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Trust and values

Mark Thompson Mark Thompson | 16:36 UK time, Thursday, 20 September 2007

After a summer of punishing and high profile editorial problems, we're not out of the woods yet but we can definitely see daylight ahead.

The trawl I announced back in July is complete. An independent spot-check of premium phone-lines which we will be discussing with the BBC Trust in October has been completed. This piece of work covered a number of aspects of programmes using premium rate phone-lines and found no evidence of systemic failures within the BBC or any malpractice within the programme sample. Our plans not just for training, but for a discussion about editorial standards and judgement-calls which will involve every programme-maker in the BBC are well under way – we’ll launch all that in November. We also hope to begin a phased and carefully controlled re-introduction of competitions in November.

The trawl did find four more cases of serious audience deception to go with the six we disclosed in July. But, after considering more than a million hours of output, we can also confirm that, to the very best of our knowledge, the overwhelming majority of our programmes are honest. Of course we can’t rule out something else serious emerging, but we believe we’ve got to the bottom of the problems – and need to concentrate now on making sure they never happen again.

There is no evidence that there is a widespread culture of deception at the BBC. On the contrary, all the evidence points to the fact that 99.99% or more of our programmes are trustworthy and that almost all of our programme-makers take their duty to the public incredibly seriously.

The trawl also underlines some of the differences between our problems and those of other broadcasters. Over the summer, we’ve seen high-profile premium phone-line cases in the commercial sector involving money running into tens of millions of pounds. At the BBC, the trawl has not revealed a single case of fraud – or indeed anyone acting through self-interest or a desire for personal gain.

Back in May I asked the business advisers Deloitte to do a separate spot-check on six of our own premium phone-line competitions. We’ll be discussing their findings with the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee in October. What I can say now is that this piece of work covered a number of aspects of programmes that use premium rate phone-lines and found no evidence of systemic failures or any kind of deliberate deception nor any other kind of serious malpractice.

Of course, that may make a few people wonder if we’re not making a bit of meal of all this. Isn’t the naming of a Blue Peter kitten, for instance, so much less important than some of the other issues which have arisen at other broadcasters?

Socks and CookieWell, that’s not what the public are saying. And it’s not what I believe. Letting down the children who watch Blue Peter and who trust it implicitly is a truly terrible idea – even if all that is at stake is the difference between calling a cat ‘Cookie’ or ‘Socks’.

The simple fact is that the public expect the highest possible standards of us – understandably higher than other media players. That’s why we have comprehensive editorial guidelines, which we make available to the public as well as our staff – and why it’s so important that all our programme teams really live by those guidelines.

It’s also why, when we come across serious cases of deception, we have to investigate how they came to happen and who was responsible. All of us – especially those in more senior editorial positions – have a special duty to uphold the BBC’s values and maintain the public’s trust in us.

Through the year, we’ve also seen a much wider debate about editorial standards in broadcasting (and especially in television). Where does legitimate production technique of a particular genre or format fringe into the unacceptable and misleading?

A great deal of nonsense is being talked about on this topic. The idea that simultaneously recording two editions of Songs of Praise on the same day amounts to a sinister plot to defraud the nation is madness. Similarly the suggestion that a universal ban on the "noddy" is the right response to public anxieties about the trustworthiness of television seems to me to be completely wide of the mark.

To me there is a world of difference between deliberate, material deception and reasonable production technique. A good test is what it feels like if you were to write down the given technique or editorial decision and share it with the public. If that feels comfortable, you’re probably on safe ground. If it seems embarrassing or indefensible, don’t do it. That’s why we are going to introduce websites which explain how we make television and radio for anyone who wants an insight into the techniques and methods we use.

I don’t want to suggest, however, that the issues fall neatly into a small number of serious cases of deception on one side and a great body of entirely acceptable and normal production techniques on the other. A few examples have emerged which – though clearly not in the same league as our problems with competitions – raise legitimate questions. The Newsnight film which moved sequences out of chronological order and the celebrated Imagine noddies are both examples.

I don’t believe that either represented any kind of bad faith or conscious effort to deceive. But in my view neither should happen in the future. Many documentaries necessarily show sequences in non-chronological order but if the change is material even in a minor way it should be pointed out to viewers. And it’s my view that noddies and actuality questions should only be included if they formed part of the original interview.

Both the Newsnight and noddy examples demonstrate the need for a wider discussion – and debate – between practitioners about where the line lies. Broadcasting technique is evolving all the time – and that’s a good thing, though it clearly throws up new questions and new dilemmas. Modern audiences are more sophisticated, more aware of what we do (many of them, after all, do their own shooting and editing at home) – but they are also rightly less tolerant of anything which is genuinely misleading.

That’s why the BBC training seminars which start in November are not going to be gloomy moralistic occasions where everyone is reminded to do what almost everyone knows they should do anyway – which is to tell the truth. They’re going to be an opportunity to have a creative dialogue about what our central values should mean in the reality of contemporary media.

The debate will make us stronger. But then I believe that this whole long, tough summer will make us stronger. Public trust in us certainly took a dent, but it’s interesting that a big majority of the public (73% when we asked) believe that we have the will and the ability to put everything right. That’s what we’re going to do.


  • 1.
  • At 05:31 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Some bloke wrote:

Why does the BBC need 'phone ins' or competitions? Have they really been that missed since they were phased out? Why not just abandon them altogether and return, if needed, to 'answers on a postcard' to name kittens etc where no prize is involved.

  • 2.
  • At 05:38 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Richard Taylor wrote:

Shame the BBC continues to ignore the majority of viewers who don't like programme junctions spoilt with trails, voice overs, credits cut. Dogs, Grainy, Film look shaky cam pictures. Too loud, too much so called background music. Oft repeated "catchups" during programmes, etc....

  • 3.
  • At 05:44 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • BR wrote:

Why don't you publish the rest of your polling results? Aren't they as encouraging?

Here's an idea - if you really are serious about transparancy why not let everyone see the Balen report you spent £200,000 suppressing?

  • 4.
  • At 05:49 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Johnny Norfolk wrote:

I think its about time the BBC was run for the paying public and not for itself. I think to see the DG not even wearing a tie says it all.
Scruffy reporters, Loud pop music on most programms. Adverts for itself all the time. Its not what we want.

