in-depth Euronews and the totally biased (and totally lacking in deoth US news media). I appreciate that BBC journalists are always so well-informed. I never have detected a trace of bias. I think that some viewers may take the fact that you do not push the US - Tony Blair agenda on the wars, nor do you push any christian agenda, as signs that you are biased *against* these things. They find that if things look bad for the war as shown on BBC, you must be biased. They aren't willing to admit that perhaps things look bad because that is the reality.

It is good that you explain things to viewers, as you did, but I think in the long run people will understand what they want to understand. Defend BBCs operational priniciples as you have done - please, it makes you the best news organization in the world and there are too few sources of news and information like yours out there.

Viva BBC News!

  • 87.
  • At 03:03 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

The fact that the BBC's impartiality is in question should be secondary to the lurch towards sloppy tabloid journalism within the organisation in recent years. Headlines often read as reworded hearsay rather than solidly factual statements, and turn out to link to unsubstantiated reports from, to say the least, questionable sources.

Surely the best example of this recently has been the 'research' findings of Dr Curry and his fantastic evolutionary discourse on the human giants and goblins divergence 1000 years hence? Rather than be subjected to strenuous (impartial) critical appraisal and revealed as a desperate corporate-sponsored fabrication, this was presented as a serious study without delay by the BBC - among others - and splashed across the front pages.

Until stories like this are filtered properly by news editors who care less for sensationalist headlines and more for facts, then impartiality is irrelevant.

  • 88.
  • At 03:05 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Richard Orndorff wrote:

I am from the States and have been listening to the BBC since the fifties. I think you are and have been the best new organization in the world.

  • 89.
  • At 03:06 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Nick wrote:

I confirm that the BBC has definitely become anti-USA anti Christian and pro-Muslim. I thought I was alone in this but other readers have confirmed what I thought so now I know I am sane. As the UK is a Christian country, if the BBC should be promoting anything at all it should be Christian values.
It is a shame that the BBC has gone downhill in this way, no doubt, the foreigners and Muslims are rubbing their hands with glee but indigenous Christians must be furious.Could you suggest a Media which is different from you and defends the rights of native Christians instead of talking about Muslims all the time ( Muslims are but a tiny fraction of the population but you are giving them far too Much importance, even compared to other minority groups such as Hindus, BOuddhists or Siks ! Incredible !

  • 90.
  • At 03:10 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • David McArthur wrote:

I take exception to the author's comment that the head scarf is synonomous with wearing a small cross. In one case, the religion is deliberately discriminating against women; in the other it is a small symbol of one's religious beliefs. We have become so over-the-top politically correct that we fail to distinguish between religious freedoms and plain and simple discrimination, veiled (pun intended) in the belief that this is religious freedom.

PS - At one time the BBC truly was an unbiased news organisation however I don't belive that to be true today.

  • 91.
  • At 03:14 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Drew Spencer wrote:

Biased? Of course it is. All you need to see is the usual subjects chosen for "Have your say."

The BBC's agenda is roughly this.

The Iraq war-against.
Multiculturalism-for
Global warming/eco catastrophe-Strong believer almost evangelical.
Healthy living/control the proles-strongly in favour.
America-strongly dislike.

The BBC consistently appears to be mild left wing and liberal patrician. This is rather like the early days of New Labour and hence slightly old fashioned now.

This is fine and reflects the recruitment base of senior staff. But you're kidding yourself if you think you're impartial.

  • 92.
  • At 03:15 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Simon J George wrote:

Helen,

You say that the important impartiality test is the 'what the audience thinks' test, and you quote opinion poll evidence. However the poll you cite asked a question of trustworthiness. This is not the same thing as bias.

For instance if you ask me - Do I (in general) 'trust' government statistics - then the answer is (for me) yes.

However if you ask me -Are (again in general) government statistics biased then the answer is also clearly (again for me) yes.

You may or may not disagree with my answers, but you should see that the answers are not contradictory.

I.e. your argument in support of denial of bias is not made.

In the same way I 'trust' BBC News to provide accurate information, but at the same time, I believe it to have a 'culturally liberal' bias.

What do I understand ‘culturally liberal’ to mean? Well let’s take an extreme example. It is self evident from the news reporting that is it assumed that racism is a bad thing. However this view is of its nature an opinion, a received wisdom and not a demonstrable fact. By starting from this unusually unstated opinion, any subsequent report is going to be biased.

Whilst the vast and overwhelming majority would have no problem with this example of bias, it become a great deal more contentious when one explores other cultural assumptions (e.g. gay rights) where there is not nearly such a clear consensus of view in the general population.

NB: This is expressly not party political argument, although it can express itself in these terms on occasion. (E.g. back to my example, a generalized hostility to the BNP)

In short I am arguing that you ARE biased as a matter of FACT, not opinion, and that bias can be defined by reference to implied assumptions that can be drawn from the general thrust of reporting over the whole output.

Whether that bias is good or bad is a separate debate, and from even what you report of the ‘not-so-secret meeting’ it appears that is the one that Andrew Marr and Jeff Randall were trying to have.

All I ask is that the BBC freely admits its biases, so that free debate can then take place with the full understanding of those biases, rather than a pretence (or worse - self delusion) that is does not exist.


  • 93.
  • At 03:17 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Rupen wrote:

Dear Helen,
I was born in New Delhi and reside in New York. I want you to know from the time I was a child I was used to news being an impassionate reporter reading out the happenings from around the world. Nothing more, nothing less. I did not know that another format of news can exist. Obviously BBC News was very popular in India. For the last 8 years living in the US I have truly realized the benefit of 'a real news source'. Unfortunately, I have found on my recent trips, that the Indian media, instead of being modelled on the BBC, is leaning towards American style news - where nothing is sacred. News readers tell you in every nuance of their voice what to think. PLEASE, DO NOT CHANGE.

  • 94.
  • At 03:20 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Grahame Priest wrote:

When the Daily Mail criticises the Beeb for bias, it might amuse some here, but it shouldn't be overlooked that not many other media organisations would be motivated to criticise. Just because the Mail is right of centre doesn't disqualify their opinions as being without merit.

From family and friends, work colleagues etc., increasingly people seem to say they perceive real bias at the BBC towards an overly left leaning liberalism. As a centre ground 'liberal' even I feel you go too far sometimes and some of the reported views make me cringe. There is often blatant anti-Americanism in the organisation, a clear pro-Arab bias, and many think Muslims views are endorsed, irrespective of whether it's justified, because it supports the multicultural principles held dear within the Beeb. And lets not mention the cultural apologists and frequently unrepresentative panels when contentious issues are discussed on air.

It's clear you don't recognise this - but so many others do. Sadly, if you don't shape up and recognise this, you may well end up being monitored for impartiality by some independant agency. That might be a sad day for the Beeb, but it'll be wholly self-inflicted.

  • 95.
  • At 03:22 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Alex Myers wrote:

Please, people, stop comparing the BBC with the Daily Mail / Fox / etc. It's desperate.

I don't care how biased the Mail is, because I'm not forced under pain of a criminal conviction to buy it.

Ms Boaden should remember who pays (and is forced to pay) her salary.

  • 96.
  • At 03:23 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Rita Kingham wrote:

I have always thought that the BBC has a considerable left-wing bias and agenda. Does it not recruit the majority of its staff by advertising in The Guardian? It is also biassed in favour of the Arts as opposed to Science - this again being the result of recruiting via that newspaper.

However, what I would most complain about is the preponderance of Muslim commentators on every bulletin and current affairs programme. One would think they constituted 50% of the population, instead of the putative 10%.

  • 97.
  • At 03:24 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Phil wrote:

As long as I can remember, the BBC has been accused of bias. I rapidly came to the assumption that if you agreed with what the BBC said it was not biased, if you disagreed, then it was biased. Of course if everyone disagreed then it must be true! Or whatever!

  • 98.
  • At 03:25 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • A.Cassar wrote:

I grew up thinking the BBC as the fountain of truth but now that I am much older I know it is not so and I don't need The Mail to point it out because it is very obvious for anyone with a pinch of salt in his brain but don't despair you're not alone because CNN are even worse than the BBC.

  • 99.
  • At 03:26 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

Of course the BBC is biased like the Mail is biased.

The bias lies in the choice of stories and the angle they are presented with. An example might be prison reforms, the BBC reports and highlights "appalling conditions" in jails. They hold debates about what should be done, etc. The bias comes in the relentless liberal agenda these reports and debates project.

To stick with prisons No one is ever allowed on the BBC, to ask, or just state, "so what" on prison conditions or shouldn't prisons be nasty horrible places where criminals are deliberately and systematically dehumanised and degraded.

Whether anyone likes this view or not, or whether it is remotely valid is not the issue. For an unbiased organisation it should be allowed to be voiced.
Surely however extreme, the defensibilty or validity of any position is for the viewers/listeners to judge not for the BBC to pre-judge.

So to restate It is this element of liberal pre-judging of what and how things should be debated that demonstrates the real bias of the BBC.

  • 100.
  • At 03:31 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Scott Forbus wrote:

One of the defining characteristics of bias is the guilty party's inability to recognise the fact. "We're just better educated/more informed/more balanced in our viewpoint" are the very rationalisations that blind one to their unbalanced and heavily agendized actions, be it left or right.
Examples include headlines or HYS topic titles that "beg the question" to a leftist, anti-U.S., eurocentric conclusion. Add to that the "moderation" on HYS that allows multiple comment postings from one or two "likeminded" readers but few to none to balance the viewpoint.

  • 101.
  • At 03:32 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Brendan Hynes wrote:

I did not need any BBC meeting to deliver the message, it has been very apparent the BBC is Anti War, American, and has a view of the world that in no way reflects it’s viewers, however I suspect it reflects its employees , mainly being from London and the rest of the world. excluding the UK

  • 102.
  • At 03:35 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Elitist wrote:

Care to comment about the damaging report the BBC is trying to suppress in the courts using our license fee to do so?

A report that apparently points to serious bias in the middle east coverage, namely anti-Israel bias.

Will this be posted?

  • 103.
  • At 03:35 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • scp wrote:

Your comments are laughable.Every one knew about the Iraq war coverage and the story of embedded journalists.Just go back and see what you were reporting.

  • 104.
  • At 03:38 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • theo wrote:

Newspapers calling the BBC biased! Could anything be more hypocritical?

Perhaps people need reminding that the newspaper companies are privately owned, and even tell us who to vote for at the general election!

  • 105.
  • At 03:38 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Elitist wrote:

Could we just get John Simpson to handle all the middle east News please?

He's the only one at the BBC that doesn't kowtow to the fear of a Muslim backlash if his reports dare to be neutral or heaven forbid, even pro-Israel.

  • 106.
  • At 03:39 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Steve wrote:

I have an overwhelming desire for the BBC to be the best and most unbiased news organisation.
I don't feel it even comes close.
As an example, I simply had to give up listening to the Today programme in the build up to the Iraq war. The anti-American bias was truly upsetting. Day after day of one-sided comment and almost never an opposing view. It just wore me down. I still don't listen to the Today programme, and now get most of my news via Sky.

  • 107.
  • At 03:40 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

It's not that the BBC is biased so much as it's that is when push comes to shove an integral part of the British State. It's an insider whose ultimate purpose is to propagate the States views. Over so many issues such as Suez, the Falklands,Europe, Industrial Relations,Wealth and Power in British Society, the Middle East generally and of course Iraq in particular it has failed to present seriously any other view. In the case of Iraq this has, in my opinion, led to the present tragedy. It has failed to challenge the ruling elite in this country because, essentially, it is part of them. Supported by a State administered levy it dare not, in the final analysis, bite the hand that feeds it.

I have worked with the BBC and count at least one or two of its senior staff among my very closest of friends. These members of staff are extremely loyal to the BBC, and loyalty is a trait to be cherished and admired.

Having said that I cannot,unfortunately, agree that the BBC is impartial.

I recently emigrated to Israel: this was for a number of reasons, among them being the inexplicable anti-Israel bias of the BBC, as exemplified by much of its Middle East reporting and treatment of broadcasters who are not 'anti-Israel'.

I say 'inexplicable', because Israel is the only country in the Middle East which does not legislate against homosexuality, where everyone is allowed their opinion and where (at least in Haifa, which is now my home) the BBC is regarded with complete contempt in the wake of its attitude to Haifans during the recent war in the north of the country.

A case in point is the following: when former BBC producer, Malcolm Balen was brought in to conduct his survey of impartiality in BBC Middle East reporting, he welcomed constructive comments and was quite happy to give out the contact details of BBC personnel in the Jerusalem bureau.

This has all changed. The BBC will not publish the result of that publication, despite being taken to court over it and when I have requested details of the Jerusalem bureau, simply to have a chat with them in a friendly and off-the-record manner, I am told by apparatchiks back in London that this is not allowed and I have to go through them, which is impossible through the impersonal method they utilize.

I have been appointed to the Board of one of Haifa's leading charities from January, with the education and communications portfolio. Having the contact details of the BBC staff based in Israel would therefore seem to me to be a priority for the role.

I am at a loss to understand the behaviour and attitude of the managers of the BBC towards Israelis.

It is therefore difficult not to conclude that the BBC's bias against Israel (for one) is based on more than simply political differences.

I would love an explanation.

  • 109.
  • At 03:42 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Davitt Barry wrote:

I just wanted to say "Bravo" for the BBC.
As an American, I have to endure the ridiculously biased reporting the networks here try to feed us like so much political pablum. I find that quite often the only way to get unbiased reporting with some sense of the correct cynicism I feel is essential to journalism i have to get my news from somewhere other than here in the states!
Obviously complete impartiality is a goal to be sought sfter, but as we are talking about humans here it is rarely fulfilled...but the BBC comes a great deal closer than the networks here.
For that, I thank you. Keep up the good work.

  • 110.
  • At 03:45 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Stephen wrote:

I first heard ‘Tory’ used to describe the Conservative Party on a BBC radio news broadcast in (mid)1996.It then transferred to BBC television news broadcasts with increasing frequency up to the 1997 election.In my view this was an attempt to de-brand the Conservative Party in conjunction with the Labour/New (improved) Labour brand renewal strategy.Labour/New (improved) Labour are mutually reinforcing in brand terms.Conservative and Tory are not.(They mean different things to different people).An ongoing problem is that Labour/New (improved) Labour are used differently to suit the context of the report:Labour when discussing ‘traditional socialist values’ and New (improved) Labour when reporting items containig ‘the party’s vision for the future’.With the introduction of 'news sniffer'perhaps these types of abuses could be flagged up??Many BBC broadcasts are now seemingly saved to text,so there's a record that software can search through (as long as it's a true record).Alternatively BBC broadcasts could be taped and transcribed to text via speech recognition software (There is a small(ish) group of newscasters so the software could be 'trained' on tapes of their voices and be corrected manually at little cost?).-then the software could go to work.It would be handy to have something like this as soon as possible before the next election.

12:14 PM


  • 111.
  • At 03:46 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Dave Morris wrote:

Based on the comments in this SlashDot discussion :

[http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/24/047209]

It looks like the BBC has quite a good reputation for being impartial.

  • 112.
  • At 03:49 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Andy wrote:

I'm afraid that through poor understanding of some of the issues behind science stories in particular, the BBC allows the bias of its news sources to leak through.

Studies such as the frankly ridiculous "humans to split into two species" cod-science piece have been reported with no intellectual rigour. This allows companies and organisations with strong biases to sponsor and create so called scientific research that is reported verbatim without question.

We have daily news stories that link random things to cancer, global warming and the good health of our children. Without question an increasing proportion of these are produced not by reputable, unbiased scientists, but by statisticians and epidemiologists who have no understanding of the underlying processes. Despite this lack of understanding, they are looking for causual links suggested either by their sponors or by their own personal prejudices.

As such, this is junk science, yet is accepted as truth by 'unbiased' media. In failing to question, or identify an opposing view, the BBC is failing both its remit of independence and its commitment to quality reporting.

  • 113.
  • At 03:54 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Francis wrote:

Helen Boaden says "I found [the] claim of liberal bias unconvincing – based on anecdote and attitude rather than evidence." Where on earth does she think anecdote and attitude spring from? If the BBC wasn't doing it, there would be no reason for anyone to say it was.

She also says "The BBC employs more than 20,000 people across the UK. It is not a chattering class club of the kind depicted by the papers. It is a hugely varied organisation with many different cultures and a huge variety of opinions on every single issue among its staff." What she fails to point out is that very few of these people have editorial roles, and this is what skews the news output at any rate. I have gone to bed hearing on the news that so-and-so "appealed" for something from the government, and woken up to find that that same person had "demanded" that same thing. That is one tiny example of how editors twist nuance.

  • 114.
  • At 03:54 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Jos wrote:

Complete impartiality is impossible to attain. But does the BBC really do as well as it should? No. It comes across as a smug incestuous organisation which shrugs off criticism because in the end it knows best, doesn't it? Of course, the editor is not going to admit to any imperfections. This is the BBC. It is just like Points of View where listeners write in with criticisms on programmes and the producer is then interviewed about the criticism. Not once have I ever heard a BBC producer admit there might be some truth in the criticism or that their productions are anything less than perfect. It is a waste of time complaining. BBC people live in their own well-paid little world.

The BBC guidelines are interesting. I could not see any mention of maintaining educational values or promoting standards of speech and understanding. Most of its programme content is fit for nothing and its presenters prime examples of the lowest common denominator culture that pervades the BBC (with only a few exceptions). And the BBC keeps asking for (and usually gets) large increases in the licence fee every year. This is the biggest iniquity - that we should be forced to finance these people. But this is another subject ....

  • 115.
  • At 04:01 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Bill wrote:

As an American who reads the BBC news daily I would say that for the most part I am not aware of a specific anti-American slant on your part.
The problem, as I see it, is in the 'Have Your Say' arena in which it seems that those with anti-American comments are allowed to post more so than those who are not making anti-American noises. I have noticed many comments from readers who write a great deal of anti-US rhetoric which gets posted even though the particular comment has no real relation to the 'Have Your Say' question. It seems as though the SCREENERS might have the bias.

  • 116.
  • At 04:06 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Paul Hardcastle wrote:

"John Gibson wrote:
Please tell me, do you recruit more through 'The Guardian' or the (much larger broadsheet circulation) 'The Daily Telegraph?"


The Guardian, obviously.

The Telegraph doesn't have a media supplement.

  • 117.
  • At 04:12 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Nick wrote:

As the Bard put it:"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

While the BBC may well be perceived as a better source of news than others, that is by no means the same as saying that you maintain an acceptable standard of impartiality.

It is regrettably the case now that any BBC report, particularly concerning UK & US foreign policy or Muslim affairs must be treated with deep suspicion.

You may well treat any individual story even-handedly. But the BBC's institutional bias appears to be so deep seated tha you do not even perceive that it is your very choice of stories to cover that is the problem.

It is entirely beyond belief that there are no positive developments to report out of the Middle East. Yet your coverage of this region implies that every street corner is permanently under fire in a bloody confrontation entirely of the West's creation.

This is over-simplistic, does a disservice to your correspondents, and obscures informed debate by the British public.

  • 118.
  • At 04:12 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Richard Beer wrote:

I must confess to being slightly shocked by the extent to which the response to this blog is so overwhelmingly "Yes you're biased".

I like to think of myself is a fairly broad-minded and well-informed person. When a big international story breaks, I always check a variety of news sources, including CNN, Fox and maybe Al-Jazeera to see all sides. I find them as much an indication of what their audience is thinking as a source of information in themselves.

However the one source that I do always trust is the BBC. I'm not sure that most people understand what exactly the BBC is trying to achieve here, and how, sadly, impossible it is.

Impartiality is a myth. There is so much news, so much spin, so many reports, surveys and polls that it is impossible to inform people on them all. Just by selecting what to report on and what not to, a news source is being inherently biased, and that's unavoidable. That doesn't even begin to take into account the agenda of the people who produce these reports or polls or the cross-section of the population they chose to query. There are too many criteria at work.

The other thing the BBC strives for is pleasing all of the people all of the time, probably because we are all 'stakeholders'. We all pay the licence fee. This, as everyone knows, is impossible. Whatever the BBC does, it is damned. If it runs a story about headscarves, it is at the same time being politically correct, discriminatory, wooly liberal, and rabble-rousing against Muslims. Take your pick. There will be any number of people, reading the same story, who jump to completely different conclusions.

The litany of comment on this blog is testament to that. What I read as a defense to a report in the Daily Mail that was simply factually incorrect, other people have interpreted as smug, biased, left-leaning, sanctimonious... and I'm sure I've left a few off.

The trouble is that the BBC cannot win. We should not blame it for this. The BBC is the most impartial, informative and comprehensive news site on the web. Its approach to additional information and external, contextual links offer anybody the opportunity to read more and form their own opinions.