  • 5.
  • At 05:50 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

I think the BBC need to concentrate more on ensuring that all news is reported in an unbiased, detatched way. Recently, I have found important news to be unreported or (deliberately?) missing from the BBC site altogether.

  • 6.
  • At 06:03 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Jimmy wrote:

Who cares? It is the name of a cat on a kids programme...

  • 7.
  • At 06:05 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

"That’s why the BBC training seminars which start in November are not going to be gloomy moralistic occasions where everyone is reminded to do what almost everyone knows they should do anyway – which is to tell the truth."

So why are you chopping the budget of that great truth-teller Newsnight by 20% then ?? That shows the value you place on truth pretty clearly.

This programme aims to tell the truth about Global Warming, the Credit Crunch, AIDS in Africa, Mugabe in Zimbabwe, the Floods in New Orleans, the Great Firewall in China, Energy Supply from Russia, and what goes on within the walls of EU institutions.

What of that do you think they should cut Mr Thompson ?? Don't fob me off with that 'think outside the box' nonsense. If you seriously think that what Newsnight reports on [or doesn't report on, in the future, if reports are to be believed] is less important than what a moggie on Blue Peter is called you really are more ignorant than I thought.

And that opening a new office in Scotland is more deserving of cash than keeping existing programmes at a high standard, more blinkered in your viewpoint than I previously gave you credit for.

Can I suggest you pay a visit to the Newsnight website - it might shine a light onto those dark recesses of your thinking process. And as Joni Mitchell once sang 'You don't know what you've got till it's gone' - so maybe you should try and find out before it is too late.

If 'interactivity' means anything you should listen to your viewers - if you don't then it is just another buzz word that has lost all meaning !

  • 8.
  • At 06:08 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Dave Liney wrote:

At least "noddy"s and doubling-up Songs of Praise have a rational explanation but why did someone at Blue Peter decide that Cookie wasn't a suitable name for a cat? It seems the attitude that the "BBC knows best" pervades the corporation at all levels.

  • 9.
  • At 06:09 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • garry cotton wrote:

when will you discuss on air the errors you have made and still making.
if it was any outside individual or company you would get the facts dish the dirt etc but not the bbc you are accounatable to no one

  • 10.
  • At 06:14 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • andie riley wrote:

I feel that the BBC has been a better broadcaster since the ending of phone ins. I apreciate that the income pays for extras, but surely if you cut back on them, you could still afford to do most of the extras without compromising on quality.
Best of luck for the future BBC. I am sure you will be here long after I am gone.

  • 11.
  • At 06:26 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Malc wrote:

Can I believe my ears?,
Sky News tells me that "Cookie" was rejected as the Blue Peter's cat's name because it may have been "sexually offensive".
What have I missed?
I remember in my youth listening to Violet Carson singing about "Cookie" on "Children's Hour" almost every week..(There was a little Drummer and he loved a one eyed cook....Said the drummer to the cookie 'You're the girl that I adore...Said the cookie to the Drummer...etc.etc. )

So I suppose in those days the BBC could hush it up and send Violet to Coronation Street where she wouldn't be noticed!

Sexually offensive? wonder it's called Blue Peter!


I think you need to look very seriously at your news output. It's of cource accepted that news 24 is going to need to find ways of filling a 24 hour period but it seems to me that a lot of the opinion you broadcast is trivial, poorly informed and leads to a biased perspective. You should be painting the whole picture and leaving the viewer to interpret that. If you can't get editorial staff with sufficient domain expertise to understand what is complete and what represents a fragment then you need to go back to basics and sort that out. These are just observations basde on news articles that touch on my domain of expertise. It lowers my level of trust and confidence in articles on which I am not a domain expert.

  • 13.
  • At 06:44 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • michael wrote:

What about the obvious bias of BBC News coverage of the US, Israel etc rather than rigging the votes for the naming of a cat? Do you think we are idiots?

  • 14.
  • At 06:45 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Neil Small wrote:

It is about time that the BBC was shaken up. It seems that there are certain cliques within the organisation, not uncommon in a public sector company. These cliques are their to satisfy their own agendas. Some of the BBC documents speak volumes with their own brand of technogabble - whatever happened to plain English?

The BBC is a public service that should not be driven purely by ratings. It is there to provide a wide range of programmes that cater to all tastes. Too many reality shows and soap operas. Whatever happened to the excellent drama, documentary and current affairs programmes? Focus on them. The BBC makes enough money selling programmes to overseas and from their spin offs from children's tv characters.

  • 15.
  • At 06:51 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Daniel Owen wrote:

The Yentob 'noddies' were surely a deliberate deception - you consciously gave the clear impression that Mr Yentob was doing the interview when he wasn't. Why doesn't Alan Yentob get the same treatment as Richard Marson?

  • 16.
  • At 07:10 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • louise wrote:

How about the BBC actually being accountable for what it does. I made a complaint weeks ago which has still not been responded to. I am tired of watching news programmes that do not mention the political situation in scotland. I am tired of not getting to watch my countries football team playing because the BBC wont stump up the cash required. Maybe its time the licence fee was abolished in scotland.

  • 17.
  • At 07:10 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Tim Sparke wrote:

Mr Thompson,

You know you are being economical with the truth when you say that all the trust issues have been satisfactorily investigated. There is one gaping issue you have utterly failed to report on. It is the biggest issue of this century, and you have been asked time and time again to investigate it independently, within the guidelines set out in the BBC Charter. It is the hoax of 9/11, that you still maintain, in all BBC coverage, was the sole work of 19 arab hijackers.

Given that 50% of the US population believe they have not been told the truth and more importantly a group of 500 - architects, engineers, pilots, professors, law enforcement officials (including 7 former CIA senior executives), pilots, physicists, and family victims all attest through their professional experience that the official story of 9/11 is a hoax, ( surely now you must take this issue seriously.

Later this year Loose Change Final Cut will be released. Using footage from the day shot from the cameras of the mainstream media, it will prove the official story of 9/11 cannot be true. Case closed.