It is not the BBC to blame, for example, for damaging the links between the US and Britain. To suggest otherwise is just to shoot the messenger. Am I going out on a limb by suggesting that America's current leadership and their foreign policy is more to blame for that than the BBC? I'd hope not.

The BBC reports on reality, and reality, as Stephen Colbert said, has a well-known liberal bias. He said it as part of a comedy sketch, but if the BBC reports on the tragedy, horror and loss of life coming out of Iraq on an increasingly daily basis, and that country's descent towards civil war, rather than the occasional it of good news project coming out of a provincial Iraqi town that's built a school, that's more a reflection on reality than the BBC.

You're doing a good job Helen. It might feel Sisiphan from time to time, but you're doing the best job of anyone out there right now. You can get better, of course, and you should never stop questioning yourselves about how you report, but right now you're the best we've got.

Keep it up.

Obviously there's an overwhelming liberal bias at the BBC. Just look at how they base their reporting on facts and reality while discounting George W. Bush's juvenile, imaginary world of good vs. evil.

I have also detected hints of humility and humor from BBC staff --further evidence that the organisation is not sufficiently right-leaning.

  • 120.
  • At 04:21 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

With regard to the comments made by Andrew Marr, I suspect that the social attitudes of BBC employees are, on the whole, more liberal than the rest of the UK population. The BBC is after all a creative organisation that is primarily based in London, which is one of the most diverse metropolitan cities in the world. Social attitudes are generally more liberal in large cities. The same would be the case of a broadcaster based in New York or Sydney.

With regard to alleged anti-Americanism, almost every major news organisation (CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC) is accused of anti-Americanism, apart from one: Fox News. It seems that unless you are an overt cheerleader for the Bush administration you will be charged with anti-Americanism.

The issue here is not the BBC but how corporate-owned right wing media on both sides of the atlantic is using its power to attack public service broadcasting and journalism that does not fit its agenda. The BBC is far from perfect but this matter has done more to expose the so-called journalism of the Mail and the Express, than the failings of the BBC.

  • 121.
  • At 04:21 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Dave wrote:

Helen Broaden would say that wouldn't she? BBC impartiality is a facade, a pretence. Best example being ME reporting. Continual demonising of Israel is not an illusion. To seek to give equal moral status and standing to terrorist organisations with Israel is bias in itself.And are we all deluded that the BBC is anti-Bush? It is also well known that the BBC recruits extensively through the Guardian a bastion of liberal bias.And her 'defence' of the BBC also neglected to mention that the Daily Mail article said that the BBC is dominated by homosexuals.A group not notorious for right wing opinion. Sorry Helen you leave me unconvinced.BBC guilty as charged.

  • 122.
  • At 04:22 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Andrew Allison wrote:

I'd like to draw attention to one specific form of bias, and illustrate it with an example. BBC News continually publishes opinion regarding global climate change as fact. I have pointed out several examples to the editors during the past couple of years.

Here's a specific example of the bias: Last year the climate reportage was full of "record hurricane season" nonsense. In fact, as I pointed out, prior to the introduction of satellite coverage 30 years ago, only hurricanes which struck the US mainland were counted, a fact which the "record-breaking" statistics ignored. The fact that, contrary to last year's "sky-is-falling" forecast, this year's hurricane activity has been remarkably low has been completely ignored. The BBC's clearly biased reporting of climate change leads credence to the claims of lack of impartiality.

  • 123.
  • At 04:24 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • helz wrote:

I can't understand why people moan "political correctness" every time an ethnic minority is represented on the BBC. People always complain that there are too many ethnic minority people on BBC TV. As the BBC broadcasts from major cities that have a population with a higher proportion of people from ethnic minorities than other parts of the UK, then surely it is only reflecting the population around it? While the ratio of white people to non-white people on the BBC may be different to other parts of the country, they are probably representative of the parts of the country that the BBC is based in. The national news may have more non-whites and come from cities like London with a population high in non-white people, but local news programmes seem to have a real lack of non-whites, probably representing the local population.

  • 124.
  • At 04:32 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • William wrote:

Small storm? Hypothetical.

Pull the other one. Of course, the BBC "blog" is going to try and distance itself from it's own hypocricy..this has been a common theme in the British media for years.

And hey..if you're so popular why are people jumping ship? Why are "hypocritical" quotes coming from such senior members? Why are you losing money and viewers?

Because you're a law unto yourselves, a law obsessed with professing its views on Multiculturalism and doing all the dirty work for we-know-who. Yes, you know who.

I hate what the BBC has become, I hate the way it manipulates, with a cloak and dagger, race and religious issues right down to reporting race crime. Face it: the public know that you are biased, irrational and corrupt.

The BBC to the media what Kim is to North Korea. NO MORE LICENSE TO BROADCAST PROPAGANDA, NOT IN A FREE SOCIETY.

A blog is not an official response.

  • 125.
  • At 04:33 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • james ackroyd wrote:

more self obsession from the me- me- -me-dia.

people are usually intelligent enough to see the bias, the BBC are hardly subtle in the way they ram it down everyone's throats are they?

  • 126.
  • At 04:44 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Jennifer wrote:

Astounding, isn't it, that in a world of increasing assurance of relativity, we demand absolutism where there's none to be found. In subjective individuals (which we all, by virtue of unique experience, must be) can there be any expectation of pure objectivity when handling non-empirical data? Simply, one cannot attain to impartiality unless one may acknowledge an absolute against which partiality may be tested. Perhaps a touch of grace ought to be given to a news organization striving to report to millions of readers whose definitions of that very absolute are as disparate as the inviduals themselves.

  • 127.
  • At 04:45 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

If the BBC is not Biased, then why have Biased BBC had over a million hits?

Why do so many American bloggers defend their country like USS Neverdock & the American Ex-pat from attacks from the BBC for example?

Why are so many Righties, Christians, Americans, Moslem Apostle, and Israelis up in arms in the Blogshpere about the BBC Bias?

Why have you not mentioned the large amount of criticism you have come in for regarding your bias towards Israel?

If you have nothing to hide from the criticism you have received regarding bias towards Israel, why not publish the Balen report, instead of fighting a court battle to keep it hidden from the public?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/10/15/nbeeb15.xml

Kind regards

Mark

  • 128.
  • At 04:48 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Mark E wrote:

49. At 01:50 PM on 24 Oct 2006, Tim Beadle wrote:
"If two disparate and opposed groups of people accuse you of bias, then you've probably got it right" or words to that effect.

I hear this comment or one like it over and over again (even used by the BBC to defend itself). The problem is that it is incorrect.

You are never going to please both sides with a report, even the slightest attempt to be impartial means that you are going to target the flaws of both sides.

A true test of impartiality is when the middle ground (the ones who do not have polarised views) does not spot a bias.

Yes, those who hold right wing views consider you biased - because you clearly do not lean to the right. However, many of those who comment about how unbiased the BBC are hold left wing views.

Perhaps having a survey asking the average "man on the street" if "he" considered the BBC to be left-wing or right-wing would convince you that the majority do not feel you are unbiased.

However, for most people bias is not reason enough to be untrustworthy.

  • 129.
  • At 04:54 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Michael wrote:

Helen Boaden just added insult to injury...the BBC is totally biased...just as any right-thinking organzation naturally is...TV coverage is overweighted in human tragedy and light on the ravages in the animal kingdom...and even in the human domain the bias is gross and obvious - the tilt toward Hizbolah in the Lebanon war was soooo obvious - impartiality, NO WAY!

  • 130.
  • At 04:59 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Joe wrote:

Andrea - spot on.

As a fello journalist (in a developing country too), I agree that impartiality is impossible to acheive. Even asking a question is motivated by an agenda; that knowledge is beneficial. Whilst us clever-clogs that post on such sites may accept this as given, this is a subjective position. When we seek impartiality from our news sources, we actually seek balance. This is why most of the BBC's news reports end up saying something like: "And although these guys think this, these other guys think this, and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle". Not coincidently, this is also how we write to pass examination at school and university.

Your ideas are a reflection of the world around you. Our acceptance of something as objective or balanced probably just means it fits in with how we see things.

But I'm not interested in whether you speak in somethings interest. It's whos interest you speak in.

So is the BBC biased? Of course it is. No more or less than Fox, Channel Four, Bush, Blair or me. but does is speak more in the interests of humanity, peace, justice and truth than its rivals financed by businesses? Undoubtedly.

But lets not delude ourselves that it can objectively speak on behalf of the British or the world in general without restraint. You guys were far too badly burnt by the whole Hutton Affair to risk attempting a serious critique of international affairs ever again.

I think, anyway.

Politkovskaya RIP.

  • 131.
  • At 05:04 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Doug wrote:

You make a point of how a freelance reporter working for the BBC asked if it was "acceptable" to broadcast what they had discovered. You did this to prove your impartiality. Did you ever wonder WHY that reporter felt compelled ask first?

  • 132.
  • At 05:04 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Eric Krust wrote:

Of course the BBC is biased. It's impossible to not be biased since we're all from different areas with different life experiences.

I'm an American living in Japan and I get my news from a variety of different sources, the BBC being one of them. I've found that most lead stories involving America are negative. I've also found the "Have Your Say" questions often seem to pander to the anti-Americans by asking questions that usually get hot responses from them.

I've also watched BBC's Israeli documentary, "The World's Most Criminal State" and with a title like that it's hard to believe the BBC is being unbaised. Either that or perhaps they really do feel thay've collected enough evidence and done an analysis that gives them that "unbiased" opinion.

It's best if you get your news from a variety of different sources to minimize the bias that each has. Reading a report from the news agency itself saying they've cleared themselves from bias is pretty funny, tho.

  • 133.
  • At 05:06 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • David wrote:

At last, something like the truth is coming out. I was born and raised in Scotland and always thought the Beeb was impartial and independant. However, I have to agree that the BBC has become incredibly anti-American, anti Bush. Every news or current affairs program I have watched over the past 4 years demonstrates an unquestionable bias. Whether the BBC has resorted to popularism or not, evidence of this anti-American bias is viewed every day on the news website. When was the last time a positive article was written concerning the US. That simply speaks for itself despite editorial denials by insiders

  • 134.
  • At 05:12 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Quentin Kimes wrote:

I look at the bbc about as often as I do Al jazerra, and consider them of the same ilk. propaganda arms of militant organisations which believe that they know whats best for the rest of the world, and intend to enforce-decieve their way to attaining thier openly stated goals by any means possible.Bluntly put you disgust me!

  • 135.
  • At 05:13 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • gordon smith wrote:

There was a time when I believed the blurb that said the BBC is an unbiased public service. I regret I no longer believe that to be the case. I began to doubt the objectivity of the BBC during the Balkan War.

Broadcast after broadcast presented only Muslims as victims - Serbs were never presented in a sympathetic light yet, Serbian villages were destroyed, Serbian and Croatian women (ie: Christians) were violated, their menfolk murdered and Christian religious men and women violently treated. Why were we for ever being presented with a ruined mosque but never a burnt out church or monastery?

Reports from the fighting mentioned "men in long white clothes" being responsible for acts of terrorism. Since the cease-fire any number of Islamic militants have boasted that they 'served in the jihad in the Balkans.' - Where was the BBC when all of this was happening? Where were the balanced reports?

  • 136.
  • At 05:13 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Liz wrote:

The BBC isn't against the United States, just its government and the public that elected it.

  • 137.
  • At 05:15 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Christopher wrote:

As an American, I am inundated with nothing but propaganda from both sides of our political system and their supporters. Getting a straight story from a news source without spin here in the United States is very difficult. I rely on the BBC as an enhancement to my daily search for credible, global news stories. Perhaps residing in the land of slant obfuscates an agenda by the BBC by making it seem like it only deals with the facts (by comparison), but I will continue to use the BBC as a main reliable source.

  • 138.
  • At 05:17 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Doug wrote:

In your article you relate how a freelance reporter working on assignment for the BBC once asked you if broadcasting certain findings was "acceptable". You use your reply as an example of the BBC being unbiased. Did you ever pause to wonder why that freelance reporter felt compelled to even ask you the question in the first place?

  • 139.
  • At 05:20 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Mark E wrote:

"57. At 02:09 PM on 24 Oct 2006, Ken Peggs wrote:
The views of the people in these talkbacks certainly seem to be skewed. Often I wonder if there is some sort of attempt to fill them with Daily Mail type viewpoints, co-ordinated by some blog somewhere.

Nick's column suffers the same effect - now, compare those two to the the sort of repsonses in a "have your say" feedback, where you need to get people to click 'recommend' to boost your comment. The highest rated comments are generally much more indicative of public opinion.

I think there should be some sort of ability for the "silent majority" to rate feedback in the "The Editors" blog, and Nick's blog, so we can see what views and arguments the public does tend to agree with, and thus make them more representative of public opinon than the persecuted "white van man's burden" type posts we see quite a lot of at the moment."

Interesting post Ken, I am sure you understand that most of the HYS topics are moderated (which means that many views are not published). Even then if you look at the most recommended posts you will often see that the ones which ARE most recommended tend to take a more "right-wing" line, tending to stand against the PC "bend over backwards" state the country seems to be heading towards. In contrast the Blog feedback tends to be unmoderated (comments might be cut or removed for certain reasons but on the whole they are published). So if you wish to hear the views of the "silent majority" then you should be looking to the Blog spots (where we actually can have a say) rather then to the HYS where the comments usually don't get published (I am sure the BBC will say this is because they receive so many - yet you will find that there are often several posters who get multiple posts displayed on a moderated topic)

I think you will find that if the "silent majority" have the chance to rate posts in the blogs the "white van man" views you speak of will tend to get the higher recommendations.

Also may I comment about how typically "liberal" to imply that those who have views that oppose yours are "white van men" - which the self appointed liberal "elite" consider almost to be an insult. There is no link between intelligence and political viewpoint.

  • 140.
  • At 05:24 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

I'll try again since my last post didn't make it on.
Nick Carding (post 83) comment is perfect example of the BBC type bias

He says "Sometimes evenhandedness can be a form of bias -and a pernicious one at that".

My question is Why is Nick's or the BBC's view on what not to inclcude in "evenhandedness" more valid than that that would be made by or would have been made, within a still democratic framework, by Lenin, Enoch Powel, the leader of British National Party or Pol Pot? Is it because he's nice guy?


Open debate is normally death to all kinds of extremism, I think that had the Nazi's had been forced to openly argued for mass extermination of all Jews in Europe or to try and raionally explain their anti-semitism the appeal of their ideology would have been more limited.

By limiting debate to what "you" (whoever you are)consider palatable you allow and even force extremism to clothe itself in acceptable garb and outflank you in the long run. And one thing about extremists being in power is that they are not remotely interested in debate of kind limited or otherwise.

  • 141.
  • At 05:24 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • sathya narayanan wrote:

The BBC by and large is impartial.It is obvious that right wingers find it biased towards left leaning liberals.The only place i find BBC partial is when it deals about Russia.I think some more time should pass before the cold war mentality wears off.But,otherwise BBC provides an excellent and impartial coverage of news around the globe.One can never accuse BBC of sensationlising news.

  • 142.
  • At 05:27 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Mark E wrote:

63. At 02:16 PM on 24 Oct 2006, Sam wrote:
If all the conservative rags hold the opinion that the bbc leans left, could they please explain to me why it is the BBC is always attacking New Labour?


Would this be the same New Labour that many "Old" Labour voters attack for their move from the left to the centre ground?

New Labour won the votes of middle England by moving towards the centre, they have lost left-wing support along the way.

  • 143.
  • At 05:28 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • M Mehta wrote:

BBC has lost its touch about impartiality since 9/11/2001.
It must focus and review its position vis a vis all geo political spectrum and stay course.
Hope we will see that and create a good medium to fill up the gap of EAST & WEST which is widening every day, and BBC is the only one who can do this.
Let us give full chance so our planet earth has some good moment.
Human being is forgetful and mischivious and thus offten such misplacement happen.
Awaiting to see sea change soon from present BIAS way.
Mehta

  • 144.
  • At 05:29 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • REDLICK JACOB wrote:

Thanks Helen Boaden for setting the record straight. Living in Canada, the BBC is my primary news source on the web and TV - indeed, it is my trusted window on the world. Yesterday, I saw CNN report this story gleefully and it made me wince. I consider CNN's slogan, "The most trusted name in news," to be substanceless hype. It represents what has happended to most news organizations in North America - they're trapped in the ratings maze. On the other hand, I believe, the BBC easily lives up to its committment - "Putting news first."

  • 145.
  • At 05:30 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • William wrote:

Well, I fail to see how a blog operating on a BBC web server can claim to be impartial..or does that blog represent the views of a corporation that doesn't have the guts to address it's own shortcomings. Tomorrow this will be old news, yet the issue is very serious. That's the way the BBC is able to fudge the issue.

  • 146.
  • At 05:30 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Derek wrote:

I frequently watch the BBC News and have become increasingly concerned about the obvious bias in news presentations. This bias includes the almost daily anti-Americanism ( anything negative about American Foreign policy, President Bush or Iraq is promoted as the only truth with no balancing positive news), attempts to undermine morale by the steady drip feed of reporting every single attack on our own soldiers and every negative event ( with no balancing positive view), anti Father messaging by interviewing families but seemingly excluding Dads, and by never asking the question ' and what does Dad think of all this ? ' The clear bias of the Pro feminist agenda - why are so many of your reporters/correspondents women ? - what happened to the other 50 % of the population ? Not to mention the not very subtle techniques of the use of the words ' insisted ' to give the impression that the statements reported should not be believed,( But the General insisted that...) the word ' admitted ' to give the impression that the speaker had tried to hide the facts but had been found out ( President Bush admitted that....), and the word 'denied ' so the statement the BBC want to stay in the listener's mind happens at the end of the sentence( President Bush denied that American Foreign Policy was in tatters ) and the use of the word 'despite' to ensure the statement the BBC require to rest in the mind can be stated at the end of the sentence ( which is what people remember ). These techniques are used time and time again to ensure a steady feed of bias into the mind of the listener/viewer. Of course what is reported is factually correct - thats not the point, the BBC has a responsibility not to selectively report or spin so as to create a particular impression. But the viewer doesn't get this.
What I as a viewer expect for the licence fee is absolute neutrality in reporting. No journalistic word tricks, no evidence of bias unless it is strongly countered the other way, and at the time, and no trace of politically correct agendas.

  • 147.
  • At 05:41 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Tom wrote:

I believe the BBC is biased.

Around 2% of the British population is Muslim, yet you could mistake it for 40% by the amount of coverage it receives on the BBC.
Around 8% of the British population is from an ethnic minority, yet going by BBC coverage you could easily mistake it for 40% too, even more.
As a Sociology teacher, I asked my pupils (15-16), what they believed the demographic stats to be. A clear majority placed the percentage of Britain that is an ethnic minority to be between 20% and 40%. When asked why they thought this, they pointed out what they had seen on TV. When told the actual percentage, they were surprised.

  • 148.
  • At 05:44 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Sami wrote:

I feel that the issue here is not whether the bcc is impartial or not, because irrespective of the "hypothetical" meetings the directors and invited guests have , each journalist will have his own individual perspective of how he interprets a situation he is asked to cover.

How do you therefore measure through an organisation which employs thousands of employees collectively whether the information that is being relayed is impartial?

Any individual intone with politics will know that the BBC is not in the same league as a fox news bush mouthpiece, but I do have reservations as to the stance taken by the editor and the truth within the organisations actual delivery of news stories.


Secondly the daily mail have no right to even attempt to condemn the BBC after all its it is the paper that printed comments from the ridiculous Kilroy about a certain race and in general indirectly stoke racial dislike within our communities.

I feel that the BBC will always be labeled as an organisation funded by the British government, therefore there is always a doubt in my mind as to the coverage of certain politcal situations i.e. Israel- Palestine where I feel the line that is towed by the BBC is by no means impartial……..

With politicians spinning the facts no end in modern politics both on a national level and global stage who are we to know how distorted the end result is through media forms such as the BBC never mind Sky!

  • 149.
  • At 06:28 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Juan Sepúlveda wrote:

What is really a bias?
I am biased against torture, racial cleansing or child molesting.
Can I report those in a fair, balanced way? I hope so. Even though, I will feel safer if someone can review my reports.

Every decent human have the right to feel repulse when facing certain issues, and I believe a good reporter must be a decent person. But he must keep his capabilitity to do a balanced report on the issue, regardless his views on that.

I feel BBC coverage sometimes shows what the reporter's own views are about an issue, but this happens really in very few cases (like citizen's ownership of weapons, by the way) and in a more decent manner than most other media do.
And when I say other media, I mean every other media I have read, heard or watch in this planet.

Mmmm, maybe somewhere else...

  • 150.
  • At 06:30 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Iwan Roberts wrote:

As an atheist I am continually amazed at the many ways that the BBC is systematically pro-religion. Take for example the constant positively spun reporting of religious people like Desmond Tutu and the Roman Pope. The BBC gives (devotes may be a better word)a huge amount of time to the coverage of church services and endless religious festivals but this is not even balanced by equal time for atheism, humanism and science.

We are continually being subjected to dangerous and untruthful inanities such as "Islam is a peaceful religion" and "all they can do now is pray". To me it is sickening that such nonsense is being purveyed unchallenged by a state sponsored broadcaster. Self evidently, a religion which requires of its followers to practise Jihad (violence against those who do not believe it), is absolutely not a peaceful religion. And if those unfortunates in Bangladesh/Africa/wherever who are wasting their time praying actually got up off their knees and did something to help themselves it would at least give them sonme self respect.

If the BBC was unbiased, then the queen would be asked to remove references to religion in her "christmas" message and Richard Dawkins would be asked to address the nation on Darwin Day. That'll be the day!!!

  • 151.
  • At 06:31 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Scott wrote:

The thing is...total impartiality is almost impossible to achieve. I applaud the BBC for working towards it as an aim, but people need to realise that these people reporting the news are people, not robots.
There are always going to be some poor decisions, some articles that might be viewed a particular way, some cause of controversy.

But the fact that in response to the Blog, we've had people complaining the BBC is too left wing, too right wing, too pro English, too anti English, too tabloid like, too broadsheet like, surely shows that in general, the BBC isn't seen to have a consistant bias in either way.

And just to respond to the man who complained about all the top ten in the 'Great Britons' poll being English...it was a OPEN POLL, voted for by the PUBLIC. You cant blame the BBC for the results!

  • 152.
  • At 06:36 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Bill (115), too bad you didn't hear BBC's broadcast of their six part series in January 2005 "America, Age of Empire" in which BBC tried to invent some sort of oblique comparison between the United States of today and the Roman Empire of 2000 years ago. Is it that they completely misunderstand American civilization? That is entirely possible, they just don't seem to get it. They started with a visit to Hadrian's wall, a relic of Roman times at the perimeter of the Empire in the British Isles. They solicited views about America in an interview with a Cuban peasant on the streets of Havana. What would anyone expect him to say? He'd risk prison if he didn't. They spoke about the 21 B2 Stealth bombers but they never explored where the real strength and power of America comes from, the history and culture of its own people. They were about as superficial as they could be. Had they been graded in an American high school civics course for their understanding, they'd have surely flunked. Have you ever noticed what a high percentage of their stories are about America, Americans, reference the US in one way or another? Many of them are. I think on the whole more than they reference Britain. It's an obsession with them.

Is BBC's hatred of Israel as noted by a former BBC employee Dr. Irene Lancaster (108) an extension of its jealousy and hatred of America or is it the other way around? There is no dispute that the US is Isreal's staunchest supporter to the point where its very existance depends on the US so a connection is entirely possible but it may have to do with a commonality of values, values they not only despise but don't even understand.

It will be my pleasure to watch the disappointment in BBC personnel as their EU darlings over on the continent of Europe continue in their death spiral collapse. That they will go down as "Old Europe" is not in doubt, but what is, is if they can persuade enough of their own countrymen to take the rest of Britain down with them.

  • 153.
  • At 06:42 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • John Archer wrote:

Is the BBC biased in favour of all those things dear to the left/liberal grauniad-reading bien pensantistas?

Is the Pope a Catholic?

I have no interest in what the Daily Mail says, nor the BBC and certainly not in giving your piece any credence. The evidence has been plain for all to see for decades. Yes, decades.

As far I am concerned the rot is so utterly ingrained that your once decent institution is now way beyond any hope of redemption. Case closed. The BBC should be broken up and any useful bits auctioned off.

Requiescat in pace. And good riddance.

  • 154.
  • At 06:44 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Stephen wrote:

A nice illustration of how the BBCs 'impartiality' allows the government to get away with whatever it wants:I watched 'Suez' last night and it made me smile.A war scheme cooked up by Eden,Ben Gurion and the French to re-occupy the Suez canal.If the British representative hadn't been cajoled into signing a piece of paper,there would have been NO RECORD.

When the Conservatives called Blair a liar over Iraq before the last election,the BBC was up in arms(!) about it.'You can't accuse the Prime Minister of lying without absolute proof!' --The well known Suez precedent tells us these operations are conducted by word of mouth.THERE WON'T BE ANY PROOF!!The people outraged over the obvious cobbled together falseness of the Government's 'intelligence' were denied an outlet by which to mock its absurdity.This cloak that deflects criticism of the Government also allows their frequent relaunches.The man in the street can,in my view, see the Emperor has no clothes but the lack of evidence stops BBC comment and denies the common sense man in the street an outlet to air his mockery.

  • 155.
  • At 06:47 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Was BBC biased during coverage of the Iraq invasion? It was the ONLY major television news network which DID NOT HAVE LIVE COVERAGE OF THE TEARING DOWN OF THE STATUE OF SADDAM HUSSEIN IN BAGHDAD, symbol of the regime's defeat and collapse. Did they have time to get there? Yes, it lasted for a good long while and they were right in Baghdad with the rest of the foreign journalists. And at the time, they were broadcasting directly to America as well.

I'd challenge anybody to watch the likes of Fox News for just 30 minutes and say just how much they think the BBC is biased...

I hope the BBC keeps up the good service for many generations to come or else there'll only ever be ads, junk, low-brow eye fodder, ads, junk, ads and junk infesting our airwaves.

  • 157.
  • At 07:06 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • J Westerman wrote:

I have no doubt that some media owners would accuse the BBC of bias to pressure it into their direction
A lot of heat would be taken off the BBC if its newsreaders, presenters and so on let us have the facts and kept their opinions to themselves. Just one irrelevant opinion can do a lot of damage.

BBC certainly IS biased. After it emerged that BBC admitted it is biased I thought you are going to change and to become impartial. Sadly MsBoaden's article tells us that nothing is going to change. Still we will be bombarded by coverage about how bad USA, and Israel are and how good Muslims are. BBC disappointed me.

BBC was once a role model of professional journalism but now it is only a role model for left-leaning liberals and it sets up new leftist standards to follow. There is little impartiality from your old good years. It could be seen by the difference between the number of letters complaining about your left-wing bias and the letters complaining about your right-wing bias. Has anybody complained about right-wing bias of BBC? I don't think so. But you are constantly accused of leftist bias so it means something and it should be better you acknowledge it and do something about this. People who praise BBC are in most cases liberals so it is no surprise that you get some encomium but your job is to serve all society not only liberals. Your job is to present balanced view without any favor to any side even if it is about your most cherished multiculturalism, liberalism or whatever.

Only Al-Jazeera is more anti-American and pro-Muslim than BBC. Therefore it is no surprise that many of BBC's journalists have been offered lucrative jobs within new Al-Jazeera International channel.

Your bias is not only in news coverage but also in your programmes and shows. You often defame Christianity, make jokes about pope, Christian habits and customs. Would you be so eager in defaming Islam in such way? Certainly not. Every time I hear a joke concerning Christian faith I want to hear a joke about Islam but I have never heard any. You must admit that such behavior is called a hipocrysy .

Political correctness is a problem in BBC as well. Recently I have seen a TV serial film produced by the BBC. In the episode a group of detectives hunted dangerous african voodo sect that killed african migrants who fled from the sect from Africa to the UK. The sect believed in african gods and was performing ritual killing of people in the name of those gods. Guess how victims and oppressors were portrayed. That's right, all victims were black and all oppressors were white Britons. BBC's political correctness resulted in ridiculous and unlikely script that there was an all white african sect. The sect knew which migrant was designed for a ritual killing in Africa and escaped to the UK. They used some african sorceries, found victims in UK and killed them. It was so political correct and simply stupid film that I couldn't watch it and turned off TV.

I am afraid ultra multiculturalism and extreme leftist ideology is actually BBC's agenda. I wish BBC had more balanced programmes where conservative views would have its place as well. BBC's extreme multiculturalism resulted in situations where violent ideologies are presented and promoted (violent Islam). Reportedly BBC's executives agreed to air Osama bin Laden's interview if he approached BBC claiming he should be given a chance to 'explain' his motives. I wonder if BBC would also be so eager to air Hitler's thoughts in similar hypothetical situation. Certainly Hitler would have had his points like Osama has. For me and for many people those two persons are similar in their evil they preach but for the BBC Osama bin Laden is somehow better and needs to be listened.

Even in local information column you report crimes when there is a case about white attacking black but you deliberately omit cases when black attacks white. It happened so many times that I am fed up with it. I am turning to the Internet where I can find much more valuable news which report truth and show real picture of events in Britain and the world.

Extreme multiculturalism within BBC like all extremes don't serve common good. All extremes always prove wrong sooner or later so it is time BBC reconsider its policy and implement some changes, assuming the BBC wants to change in the first place.

  • 159.
  • At 07:39 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Kev wrote:

Being a believer in centre right politics I firmly believe that the BBC has a slight left wing bias which displays itself in the disproportionate number of ethnic and gay presenters, bias against Israel and America etc etc. It may help if the BBC stopped using the Guardian as a recruiting tool, looked outside of the M25 and opened it's eyes to the fact that most people in the UK do not live in some multicultural wonderland, that most people in the UK are straight, hard working, middle class or working class white people and that what most people want is a balanced view, not the predudicial view of left wing Londoncentric luvvies.

  • 160.
  • At 08:01 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • mister scruff wrote:

To the commenters above complaining about the "right wing" bias of the Daily Mail , there is a very important difference between the Mail and the BBC.


You wont end up in jail if you refuse to pay for the Daily Mail.

Big difference.

  • 161.
  • At 08:07 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Kaveh Ghasemloo wrote:

Hi,
as someone who reads alot of online news, I agree that BBC is one of most fair news agencies we have today. But saying that they are not biased, is surely a lie.
I remember a program on BBC World which discussed Isreali Nuclear program and arsenal, ... I haven't seen the reporter scince it.
Also as an iranian, I feel that about some political problems, you implictly take side, when it's a matter of national interest for UK and majority of British. I don't see it a mistake.
I mostly trust what BBC reports on matters that are not part of national UK policy and interest, the problems that UK is not a side if, and internal UK reports, but for those which i said above, I completely see it's biased, though I don't think this post is the best place to mention them.

  • 162.
  • At 08:13 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Kaveh Ghasemloo wrote:

The people in BBC mostly are people with western style of life, system of values and thought, and this also do indirectly effect the way they look at problems. But surely it's inevitable for anyone, and the tolerance that BBC do show in understanding other culture's veiws is mentionable.

I really enjoy watching and reading BBC, nice work :)

  • 163.
  • At 08:36 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Nasko wrote:

the seminar was -challenging-???? you were sweating there and burdened with hard physical labour... makes me wonder if you are not biased to make yourself look damn better than what you actually did there... biased was the topic right? Yes, I'm biased too, and its normal, less biased, trying to be ultimately unbiased, but totally unbiased... perhaps that will be a stone. Yes a stone is unbiased. First of all BBC, BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation, is British, and it makes it pro-British biased, such as in news it covers. Sounds normal, well yes, but it is Britishly biased!

  • 164.
  • At 08:52 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Richard Norris wrote:

Of course the BBC is biased against many of the things that made this island nation great. I have repeatedly phoned through comments to your Northern Ireland call centre when British Citizens are described as Britons on Radio 4's Today programme. One is an ethnic group the other is a Nationality, they are not the same thing.
Richard

  • 165.
  • At 08:56 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Martin Yirrell wrote:

Somehow I think I might take your protestations of innocence more seriously if the BBC hadn't deliberately ignored 60000 complaints about the broadcasting of "Jerry Springer the Opera"! It seems to be OK on the BBC to be any sort of pervert but being a Christian is beyond the pale!

  • 166.
  • At 09:27 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • W McKinna wrote:

Of course the BBC is biased.
In every news-story that the BBC
doesn't like, the reporting policy is EPAN - eliminate the positive, accentuate the negative.
Just take the coverage of the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is sobering to think that if their attitude to the UK
and American efforts in those two countries was transposed back in time to the second World War, it is doubtful if the BBC would have even been on our side then. What a shameful thought to have about a
once much-respected organisation!

  • 167.
  • At 09:28 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • david wrote:

Many observers have criticised the Daily Mail for bias. Why should it not be biased? It is a private organisation that lives on its readers who choose to buy it, unlike you poor fools who must pay a license fee for BBC whether you like their bias or not.

For example,recently, in response to an Israeli spokesman's comment on Lebanon, the interviewer/newsreader actually said he did not agree and that what the spokeman had said was certainly not the view of the BBC. Who cares what the reporter or BBC think?

Save the comments for discussion programs, like the ridiculous debates where they present motions like "This house believes that Bush is a tyrant, Israel is bad, US is an aggressor etc etc.", motions whose outcome is a foregone conclusion!

  • 168.
  • At 10:18 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • George Chapman wrote:

There does seem to be some anti-american slant, but I still do trust the BBC news though, I often look to if first to confirm stories and was watching it carefully during 7/7 rather than other channels.

  • 169.
  • At 10:22 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • jp wrote:

Given the balance of comments here is it a coincidence that the link to this piece has disappeared from the front page?

  • 170.
  • At 10:51 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Jamie Nicol wrote:

Over the past 5 years, I have come to a point where I only watch/read BBC news in order to see just how biased they can be today. I simply no longer trust anything they say.

Their biases against America and Israel are astounding. I was in the US at the time of Hurricane Katrina. Upon my return to the UK I remember clearly that the BBC's reportage of that incident (it was all the dastardly neo-cons fault, apparently) made me sick to my stomach. Granted, it was not as bad as ITV, but then ITV do not rob me to the tune of £150 every year for a service I cannot trust or sanction. All I ever hear from the BBC is a constant drip-drip of sometimes subtle, often blatantly vicious anti-Israel and anti-US propaganda.

Every now and then of course we get the usual "we've looked into it, and we've found ourselves to be completely impartial!". Well, of course you did... how can you see yourselves as anything but? However all the recent independent reports have found the BBC guilty of left-leaning liberal bias, yet every time the BBC closes its eyes and ears and shouts "whitewash". How many more reports will there be before Ms Boaden is convinced?

I agree with Mark above. There is no hope for the BBC in its current form; it is lost in its own bias and unable to accept either that fact or any criticism of it. Either clear out the house and start again with professional journalists, or kindly stop robbing me of £150 a year for this shower.

  • 171.
  • At 10:54 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Horsley wrote:

I'm an ex-pat (although my Mother still pays the license fee) and I simply cannot believe how biased the BBC has become during the last 10-20 years.

Until the mid-eighties, the Beeb would always sway slightly left or right of centre depending on the government of the day, the phrase "don't bite the hand that feeds" seemed the order of the day.

I'm not sure exactly when the leftward drift began but I noticed it for the first time after moving abroad ten years ago. Having not seen a BBC news program for a couple of years it came as quite a shock when BBC World was added to our cable tv package.

A perceivably leftwards drift eight years ago seems to have accelerated at an ever quickening pace to the point that I now consider the output to be so biased that it's an embarrassment to myself as an Englishman. Norwegians frequently ask me why the BBC is so anti US/Isreal and pro Arab. What do you suggest I tell them?

As a worldwide broadcaster with a long history of honesty and impartiality you have the ability to influence hundreds of millions around the globe. You are abusing their trust.

I, and the rest of the world, expect the BBC to simply report accurately what is happening in the world. I, and the rest of the world, expect the BBC to simply report the truth and if that is not possible, don't bother reporting anything. I, and the rest of the world, have no time for opinion or your self-admitted "cultural-liberal bias".

Whilst the BBC editorial team insists on dismissively calling Conservatives "Tories" it can never claim to be impartial.

Has the BBC ever commissioned expensive internal surveys to determine if it's staff reflects the politics of the wider UK electorate or is still more concerned about merely ensuring the 'right ethnic mix'!?!

  • 173.
  • At 11:35 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Kevin Hobbs wrote:

It's true I think that the BBC shows more deference to some sections of society than others. This was demonstrated during the Danish cartoon row when BBC news refused to show pictures of the offending cartoon. However this was a dereliction of their duty to provide full and proper coverage of the story. A spokesman justified the decision on the grounds that they did not wish to cause offence to Muslims. Yet this is the same BBC which had recently screened the Jerry Springer opera in full knowledge of the offence it would give to many Christians. If you can justify giving offence for the sake of art, surely you can justify it for the sake of comprehensive reporting of news.

We in the north-east of England play the "spot the white person" game during the BBC news. Whenever film of a school, hospital or high street is shown there is never a white person to be seen. A few years ago a news item on British Rail came from Newcastle Central Station and the first person to walk towards the camera was black, at a time when there were virtually no people of Afro-Caribbean decent living in this area! Anyone landing here would never think any white people lived here.

  • 175.
  • At 11:54 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • linda cairns wrote:

I can trust the BBC for many things, but not impartial news coverage.

There is so much positive discrimination- and until that stops, and everyone employed is hired for their ability rather than their religion/colour, the news is going to keep hiding essential facts, and obfuscating the bigger picture.

This bias towards Muslims foe example, is riling much of the country. It's going to be what brings the current simmering tension to boiling point.

White people straight people, Christians and Jews and Atheists are beginning to feel disenfranchised and angry too.

  • 176.
  • At 11:55 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • jamie wrote:

Have have little to add to the debate except point out that with 20K employees with an unlikely normal distribution from british society it is highly improbable that the BBC or any other news organisation could be unbiased. It's mathematically so unlikely that this discussion is borderline stupid. The BBC is and always will be a subjective organisation. Anyone who argues otherwise has a limited intellect and a complete lack of understand of the concept of impartiality (concept you should note).

  • 177.
  • At 12:26 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • JES wrote:

1073 words; 5009 characters; 20 paragraphs - all that to say "We are not biased"...Hmmm...If it takes you that long to say something that simple, maybe, in fact, you can't say it...

  • 178.
  • At 01:04 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Heather Bishop wrote:

Why would a headscarf distract from the news? And by that extent, the turban worn by a Sikh male, or a yarmulke worm by a Jewish male? Or the ridiculous hairsprayed creation of your average newsreader?

Has anyone stopped for a moment to realise how ridiculous it is to focus so much on appearance, and whether or not a woman has a piece of cloth wrapped around her head when she reads the news off a piece of paper? Who cares!

One of the reasons so many women choose to wear it is to make clear that they want to be seen for who they are, not as an object. I would have thought that someone wearing a headscarf who clearly wants people to focus on what they have to SAY, rather than on their hint of cleavage or latest hairstyle, would be perfect for reading the news!

Comments that the headscarf is oppressive are highly ignorant, and are disrespectful to those who wear it and cherish it as a part of their identity. Many women choose to wear it, to the extent that some even go against the wishes of their family to do so, and who know that every time they step out of their house they may face abuse from those who misunderstand.

But I'm sure this will fall on deaf ears to those who cannot possibly look at anything from another angle. If you don't like the headscarf, don't wear it - but show respect for those who choose to do so. And perhaps ask them why, before you judge them.

Keep in mind that to some women, the more skin you show and the tighter your clothes are, the LESS liberated you are.

The other day I was in a room mostly full of scantily dressed non-Muslim women. We were asked to raise our hand if we considered ourselves a feminist. The ONLY ones who did so were myself, a man...and a woman in a HEADSCARF. There's something to think about.

  • 179.
  • At 01:56 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Maureen wrote:

I don't think the BBC is biased but being an American and reading about my country on the BBC is sometimes discomforting. I think the BBC SHOULD display an English point of view or report news that affects the UK. You can't be all things to all people and still do it well.

Our U.S. newspapers and press are very biased and slanted. We are forced fed what we should believe and think about a news event or we are fed the same story ad nauseum while real news goes unreported(O.J. Simpson/Lacey Peterson hype). A lot of people in the U.S. rely on the BBC for real news.

I love reading the BBC daily for health and science news that does not get reported in the U.S., epecially when it comes to drug side effects or controversial overprescribing of medications.
The U.S. has become a culture of pill poppers and the medical community and drug companies have strong lobbies that prevent criticism here.

I love your news magazine which displays the British humor I've come to love. We take ourselves too seriously in the U.S. and could learn a lesson. "Have Your Say" is a positive and sometimes funny way to see differing points of view on a topic. It is a step in the right direction for world peace.

The news in the U.S. is very slanted pro-Israel. The BBC just reports both sides of the Middle East conflict and gives voice to a large segment of listeners that would not have a voice in the U.S.. Maybe if we listened to both sides of a conflict we would not be in so many foreign lands today.

  • 180.
  • At 02:52 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • James wrote:

#3 - Phil Walker

Do you not think education comes into it?

  • 181.
  • At 08:41 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • John Logsdon wrote:

The BBC is still the best but I worry that standards have slipped. Like many people I follow the BBC via its website and when abroad via BBC World. Much of the programming is brilliant and to be commended.