It will cause deep distress to millions who will ask the question why, if the evidence of a cover up is so clear, did the world’s most trusted media brand, the BBC, not investigate 9/11 thoroughly, when repeatedly asked to do so. The BBC failed us over WMD and it is failing us now over 9/11. There is so much evidence to prove the official story cannot be true, you just have to be prepared to look. Think of it as the emperors new clothes....

If you maintain that the BBC can be trusted, then let me show you this new explosive film, and you can judge for yourself, what is self-apparent now to millions. You have my email, you know who I am. Get in contact Mark and judge our evidence with your eyes ears and head.

If you refuse to investigate this issue and you are found to be deliberately misleading the public, then you will personally be responsible for destroying the hard won reputation of the BBC - and that is something you should take very seriously. I know you as a good man, if perhaps a little weak. Show me I am wrong, that you are a man of some substance, and you are worthy of the title Director General.

We need a BBC that is prepared to ask the really difficult questions, whose loyalty to the viewer is unquestioned, and an organisation which when provided with evidence of malfeasance at the highest levels of government, grasps the challenge with pride, with confidence and with valour. Do the right thing for us, your licence fee payers Mr Thompson and investigate. Get in touch with me, expose yourself to the evidence and make a rational decision based upon what we now know now. You know it is your duty, by God and by mankind. Until we get to understand what really happened on 9/11 we cannot hope to end this hapless 'War On Terror'. Thank you.

  • 18.
  • At 07:15 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Ray Anderson wrote:

When will the BBC admit it has lost its way. Go back and read your charter. As a public service try to serve the public not pander to ratings. You are currently doing everything you can to alienate your licence payers who have no choice about paying and are left with only the choice of swithcing off!

  • 19.
  • At 07:18 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Chris M. Dickson wrote:

Garry, they already do. The show is called Newswatch and is shown on BBC News 24 every Friday evening, with repeats on BBC One on Saturdays as part of Breakfast. Granted, this isn't the highest profile; on the other hand, would you really want it on prime time to replace, for instance, an episode of Eastenders every week?

I would criticise the BBC in that the links to their section about Newswatch on the BBC News web site aren't nearly as prominent as they used to be. They were probably excessively prominent to the point of distraction when they were first introduced but they're conspicuous by their absence now; under the current circumstances, they're probably needed at least as much now as they ever have been. Given that you didn't know that the section existed, Garry, the section is evidently not being advertised well enough.

  • 20.
  • At 07:19 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Richard Burningham wrote:

I think the DG may be wrong about how people feel that the issue of changing the name of a cat has been blown up like this.

There is talk on the Guardian website that the ex Blue Peter producer involved in "Socksgate" has been sacked.

In my view, this would a huge and unwarranted overreaction. A reprimand yes, sacking no. Can we be reassured that no-one has lost their livelihood over what is ultimately a trivial issue?

  • 21.
  • At 07:25 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Peter Robinson wrote:

In 1971 the "Nationwide" team came to my then school (Hayling Primary) to film a piece about overcrowded classrooms. Except it obviously didn't look overcrowded enough. Cue some pupils from my class being taken into the classroom being filmed to swell the numbers.

I write this because "deception" in the BBC (and other broadcasters) has a long history. But despite it I value the BBC over and above all broadcasters. I am not particularly concerned about the name of a cat but am worried about the timidity in many aspects of the BBC: in its journalism, programming commissioning, and innovation (including the time its is taking for new ideas to be introduced). John Birt was ahead of the game with the internet and digital channels, Greg Dyke with Freeview. I worry that Mark Thompson seems to be ultra-cautious and has so far only delivered a poor licence fee settlement.

  • 22.
  • At 07:32 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew Rankin wrote:

The BBC produces top quality programmes such as Mountain, Michael Palin's New Europe, and any programme with David Attenborough. It can deliver top entertainment with Dr. Who & Rome.
Sadly, it can also trawl the depths & present us with mind-numbing dross. However it's a discgrace to manipulate it's audience (whether they are 5 or 95) by fixing polls, competitions etc. The man in charge at Blue Peter should never be allowed to work in television again if he is so disrespectful of his audience. After all, we the viewers are paying his salary.

It is all very well stopping phone ins and sacking people, is anybody getting back the money, prizes and other goods that their friends have received, due to the deception, or claimed the value back from the culprits?

  • 24.
  • At 07:54 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • garry cotton wrote:

mr Thompson
when will you have the nerve to go face to face with us the public who pay your wages and pay for everything to do with bbc
are you to frightened that you will and the bbc will be seen in their true light in stead of through bbc presenters who would be in fear of their jobs in the bbc
when are you going to be accountable to us the license payers
how about a discusion on air or are you afraid to come Face to Face

  • 25.
  • At 08:07 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Jand Alexander wrote:

Cover ups on Blue Peter are hardly new.Am I mistaken or is it not true that when Petra died a look-alike substitute took over under the guise of being the original?

  • 26.
  • At 08:14 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Jeremy Wickins wrote:

There are some important comments here, perhaps the most important being that ratings should not be chased, at least as enthusiastically as they seem to be. Please let's go back to the time when the BBC produced interesting programmes that educated and challenged. Yes, there is room for things like Eastenders and Casualty (though I don't watch them), but the standard of documentaries is falling badly. I long for the days when Horizon was a major documentary series that looked at serious issues and challenged current views. What about Tomorrow's World, James Burke's Connections (I think that was its name), and Young Scientist of the Year? Society needs things like this to encourage people to take up professions in science. Please, stop pandering to the assumed commercial attitude of lowest-common-denominator thinking (which, judging by some of the documentaries I've seen on commercial TV recently, doesn't actually exist). You are in a wonderful position, not having to worry about advertising revenue - use it wisely.

On a different topic, does the reintroduction of competitions mean that we can have proper people back on Ken Bruce's Pop-master (Radio 2) quickly, so that the B-grade musicians that have been dragged out can stop being publicly humiliated??

Watch Sky News or ITV News for 10 minutes, and then THEN tell me the BBC is biased!
The BBC has gotten a lot better at reporting facts, rather than speculation - or at least labelling speculation as idle chatter or leaks when it does report it. On Sky News you're much more likely to get the reporter's own take on a story.
It's a shame, as these small incidents are just an excuse for those who despise/envy the BBC to start moaning.