But whenever I hear 'A BBC investigation ...' I wonder why the BBC is trying to ape the printed press. The once-respected Panorama programme has now reached new lows on, for example, the paedophile priests. Yes a lot of facts were presented but then very clear innuendo was made that the present Pope was implicated. It was messy and poor.

Sometimes this has terrible side effects, such as on poor David Kelly who was exposed because the BBC wanted an unverified piece for the Today programme. It was inevitable that the source would be identified - it was only a matter of time. Whether the facts were right or not is not the issue. The journalism was terrible.

The press in the UK is awful and driven by front-page bonuses but it seems some in the BBC are also following this agenda.

It is BBC News' job to inform not to make the news itself. And because the BBC is so influential, so powerful and would if it ran for Parliament win every seat, the responsibility is even greater.

Stick to proper journalism please, check your facts with independent sources and stop imitating a press that depends on the lowest common denominator of readers.

  • 182.
  • At 11:08 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • dmatr wrote:

It's interesting to note this is the only topic which has prompted Ms Boaden to post here since her initial opening post in June. A bit worried are we? Good.

Don't deny the problem, fix it.

Displaying the currently hidden edit history of your news.bbc.co.uk article pages would be a good start.

Releasing the Balen report should be obvious - how much of our money are you prepared to spend to prevent us reading a report we paid for?

Bringing the BBC website jobs section up to a professional standard (eg making the job pages search-engine friendly) so you are no longer reliant on advertising in the Guardian/any newspaper could also help.

Perhaps the only way to present impartial news free of the BBC's systemic biases will be to bring in external reporters. If so, do it.

Until the BBC accepts and implements its own editorial guidelines we're going to keep calling you on it. This problem is not going to disappear just because you are incapable of seeing it.

  • 183.
  • At 11:20 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • BCSaxman wrote:

This story has the markings of a hatchet job all over it. I don't know what else you'd call a news report based on a "secret meeting" that was streamed over the web, and yet was sourced anomously anyway. Clearly someone had an ax to grind here - as I understand it, the Mail isn't exactly known for it's own standards of impartiality (sort of like the Washington Times here in the US). Frankly it seems they used an honest attempt at self-appraisal by Beeb execs to club them over the head with.

As an American, I've always seen the BBC has been one of the few places the public - across the world - can go to and get the uncomfortable truth regarding many topics - world hunger, climate change, international affairs, etc ... To the extent they come across as 'liberal' (and I am beginning to loath the baiting use of that word), it is only b/c in this day and age so many other large media outlets are either blantantly 'conservative' OR so feckless as to say "Sky: is it blue or red? YOU decide." The latter is what we mostly have to put up with over here on this side of the Atlantic.

IMO the conservative elements of society have been wrong on so many things lately, that any honest reporting of the facts relating to those things is by definition going to appear to be 'left-friendly', especially to those sympathetic to the right in the first place. Using the above analogy, I could just as easily be accused of being a 'blue-lover' simply for saying what color the sky really is. These days it wouldn't even matter if my personal preference is red and I’m simply calling it like it is. The fact that I crossed 'party lines' would immediately earn me a pejorative label.

I think this is what's happening here. The BBC isn’t perfect - no news outlet is - but to the extent that I have found them to provide honest reporting on the important issues in the world today, they are one of the least 'imperfect' sources of information operating today.

As Helen Boaden put it above: "What really counts is not what a group of BBC executives and VIPs [the ones who did this self-assessment] think, or indeed what a few columnists [the ones now criticizing that attempt at self-assessment] believe. The important thing is whether or not our audiences think we are biased. And on that the evidence is robust. Asked recently which of the four main broadcasters they would term "trustworthy", nearly two thirds - 60% - cited the BBC. In contrast, 26% said ITV, 16% mentioned Channel 4, and 14% Sky [the UK version of FOX News]."

Hear, hear. Those number don't come from a bunch of rubes, but from people who have heard the commentary from both sides of the political fence, and watched the unfolding of events, and noticed who was blowing the most smoke.

So, for what it's worth coming from a Yank, I say "Good work, Beeb." And keep fighting the good fight.

  • 184.
  • At 11:24 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Rachel wrote:

I am always interested to note that whenever the BBC is accused of bias, there are often the same number of people accusing it of left-bias as there are accusing it of right-bias - this has tended to reinforce my opinion that the BBC works very hard to remain neutral.

It won't always succeed - there are people involved, who naturally have opinions on the stories they are covering (especially when they have more information from sources than they can reveal) - but unlike many news organisations there is usually context in the reporting, which makes a huge difference.

  • 185.
  • At 11:40 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Marian Andersdottir wrote:

We could be forgiven for thinking that we are an island off the Atlantic coast of the USA due to the BBC UK news programmes heavy bias towards reporting on issues and events in the USA. Very little reporting takes place on issues and events in Europe despite our being in Europe and (whether we like it or not) a member of the EC. The BBC should take a leaf from the book of Euronews who manage to strike a fine balance in its high quality reporting on issues and items not only in Europe but across the whole world.

From a Scotland perspective the BBC UK News programmes are heavily biased in favour of reporting on internal affairs issues and items that are relevant only to the rest of the UK - virtually no reporting is included within UK broadcasts on Scottish news issues and items despite the fact that Scotland has approximately 10% of the UK population. BBC Scotland "regional news" (Note that Scotland is not recognized as one of the Countries that make up the UK despite its being so) dwells in a parochial world which is biased in favour of reports on murder, mayhem and two west coast of Scotland based soccer teams whilst Scotlands really important issues are normally relegated to a back seat. The quicker there are separate "Scotland at 6", "England at 6" etc News programmes with dramatic quality improvements in reporting the better for all of us as preserving the status quo is only serving to cause deep resentments between the peoples of the countries within the UK.

  • 186.
  • At 12:15 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Tom wrote:

Live streamed on the web, to whom? Where is the recorded file?

Independent and neutral news companies, everything is just for the money, do not exit.
Actually all of them are right wing among them Associated Newspapers Ltd and the BBC. As usual it´s a fight of who is more biased.

The BBC shows only entertainment stories, not anything else. On the website there are never or rarely direct quotes, but always right wing analysis and views from the columnists.
One example of many is that of the "documentary" Will Israel bomb Iran? Which was produced by Israeli film-maker Noam Shalev and is full of Israeli propaganda.
"News" channels are showing only a few short reports on a day, mostly entertainment stories.
The anchors on BBC TV are making jokes of the news on air and utter their opinions about it.

BBC= Biased Broadcasting Cooperation

  • 187.
  • At 12:24 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Jayne Black wrote:

She says "There was for example a heated debate about the whether or not a Muslim newsreader should be allowed to wear a headscarf."

Please watch your own output then!

I have seen at least one BBC news reporter appear on screen in muslim head gear. I believe it was one of the 2 irish reporters.

And what about the crying while reporting Arafat's funeral?

Impartiality? Sadly missing from large areas of the BBC.

Attached a response to Ms. Boaden article. The acceptance of this comment will, of course, be a further indication of BBC openness.

On a personal note - I had a lot of respect for BBC for the sterling work it has doen during the Cold War years, and now I am losing it at an alarming rate.

There is no news organisation without its biases. The best that can be done is minimise and make explicit known biases, together with an explicit aim of fairness and accuracy.

Unfortunately a commitment to fairness and accuracy is no protection from allegations of bias. The BBC is a case in point here. In fact the BBCs efforts (whatever you think of them) to provide that kind of 'this-is-what both-sides-say, you-decide' format, perversly invites charges of bias. Those who already have a concrete position on a topic, don't take kindly to being presented a range of opinions without explicit approval/opprobrium of those opinions. They see this as bias.

Reading through the responses, those kind of comments are obvious. They excoriate the BBC for it's 'anti-Israel' bias and demand the release of a 2 yr old report ('Balen Report') that they desperately hope will back up what they already fervantly believe - that the BBC is biased against Israel. Some of them will have been lead to this site by the ironically named (but not deliberately so) 'HonestReporting', which has just emailed it's readers telling them to join in this forum and tell the BBC what they think.

The irony is that as they already believe the BBC is terribly biased, they would rarely, if ever, go to the BBC for their news.

Just an example of the rod the BBC makes for it's own back in trying to live up to a declared standard (which it should), and of the trials in dealing with organised groups who try to take advantage of such standards, to push their own preferred views.

  • 190.
  • At 01:25 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Matt Munro wrote:

As a watcher, listner and frequent reader of BBC output I am sorry to say I have to agree with the Dail Mail (and I never thought I'd say that !). You give a disproportionate amount of coverage to Muslims, who comprise ony 3% of the population, and yet are frequently the subject of web site "stories", polls and HYS debate. My son uses the CBBC website and I was astonished to discover that the harvest festival has been turned from a Christian ritual into a Diwali celebration. You give similiarly skewed reports about criminal justice, womens issues and education. Always taking the stance that the problem is society and casting the real problem (the criminally inclined, the broken family or the uncooperative child) as "the victim". You constantly push a minority driven, feminist, liberal agenda. In reality there is no such thing as "unbiased" reporting - all opinions are value laden - but the political correcness of BBC output is dull, predictable and bordering on self-parody.

  • 191.
  • At 01:31 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • J.G. wrote:

You say that the meeting was not secret, and that it was streamed over the web, Yet I can find no link to it on the BBC site. Perhaps you could provide one.

PS the idea of a blog is to interact with the posters. The Editors blog has turned into a ‘Have your say’ forum, with perhaps just a little less censorship. 183 posts as I sit here now, and not a word from Ms Boaden in answer to the many posts pointing out the bias at the BBC.

  • 192.
  • At 01:50 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Ramblingsid wrote:

The BBC is by no means perfect and it does strike me that its news coverage in recent years has become, like that of many other news organisations, more superficial.

I also tend to the view that its journalists are perhaps less skilled than they were a decade or so ago. Less literate, less educated, less rounded in terms of knowledge and experience.

Frankly I suspect that this may be because journalists these days are less committed to quality journalism than they are to their own fat salaries.

But the notion that the BBC news is intentionally biased is as silly now as it was twenty or thirty years ago when it was first suggested by those on the extreme right of politics.

I always took the view that if Norman Tebbitt was upset by the BBC's coverage then the dear old Beeb must have been doing something right!

And the same goes for the ridiculous splutterings of today's right wing apologists. If the BBC appears to them to be more biased now than it did ten years ago that may not be because the BBC has changed but because they have become more right wing and more intolerant in their views.

In my view the broad consensus of people's outlook in the UK is that they are tolerant, fair-minded and generous spirited - and the BBC news coverage reflects that fact. It's no surprise that the hard Right finds that objectionable.

  • 193.
  • At 02:00 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Keith Thomas wrote:

I'm not sure if I can respond again to a number of issues but here goes.

I think my real bug-bear is on how the Iraqi Survey Groups findings were reported.

I took the trouble of downloading the said document from the BBC and promtly started reading.

This is an invalubale historical document,providing details of how Saddam ran Iraq,the Oil for Food programme,as well as the findings on WMD.

As I was reading the headline "No WMD's found in Iraq" flashed up.

It is by no means ironic that I was reading "Iraq maintained the means to make mustard gas in 3 months" and a little further on "Iraqi High Command believed that Saddam had something 'special' (WMD) and was being held in reserve for the defence of Baghdad".

I'm not even talking about the undiscovered labs run by IIS,the effective end of UN sanctions,the continued R&D work,or the human experiments that were carried out-all in breach of UN resolutions.


Hold on I thought-am I reading something different here?

I put my complaint to the Beeb,to be told Jerermy Paxman would be interviewing Dr Kay on the findings in Newsnight.

Great I thought, Jerermy Paxman with Robert Harris has documented the history of WMD(including Iraq)-bound to be a good interview.

Did any of the issues or items come up.

No,but plenty to "imply" that the UK/US Governments were "lying" about Saddams intentions and the threat to the region.

And not long afterwards was the "sexy document and Dr Kelly affair"

Sure the intelligence was wrong (its not often right), but instead of focusing on WHY it was wrong and what happened to the WMD's,and what lessons can be learn't,you looked for a "smoking gun" to discredit the Beebs ex-pal, Tony Blair.

Now this has become "fact" that there were no WMD (dispite the caveates both in this report,Hutton and Butler) and therefore Blair and Bush "lied".

Funny that Hutton points out that often the media is looking for the "sexy" headline,rather than the "meat' of the findings.Telling is the line regarding the JIC reports before the war that journalists thought "there was nothing new in them that wasn't already believed".

Even more telling was the Daily Mail screaming about the '45 minute' on it's headline,when it was THEY who was "cherry picking" the bits they liked.(45 minute claim is a tiny part of the JIC assesment-its the media that has made the mountain out of the molehill).

As for the subsequent additions (including I might add the continuing findings of "old" stockpiles of chemical weapons") don't even get reported on in detail.

Butler,Hutton,9/11 commision,7/7 findings all have had the same "brush over" treatment.

And when journalists imply that "underneath the careful language" to mean that "ordinary folk" can't read Government or NGO reports,then my intelligence is insulted.

I'm no aplogist of Bush and Blair,but come on.

Now I find out the Beeb is in the dock over it's reporting on Isreal.

What is going on BBC?

Helen,should I be calling my lawyer?

  • 194.
  • At 02:03 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Ed wrote:

Wow, what a lot of comments!

Michael (#183): You make some very good points. You're right that the thing about offering both sides of an argument to someone who already has their mind made up is that they're going to disagree with half of what you say. That's why people read the daily mail, or the guardian or whatever paper agrees with their view of the world. People don't want their preconceptions challenged.

I don't believe the BBC has any bias. Sure certain biases may 'get through' the editorial process, certainly there are some biases that are so much part of society that we don't even question them, for example terrorism or paedophilia.

A news article can be biased due to poor reporting or research, not necessarily because the BBC is institutionally biased and that there's a secret "Anti-Israel" policy that all BBC employees have to agree to and not tell anyone about...

Anyway, keep up the good work!

  • 195.
  • At 02:30 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Mark E wrote:

One clear example of the BBC's bias is their unwillingness to link to the BNP web site - if you check past blogs you will see the editors admit to this.

The BBC might not like it but the BNP are a legal political party in this country, and as such should be given the same treatment as other political partys.

However, the only time I can think of when the BBC covered the BNP is when they did an undercover report to try and find racism.

Can we expect the BBC to do an undercover report to expose corruption in the New Labour government?

  • 196.
  • At 02:42 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

I'm still waiting for BBC to concede that Israel has a right to exist. A right to defend itself against continual attacks from its neighbors who want to destroy it. A right to use whatever means are necessary to defend its population even if it means building a wall which might inconvenience others. Even if it means building settlements on territory which it captured because it was so indefensible without it that it was an irresistable temptation for its enemies to start three of the four wars to destroy it. Even if it means going after those in other countries who are plotting day and night to kill its citizens.

I am still waiting for BBC to concede that America has a right to exist. That its people have a right to elect George Bush as their President. That it has a right to defend itself against those who would destroy it. That it has a right to use the extraordinary means necessary to protect itself because it is such an open and vulnerable society on a large land mass which can easily be attacked once terrorists gain entry.

From BBC's incessant attacks on Americs's government, its very civilization which it clearly doesn't understand, it would seem it feels America should still be a colony of Great Britain and run not by President Bush but from Bush House.

The great American patriot Patrick Henry wrote in his famous pamphlet "Common Sense" that it was illogical for an island to rule a continent. He said nothing about the inverse. Guess what BBC, if America is an Empire as you proffered, then Britain is one of its colonies. And as a ruler, America is a far more benevolent one than Britain ever was to its colonies including America. If it weren't, BBC would have gotten its collective ears boxed a long time ago.

  • 197.
  • At 03:05 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • jonathan klineberg wrote:

The BBC is as politically biased as a nine shilling note. The retort that complaints are as numerous from the 'right' as from the 'left' is as condescending and annoying as their smugness.
The political correctness of, say RADIO 5, renders the station, boring, predictable and utterley bleak. 'TODAY' the BBC flagship news programme is so transparently biased, especially in its fawning of left leaning politicians, as to be sometimes embarassing
.......And the exception, the excellent 'Newsnight', which shows up to any intelligent viewer just how flawed BBC news and current affairs has generally become.
And the thing is, I am politically on the left, not the right.

  • 198.
  • At 03:05 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • J.G. wrote:

You say that the meeting was not secret and was streamed across the web. Could you please provide a link to this stream?

Or is it secret after all?

  • 199.
  • At 03:18 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • tim wrote:

I'd be really interested to hear from all those who criticise the BBC of anti-American and anti-Israeli bias as to which TV stations they regard as unbiased.

Personally I always try to get a view from several different news sources. I also accept that I have a bias myself. It'd be nice to see some of the more vituperative posters here admit the same.

  • 200.
  • At 03:52 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • David W wrote:

The BBC can't have a bias towards left-wing or multiculturalist views. If it did, it would at least be expected to have some black or visible ethnic minority editors. All of those pictured on this blog appear to be rather white to me.

  • 201.
  • At 04:06 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • LA wrote:

While I have a personal beliefs and prejudices I own them and can recognize that I bring them to all the discussions I am involved with. I find it absurd that the BBC cannot acknowledge their people and their culture are the same.
What is the perspective you think the BBC conveys about the US?
What is the perspective you think the BBC conveys about Israel?
What are the word choices made when communicating these countries, are their neutral or do they contain sometimes not so subtle adjectives framing and including a perspective?
To suggest that the BBC has no bias against the US or Israel would be deny your own nature. I read the BBC to see just how bad the bias is and how much hatred and prejudice is being perpetuated.

  • 202.
  • At 04:35 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Ray wrote:

I consider myself just an ordinary run of the mill Mr Average type person - somewhat like millions of others - and I consider the BBC biased - end of story.

  • 203.
  • At 05:13 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Keith Thomas wrote:

Why is it assumed that everybody who critisises the Beeb is "right wing"?

The same goes with those who supported the toppling of Saddam is a "war monger"?

I'm not "right wing" or an apologist for Bush,but I have held a long standing (since 16th March 1988) and personal reason for supporting military action,although I consider myself "centre left".

I read various news sources,pride myself on how I approach the democratic process (I actually READ government and NGO reports,and even chatted to local MP's),always vote and enjoy hearing others opinions.

But because the Beeb (and others) brand those who don't have the "Micheal Moore worldview" as "right wing" or "neo-con" then its no wonder people have become fed up with politics.

Raading Berbers "Jihad v Mcworld" it makes me think that he is right....

It's a sad day when a PM goes on a political debate show to be booed and hissed as though politics is pantomime.

Thanks Beeb for reducing democracy to a farce....

  • 204.
  • At 05:13 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Melba Dagan wrote:

The fact that BBC is heavily biased against Jews, Christians and the Bible does not surprise me. In fact, the only news station that is even reasonably unbiased and fair is Fox News. All others share the same view of the religious world which seems to be that religion is the cause of all the world's problems. In fact, the opposite is true. Hatred of God and the Bible is the cause of all the world's problems. If everyone would keep the ten commandments there would be very few if any problems anywhere.

The lack of truth and honesty in reporting is shameful and disgusting. But, of course, the lack of truth and honesty in people is also disgusting. News reporters no longer are content to report what is happening...they desire to mold your thoughts to match their own. So, who can trust them?

We live in perilous times and all countries and people should be cautious and thoughtful about where all this turmoil can lead and stop fanning the flames. To quote an American founding father, Thomas Jefferson, "I fear for my country when I remember that God is just." The world powers that rule today are built on the ruins of world powers that ruled the past and were brought down. And, today's technology may not prove to be a savior, but rather a destroyer.

So, maybe the BBC and other news stations should just report the news. The people are smart enough to draw their own conclusions...if they are given a chance to hear the truth. If someone wants to form opinions, let him go into politics. If he or she wants to report the news, then let him do that without bias.

  • 205.
  • At 05:25 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Mark E wrote:

In response to David (comment 200), the BBC has a least one minority editor - here is the blog entry where he is introduced:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2006/10/18/index.html.

I do have one question for the editors as the concept of BBC impartiality is now "in dispute" (quite clearly as can be seen from this topic), will the BBC now to qualify itself as the "so-called" impartial BBC?

After all this was the reason the BBC editors gave as to why it qualifies the "so-called" war on terror.

I personally feel that the BBC's constant denial that they are biased is the only reason I would have TO distrust them. There bias is clear to most, yet rather then put their hands up and admit it, they try and claim to be impartial, suggestion either that they are lying to us, or that they are deluded - neither of which helps to build trust in a news source.

  • 206.
  • At 05:46 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Howard wrote:

In a recent entry in this very blog, the BBC summarizes the "style guide" that it uses to constrain the reports of middle east correspondents covering the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

If you want to read an example of BBC bias, read the style guide, which essentially promotes one view of history and current events over another; then go through the readers' comments.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2006/10/new_style_guide.html#commentsanchor

The BBC has not chosen to respond to any of these very specific critiques.

  • 207.
  • At 05:52 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Howard wrote:

(By the way, I would never claim that the BBC is biased on EVERY issue. There are plenty of areas in which I don't see any particular bias, or the bias that is evident is not extreme and seems to shift over time. Your coverage of the middle east is extremely unusual in that the biases are deep, blatant and consistent)

  • 208.
  • At 05:56 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Paul Nash wrote:

I am dependent on impartial news...

Alas the BBC has abused its latitude of fair and impartial reporting that it has hard earned over the past 60 years.

I can no longer trust the BBC reports at face value.

Shame.

  • 209.
  • At 06:11 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Toby wrote:

An important step is to eliminate one-source reporting, which the BBC has tried to do.

But a big problem is call-in shows: Sometimes the hosts and their guests do not know how to respond to, or correct the mistaken ideas of, those listeners who repeat conspiracy theories and other non-factual material on the air, some of it incendiary and dangerous.

  • 210.
  • At 06:35 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • R.MUGGERIDGE wrote:

WHY does the BBC not make it clear that it is NOT publishing all the comments it receives on this topic?
WHY does Ms Boaden proclaim "BBC open to criticism".. & then deliberately have some comments censored/banned from publication?
Perhaps the BBC will be able to explain this "BIAS" to the Broadcasting authority?

The BBC is blatantly biased, its coverage of the recent war between Israel and Hezbollah via lebanon was so obvious. It was a puppet in the hand of Hezbollah spin doctors and I despise the fact that I have to pay a tax to such an organisation which is anything but impartial

  • 212.
  • At 07:43 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Daniel wrote:

I know plenty of Americans who listen to the BBC, either through NPR, or PBS, and not a single one has complained about the BBC being "anti-American". And that includes a couple of lifelong Republican voters. It seems like the vast majority of people making this complaint are either not American, or work for cerian other right wing media outlets.

Funny That

Helen, please learn to distinguish between every day and everyday. Thanks.

BBC is good quality. And everything is biased. Everywhere. But the BBC stands head and shoulders above everything else. Any bias there is minimal.

Quality. Keep it up.

  • 214.
  • At 08:23 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Patrick B. Leek wrote:

I think that BBC is as bias as Fox News, Al Jazeera or any other news media with an agenda.

Fair and balance is a pipe dream but some seem to try more than others.

  • 215.
  • At 08:35 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Craig Taylor wrote:

The BBC is biased to the Left, has an anti-American agenda, can not be trusted etc.?

By means of the links below let me demonstrate the BBC

a) telling blantant lies
or
b) reporting that is of such a low standard as to be inexcusable.

Let me explain;

First a link to a search of "Cuba" on the BBC website.

http://search.bbc.co.uk/cgi-bin/search/results.pl?scope=all&edition=i&q=cuba

On the right of the page, a link to BBC Audio and Video, "Lessons in public services" dated 14 Sept 06.

Lessons in public services is a Newsnight video, looking at some of the "best public services in the world".

First up on the Newsnight video is, I quote, "A health care system in Cuba which produces some of the best outcomes in the world". Listen and watch yourself if you like.

Now take a look at

http://www.therealcuba.com/Page10.htm

and see for yourself how poor the health system is in Cuba. Poor isn´t the word, it is absolutely hellish. (The health system for ordinary Cubans that is, not that elite health system for western tourists, Communist dictators and gullible western media types).

I wouldn´t want my pet rat treated in such poor and disgusting "so-called" "health care" facilities.


The BBC just doesn´t get it. Try

"Castro: Profile of the great survivor" at

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/244974.stm

"Good medical care is freely available for all, there is 98% literacy, and Cuba's infant mortality rates compare favourably with western nations."

No, health care is clearly not good nor available.

No, infant mortality rates do NOT compare favourably with the west.

Statistics tell us that 7 of 1000 live births in the U.S die as an infant, yet only 6 in 1000 in Cuba. Brilliant Cuba, eh?

A premature baby in the U.S. with only a 50% chance of survival is recorded as a live birth and treated with the best medical care available. 50% die.

In Cuba it doesn´t matter what treatment the baby gets, because in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines is not recorded as a live birth, even though the baby was in reality alive. Not so brilliant now, eh? I can´t be bothered quoting links. Look it up if you interested. Hint. Something to do with babies weighing less than 1000g at birth.


And a reminder of the Paxman voiceover from BBC Newsnight? Ok.

"A health care system in Cuba which produces some of the best outcomes in the world".

www.therealcuba.com is not a one off website, nor is it a fiction of the evil Amerikkan Right. There are any number of similar websites out there run by Cuban exiles that show what a truly awful country Dictator Castro is in charge of.

So BBC, which is it?

a) lies?
b) bad reporting, quoting Saint Castro´s Ministry of Truth without question?

Either way, Helen, a) or b) doesn´t really matter, neither is acceptable.

But it may explain why many think the BBC is biased to the Left, has an anti-American agenda, can not be trusted etc.

Best Regards,

Craig


Ps. Couldn´t resist this one.

BBC website - Country profile: Cuba

And how does a profile of Cuba start? First sentence of the first paragraph..

"Cuba has survived more than 40 years of US sanctions.."

  • 216.
  • At 08:44 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Joe wrote:

Helen Boaden reports that the Brtish public feels that the BBC is more "trustworthy" than three other broadcast news media. She then suggests that this is "robust evidence" that BBC news coverage is "impartial." Even if her report about perceived trustworthinesss of the BBC is 100% valid, it's important to note that trustworthiness is NOT the same as and is often inconsistent with being impartial. For, example, an advocate for a cause may be trustworthy but is by definition not impartial.

Thus Ms. Booth uses faulty logic. She may expect her readers to simply accept this logic because they feel that she and the BBC are trustworthy. Or she may assume that her readers are uninterested in or incapable of objective, critical thinking. All three of these characteristics are important for the survival of biased news media that claim to be impartial.

  • 217.
  • At 09:21 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • David W wrote:

If the BBC is doing such a great job on the impartiality front, could you perhaps explain why it was necessary to establish an "impartiality review panel" of your Middle East coverage? Further, could you explain why you found it fit to reject most of the recommendations of said "impartiality review panel"?

  • 218.
  • At 10:06 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Simon wrote:

The BBC has an obvious liberal tendency. As a clue take a look at which parties ex BBC journalists end up in or which parties they came from. Another clue is the air time given to liberal or left-leaning quangos, charities and NGOs compared to those representing more right-leaning sentiments such as commercial organisations. My impression is that this has not been an institutional tendency but more of an infiltration, but that it is becoming institutional as people climb up the ladder of the organization. Things may have gone too far already, in which case the BBC will grow increasingly apart from its audience.

Personally, I think there is too much BBC comment, innuendo, speculation and gossip in the news and less actual news. This is akin to censorship as important events are squeezed out in favour of the latest BBC campaign or high-horse. The even bigger problem is that these BBC views do not chime with the majority out there. I say make a start and sack all the journalists who insist on commenting on issues. Bring back straight reporting. Take more news feeds. Let us hear unbiased facts and not BBC spin.

Can anybody dispute the generalization that companies tend to be right of centre and journalists tend to be left of centre? The trouble is that the journalists have the transmitters. The BBC should always be guarded against this tendency. They should act now before it is too late.

I get the BBC over the web in the US. I don't even bother listening to US news because if you'd like examples of bias, that's where you can find them. The BBC is so unbiased, it is sometimes a tad maddening.

The only issue where they seem to have fallen down is coverage of Tony Blair. Even though the BBC reporter who got the PM's ire up turned out to be right on the issues, the BBC seems to have allowed itself to be intimidated. All investigative reporting on anything to do with Blair seems to have stopped since that incident.

  • 220.
  • At 10:50 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Edward Kosmal wrote:

Helen Boaden, Director of BBC News

Helen three comments:

1.Please send me your personal email address so I can contact you in the future.

2.Next time your serious BBC seminars are streamed live on the web, please notify me so that I will not have to get the content of the proceedings secondhand.

3."The hypothetical situations are not real" Why not? Why waste time discussing hypotheticals when there are mountains of REAL bias stories?

Regards, Edward Kosmal, 10-25-06

  • 221.
  • At 11:10 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Hossein Derakhshan wrote:

But the standards in the World Service sections are apparently much lower.

Look how for example the BBC Persian is totally biased for some opposition figures in Iran without being impartial:

No Wonder Why Iran Has Filtered BBC Persian's Website
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/postglobal/hossein_derakhshan/2006/10/no_wonder_why_iran_has_filtere.html

  • 222.
  • At 11:28 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Annie K wrote:

Following the London terror attacks, the BBC admitted loading the studio audience with a disproportionate number of Muslims for Questions of Security. Among the complaints, one viewer wrote angrily:

I do not pay my license fee to watch an unrepresentative Muslim audience like this.

The BBC's response?

In order to ensure a range of voices on these issues, the studio audience contained a higher proportion of Muslims in the audience than in the population as a whole - around 15% of the audience as opposed to 2.7% of the country as a whole...

This isn't the first time the BBC got in hot water for loading the audience. In 2001, anti-American invective from a Question Time audience discussing the 9/11 attacks got so out of hand that news director Greg Dyke had to apologize to US ambassador Philip Lader, who participated in the show.

Can anyone imagine a BBC program on Israel loaded with Israelis and Jews?

  • 223.
  • At 11:41 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Brian Cane wrote:

The BBC creates bias in UK political news or comment by the way a piece or programme is presented, especially in the selection of material to cover, and the selection of persons to interview.

It may not be too much of an exaggeration to say that TV is the chief determinant of political opinions of the UK electorate today, since TV is still the major source of information and impressions for most of the population.

Therefore the BBC should be especially careful in the selection of material and interviewees.

A case in point is the coverage of UK political parties. I voted Liberal Democrat like 6 million others, so I want to hear the Lib Dem view on issues of the day. I am not saying that the BBC never includes Lib Dem politicians or views in TV programmes or news reports.

But generally the BBC TV includes only Labour and Conservative views and interviewees, giving the impression that only Labour and Conservatives are credible, or have anything worth-while to say, and that the Lib Dems are inactive as an opposition.

One recent examplel: taxation policy and the environment. Has anyone heard from BBC TV of the Lib Dem views on this ? Yet it is the major detailed Lib Dem policy annnouncement of recent months.

Brian Cane

  • 224.
  • At 12:02 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Horsley wrote:

In answer to the person that said the BBC must be impartial because the number of posts both for and against were about the same. Can you actually count? According to my reckoning I'd put it at 5-1 in favour of biased BBC.

Can any of the Editors on this blog actually explain to me why the BBC used public money to fund the creation of the "Balen" report in 2003 looking at possible anti-Isreali bias only to use even more public money in an attempt to supress the report from being made public. Obviously the BBC doesn't like the findings, I wonder why. But I have to ask the question, just what is inside that report that so frightens the Beeb that it's using every method available to stop it reaching the public. It sounds worrying to me. Any comments from the BBC as to why they're using the license fee this way?

  • 225.
  • At 01:44 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • B. wrote:

In response to the 47th post by Dean Whitebread: Yes, far many more Palestinians have died in the recent months than Israelis. However, this is not due to any action of the Israelis. It is due to a civil war currently taking place within the Gaza strip, in which Israel is doing naught but patrolling their own border to make sure the armed struggle does not enroach into sovereign Israel -- certainly an understandble course of actions. Israel has not enroached into the 100% Palestinian controlled Gaza Strip for any matter that does not directly concern an Israeli citizen's well-being, such as the search for Cpl. Gilad Shalit. As this civil war is entirely the Palestinian's own affair, it is rightly left to the Palestinians to take care of as they will. (Even if Israel were able to alleviate the situation in any way, I have my doubts the Palestinians would welcome their interference.)
Your statement of raw numbers without any context is a perfect example of the "unbiased" reporting of the BBC, particularly when it comes to Middle Eastern affairs.
Rule of thumb -- a fact taken outside its context no longer retains its status of fact, as facts are understood relative to their context.

  • 226.
  • At 01:51 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Joe wrote:

For a very long time I was complaining to BBC about their biased reporting of very specific events and reminding them of their responsibilities towards the public paying the disgraceful window tax on TV sets to go for BBC payroll. Unlike the American media BBC does not have an obligation to respond to any form of a civilized criticism. I generally never have my comments published on the BBC World service, no explanation given as to their reasons for it upon my inquiries. It is an organization out of control, with the government not interested in making them behave correctly, and the result is obvious: they do as they wish and it’s too bad for you if you are not happy about them. If a public company can be made responsible for embezzling public money BBC must be made doubly responsible for embezzling both public money and public trust.

  • 227.
  • At 07:26 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Elliot wrote:

The BBC is biased, the reports of the meeting are correct and Helen doesn't actually deny them, she simply tries to spin them in a less damaging form. The BBC is biased, I can't think of anyone I know who hasn't remarked on the fact - most now get their news elsewhere.

  • 228.
  • At 07:56 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Charles Q Blair wrote:

I am a Scot living in Australia and I can tell you that I miss my inbiased BBC - the news here is deplorable and insular - at least with the BBC we get a world picture and one that has no real opinion, just the facts.

If people think it is bias, then I say everything is - as each reporter must put his personal spin on it - since they are only human and are reporting it.

SHould we have to pay via a licence - yes and if people knew the crap here with countless adverts - at least 3 through Neighbours - perhaps they would think more and stop commenting without knowing what they in their bias way are commenting on!

Viva la BBC!

  • 229.
  • At 08:56 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Rob wrote:

You can't wriggle out of this Helen - and it's a shame that it took the equally biased Daily Mail to expose you. Your left/liberal bias is as blatant as the Mail's the other way.
James Naughtie referring to Labour as "we"? Muslim panel? And you claim impartiality. Reminds me of Abe Lincolns quote about fooling people.

  • 230.
  • At 09:11 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ian Logan wrote:

I'm astounded that you cannot see the liberal, anti-American, anti-Christian bias of your news organisation.

  • 231.
  • At 09:15 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Dear Helen

How many times have we heard the BBC talk about the police being “intuitionally racist?” The police are now facing up to that fact, now will those at the BBC face up to the fact that it is intuitionally biased?

The public are feed up of you being:

• Anti - American
• Anti - Christian
• Anti – Israeli
• Anti - Right
• Pro - Left
• Pro – Moslem
• Worshiping the PC God(s)

I don’t care what the Daily Mail says about you.

We want the Balen report released in to the public because we want to know the truth.

Kind regards

Mark

  • 232.
  • At 10:09 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Jonathan wrote:

To me the BBC seems far more biased than it was even just a few years ago, perhaps it is in the nature of the archaic way it is set up and that now needs a dramatic 21st century overhaul.

In beliefs stories are always anti Christian and Jewish and pro Islamic and atheism, some may agree with the bias but there's little doubt that it is there.

Despite all claims to the contrary it is very biased in favour of London and the Home Counties over the rest of the country. Just check the weather as an example, the Midlands doesn't seem to exist and when the whole country is referred to it is in reality just London.

All sorts of things are also biased and the truth is true impartiality is very hard to acheive but it is not good when Sky or ITN seem less biased than the BBC news.

The biggest problem of all recently has been that the BBC has never recovered from its opposition to the Iraq war failing and losing its case and its head. Though Iraq is very important this has led to blinkered reporting where it headlines every day no matter what the other news and it constantly takes an anti American and anti Labour/Blair stance whether they are right or wrong.

Perhaps it is now time to be radical. The link to the state is archaic and defunct. Time to remove the state from broadcasting, that way you don't have some caving in to political pressure and others going against sensible politics to prove their independance. Remove government from the BBC entirely, make it fully independant. End the licence fee and let the BBC raise money by subscription, merchandising and advertising. I believe such a BBC would compete very well with ITV, Sky and others in such a market and if in the unlikely event it did not perhaps it would not be worthy of continuing anyway.

  • 233.
  • At 10:39 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Dave wrote:

The anti-US and left-leaning bias is objectionable, but The anti-Israel bias is much worse because Israel is fighting for its very existence and is a real victim of disgraceful bias in the world's media. When you compare the world-wide reputation of the BBC of the past 2 generations with what it has become in the past 10 years it is a terribly sad reflection on Great Britain.

  • 234.
  • At 10:45 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • D Sanders wrote:

The question is the BBC biased..... the answer was loud and clear yesterday on the 6pm news when they showed a report about the taleban in Afghanistan and gave them prime time TV coverage explaining how our troops had killed two little girls and left a grandfather to look after his two grandsons, and then went on to say the people in Afghanistan are asking who are their friends. Everyone I know who watched the report were horrified by how insensitive and unsuppoting the bbc are.This would not of happened in WW2, the bbc wouldn't have gone to Adolf and his friends to ask for their perspective on the war.The whole country got behind our young men and women and showed their support for the difficult and dangerous job they were doing. We are at war now, and don't forget we are there at the request of the Afghanistan goverment.I'm sure the taleban had young men queuing up to join after that report.My 18 year old son is their doing his duty for his country, risking his life day in day out, where are all the reports saying what a good job our brave troops are doing, no they are only ever interested in the bad storys because the good ones just don't make news!BBC YOU SHOULD HANG YOUR HEADS IN SHAME!!

  • 235.
  • At 11:20 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Simon J George wrote:

I would love to hear from Helen again - it seems from the responses so far that she has not really made a convincing case...

  • 236.
  • At 11:31 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Paul Weston wrote:

Why do you find it cheering that 60% of people find the BBC trustworthy? 40% is a massive amount who do not trust you. If you were genuinely impartial you may find 80-90% trusted you. There is no smoke without fire. You have an agenda, I know it, you know, it yet you rely on fooling some of the people some of the time.The coming consequences of the ideoligies you promote will not sit well with you, but by then it will be too late. Stop reading the Guardian and start reading history books.

  • 237.
  • At 11:54 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Elitist wrote:

Well, well, well.

Looks what we have here.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=412572&in_page_id=1770


BBC - you've been busted.

  • 238.
  • At 12:00 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

If the BBC thinks the Daily Mail claims are false, why don’t they take the Mail to court and prove these allegations are false? After all, they are willing to go to court to stop the Balen report from being released to the public?

Kind regards

Mark

  • 239.
  • At 12:58 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • J.G. wrote:

Still no link to the web cast of the meeting. Only in the Orwellian BBC can a meeting that no-one is able to watch be called not secret.

Ignorance is strength at the BBC

  • 240.
  • At 01:04 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Margaret kleaver wrote:

BBC no longer has a reputation for integrity in the world beyond Britain

  • 241.
  • At 01:22 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Arik Yacobi wrote:

How the BBC can defend itself from accusations of bias (even if the Daily Mail accusations are rather the pot calling the kettle black)is beyond me.

How full of rightious indignation they become when these so-called arbiters of opinion are questioned about where they get their facts from (usually the left win anti-Zionist, anti-Israel couterie) and why they slant their opinions in ways that satisfy the lefties of the "Folk Song Army".

The cure? Give up The Grauniad and read an alternative newspaper for a change - You might even like to try The Sun, but that is soooo "working class" and right wing, ain't it?!

  • 242.
  • At 01:29 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Diane Hain wrote:

I think the BBC are soft on the Tories and want a change of government. They are trying to lead the media and they don't care for the better good. My grandfather, mother and father loved the BBC and at one time believed in them totally above all other channels. I don't follow their tradition. They don't represent people like me - female, socialist and concerned that the media represented by the BBC is more concerned with negativity and putdowns. It makes me very sad.

Diane Hain

  • 243.
  • At 01:32 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Diane Hain wrote:

I think the BBC are soft on the Tories and want a change of government. They are trying to lead the media and they don't care for the better good. My grandfather, mother and father loved the BBC and at one time believed in them totally above all other channels. I don't follow their tradition. They don't represent people like me - female, socialist and concerned that the media represented by the BBC is more concerned with negativity and putdowns. It makes me very sad.

Diane Hain

  • 244.
  • At 01:32 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • King of Reason wrote:

I thought everyone knew the BBC were a bunch of pinkos - what's the surprise?

  • 245.
  • At 01:40 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • John Hilley wrote:

Dear Helen,

It’s greatly reassuring to know that our media supremos are being kept intellectually primed and professionaly vigilant by these “Hypothetical” games and “impartiality seminars”.

I’ve also just read a more searching article by Ian Sinclair on the fiction of BBC impartiality (‘When war is peace’, Morning Star, 24 October 2006).

One incisive question Sinclair asked his local BBC News outlet was how Britain’s role in Iraq could be described as “peacekeeping duties”. The Editor replied:


"We called the forces ‘peacekeeping forces’ because that is their official title, bestowed on them by our elected government."


In other words, we use the titles the government gives us. Do you consider that an impartial or honest way to portray an illegal invasion and war of aggression?