  • 28.
  • At 08:28 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • miles wrote:

Trust and the BBC are two words that do not go together. Poor reporting, phone in scams, the list goes on.

The recent shocking coverage and scaremongering of the Northern Rock debacle was the final straw for me.

A reputation takes years to build and minutes to wreck. You have a long job ahead of you...

  • 29.
  • At 08:34 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Jake Linklatter wrote:

1. The Blue Peter episode is embarrassing - who says editorial content should be driven by polls? it highlights a greater issue: interactive content instead of creative content. Relying on audience participation risks being lowest common denominator.

2. The 6 music firing is hypocrisy in its worst form. Either a) you need to fire the boss of 6 Music, Lesley Douglas, who has to take responsibility for what is going on in her ship, and the legions of executive producers who oversee the output or b) you take an adult approach and acknowledge these things have been tolerated by BBC Radio management for a long time. Just think about pre-reced interviews put out as 'live', Xmas day shows put out as 'live', Colin Murry when he's actually on TV, etc, etc. BBC management needs to grow up.

  • 30.
  • At 08:34 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • J.WESTERMAN wrote:

1 It should be possible to discuss almost any subject on air provided the sides concerned are properly balanced. Therein lies the rub and the problem that many people have with the media, including the BBC. It is this matter of gratuitous comments and opinions that is so infuriating
A good example occurred shortly after 6.00 hrs. this morning. I had the BBC news on in the background and heard someone, James Westwood I think, mment that a 10 year plan the Government had in mind for children sounded Stalinesque. It is not for the BBC journalists to give that sort of opinion. Get a debate on air if appropriate.

2 It is a pity that “Relief relief” has been so overwhelmed by submissions that it has not been able to publish mine of the 6th September. I hope that was the problem and not embarrassment about one more gratuitous and slanted opinion.


So much for trust. The above was the result of my submission about a BBC news program gratuitously describing a Government plan for children as “Stalinesque”

3 The unvarnished truth; no personal opinions or comments unless in well balanced discussions.
These things are rarely supplied by organizations that are subject to commercial pressures. They justify every penny of a licence fee.
The BBC has failed to deliver for some time now despite considerable criticism. The top echelons agree with the present performance or are unable to exercise control. For example, I recently heard, in a BBC morning news program, a Government scheme for children described as Stalinesque. It may or may not be. What is certain, is that a gratuitous unquestioned personal opinion in those circumstances is not appropriate.

The guess this end was that 1 “Relief relief” would be closed down.
2 “Trust” item would not be published.
3 This reference to 1 & 2 would be published for a short period only.


I am not asking you to publish this.

  • 31.
  • At 08:40 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Chris Bowie wrote:

Sorry Mark, you've blown it.

You have blown the public's trust that the BBC will ever be honest and apolitical under your watch. "I don’t believe that either represented any kind of bad faith or conscious effort to deceive" - oh come on, if you are saying that then YOU need to go as well!

By pandering to NuLab, the climate change agenda, anti-US propaganda and by silencing the Balen report you prove that public service for the Beeb means "New Labour Puppet".

You hasten the demise of the licence fee. I say bring it on!

Meanwhile, I'll be watching the channels that I CHOOSE to pay for.

  • 32.
  • At 08:46 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Martin Worsley wrote:

Editorial guidelines should prevent the news front page that I have just seen going out to the World. Why is a story about two British soldiers being killed eclipsed by a picture of a cat? I think most people are far more concerned about the soldiers, their families and colleagues.

  • 33.
  • At 08:50 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Jack Fielding wrote:

The BBC can re-build trust by stopping their undying bias towards certain issues. The obvious bias toward the EU is presented frequently, as is their stance on global warming, where the BBC has decided that it must save the planet itself. I will be happy to pay my licence fee and trust the BBC when the Left-wing bias, unnceccesary effects and deliberate deception of the British public stops.

  • 34.
  • At 08:51 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Ian Hartley wrote:

It just beggers belief that after asking the children for their opinion the production team felt they had the authority to ignore the honest vote of their viewers. I am pleased that this transgression has been exposed. It demonstrates to me that the BBC are committed to get things sorted out. To be honest I don't miss the phone ins. Look at Ken Bruce and his Celebrity Pop Quiz.. great to hear pop celebs struggling like the rest of us.

  • 35.
  • At 09:08 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew Myers wrote:

Trust is a central issue in a publically funded entity. Unfortunately, the drive for viewing figures seems to be the over-riding issue although I will say that in this the BBC is in a vicious circle. It ignores viewing figures and makes purely public service programs and suddenly people are saying that no-one watches and therefore shouldn't pay the license fee. It is a difficult situation.

However, there are some issues of trust there are no excuse for. It is time the BBC lived up to it's name. No more tilting of the weather map, no more referring to London as where the news comes from, no more referring to 'Scotland' as where a scottish person comes from but the individual town for where and English person comes from. The BBC has to be totally geographically independent. I don't care if everyone in the country lived in the south of england and one person lived in John O'Groats, the BBC MUST assert geographic independence. And I say this as an englishman. End the regional racism.

  • 36.
  • At 09:12 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Birol Oguz wrote:

Bravo the Beeb, and quite right too, 'Cookie' for goodness sake! Someone has to stand up to the transformation of Britain into the 51st state!

  • 37.
  • At 09:17 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • john wrote:

If the deception of children only warrants walking the plank for the minions, surely everyone else should be concerned about the tripe they are spoonfed?

Responsibility for this deception goes right to the top. A clean sweep is the only answer that this license payers expects.

  • 38.
  • At 09:20 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • richard harrison wrote:

I am consistently appalled at the lack of proper investigative reporting at the BBC these days and how this seems to get worse.

Implanting falsehoods through omission or by way of biased, intoned reporting is little different from outright lying in my opinion where you have what amounts to a monopoly and there is little opportunity for other views to be aired to the masses or to be recorded for the benefit of historical record. You do very little or nothing to present opinions which the BBC perceives may damage the status quo or be unpalatable to the political interests behind the scenes.