Here’s a hypothetical exercise you might want to think about, courtesy of this extract from Sinclair’s piece:


"In May 2004, the New York Times and the Washington Post both printed belated apologies for their coverage of the build-up to the Iraq war, with the former noting: 'We have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged - or failed to emerge.' Perhaps, considering the evidence, it is time that the BBC did the same."

In the proclaimed spirit of ‘self-inspection’ and ‘impartiality’, might you and your peers be prepared to undertake such a re-examination?

Or is that just a hypothetical question?

Best wishes,
John Hilley

  • 246.
  • At 01:47 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Christie wrote:

Can all the people saying that for the Daily Mail to criticise the BBC is pot calling kettle please stop!

The Daily Mail is a newspaper with a right-wing editorial slant. It makes no secret of it and wouldn't claim to be anything else. It isn't funded through compulsory payments, you don't have to buy the Daily Mail in order to be able to read the Guardian.

The BBC is funded through a tax on the right to watch television and has a constitutional duty to be impartial.

It clearly fails this duty as its stance on many areas such as the US, Israel, the Catholic church and others all show a clear bias. The unconcious bias extends to the sort of language used to describe policies or ideas that conflict with its world view.

  • 247.
  • At 01:54 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Christie wrote:

Another example of BBC bias is the handling of David Blunkett.

When he resigned, the news was dominated with interviews of Labour politicians discussing the events. I heard several news programmes that included two Labour politicians discussing the scandal amongst themselves as though it was some sort of family tragedy.

Recently I heard the BBC talking about David Blunkett as having 'been forced to resign over an affair.'

He was not forced to resign over an affair, he was forced to resign over repeated allegations that he abused the priviliges of his office.

This re-writing of such recent history is very sinister.

  • 248.
  • At 02:01 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • A Stevens wrote:

Meeting and newpapers aside I think it is important for the BBC to explain to the public why they use the wording they do in their reporting.

For example in last nights flagship news programme the presenter used the following sentence:

"The taliban, who have been fighting with the British..."

Now I would have thought it important to distinguish between the fact whether a certain group were fighting with http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/with
or against
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/against the British.

Have I missed some fundamental of reporting here? Is there something I am unaware of?

If this is purposeful it needs to be explained - as such small details when repeated over and over again could have a large effect on peoples understanding of the reality of the situation in Afganistan (and Iraq).
I have to say that I find it quite confusing.

I was impressed to see an amazing documentary on This World
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/this_world/6070286.stm
on Monday. And this was truly a refreshing change from seing reporters led around in an 'interview' with the aggresors.

Why are such programmes so rare?

Where are the views of the people on the ground(as opposed to seeing more and more Taliban videos)?

Are our reporters even allowed to access the general public in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Please, please give us both sides of the view. And if you can't - better give us none.

  • 249.
  • At 02:26 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • M wrote:

Dear critical posters

How many times have we heard you talk about the BBC being biased? The public are fed up of you not describing in detail what your center ground is regarding:

• America
• Christians
• Israel
• Right
• Left
• Moslems

Your comments would have some credibility if you took the trouble to describe your reference point. The continued lack of response to this question just indicates you are lobbying and have no real interest in exploring journalistic impartiality, and how to describe world events.

Thanks.

  • 250.
  • At 02:31 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

In reply to Mike Christie (246), what a thin arguement it is to dismiss the message because you don't like the messenger. Whether the Mail is biased or not as well is besides the point. The question is whether or not they are right. Furthermore, as an independent publication not funded by the British taxpayer and manditory license fees, there is no reason why they shouldn't be. BBC however has no such excuse.

  • 251.
  • At 02:34 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Christie wrote:

Diane Hain, I'd be interested to hear why you think the BBC should represent you (female, socialist) any more than me (male, Conservative). I'd rather the BBC did neither and rigourously held a neutral line and had enough political diversity amongst its staff to be able to challenge political opinions from both the right and left of the spectrum.

  • 252.
  • At 02:50 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Matt Tyler wrote:

Helen,

I think the Daily Mail is allowed to be biased because no-one is forced to buy it. Same with the Guardian, Telegraph, ITV, Sky, etc.

Sadly, we are forced to pay for the BBC whether we like it or not. So the very least you could do is try to be less PC and more unbiased.

Matt.

  • 253.
  • At 03:10 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ron wrote:

Helen Boaden starts her piece "I am not surprised that some readers of the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail and the Express are furious with the BBC. If I had paid my licence fee in good faith for an organisation which claims it is passionately committed to impartiality, only to discover – according to the Mail on Sunday – that the organisation itself has admitted it is biased, I would be pretty livid."

The dismissive way she talks about the readers of those papers (which by the way I do not read) show immediately her bias against them as if all those who read them are right wing people who can safely be ignored.

The BBC is institutionally left wing and cannot see it.

The BBC had better start thinking about its approach soon because if the 40% who think your are biased stop paying the licence tax they cannot all be jailed, after all our prisons are full.

  • 254.
  • At 03:27 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Austen Redman wrote:

I respect the BBC more than any other broadcaster. Overall it presents a good balance of opinion, even if individual reports or programmes are slanted, and it is thankfully not beholden to advertisers as are commercial networks. Perhaps the vast amount of airspace it now has to fill results in the odd slip, but it still much better than any alternative.
Keep up the good work.

  • 255.
  • At 04:11 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Rupert RG wrote:

More than 250 posts so far, with the overwhelming majority saying that the BBC is biased and many providing reasoned arguments, yet not a word in reply from Helen Boaden or one of her colleagues. It seems that this forum is not being taken seriously and comments are to be ignored. In other words, everyone is wasting their time - we're just letting off steam - which is a shame.

But just in case there is a reply, could someone tell me why, if the BBC is not biased, it led the 10 the other night on Michael Howard being interviewed by police about cash for honours? As was clear from every other non-BBC report, including those of left-wing media, he was simply being interviewed as a witness, not as a suspect. Why is one witness to in an investigation the lead story of the day unless it's simply because he's a former Conservative leader and mud sticks? The Prime Minister is also due to be interviewed - will that also be a lead story or will it be buried halfway down the running order?

  • 256.
  • At 05:09 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • M wrote:

So, no response to 249.

Dear critical posters

Can you link to any of your own critiques of sites that have been too

• pro - American
• pro - Christian
• pro - Israel
• pro - Right
• anti - Left
• anti - Moslem

The continued lack of example links just shows you are lobbying and have no real interest in exploring journalistic impartiality, and how to describe world events.

I don't believe even the famous biased bbc site describes the center ground in detail - so it's just another lobbying site. So many vitriolic posts and yet not a word describing their center ground stance.

Thanks

  • 257.
  • At 05:38 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Jonathan wrote:

Oh really? So what went wrong here? Was this also a theoretical discussion??

BBC 'guilty' of ignoring public opinion says senior executive

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23372115-details/BBC++%27guilty%27+of+ignoring+public+opinion+says+senior+executive/article.do

I would love to hear your response regarding this matter.

  • 258.
  • At 05:39 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Stephen wrote:

In my post No.154 I meant to write 'proof' rather than 'evidence' in the second line from the bottom as you've printed it.I wouldn't expect you to comment without evidence,sorry.

  • 259.
  • At 08:47 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Horsley wrote:

Does your admittance of bias mean that you are in breach of the Royal Charter:

(c) contain comprehensive, authoritative and impartial coverage of news and current affairs in the United Kingdom and throughout the world to support fair and informed debate at local, regional and national levels;

I think so. It is about time you were made to compete for that charter and the accompanying license fee with other providers. Maybe then you would take the charter seriously.

  • 260.
  • At 11:39 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • William wrote:

Well, well, well.
What an interesting blog this has proved to be.
Not for Helen Boaden's initial "Apologia pro vita nostra" -
which simply confirmed suspicions: the BBC is peopled by, well, Helen Boadens galore. Such a blithely self-satisfied, "Biased, moi?" was dismally predictable.
What IS interesting however is the number of people who saying:
"Oh, come off it - butter wouldn't melt! You ARE just as biased as a Guardian-reading organisation is expected to be: against the U.S., Israel and Christians - and towards the E.U, Palestine and Multicultural Political Correctness. Marr has admitted as much, you should too. And what's more we have to pay to listen to it."
Exactly.
I was particularly struck by the number of people who have made multiple posts critical of BBC bias and who have NEVER seen their posts in print.
"Something is rotten in the State of Denmark."

  • 261.
  • At 12:52 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Tom wrote:


As we are only one of two countries in the whole world who has to buy a TV licence, why should we be paying for what many of us believe is propaganda?

If we had the choice of not paying the BBC TV licence fee and not watching the BBC, I reckon most people would opt out, and switch to other news media. We don't need this so called 'impartial' news the BBC churns out.

And as for their argument that the BBC World Service is necessary for the news, that no longer applies as there are many other International News Agencies that people all over the world can get their information from, and it is FREE.

The BBC licence fee is the equivalent of making everybody buy 'The Independent' newspaper in order for us to read any other newspaper.

Go get your own funding BBC, just as the Independent Channe's do, and leave the people of the UK free to choose which channe's they want to watch without being threatened with imprisonment if they don't hand over their money to you.

And if there are so many people out there who are so keen to carry on watching the BBC, then I suggest that these people be the ones to pay for it, and not the rest of us, who have no use for it at all.

I wonder how long it would stay in business then?

  • 262.
  • At 01:33 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • paul shinly wrote:

the bbc is left wing question time is now like waching a load of sheep noding in agreement with people that have never done a hard days work in ther life`they ar so far removed from the realaty of the working class its untrue , you only have to take a look at the question form to get on to the program says it all `

  • 263.
  • At 02:32 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Rudolf wrote:

Spin... Spin... Spin... as with any coverage regarding USA or Israel it is always bad news. The only people that satisfied with the BBC coverage are Muslims. No matter how many times you scream sugar -- your mouth doesn't feel sweetness. It is time to report the facts as they are -- not as they seen through your eyes. Stop your biases and report the truth.

  • 264.
  • At 03:57 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

I just heard more gratuitous Israel bashing on BBC radio tonight, 26 October, about 10:45 EDT. It was more of the usual about the inconvenience of the wall and its route. The pretext this time was a decision by the Israeli courts that security of its citizens from suicide bombers takes precedence over inconvenience of those on the other side of the wall. BBC found an Israeli Jew who was opposed to the wall and voiced his objection to it. Of course there was no interview with anyone from the government to give a counterbalanced viewpoint or a statement to the effect that probably the overwhelming majority of Israelis agree with it. And of course not a chance of an interview with the surviving friends and family of a victim of a suicide bomber. BBC why don't you ask one of them how they feel if one day a Palestinian farmer doesn't get a permit for his donkey to go through the gate in the wall to help him work his fields as a consequence of the wall being there so there aren't even more victims? Is BBC biased? Tilted? No, not tilted, VERTICAL!

It looks like BBC is about to air another series about America trying to explain it to the world as it tries to figure it out for itself. Will it be as superficially correct and profoundly wrong as its series "America Age of Empire?" Time will tell but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts they still don't get it, they'll never get it. Why? Maybe because they don't want to.

  • 265.
  • At 11:07 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Paul Andrews wrote:

It is very hard for an organistaion not to be biased; after all the content is managed by individuals with opinions. If the BBC was funded by subscription, it wouldn't matter. But it is funded by an unfair, non-universal tax, so it does matter. It is insulting to claim that there isn't a socialist bias to the BBC. Have the courage to separate the news and current affairs services from other programming and go commercial with them. Central government can fund the other programming via income tax.

  • 266.
  • At 11:09 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

Sadly from reading the entries many of the folk who have commented on this board are not interested in an unbiased BBC they are really annoyed that Aunty is not biased toward their particular politics, cause, religion etc.

Truly unbiased reporting would try to show all sides however unpleasant, yes lets here from the middle of road and the ueberliberals but unbiased means also hearing from Abu Hamsa, Nick Griffiths etc. If you are not really interested in this kind of unbiased reporting you should really put up or shut up folks.

The BBC bias lies in how it decides who is allowed to comment and on what. Left wing does not cover what it is "modern liberal" I think does a better job, it the relentless assumption that all things multi-cultural and PC are automatically OK and therefore definately OK to censor any opposition since it is only fascist rantings. A problem develops when this kind of thinking runs up against what most of us would consider unpalatable believes and practices in ethnic communities. They mostly refuse to condem or exclude these with the same force they reserve for what they consider "fascist rantings".

Another problem with BBC selectivity on what is acceptable is that I'm sure many of us have heard what we would consider some pretty viscious ultra femminist rantings go entirely unopposed on many BBC outlets.

If we are to be truly unbiased we must hear from all (to use a current term) all stakeholders in the issue.

  • 267.
  • At 11:15 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • James wrote:

Of course the BBC is left-wing and liberal biased; it is in both the nature of people attracted to media and the nature of recruitment (if you want a wider view base then don't advertise solely in the Independent and Guardian for jobs).

The point is that most educated people understand this and so trust the BBC for facts but not for slant.

Another way to minimise the bias more would be to force the BBC to compete fairly by removing the television tax; that way they are more likely to have to reflect the opinions of their viewers as if they don't then they won't be funded.

As examples of BBC bias you need look no further than the current series of Robin Hood which has got to be one of the most left-wing propaganda filled programs on tv for a long time; although to be fair it is closely followed by Spooks. I enjoy both of these shows and try not to allow the bias to spoil their appeal.

  • 268.
  • At 11:42 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Elitist wrote:

#259.

This is standard stuff for the BBC. Israel is one of their favourite targets - it draws in a large audience from the left and the muslims.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy recently stated that he has changed his mind over the fence, and now supports it.

He said: “Although the wall was a moral and ethical problem for me, when I realised terror attacks were reduced by 80 percent in the areas where the wall was erected, I understood I didn’t have the right to think that way.”

And just to clarify, it IS a FENCE, not a wall. The BBC has never shown you the fence, but it makes up between 95%-97% of the barrier. Only around 3%-5% is a concrete wall designed to stop sniper attacks on Israeli vehicles.

There is a video presentation and other information here
http://securityfence.mfa.gov.il/mfm/web/main/missionhome.asp?MissionID=45187&

The BBC will NEVER let you see that it's a fence, only the wall part of the barrier suits their odious aims.

  • 269.
  • At 01:43 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Elitist wrote:

Can I just clarify that my post #265 was intended for Mark #264.

I don't know why the numbers changed.

  • 270.
  • At 02:43 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • An Informed American Woman wrote:

Does BBC know that Honest Reporting, a pro-Israel media watch group in the U.S., asked its members to comment here? Honest Reporting would like for BBC to be less journalistic and more U.S./Israel policy friendly. I wonder how many comments here are directly linked to Honest Reporting's alert?

Maybe BBC should consider doing an investigative report concerning Honest reporting and their work as a media pressure group for Israel.

  • 271.
  • At 03:41 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Abdurrahman P wrote:

The truth doth hurt.

Just because a lot of it doesn't suit the interests of the right-wing fanatics and war-mongering lot, they dub it biased. Well, just switch over to something more in line with your neo-conservative views and there you will find what you seek.

Informed American Woman,

I think the BBC knows HonestReporting all too well. I'm sure they are regularly flooded with vitriolic and slightly incoherant emails ranting about BBC bias. And mostly from people who wouldn't be caught dead actually reading or watching the BBC - afterall, they have a deeply held belief that it's biased.

And how many commenters have been directed here by HonestReporting? Judging by the shrill accusations of "anti-Israel bias", minus the slightest hint of factual evidence or logical reasoning, I'd say it's quite a few.

  • 273.
  • At 04:38 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Frederick Rolfe wrote:

For all those who assert 'The BBC is biased', I would point out the obvious fact that mere assertion doesn't prove your point, however vehement that assertion may be.

I would remind everone in this debate of what scientists refer to as 'confirmation bias', a tendency only to notice data which confirms an already held view whilst ignoring or diminishing data which contradicts your view. We're all guilty of it at times, so let's be big enough to admit it.

Finally, if you disagree with any of the arguments put forward by people posting here, here is a checklist enabling you to see how many dishonest tricks they have used to make their point. How many do you use to make yours?

http://www.246.dk/38tricks.html

  • 274.
  • At 05:31 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Ian Mac wrote:

You regard the BBC as impartial? That’s very amusing.
Here's what I think of the BBC. Firstly, stop ramming multi-culturalism down people's throats. Many people don't like it, and don’t support it. Secondly, your juvenile anti-Americanism gets on my nerves. Thirdly, your extreme liberal bias bears no relation to the views of the ordinary people I see around me. The idea that the BBC is somehow representative of British people's views is a fiction believed by no one but the BBC. It's a relief that some of your executives, at least, have now come out and admitted this.

  • 275.
  • At 05:57 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Ahmed Abouelhoda wrote:

Bias at the BBC?

I think the title bestowed by the right wing media when referring to the BBC , during gulf war 2 is testament to the contrary. The Baghdad Broadcasting Network says it all. A prestigious organization such as the BBC can never be labeled as biased.

  • 276.
  • At 06:08 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • dennis anthony wrote:

In the modern world media and soundbites distort reality by accepting information from unreliable sources without checking the truth behind what often is propaganda.
To sit on the fence by calling brutal terrorists militants is not balanced reporting.

  • 277.
  • At 06:29 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Elitist wrote:

Funnily enough, I came here from a link via the Channel4News forum. The left wing haven for anti-Israel/American views.

So Michael and his deluded 'informed American woman' need to understand that the BBC's bias is a concern for many people, not just those who rightly claim anti-Israel bias.

The majority of the posts here don't mention Israel.

I have also seen similar 'campaigns' as you claim about honestreporting - on Muslim websites like MPACUK. They have a forum devoted to 'action alerts' which advises people to flood the likes of the BBC if they disapprove with something aired.

Here you go.
http://www.forum.mpacuk.org/showthread.php?t=17001
http://www.mpacuk.org/content/view/2824/64/

  • 278.
  • At 06:42 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

An Informed American Woman (270), I am not a member of that or any other advocacy organization. In fact I never even heard of it until I just read your posting. BBCzeera's reports speak for themselves. You can hear their whining advocacy and lobbying right in the tone of every one of their reports dealing with America. Just after the Israel bashing was over, there was a report on the news about how the US was the only nation which does not supprt a new UN treaty against small arms trade merely mentioning the US felt the existing treaties are sufficient and of course never bothering to investigate whether or not that is true and that like many UN treaties, it just hasn't been enforced. One more cheap shot at villifying the US for not bending to the collective will and wisdom of one of the worlds most corrupt bureaucracies.

It is ironic that BBC which is supposedly the champion of multiculturalism would be against the US, there isn't a more multicultural nation on earth with residents coming from every corner of the planet. In fact, they get along with each other here usually far better than they do in their own homelands. We never had the kind of killings and conflicts between Orangement and Dubliners, between Jews and Arabs, between Pakistanis and Indians they have in their own countries. So why is BBC so opposed to America? One reason is that since its inception, America has rejected everything it inherited from Europe and everything about Europe except English Common Law. Even our language is different. And far from being a failure because of it, it is history's greatest success story. How infuriating that must be to those whose religion revolves on a Eurocentric mentality, how they wish they could change it.

  • 279.
  • At 07:43 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • brian wadkins wrote:

As a philosopher "wannabe" who has spend the best part of six years studying fallacy (ergo propter hoc, circular, ad hominen etc) , rhetorical ploys, bias, vagueness, amibiguity, argument construction and de-construction I can assure you the BBC is biased and worse, even if the BBC do not realise it themselves (which I find difficult to believe).

I am glad to see you think it is important that the audience do not think you biased but are they qualified to recognise bias/fallacy vaugeness/ambiguity if they hear it? The audience trusts you which is a powerful position and one you should do more to honour. You can tell people anything and if they trust you they will believe it. A perfect example of your lack of understanding of logical fallacy comes from your article. You say 60% of viewers think you are trustworthy but does this mean you are? No it is an appeal to popularity which is a member of the red herring family of fallacies. Your argument takes the form:
Idea X is popular.
Therefore, X is correct.
To explain further; 70% of Americans believe in alien abduction.
Therefore, aliens are abducting Americans.

There is no bias if you simply tell the truth without interpretation of the facts. Ore do you think people are to stupid to interpret them for themselves?

However I feel rather than trying to be overtly biased the BBC do most most of its good work by omitting important rebuttals to proposed facts, the BBC defends Islam as treating women equals when I can read the koran where it states a woman's testimony is worth only half that of a man, Equality??. But the BBC fail to mention that fact. Deliberately misleading by not fully presenting both sides of any argument is an abuse of power by the BBC and as such is obnoxious.

  • 280.
  • At 08:36 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Arrowhead wrote:

To my friend Andy and his ilk, who seem to be having a desperate time trying to justify the unjustifiable here and, most probably, on the Daily Telegraph blog on the same topic, I would say simply to accept the overwhelming tide of opinion and feeling against the BBC position. Stop fretting friends because clutching at straws will not change facts.

To all the other decent British folk who believe in fair play, I say that there is only one course of action left for us: we will only accept digital tv with the introduction of a BBC pay-per-view option to replace compulsory licensing. Digital tv and compulsory licensing are incompatible in the 21st Century.

Let us summon enough support so that, those people and organisations that can make this happen, would know that there is enough support for this policy.

  • 281.
  • At 09:39 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Mistah wrote:

There are some who say the BBC isnt biased enough against the imperalistic agenda of America and Israel! Yet here the conservatives whine, pleading bias against them when in reality there is considerably more for them......

The BBC is in the thrall of the pro-america, and pro-israel labour government and has been so since the Hutton report

  • 282.
  • At 01:37 AM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • Kathleen wrote:

Doesn't the fact that Helen gets to defend the BBC (nope, no bias here) while no opposing view is presented from another BBC employee mean that the BBC is indeed biased?

  • 283.
  • At 11:16 AM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • Balance, what balance wrote:

Ian, I totally agree, the same point was made on a blog when the Muslim protester, who heckled I think it was John Reid, was interviewed (sorry can't remember his name).

The BBC considered it in the public interest to interview him, yet at the same time has publicly stated that they are unwilling to link to the BNP web site.

If the BBC is truly to be unbiased then they have to allow all view points to be aired. I neither support the Muslim extremists or the BNP but if one is to be given a forum by the BBC then both must.

In the same way everybody should have the right to reply to comments made - so if (for example) a BNP member is interviewed those with counter points should also be interviewed.

  • 284.
  • At 11:31 AM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • Balance, what balance wrote:

Michael, I read the BBC news pages because for the most part I do trust them, however even though I trust them I can see there is an anti-Israel bias.

Trust and impartiality are two different things. Here in the UK we have polls asking which of the three main party leaders we "Trust" more - does this make the three leaders impartial? Of course it doesn't, each of the three leaders should honestly believe that their party is the best suited to govern the country.

Would you honestly say that the candidate you voted for in the last election was both trustworthy AND unbiased? I know I can't - I felt I could trust him to do the best job for my area.

Any educated person can see that there is a difference between "trust" and "bias", which makes it all the more strange that in this blog Helen used stats saying that 60% of people "trusted" the BBC to defend against accusations that they were biased. Which begs the question - was the public asked if they felt the BBC was biased or not?

  • 285.
  • At 04:48 PM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • Michael McFarlane wrote:

The BBC might gain some of the respect it craves, if it accurately reported the full facts relating to the important issues that matter and left the rather trivial debates, such as the wearing/or not of headscarfs and small crosses to those who have nothing better to do.

Important issues such as, the ridiculously flawed inquiry into the death of government scientist DR. David Kelly. This particular issue is a perfect example of the BBC failing in the duty for which it is publicly funded. The BBC should be ASHAMED of how they have behaved on this matter. Not only did they outrageously neglect the numerous counts of conflicting evidence as well as outright fabrications, they considered their own reputation and status as more important than reporting the TRUTH!. To this very day the BBC continues to behave as if this incident never happened, and until the persons in charge and those who describe themselves as "Reporters" readdress this matter, "Respect" shall never be due!.

  • 286.
  • At 05:25 PM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • Steve wrote:

BBC Editors

You have long lost any credibility as a news organization. Your bias is so transparent it's amazing you still call yourself a news source.

People are not as stupid as you beleive. You have become irrelevent

  • 287.
  • At 09:49 AM on 29 Oct 2006,
  • Steven Faull wrote:

Dear Ms Boaden

If,as you claim, the BBC is not biased, why is it fighting tooth and nail not to publish the result of the Balen Report into its Middle East coverage? Is it afraid of the conclusions? What happened to its committment to openess?

Your reply would be most illuminating.

Yours sincerely

Steven Faull

  • 288.
  • At 04:13 PM on 29 Oct 2006,
  • Tim Child wrote:

As a resident of Budapest and an eyewitness to many of the event to hit the news recently I have found Nick Thorpes pieces about as accurate as you can get it in the time slots he has had. This week he tried to give some more detailed background but the he hit the same old problem. Coming from English and used to the UK polictical system it took me a while to really undertand the completities of central Europe. Events have to viewed in a different way and I think the hardest thing for the reporter is to convey cultural differences. This is where I think the BBC fails even when it does longer background pieces. For instance in Hungary the left (many ex communists) draw a large part of their support from the business community and the educated classes whilst much of the right draws it support from the ordinary working people; very much the reverse to the UK. You also need to understand much of this support goes back through generations, the family being a much stonger unit in Hugary than the UK. I often think there is conflict in the BBC between broadcasting to the home audience and the international one. Maybe the answer is a larger seperation of the two and also a much larger reliance on locally based reporters rather than using London based reporters putting their own intereptation on events.

  • 289.
  • At 04:33 PM on 29 Oct 2006,
  • john howson wrote:

This is a second attempt to get on this blog.
t has finaly been admitted that the BBC is "institutionaly Christophobic" .Christians have been aware of this for a long time but at least it is now out in the open.I am particularly incensed with the reported comment that it would be ok to junk the Bible in "Room 101" but (of course) NOT the Koran.I can assure you that we Christians are equaly reverential to OUR Holy Bible as Moslems are to the Quran.Should you ever carry out this kind of desecration in a program I would instantly cancel my payment of the licence fee and urge all Christians to do the same.I believe that you would be in breach of the orriginal Charter of the BBC which has the upholding of Christian principles and values writen in.

  • 290.
  • At 07:20 PM on 29 Oct 2006,
  • Marty wrote:

In short, I don't believe you. The blogosphere proves time and time again that the BBC is biased in the way recent reports suggest.

  • 291.
  • At 04:28 AM on 30 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Hearn wrote:

It's funny that so many commenters have decided 40% of the population don't trust the BBC. Is it any wonder people think it's biased when they apparently CAN'T EVEN READ?

Seriously, go back and read what people were asked. The question was not "do you trust the BBC?" people!

  • 292.
  • At 10:04 AM on 30 Oct 2006,
  • Alan C wrote:

The true nature of the BBC’s biased reporting is most evident in their handling of Israel. The so-called Jenin massacre is a case in point. The BBC’s reporting of possibly hundreds of civilian deaths as a result of Israeli action was not only completely wrong but also completely devoid of context. I read the Israeli and Middle Eastern press at the time and the IDF claimed about 50 Palestinian militants and 25 Israeli soldiers had been killed. In addition, in the region the action was reported as a great Palestinian victory for the militants against the might of Israel. All the BBC reporting was about Israeli war crimes and civilian deaths, hardly any context regarding Jenin as the centre of the suicide bomb industry or the massacre of about 30 Israelis in a restaurant that lead to the Jenin operation or the restraint shown by Israel that led to the ambush and death of about 20 IDF soldiers. The BBC may have corrected the defects in later reports, but the overwhelming sense imparted by the coverage was one of Israeli aggression and contempt for civilians. Ever since Jenin I have paid attention and noticed a persistent bias against Israel.

  • 293.
  • At 02:44 PM on 30 Oct 2006,
  • Jose wrote:

Of course the BBC is biased, it has been ever since Tony Blair the BBC very own 'Messiah'(if I am allowed that slightly un PC comment!), managed to win an election for Labour, more seriously the BBC is anti-semetic, this is no laughing matter the BBC's reports from the Middle East are throwing further fuel on to the fire already brimming there.
I have never heard a single piece of reportage from the BBC that even gives the Israelis a positive viewpoint.
I just want to finish my comments by commenting on the comments of Helen Boaden in which she disparages all MoS and Daily Mail readers, in my humble opinion (not being a reader of the Guardian)this shows again the real opinion/contempt that these left-wing dino-bores have for people who pay the licence fee which helps to keep people like her in a well payed job.

  • 294.
  • At 05:18 PM on 30 Oct 2006,
  • Another Informed American Woman wrote:

I have no problem with media slants to the left and right. I believe that most individuals are intelligent enough to view different sources and weigh the bias to reach their own conclusion. Journalists and viewers/readers are only human.

What I do have a problem with (probably because I am left of center in my personal beliefs) is any government-sponsored network that negatively targets a section of humanity on the basis of ethnicity or religion. I believe the BBC does just that with an anti-America, anti-Israel, and anti-Christian stance. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Christian American.) Just review their stories or visit the myriad of watch-dog sites on the Internet to see an overwhelming number of examples. The BBC was once a paragon of journalism, but I stopped putting my faith in them years ago.

America’s NPR does lean left as well – I think any program “for the people” will do so. However, I’ve not seen them regularly discriminate on the basis of ethnicity or religion. While NPR receives limited tax-payer support, it is forced to rely heavily on donations – probably what forces them to play fair and rightfully confines their power to the US. If they discriminated against others, I’d be petitioning to shut off my tax dollars that they do receive.

So, I can appreciate the many UK-postings to rescind their television fee and/or find other ways to reform the BBC. Personally, I use the BBC as my source to see what the international news is saying about us bad Americans today. (I had stopped viewing BBC altogether until a friend pointed out its usefulness from this perspective.) I use a myriad of other news sources to review more complete American and international news – the good and the bad.

I can also appreciate the irony in this.

If I were to solely use the BBC as my news resource, I would believe that the UK collectively dislikes, actively ridicules, and pre-judges over 1/3 of the world’s population – something of which the BBC negatively accuses Americans. I would believe that the UK was comprised of relatively fewer Christians, but 78% of the UK population is Christian – the same as in the US. I would believe that the UK was more racially-diverse than America, yet 92% of the UK’s population is white versus 77% of the US’s. It seems as if the BBC has a love/hate relationship with multi-culturalism.

  • 295.
  • At 09:36 PM on 31 Oct 2006,
  • John wrote:

Is the editor ever going to respond to some of the challenges in the comments ? 293 posts and one brief editorial comment where she referred only to one (pro BBC) poster.
Look whether the BBC is baised can be discussed - but the key point is I feel it is and I have to pay for it ! Stay biased but please can I choose what to spend my cash on.

  • 296.
  • At 10:30 AM on 03 Nov 2006,
  • Richard Smith wrote:

So did anyone see the totally unbiased "The state within" last night.
It had:
The US secretary of Defence immediately blaming the UK because they thought that a UK muslim was behind a plane bombing.
It had her say "who needs enemies with friends like that"
It had the governor of Virginia lock up all of the British Muslims in his state.
When it showed you 2 Muslims trying to escape the state it showed American troops shoot the car causing it to roll down a great big hill that suddenly appeared.
When the British ambassador turned up the Americans were laughing about it, oh and just in case anyone was in any doubt how evil it was the woman (not wearing a headscarf tsk tsk missed an opportunity there!) of course was 3 months pregnant.
Oh and of course I forgot the ex-diplomat who got fired for speaking out against the tyrannical government that the UK and US were supporting and the fact that they show you that it wasn't done by 'middle-eastern' terrorists at all because it was a white guy who built and delivered the bomb.
Honestly it was so embarrassing that you couldn't help but laugh

  • 297.
  • At 12:56 PM on 04 Nov 2006,
  • Elitist wrote:

Yesterday, the BBC website had those two female Hamas human shields killed - as the main headline for most of the day.

Under the headline, was a little something about 58 bodies found in Iraq.

In the African sub section, was a little something about 63 killed in Darfur (including 27 children)

The headline only changed hours later when 83 bodies were discovered in Iraq.

Just wondering how the BBC can explain that as being anything other than pure and utter bias. 67 dead in Darfur didn't even make the front page.

  • 298.
  • At 04:43 PM on 06 Nov 2006,
  • Rupert RG wrote:

Further to post 255, Sunday's papers reported that a close aide to the Prime Minister will be questioned under caution. Funnily enough, this does not appear on the BBC news or its web site, as far as I can tell. Odd that.

And yes, The State Within is ridiculously anti-American, making them out to be racist and thick. Neat combination. Still, we'll see. They haven't yet joined forces with the equally ludicrous Mossad caricature in Spooks. Can anyone name me an action drama on the BBC where Yanks or Israelis aren't the bad guys? I'm not counting Torchwood, which is plain silly but at least has the virtue of featuring villains from off the planet.

  • 299.
  • At 06:19 PM on 06 Nov 2006,
  • Karim Zibari wrote:

I absolutely agree that the BBC is biased in its reporting, especially when covering Iraq. I have been watching and listening to the BBC on an almost daily basis since the Iraq war started. I have closely followed their reports from Baghdad and other areas of Iraq. They consistently try to convey the message that the war was a mistake, that the situation was much better under Saddam and that the US is responsible for all the mess in Iraq. One expects a much higher levels of ethics and neutralism from such a long-standing and respected organisation.

  • 300.
  • At 09:13 PM on 06 Nov 2006,
  • cairo wrote:

When you can report on the view point of the Majority as in the UN speech where Chavez was applauded after calling dubya a demon then I can call you not biased. But alas, its clear that will not happen and if it does it will be drowned in the lies otherwise told in redundancy.
When the Opinion of the Iranian leader who wants technology are heard in full over the view that Nuclear packed Israel gives time and time again... then I can say you are not biased. But alas, there will be many full moons be4 that occurs.

You can keep braodcasting your own left wing view of the world, but.

Our demands are simple:

1) Take the word British out the BBC, you DO NOT represent the British people.

and

2) Stop forcing people to pay for it.

Only then can you continue with your agenda.

  • 302.
  • At 09:56 AM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Sam wrote:

if the BBC is so impartial then why is it in court at the moment trying to stop a report that says the exact opposite?

The BBC is bias, and it is liberal and it is staffed by people who seem to be completely detached from the realities of day to day life the rest of us experience.

  • 303.
  • At 10:23 AM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • Ben wrote:

When are you going to reply to this lot?

An explaination of what is happening with the Balen Report would also be appreciated.

  • 304.
  • At 07:21 PM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • cairo wrote:

When did Journalists become Government officals?
If you think the media is biased, left wing at that, then let me be the first to say that they are way underbiased. How in the world do you think they are biased when they still use words like terrorism, insurgents, alqeada? When the media still refuses to report on the growing number of people and stories about conspiracy theories they are in no way doing a service to the public. They are merely keeping us in the dark and occupied with doodle someone in a high goverment office conjured up. If you think BBC or any western Media is biased in favor of the left than you really have a twisted version of reality. Even the most left wing media in the west is still rightwing. Bet on it.

  • 305.
  • At 05:13 PM on 17 Nov 2006,
  • gavin jones wrote:

I dont watch or listen to the B(iased)BC but im forced to pay for it at the threat of a prison sentence. If anyone from the BBC told me it was daylight outside im afraid I would have to double check myself.

  • 306.
  • At 10:27 AM on 18 Nov 2006,
  • Pippop wrote:

[Can someone please tell me how to reach the 'last comment' without having to hold the mouse down for ages trailing through all the other posts each time I make a visit?]

One aspect of the beeb that is conspicuously biased is it's male centredness, particularly amongst its foreign correspondents, male or female. This is expressed through the language they use, clearly unconsciously:

e.g. we are frequently told something about the "people" of Wherever, in Outerwhatever. A picture follows, or is running concurrently in the background. What do we ACTUALLY see, MEN, and who is actually interviewed for his opinion, a man! While men are indeed people, not all people are men.

Similarly, we are told of the awful conditions of 'children', again in the 'Outerreacherofsomewhere'. Again a picture appears, and what do we see, BOYS? While all boys are children not all children are boys.

The misuse of this entailment as a two way one, when in fact it is a one way entailment is a subtle way of airbrushing out the issues that women and girls suffer in wars and catastrophes.

Entailments: One-way entailment: All parrots are birds. Note, not all birds are parrots. This must not be used as a two-way entailment.

Sometimes these issues the females face are dealt with separately, as though women and girls are some kind of sideline problem that patriarchy has to acknowledge from time.

If we are seeing a group of men can we have them named as MEN not as the 'PEOPLE' of Wherever. And when we see pictures of CHILDREN with no girls to be seen, can we have them called BOYS please because children INCLUDES females. In this way you will bring to light your unconscious male centred bias and open up an aspect of reporting that will be enlightening and more rewarding.

No gender airbrushing please. Lets have this unconscious linguistic bias brought to the surface. The language must match the picture we are actually seeing.

  • 307.
  • At 11:16 AM on 18 Nov 2006,
  • jenny wrote:

“Impartiality is not so much a fixed point as a process of open mindedness which should be the basis of everything we (the bbc) do”

Should be, but isn’t.

The BBC is always accused of bias. Usually by the government in pwer, which insists that the BBC is biased towards the opposition. It's harder today to say that, since the old "left and right" policy stances have been swopped and integrated by all parties, viz the government at war in Iraq, Conservatives protecting the NHS.

So, the BBC, a bit like Tony Blair, can't win these days.

I have many friends in the USA who are delighted at our news reports where the newscaster just tells the facts, with no opinion thrown in - neither approving nor disapproving. This DOES NOT HAPPEN in the states. American newsreaders invariably give us the benefit of their thoughts on everything from baby food to sending more troops to Iraq.

I appreciate the BBC as it is. We're getting rid of enough of what contributes to our Britishness. But then being slow to appreciate what we've got is a typically British tendency.

http://keeptonyblairforpm.wordpress.com

  • 309.
  • At 05:22 AM on 19 Nov 2006,
  • Ken wrote:

There have been many calls for the "non secret" meeting to be made available - and there still has been no response. Now we have the scandal of the Balen Report cover up.

I think it is arrogant and disrespectful of the BBC not to reply to many of the posts on this blog.

Perhaps it is time to suspend all BBC journalism for a while as things are so out of control. Lets have newsreaders reading out news agency feeds while the mess is sorted out.

  • 310.
  • At 07:04 AM on 19 Nov 2006,
  • Danny wrote:

One of the reasons I use the BBC for news is its relative lack of bias. A completely unbiased account is only possible from some sort of emotional automaton, but I do get the feeling that the BBC make an effort to present boths sides (although often the facts do not have two sides, Al-quaeda did destroy the Two Towers, Israel did cause massive destruction in Lebabon).

Looking at many of the comments here, I get the impression that many object because the BBC do not show a bias in line with their own. This is almost certainly true of the Mail on Sunday who no doubt are offended by the BBC's failure to deliver frequent right-wing rants. I am sure that a failure to fall for Bush's propaganda is judged by many of his supporters as anti-American.

One complaint I do have though is with Panorama. This programme has become completely debased over many years through the search for a sensational headline. The drive to be sensational often leads to misrepresentation and a bias, not driven by ideology, but by ratings. I would love someone to clean this team out.

  • 311.
  • At 10:11 AM on 19 Nov 2006,
  • Huw wrote:

On Tuesday it seemed the BBC was using Newsnight to assist the government in banning an organisation.

IMO it seems BBC generally take the side of the government on any issue. Hutton shows the lengths the govt will go to when the BBC step out of line - even though the majority of the population surely believe the govt DID 'sex-up' before they 'cocked-up'.

The BBC are so much better than Murdoch though - he chooses the government we get.

  • 312.
  • At 02:35 PM on 19 Nov 2006,
  • David Lester wrote:

In reports from conflict zones the BBC used to include a statement to the effect that there was no independent confirmation of casualty figures in such and such a battle/raid etc.

This phrase was distinctly lacking in the recent war in Lebanon where the BBC was quite happy to report Hezbollah casualty claims without any qualification whatsoever, even after claims of over 40 dead from one Israeli air raid proved in the event to be 2 deaths.

Alan C in post 292 and other posters in this thread point to persistent anti-Israeli bias in BBC reports.

Sadly I suspect the BBC will continue to ignore any criticism of its Middle East coverage, and any other areas of its output as the rantings of right-wing, racist, fascist ignoramuses. Secure in this certainty there is obviously no need to change anything, is there?

  • 313.
  • At 06:47 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • F Kimbal Johnson wrote:

Bias is not only apparent in what is included in BBC broadcasts but just as much in what is excluded. For example,when did a BNP representative appear on 'Question Time'?

  • 314.
  • At 03:35 AM on 24 Nov 2006,
  • Roy Catton wrote:

Hi Helen

I hope you're manging to keep up with all your posts.

How is one to know whether the BBC is not being impartial?

Certainly many people are here claiming they do know that. About 30, or 10%, are claiming to know that the BBC is biased against Israel. But they do not offer much, if anything at all, by way of convincing evidence or reasoning. Most offer nothing but their opinion, more or less vitriolicly expressed, but some sketch a reason.