One example which springs to mind is the way the incredible mobilisation of over 3m people in London in 2003 to protest the Iraq war was utterly trivialised to less than a couple of minutes airtime, and how much of the so-called "war" reporting since has been spin and biased (embedded) nonsense.

Another example which just springs to mind is the complete scare-puff piece on your website about the Gardasil vaccine yesterday. This was purely a cut-and-paste plug/hook-and-scare blurb from the drug manufacturer, rubber-stamped by braying career politicians within the civil service. With any piece such as this you have a DUTY to present alternative views - you need to be MUCH more cynical and suspicious (i.e. proper journalism) whether the Establishment likes it or not! Proper journalism is interviewing people both for and against every single news item and getting under the skin of the PR nonsense - that's what democracy and free speech is supposed to be about. Do any at the BBC remember how to be real journalistic reporters rather than merely "repeaters" or press-release regurgitators? Viewpoints such as are held by many medics in the US about this product for example, its supposed efficacy, and the laughable statistics and spin which underpin its promotion need to be aired to the public of this country so they can make informed decisions. I could go on but it seems that with almost every article I read or hear from the beeb it's the same old depressingly biased content.

Few people under 40 really trust the BBC at all any more (and certainly nobody under 25 all of which age bracket seem to get their news from the web channels and blogs and pour scorn on the sanitised puff propaganda the BBC churn out) and it is a terrible shame that people have little choice but to be coerced into paying to be proffered meaningless claptrap over which they have so little say.

As for telling porkies over the naming of a cat, it's deceit culture in action and simply the tip of the iceberg.

  • 39.
  • At 09:34 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

Sexually explicit references? That's not the rumour I heard behind the rejection of a seemingly innocent-sounding kitty name...

Think about it. Cookies and kids don't exactly go together these days do they? Couldn't possibly tolerate even the mere mention of fat-laden snack items in these days of The Great Obesity Timebomb Epidemic!!!

Not to mention that 'Cookie' is also more than a little American and Auntie isn't exactly the biggest fan of our transatlantic cousins at the moment is she!?!

I really wouldn't put it past some know-it-all children's commissioner at the Beeb, not that you'd ever admit to it of course. Maybe suggesting 'Carrotstick' or 'Ryvita' as an alternative would have been a bit too obvious.

As for competitions and phone-ins, I could quite happily live without them permanently - it's not as though there's exactly a shortage of similar output from other broadcasters.

Get rid I say, and let's have a return to the days of sealed-down envelopes and maybe the occasional name drawn out of a hat.

Maybe you could use the money saved to reinstate the funding for news and current affairs, the cutting of which in favour of more mindless pap and trivia shames the entire organisation and demonstrates EXACTLY how warped its priorities have become.

  • 40.
  • At 09:36 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • al faux wrote:

Great news but all worthless because of Balen - be grown up and publish it.

  • 41.
  • At 10:06 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Joshua Flynn wrote:

What makes me worried is not the fact there are these scams, or issues and bias, but how and why they came to the surface in the first instance.

Why does it take whistle-blowing for such a thing to be discovered in the first place?

Are there no set checks, guidelines or rules regarding this? The Editor with the previous Blue Peter issue was quite clearly confused and working on impulse - which only happens when people don't know what to do! Surely this wouldn't have occured if there was a set of guidelines or rules?

Obviously, you'll be working hard to make sure everything is back to normal, but what about in the long-run? Just because you've investigated it now, doesn't mean someone could later fall victim to the same mistake or have the same issues again! Prevention is better than the cure!

And would it kill the budget to get some more decent comedy shows on air, like Mock the Week? It strikes me that everyone is down in the dumps, and I think a bit more humour would go a long way to helping with clearing up the air!

Just so long as the 'comedy' shows aren't along the lines of Hyperdrive or Saxondale.

(And maybe, just maybe, get Doctor Who back?)

  • 42.
  • At 10:15 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Michael Wilkinson wrote:

Some of these negative comments seem suspciously similar. Anyway, I am very pleased with the service I get from the BBC. I appreciate that no public (or private) corporation is perfect all of the time and I am glad errors are being corrected. But it is a minority of instances given the massive output, whether broadcast or online, produced by the BBC. I wish the best for the Corporation (and please do not cut the budgets of Newsnight or the Today programme).

  • 43.
  • At 10:54 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Geoff Minshull wrote:

Getting some reporters with a basic idea of statistics would help. A week ago, on the 13th September, you said 20 million people had registered to see the Led Zeppelin gig ( A third of the population of Britain? Seems extremely unlikely to say the least, but you reported it without questioning the figure. Today, the figure has gone down to 1 million - still seems a lot, but is more realistic than 20 million.

So many reporters today seem pretty numerically illiterate, with numerous examples of dubious statistics, on the BBC, but also in quality papers such as the Guardian.

  • 44.
  • At 10:59 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Ed wrote:

Why should anyone trust an organisation of patronising centre-lefties who cover their exorbitant running costs by extorting money from students, the poor and old people for the grotesque offence of owning a television set?
I shall be the first to cheer when the whole rotten Orwellian edifice comes crashing down and Britain joins the ranks of nations with a truly free press.
I do not expect to wait long.

  • 45.
  • At 11:06 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Charles B wrote:

what do you know, childrens shows are rigged just like Big Brother and The US elections... I own my own website, and we have regular polls based on, such things like these... the percentages on my forum are almost always different from the real competitions... weird that huh?

What #2 said.

  • 47.
  • At 11:36 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Ben Jamin wrote:

I understand that not everything the BBC makes can be top-quality, but do we really need a glut of phone-ins, gardening shows, celebrity cookery shows, make-over shows and tabloid news? There are plenty of commercial channels that supply happy junk - let the BBC justify its license fee and make some proper programmes.

  • 48.
  • At 11:37 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Richard Primmett wrote:

I have written to the Director General about a dozen times over the last couple of months concerning matters including breaches of Editorial Guidelines and I have not had a single reply.