Thus Dr Irene Lancaster (#108) not only believes she sees bias, but also thinks it reasonable to ‘conclude that the BBC's bias against Israel (for one) is based on more than simply political differences’. Her grounds are that she isn’t being given a personal hotline to the BBC correspondents ‘simply to have a chat with them in a friendly and off-the-record manner’! Well I daresay all of us would like to be able to personally bend the ear of the correspondents to try to get them to broadcast just what we believe should be heard, but there can’t be many who would accuse them of bias for their saying no to that. Unfortunately Mark (#152) seems to rely on that for his ‘evidence’ of the ‘BBC's hatred of Israel as noted by a former BBC employee Dr. Irene Lancaster (#108)’. Mark (#196) also puts forward the reason that he is being kept ‘waiting’ by the BBC for its failing to concede that Israel has a ‘right to defend itself’, including the ‘right to use whatever means are necessary’, ‘even if it means going after those in other countries…’ Quite apart from the fact that the BBC could never make any announcements like that, one way or the other, about any country, it almost sounds like he’s condemning the BBC for not preparing the world for an illegal attack by Israel on another country; perhaps he is hoping for a forthcoming attack by Israel on Iran and believes the BBC should be doing PR for it beforehand. I daresay there may be some people who might claim to believe that doing PR to prepare the way for an illegal attack by one country on another would be being impartial, but I doubt there can be many! Howard (#206&207) has his own reasons: he says the biases of the BBC’s coverage of the ME are ‘deep, blatant and consistent’. Yet he acknowledges that he is aware that the BBC’s coverage of the ME is vigilantly governed by a thorough styleguide carefully intended to avoid any bias. – The trouble, according to Howard’s reading of it, is that this styleguide is itself an example of bias, because he finds that it ‘promotes one view of history and current events over another’. Well he says that’s what he finds, but again he provides no evidence. In fact, anyone analysing this styleguide would immediately see that it explicitly lays out ways of working which are intended to do the exact opposite of promoting ‘one view … over another’. It clearly states: ‘The aim is … about being careful not to adopt, even inadvertently, the language of one side or the other, which may give an impression of bias.’ (c.f. http://news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ukfs/hi/newsid_6040000/newsid_6044000/6044090.stm )

Perhaps what exercises Howard is that in the Styleguide’s providing a means of carefully avoiding adopting the view of either side, what it also does is avoid adopting the language he himself habitually uses and nor, therefore, does it start from a view of things as he habitually sees them. Unless, in their own choice of terms to describe the history and current events in the ME, Howard et al are trying to be at least as careful as the BBC is evidently trying to be, then perhaps it’s Howard et al’s way of looking at the ME which should be judged to have that ‘deep, blatant and consistent’ bias of which he complains.

The only way of determining whether the BBC is not being impartial is by a careful comparison: by carefully comparing what the Bb says on something with what someone else says on that, which you and everyone else knows or has good reason for believing to be impartially true, and then by noting the difference. No-one has done that here. Referring, as Alan C (#296) does, to what ‘the IDF claimed’ about Jenin can hardly count as an impartially true comparison and there is no other, much less an independent, account of what happened there – the UN commison that was going to investigate had to be disbanded after weeks of waiting to go in because the IDF wouldn’t let anyone near. Nor is the reference by Elitist (#259) to the Israeli government video-presentation about the wall much use in this – the point wasn’t about the existence of the wall, but the route, specifically the consequences of adopting an unnecessarily circuitous route, instead of following the Green Line. If the BBC has not broadcast much about the consequential disastrous dispossession of the Palestinians all along the route where it would have been apt to have broadcast such, then some may believe the BBC could properly be accused of failing to be impartial. Thus, from the many possible with which to compare the BBC’s output I pick a reliable commentator:
‘In all Palestinian towns and villages, since the year 2000 and until today, daily Israeli incursions demolish Palestinian houses, take Palestinian prisoners, and kill others. At the same time, there are violent reactions by Palestinian militias. The official Palestinian Authority is insisting on holding peace talks. The Israelis are taking their time; they prefer to go on with their reprisals in the Palestinian Territories until all manifestations of violence stop. They do not seem to be in a hurry to have peace talks or peace. The social aspect of this situation: the “wall” surrounding the Palestinian towns has transformed these towns into big ghettoes or prisons. The “wall” and the Israeli military checkpoints make social, economic, and human Palestinian life day after day more and more difficult. There are many voices and movements in Israel calling for the cessation of all violence and for the resumption of peace talks, but they are not numerous enough to impose a new direction on the conflict. The louder voices remain the ones that prefer to go on with the reprisals and with the direct violent repression of Palestinians. What is the Israeli agenda in this conflict? It is hard to know. What is declared is the need for security. But all military actions taken so far have led to more insecurity. ’
This is Archbishop Michel Sabbah, The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, September 29, 2006. (c.f. http://www.lpj.org/newsite2006/patriarch/archives/2006/10/holylando-austria102006-en.html )
I think I’ll believe him.

  • 315.
  • At 04:26 PM on 25 Nov 2006,
  • James Canning wrote:

How can an organisation be totally impartial.
The MOD monitors and limits the content of reports, although this is out of the BBC's control how can it report somthing that they know is restricted.
The BBC is a Human system, and because of that will never be totaly impartial.
Our news agencies have massive power,and needs to be managed with a view to its responsibilities, within society.

  • 316.
  • At 03:21 AM on 27 Nov 2006,
  • Barry Fewtrell wrote:

The TV licence is something I do not resent paying, I feel I get good value for money.

If the BBC were forced to fight for commercial funding then I feel that their impartiality would inevitably be compromised. Imagine a report on Iraq sponsored by Halliburton...

  • 317.
  • At 12:04 PM on 27 Nov 2006,
  • Joe wrote:

In response to Roy #314,
Your rather patronising dismissal of other peoples perspectives that do not fit your left-wing views is wrong, On every 'fact' that you put forward is also open to dispute, your defence of the Palestinian perspective is fine, however, you must be open and declare it.
You use emotive names like 'Jenin', however, you do not seem willing to balance that with atrocities committed by Islamic Terrorists, perhaps for the sake of a unbiased blog you would like to amend your previous comments?.
Perhaps also Roy you should consider that the IDF allow filming & reporting of their activities, however, Hamas, Hezbollah etc so not, how does this allow you to take a balanced viewpoint?, I suggest that you read more than just the Guardian and take a more middle-ground when it comes to commenting on the Middle East.

Wrong on all points, Roy. I did receive these details thanks to Malcolm Balen two years ago and now, since I posted on 108, I have received the same details again.

What many are concerned about is that the BBC commissioned their own report on whether or not they were biased in their reporting on the Middle East, under Malcolm Balen, and the finding of these have to date not been published. In addition, the BBC has gone to court, using tax-payers money, in order to prevent publication of this report.

This is the reason for the last part of my posting in 108, which has nothing to do with 'hot lines'.

It is obvious, Roy, that you yourself have used the blog for your own very transparent biases, and managed to get your facts wrong at the same time.

The BBC has had to apologize for a number of errors to do with its reporting of the Middle East, including on a very recent occasion stating that HAMAS was good for the Palestinian Christians and omitting context in much of its reporting on the Middle East.

Nevertheless, I continue to correspondent with a number of friends at the BBC and give them info to the best of my ability when they ask for it.

I was very touched to receive an e-mail from the Head of the Jerusalem Bureau recently, wishing me 'mazel tov' on my recent 'aliyah' to Israel.

This bodes well for the future.

I would like to end by stating the following: the plight of the Palestinians is not helped by those who ignore the plight of the Israelis (of all religions and ethnic groups). Nor is it helped by attempts to belittle and demonise those with whom we may, from time to time, disagree.

  • 319.
  • At 02:46 PM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • Justin Avery wrote:

Extraordinary.

The inference that discussion and "hypotheticals" naturally give rise to impartiality is both disingenious and myopic in the extreme. For "unbiased" to be defined so self rightcheously by a "subtle journo" as:

“It means we don’t take sides...either explicitly or implicitly. We test all opinion toughly but fairly and we let the audience make up their own minds..."

is a contradiction that insinuates that an "editorial line" does not exist - which of course it does.

The medium is the message and the BBC are adept at manipulating truths to suit their editorial, but they are clearly not aware of the impact of their bullyish propoganda as evidenced by that trite seminar podcast so excusably derided by the Mail.

  • 320.
  • At 06:42 PM on 06 Dec 2006,
  • J Westerman wrote:

Any organization is the sum of its parts.
There is perceived bias, before a word is said, if any of the parts are or were known to be strongly attached to a political view or body.
Recruitment appears to be minefield.

  • 321.
  • At 05:09 PM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • shane wrote:

The bbc is a self insulated elite, convinced of its own virtue, and subsidised by licensing fees that are bullied out of anyone who owns a TV.

Objective reporting? If only it were that simple. What exactly is the metric? The media has evolved into a far more subtle animal than the smug tone of this article implies. It is not so much about the specific facts that are reported, but HOW they are reported. This is called spin.

  • 322.
  • At 01:11 PM on 29 Jan 2007,
  • David Hewitt wrote:

If the BBC is not biased then perhaps explaining to me the balance in this statement placed at the end of the report on the first suicide bomb attack in Israel for 9 months:

"The last suicide attack was at a Tel Aviv restaurant, killing 10 people. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in that time, mainly in the Gaza Strip. "

You could argue that is adding balance, but it is nothing of the sort, that statement is as good as condoning this attack and if you do not understand that then you will never win back the British public who refer to the BBC as Al BBC.

So long as the BBC insists on recruiting most of it's journalists through the pages of the left-leaning Guardian newspaper, it will never be anything other than a left-leaning news organisation funded by an increasingly hostile and incredulous public!

Quoting the opening article above:

"[When the BBC audience was] asked recently which of the four main broadcasters they would term "trustworthy", nearly two thirds - 60% - cited the BBC. In contrast, 26% said ITV, 16% mentioned Channel 4, and 14% Sky. (Mori, 2006)"

And this is what the BBC writer describes as robust evidence of lack of bias? Well, it's the only quantitative evidence that can be found in the article, that's for sure. And I have a list as long as your arm of examples of where sides are clearly taken - both explicitly and implicitly, and the audience has absolutely no chance of having a fair basis on which to make up its mind.

As it happens, the writer probably didn't mean the BBC audience, she probably meant the British public, but ... read it for yourself, that would have to be the meaning, as set out - it was just sloppy. Either way, it looks pretty much like the words "robust evidence" are the last that could be used to describe such a simplistic set of statistics - which may tally more with viewing habits than anything else. It is kind of sad to see us so prostrate in front of such an institution.

I've just name-checked her ... I don't believe it ... she's Director of BBC News.

I mean I suppose I should have believed it ... I just automatically assumed from the way it was argued that it must be some sort of junior reporter who had written this stuff.

Note how, in the above quote, she has name-checked three large rivals, but drawn the parameters carefully in such a way that she fails to mention the internet or other smaller news sources increasingly being used. Note that this is not a "soundbite" medium ... it's an article she's writing, and it's an article about fairness, non-bias and impartiality. I don't see much that is impartial about using a self-referential grouping of large media enterprises in this way, in the current communications environment.

This is very similar to what the BBC does in General Elections - it attempts to airbrush everybody but the main parties out - thus making it pretty well-nigh impossible to break the cartel - which in politics is beginning to look very much like a monopoly, given the similarity of views and policies between the "main parties" - which as in the USA represent a decreasing percentage of the electorate or viewership.

In fact ... politics begins to look very much like the BBC and two or three name-checked rivals, by another set of names. A very notional idea, in democratic terms, really - more institutionally driven than democratically driven now. Something the BBC plays a huge part in, by attempting to shape opinion into studied, increasingly passive "fairness and impartiality" in the face of an impossibly unresponsive organisation of 20,000 in a country of 60 million.

I very seldom write on BBC sites - doing so just adds to this monopoly without meaningful feedback mechanisms. If I was in charge of decision-making at the BBC, I would ensure that:
1. it was financed in such a way that it was sufficiently broken down into local components, at least as a web presence, to give fair representation to independent and minor-party candidates in individual constituencies at election time;
2. it promoted liaison with non-BBC blogs and comment sites, because "you cannot own us all" as your intellectual property.
3. it made it it's business to go out and seek valid opinion and insight, rather than increasingly only reacting to overtures from publicity agencies and miscellaneous other experts at attracting its attention.

What we see of the BBC is really today's upper classes. Nature reporters on climate change jetting around the world whilst telling us to turn down the heating. Opinion formers taking over the reins of government. People whose biases shape our lives. I am certainly not speaking from a rightwing viewpoint - and I do agree that the BBC is one of the best mass media organisations in the Western world.

It's just that these broadcast media organisations are really, really bad now - they display outright bias without shame, so the BBC really doesn't have to try very hard to stand out.

  • 325.
  • At 08:40 AM on 31 Jan 2007,
  • Paul Smith wrote:

I have just read a news article on your website regarding the takeover of Chorus steel by indian company Tata.
The article mentioned that Chorus has plants in the UK in Scunthorpe, Port Talbot and Rotherham, well done for mentioning these but Chorus also have a plant on Teesside!!
Why do your so called researchers always omit facts in story's when the location is north of the M62?
This might sound petty but i would like to point out that the UK stretches all the way to the outer hebrides not just to manchester ish.
Please , Please start addressing this and make your employees earn their slice of the extortionate licence fee that i pay.

  • 326.
  • At 11:44 PM on 31 Jan 2007,
  • james varley wrote:

Does anyone agree with me that the timing of these dubious arrests in Birmingham have come at such a time to somehow ensure that the cash for honours investigation has completely fallen off the news agenda. Since the discussion is talking about BBC bias (I consider the Beeb to be one of the least bias mainstream outlets) it seems like there is a comprehensive blackout of this very serious story. I'm not suggesting that this story is more or less relevant than the kidnap plot but i'm certain it should pull rank on the in depth report the ten o'clock news screened on the chewing gum wars. And i'm not alone in this view.

The really sad thing about all of this is that journalists throughout history and even in the present day have risked their lives – and even given their lives – just to tell the truth. The way the BBC behaves and its obvious liberal leaning will inevitably lead to the kind of restrictions on journalism that we do not want in a free society.

To make a blanket statement like you “found their claim of liberal bias unconvincing” (talking of Andrew Marr and Jeff Randal’s comments) is burying your head in the sand. What I found irritating is that, if you simply reported the news rather than meddling in it, you would have less opportunity to be biased. OK, so you would still have the ability to relegate, promote or even bar certain news stories and you could still position stories in a subtle way to put across a subliminal message, but these dangers aside, you would not be in a position where you were accused of bias if you simply told the truth. One of your editors was publicly agonising whether or not his team should describe events in Iraq as a civil war. What has that got to do with him? I defy you to come up with an example of a news report where you need to bring in this term at all. By definition, if you were just telling us the truth and reporting what is actually happening, the term “civil war” would bring an element of personal opinion (or professional opinion if you prefer) into the report. As soon as I hear such opinions from your staff I start to mistrust the rest of the report. Whether there is or is not a civil war in Iraq is a political matter and a matter that each one of us can judge for themselves and a so-called unbiased editor has no right to encroach into this area.

I referred above to the dangers of promoting, relegating or banning an item. I skirted over this issue in order to illustrate another point. Let us not minimise the seriousness of this kind of meddling. Does the BBC’s liberal tendency affect what it reports? You bet it does! I’ll give you an anecdote – a true story - that illustrates my point: About 15 years ago a freelance reporter working for Helen Boaden on a programme about bullying in Feltham Young Offenders’ Institution asked her if it was acceptable to broadcast what they had discovered: that most of the bullies in Feltham at that time were black and most of the victims were white. What kind of organisation has the BBC become when a reporter has to ask if it is OK to tell the truth? Are you saying that that things have improved since then? Certainly Andrew Marr and many others do not think so.

The big casualty, past and present, is democracy. The editor of Panorama has more political power than my MP, and I find that scary, especially as my MP has been elected and the editor has not. Yes, there are controls on broadcast media at election time, but I fear that this restriction is not enough to mend the damage that is done the rest of the time. At present I believe that politicians are too scared to openly have a go back at the BBC for fear of being boycotted and losing air time. What I fear is that, when they have the opportunity, they will gradually bring in more and more controls to reign in the BBC.

Rather than see a slow death of free broadcast journalism at the BBC, I think the BBC News department should carry out a major and very public overhaul. Rather than keep stating that they are not biased, which even they must realise is nonsense, they should tell the truth, publish the Balen report and the transcript of the secret meeting, rather than cover them up and come clean. They should also get rid of so called political correspondents who like to give us the benefit of their opinions. In short, rip it up and start again.

You finished your piece with this give away line: “…we won’t let this small storm put us off trying to get impartiality right”. Question “when will you get it right?”

  • 328.
  • At 09:56 AM on 02 Feb 2007,
  • c joans wrote:

Bias at the BBC...this is a trick question right?

just check out the aricle on this very site...

Interviewing the BNP

then tell me you are not biased,
also from the responces on this page your obvious self admitted bias is apparently not very popular also.
prove you are unbiased and let the legal politcal parties such as the BNP have their fair say rather than write your defensive nonsense in this colum.

  • 329.
  • At 10:02 AM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Suguna Ramanathan wrote:


Why are Indian correspondents seldom asked to be present on the programme? They can speak excellent English, better than some of the Europeans on your panel. Nevertheless, let me say that for me Dateline London is (along with Hard talk)one my favourite programmes on television, and though I was sorry when it was shortened, it is now cripser than ever.

  • 330.
  • At 01:12 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • David wrote:

Are you going to respond to these concerns at any point or just leave this discussion thread open forever?

Please don't come back with 'if both sides are unhappy we must be doing something right'. This is crass and not good enough frankly.

  • 331.
  • At 01:54 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Mark E wrote:

"Please don't come back with 'if both sides are unhappy we must be doing something right'. This is crass and not good enough frankly."

Perhaps New Labour can use the fact that they are attacked by the loony left (aka Old Labour) and the Tories as proof that THEY are doing something right?

Or does that rule only apply to the BBC?

I never understood the whole "both sides hate us therefore we must be right" - perhaps they should strive more for "both sides consider us to be fair therefore we must be doing something right".

But I often feel that the BBC point of view is simply "we must be right"

  • 332.
  • At 05:37 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Helen wrote:

I think to some extent and for some stories, an individual may perceive bias depending upon whether or not it happens to agree with their own view points.

Some time ago I recall an article on Ceefax regarding expenses of the Royal Family. One sentence said something like 'the cost of legal advisors soared by £125,000 in a year'. Given that increase is a fraction of what 'Wossy' is reputed to earn, this seemed a bit of an over-reaction.

But as someone who is generally pro-Royal family (or at least not anti), was I right in believing the use of the word 'soared' in relation to expenses reflects an anti-Royal bias at the BBC? Or if I were a Republican would the phrasing have me nodding in agreement?

  • 333.
  • At 03:49 PM on 09 Feb 2007,
  • Almir wrote:


To Mark # 331,

I agree with your comments totally, the BBC is unbelievable when it comes to accepting criticism, the bias shown in most of it's news reports would be funny if it was not for the damage they cause.
I am not Jewish, I am not Catholic, I am instead Muslim, and from a moderate perspective the constant attacks on Israel are both morally wrong and almost anti-semetic in nature, I have friends from all backgrounds and although I feel the BBC is also hostile to Islam ( unless you are extremist) the hostility shown to Israelis is beyond the pale.
So yes, the BBC is biased and in my opinion is in need of serious rethink of how it reports the news.
Finally, why does the BBC not report on some of the normal Muslim and Jewish people?, they would find that we are all fed up with terrorists, and just want to get on with our lives in a safe and tolerant society, of course their is no news in reporting that 99% of Muslims and other religions are just normal people and that only a accident of birth means you are born in Tel Aviv, London or Baghdad.

I would also like the BBC to print this, I feel passionately that we should all stop attacking each other and address the fundamental problems facing the world, and unlike the BBC this is not religion but poverty, crime, water (or lack off it), pollution and war.

  • 334.
  • At 07:47 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Jos wrote:

Of course there is bias. We are all biased and the BBC is no different. As long different biases are presented - and acknowledged and admitted to - I see no problem. This requires rather more searching questioning of interviewees and statements of interest - the viewer should know the vested interest behind the statements and assertions. The dangerous bias in the BBC is towards the lowest common denominator. Most of its programmes are insulting to the intelligence. It should get rid of its new channels, put resources into just two, and sack the likes of Ross, Norton, Vine, Rosen, Wogan, Titchmarsh and other egotistical fifth raters who fill the current vacuum at the BBC. This would also solve the budget problem. Are you reading this, Michael Lyons?

  • 335.
  • At 02:15 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Graeme M Scott wrote:

Maybe the BBC is not biased. Maybe London does not have an opinion it forces upon us, and when we disagree with that we shout bias. It may very well be the case, BUT in Regional Broadcasting the BBC is very biased.

Take BBC Scotland. Everyone in Scotland knows that the people that run the BBC in Glasgow are biased, the news reporters are biased and the sports reporters are biased.

It may be they are following the lead taken by McConnell and his cronies, but they got turfed out. The BBC has a duty to remain impartial in all of its broadcasting mediums, but someone in London needs to take a long hard look at the anti-British, anti-Protestant, pro-Left element running things in their Glasgow offices.

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