  • 49.
  • At 11:37 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • David wrote:

Well, although these recent affairs are serious, on reading these posts, I think the BBC probably has it about right. There are approximately equal numbers of people here complaining about the BBC's left wing bias AND their left wing bias, about their pro-war stance AND their anti-war stance... Well done the BBC! You're not perfect, but you're still better than any of the alternatives.

  • 50.
  • At 11:45 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Rob Davies wrote:

I really don't care that much about whether the BBC deceived its young viewers over the choice of name for a cat. Perhaps if youngsters' suggestions really were awful it was better to tell a white lie and have programme staff choose a more suitable one than insult thousands of children by telling them their name choices were no good. Of far more importance is the daily deception the BBC perpetrates, which is to seek to come across as an impartial broadcaster when it has a clear liberal-left bias in almost all its broadcasting, from relentless metrication and a subliminally pro-EU stance, right through to its blatant pushing of multiculturalism and liberal-left causes in its choice and treatment of programme material. As for its public introspection and navel-gazing over trivial matters of deception such as names for cats, I fear this is merely a way of seeking to prevent the spotlight falling on its much deeper and more worrying failings.

  • 51.
  • At 11:46 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • jazzone wrote:

So your "Achtung! Tell the Truth seminars" are going to be '... an opportunity to have a creative dialogue about what our central values should mean in the reality of contemporary media.'

In that case, in the interests of openess, can you put a camera on the seminars involving people like Michael Crick, John Ware, Jeremy Paxman, John Humphries, Eddie Mair and Brian Taylor?

I'm sure they'll gladly take part in a creative dialogue as opposed to ripping some hapless trainer's head off or sitting there in sullen, furious silence.

  • 52.
  • At 11:50 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • jerry randalls wrote:

The Blue Peter brand is soiled. I have trusted it since the age of 5 in 1964. But not any longer. I know it is only the naming of a kitten but what signal does this debacle send to my children about voting and democracy. I suppose it was how Florida was won and put Bush in power. It is that important. I am with Stalin on this one. It's not who votes who counts. It is who counts the votes.

Jerry Randalls, Falkirk UK

As someone who was a sound engineer dealing with TV, Radio, Advertising and the Music Business for many, many years, I find this whole very unsurprising series of revelations a little sad.

It has been a common occurrence that I have said to friends while watching this or that programme, "don't believe what you think you are watching".

I know how in audio editing we can not only join two parts of sentences together to create a new one, but even two parts of words together. And this is not some digital trick, we used to do it with tape and razor blades.

I also know that simple things like a shot in a documentary of two people meeting for the first time was in fact set up because there was only one camera.

I have sat in the studio time after time while advertising producers and programme producers have been more interested in "what they could get away with," than any sort of idea of responsibility.

And these were not rare instances - these happened time after time. It was part of the game. Most time it didn't seem to matter much, but sometimes, like the Blue Peter Cat (or the old lie about the dog), it was a distasteful part of the industry.

Mark, your so-called trawl through the Beeb is very laudable, but you are as long in the tooth in this business as I, and I find your pretence at innocence as to how TV makers really work more than a little hard to swallow.

Why not come out with the truth:

All TV is invented to get the ratings. Fooling people is the name of the game, and has been since the very beginning.

In the past, we liked to call it preserving "the mystery of television." A very pretty label for what is in reality one big swindle.

  • 54.
  • At 11:53 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • ben rattigan wrote:

It's time to get rid of private operators and let the BBC make and broadcast it's programmes. One corporation.

  • 55.
  • At 12:05 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Ollie wrote:

Richard Harrison (#32) wrote: "Few people under 40 really trust the BBC at all any more (and certainly nobody under 25 all of which age bracket seem to get their news from the web channels and blogs and pour scorn on the sanitised puff propaganda the BBC churn out)."

Rubbish. For a start I'm 22 and work FOR the BBC as a journalist, and much as I enjoy the occasional "web channel" (which you'd define as what exactly?) and read weblogs, I use Five Live and the News website above all for my news. My dad, a former chairman of his local Young Conservatives, swears by Five Live.

I'd say most of my friends my age are right-wing if anything, given I grew up in a rural area with the kids of farmers and politicians for schoolmates (not that it matters, and they wouldn't say they were any wing at all). They all respect the BBC, use its services and seem fairly envious that I've got the privilege of working for the corporation. And I feel privileged every day, and work my socks (cookies?) off seven days a week.

The notion that "nobody under 25" cares about the BBC is absurd. There's plenty we do daily with young people in our local communities that you have probably never even seen, and the next generation of reporters, producers and presenters are under 25 and already working to make the BBC an even better broadcaster, from the tiniest local radio station to network news. And we're not all left bloomin' wing!

  • 56.
  • At 12:08 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • JG wrote:

"Cookie" was rejected as the Blue Peter's cat's name because it may have been "sexually offensive"

Just how ridiculously PC is the BBC these days, shakes head.

  • 57.
  • At 12:13 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • John Gee wrote:

When you have an organisation of this size which is institutionally left wing and liberal there is a mindset that "we are right" and anyone who disagrees is "wrong".Therefore adjusting things which do not fit this mindset is ok, this attitude then allows all sorts things to be altered and twisted.

  • 58.
  • At 12:44 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • M wrote:

It is refreshing to have some tangible input from yourself. Where is your blog? :)

Lots of people go on about transparency. How many blogs do you need to describe the activities that go on at the BBC? 1000? If you introduced this control framework across the organization the problems would reduce.

Managers who don't actually manage and make decisions would become obvious. Performance would be based on the blog. Scrutiny and useful input would come from the public. Currently there´s no accountability.

It is also important to know what the Trust rejects. How many youtubes and facebooks have been rejected in the past?

  • 59.
  • At 12:56 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • S Metherton wrote:

"Isn’t the naming of a Blue Peter kitten, for instance, so much less important than some of the other issues which have arisen at other broadcasters?

Well, that’s not what the public are saying. And it’s not what I believe."

What about what your staff are saying and think about this issue? It would seem that you are clearly out of touch with them on this.

  • 60.
  • At 01:02 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • fi wrote:

My children spent HOURS debating the name for the Blue Peter kitten ..It was really important to them and in my naivety I trusted Blue Peter to "do right " by them ..

Noone should brush this off as being unimportant just because it's an issue that effects the under 10's ..

It's terrible ...
There can be no excuse

  • 61.
  • At 06:02 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Abi wrote:

Hear Hear! Get the postcards and sealed down envelopes back. Exploiting children is horrendous and I can't believe the BBC do it!!!

It will give the kids who really are bothered to make that effort to win a prize, not some spoilt brat who has a mobile phone and a license to call.

All CBBC programmes SHOULD discourage phone in competitions. Mum's should be able to let kids watch the programmes while busy with other things... not stand keep one eye on the incessant slang, inappropriate dress sense, the lies and mistrust! I thought Blue Peter was a wholesome show.... it's gone down the pan! It's not cool... it's a geek trying desperately to be cool. We still need a show on CBBC for the brighter kids, the ones who need the extra stimulus. CBBC is riddled with ITV esq rubbish!

We need some presenters to show kids how to be smart and how to present themselves in the real world! I'm so so disappointed with the CBBC programmes. I feel cheated and let down!

  • 62.
  • At 06:11 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Donald wrote:


The BBC thinks it is above everyone and everything else.
It should be a servant to the payinmg public.

The 'cats name' + others, show how individuals think they do not have to show any responsibility to viewers.
The same with news reporting - the audience is treated like idiots where simple points are made to appear like a big news event, without any explanation to back them up.

Also when interviewing people, they do not push any point when a question is not answered - except when people like Jeremy Paxman justy rant and rave without getting answers.

  • 63.
  • At 07:37 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Surin wrote:

I find it hard to trust BBC reporting when they don't report on what half the world's population wants to hear.

Why has there never been a real investigation of the events of 9/11.

  • 64.
  • At 08:21 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Alan Connock wrote:

So the Blue Peter editor changed the result of the vote after being advised that there was a late surge for the winner from multiple votes, possibly because the name has another, sexual, meaning.

Alan Yentob ACTED the response to an interviewee and the inserted himself into the film to make it look like he had the time/could be bothered to be there.

What will his punishment be?

Or is all this a case of assistant-heads will role?

  • 65.
  • At 09:00 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Jon Anderson wrote:

There is no doubt that BBC standards in all areas have been in steady decline for years. The corporation oozes a scruffy complacency and shows complete disregard for those wanting well made programs made for adults, rather than juveniles with a short attention span. The whole self-regarding culture is wrong and I see no hope of a recovery.

  • 66.
  • At 09:01 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Breandan wrote:

I think Mark is completely misreading the public mood on the Blue Peter Cat. The gross over-reaction, which both the apology and disciplinary action represent, undermines the note of moral seriousness the BBC is trying to strike. It's pure posturing and puritanism on the cheap, and it will be seen for what it is.

Kittengate is a soft (!) target and a distraction from the more substantive ethical issues with which the Corporation needs to grapple.

  • 67.
  • At 09:26 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Barry Purkis wrote:

I find one aspect of current Broadcasting extremely annoying, that is the over emphasis on being 'fair and balanced'.
Only the bland are completely balanced in their viewpoint, I do not care if the reporter/editor is biased in their presentation, I do not care if the BBC is politically biased, WHat I do want to know is when that bias is present. WHen a Politician is speaking I know that their bias will show, what I would like is for the Reporters on ALL BBC news and current affairs programmes to declare theit 'politics. example:-It is fairly obvious that one of the reporters for SOuth Today is a strong 'greenie' and totally opposed to the Newbury bypass, even though the road was wanted by the vast majority and has now been in use for several years. Even now every story that is against the road is used by 'South Today' with little positive comment. I can accept the reporters point of view, I feel that it should be included in the reporting.
There is no such thing as fairness in life, I do not expect it in a broadcaster, What I require is to know where that unfairness exists, whether it in my local news or in Newsnight or Panorama, or even the main News.

  • 68.
  • At 09:48 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Norman Dennis wrote:

The Director General says that a trawl (is a trawl the same as an inspection?) of more than more then a million hours of output has resulted in the confirmation that 99.99 per cent of BBC programmes are honest and trustworthy. But it is quite impossible to trust the statement that in a few weeks more than a million hours of output were investigated in any meaningful way at all, never mind in a way that would expose dishonesty in any particular programme. And it is ludicrous to give a statistical weight to the results of such a trawl, most of all to give a statistical weight of 99.99 per cent. As I pointed out in a previous blog, I investigated the horrors of the inaccuracies and systematic bias in a major BBC "documentary" entitled "Little Kinsey". Yet when I saw the programme, all I could claim was that the contents were somewhat surprising. Simply by watching the programme, I couldn't say whether or not the contents were fair and accurate. In fact there was a comprehensive lack of correspondence between its claims about the content of the archive, and the actual contents of the archive itself. But I was only able to find this out by detailed inspection of the archive at the University of Sussex. Looking at a million hours in a few weeks, by someone or a team with no particular interest or expertise in any particular topic, is a process that is totally unsuited to bringing to the surface the "Little Kinsey's" of the BBC's output. The "Little Kinsey's" are the serious problem, not, by comparison, the triviality of how a cat got its name. Yet the BBC has focused its publicity on the cat. It is astonishing that the BBC could have decided that such a clumsy and obvious public-relations tactic of using the cat to distract attention from the real problem is the way to restore public trust.

  • 69.
  • At 10:21 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • John Garrett wrote:

The observation of 99.99% trustwothiness is the latest misleading statistic. As the vat majority of BBC output does not involve phone/internet competitions, that proportion of the output should not be included in the calculation of statistics in this case. Shame on you!!

I hear reports that the vote result was changed because there was evidence it had been rigged by outside voting.

This doesn't particularly surprise me - online votes of all levels have been deliberately rigged by outside parties since the dawn of the Internet, from naming a cat to voting in a UK political election.

So by the sounds of it, the executive took steps to counteract that rigging, and has since been sent home. If this is so, then this shows how in the upper echelons of the BBC, they don't understand online voting. And if they don't understand something so fundamentally simple, what on earth are they doing running the BBC ?!

  • 71.
  • At 11:04 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • tony wrote:

...and what about the balen report?

  • 72.
  • At 11:19 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Gareth wrote:

Will this new era of truth and reconciliation see the end of Timothy Westwood's pantomime on 1FM?

He doesn't speak like that off air.

  • 73.
  • At 12:06 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • James wrote:

What a smokescreen! OK, the cat-naming issue should have been done differently and even the phone-ins are a minor scandal. But to pretend, as seems to be the current BBC "line to take", that the collapse in trust for the BBC is down to these marginal issues is disingenuous, at best. The trust has been lost because the the most powerful levers of communication in this country, the BBC, are controlled by a cultural and political (not in a party sense) monoculture. The fact that the BBC can't (or in Helen Boaden's case won't) see this bias is indicative of the depth of the problem. I do think that many BBC staffers genuinely believe that their left/liberal perspective is just uncontroversially "fact" rather than opinion. And why wouldn't you if you work and live in a monoculture?

Until Mark Thompson has the courage to properly and systemically address this issue, the BBC's trust will continue to plummet - regardless of whether phone-in polls are run correctly.

  • 74.
  • At 01:03 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Andy Gill wrote:

Mr. Thompson's article misses the main point. This is not just about phone-ins and a bit of sly editing. Its about the whole politically correct culture in the BBC, which now can no longer to be trusted as an unbiased news medium.

Blatantly anti-Israel in its Middle East coverage, and unwilling to confront the issues of terrorism, the BBC has justifiably earned the contempt of many on the right.

For a start, why not let the Balen report into the public domain?

  • 75.
  • At 01:23 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • grahame mitchell wrote:

What the issue with the Blue Peter phone-in illustrates to me is the attitude of BBC staff to the public and their role as a publically funded service. I have long believed that the BBC is a collection of semi-autonomous fiefdoms lumped together and all vying for control of the empire. As to the opinions, wishes or requirements of the license payers. I think the attitude of the vast majority of BBC staff is derision. All this against a back drop where the organisation is almost unaccountable.

  • 76.
  • At 01:37 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Annaliese wrote:

I'm very disappointed with the BBC. It is a public institution, funded by public money and it has lied to the public on more than one occasion. To change the name of a cat in a public vote may not seem like a massive issue but it is. It is a fundamental breach of trust. That the BBC has been lying to children makes it even worse. There are other problems with the BBC - BBC breakfast news is now like a magazine, full of fluff and no serious reporting. Even the evening news has been dumbed down with "news" of celebrities and the like. Lastly, the BBC is biased, not only in its political views but it also takes positive discrimination too far. The BBC should be representative of the whole of society, not just those who reflect the views and composition of BBC staff. I think it's time to get rid of this lumbering institution.

The Guardian are reporting that the cat's name was changed due to the technical team at the BBC alerting the Editor, Richard Marson, to the fact that the vote was being rigged in the final stages of voting.

He then took what seems like a perfectly sensible editorial decision in the light of this fact and mandated that the name that had been in the lead for the majority of the poll, before the rigging began, should be the winner.

Doesn't it seem like an eminently sensible decision? And isn't this precisely the type of editorial decision that he was employed to make?

If this version of events is true then what possible cause is there to either sack him or make any kind of apology for the incident?

  • 78.
  • At 02:08 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • RJ wrote:

This comment section has cemented my belief that organizations such as the BBC do not exist to inform the public as generally accepted, but rather to confuse and obfuscate. Comment #17 goes to the heart of the matter, yet no one seems to care.

On a deeper level, perhaps the planet's population is simply too large, and the competition for resources too intense, for the truth to ever be known. Perhaps indeed, it's every man for himself.

  • 79.
  • At 03:48 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • BenMcCrory wrote:

Mark Thompson said he would instigate a zero-tolerance policy towards deception, and said it was all the fault of them below stairs. Then Yentob was revealed as dropping in noddies to imply that he had been present at interviews he hadn't conducted, whereupon Thompson says it isn't deception, everyone does it (a claim contradicted by everyone else, and Yentob has nothing to answer for. Then we have CatFlap, and zero-tolerance is back. Thompson has no credibility and is presiding over continuing damage to the reputation of the BBC.

  • 80.
  • At 04:03 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • merle wrote:

RJ, you are right. Comment #17 cuts to the chase. The rest (almost) falls away.

  • 81.
  • At 07:37 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • muzza wrote:

Sir: Your statement: "There is no evidence that there is a widespread culture of deception at the BBC. On the contrary, all the evidence points to the fact that 99.99% or more of our programmes are trustworthy and that almost all of our programme-makers take their duty to the public incredibly seriously." is on its face, PREPOSTEROUS.

It itself is clear and direct evidence that proves the charge.

99.99% is 1 in 10,000. You, Sir, are saying of "more than" 10,000 programmes investigated, only 1 showed evidence that it was untrustworthy.

That cannot possibly be true. Why lie to us like that???

Just one area where there is clearly a problem is where the Beeb announced, 20 minutes before it actually collapsed that WTC7 had collapsed, when right behind the reporter WTC7 still stood. And what happened to the footage showing that collapse shortly after that statement was made?

Trustworthy 9,999 times in 10,000?? Yeah, Right!!

  • 82.
  • At 01:16 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Chris Neill wrote:

Having read the Guardian story that Richard Marson was acting only on the advice of technicians, I can only express dismay at the BBC for sacking him, especially since his role as editor is surely to take these decisions and to all intents and purposes, he appears to have acted with the best of intentions.

Stop waving that big stick Auntie and retain that sense of perspective and stiff upper lip that puts the British into the BBC.

  • 83.
  • At 05:17 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

I'm sorry -- what? The BBC is self-flagellating over the naming of a cat when it hasn't yet adequately addressed the questions surrounding 9/11, including its own psychic reportage concerning the collapse of Bldg. 7? Is this an example of British humour?

  • 84.
  • At 11:29 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Philip Devigne wrote:

Yes comment 17 tells it all.
The BBC, like all other western mass media is above all preoccupied by keeping the consensus even if it means massive cover up.
And comment 47 tells you how pervasive that attitude is.

  • 85.
  • At 01:26 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Anon Nymos wrote:

I also second comment #17. In your words: stop the deception. Or do we (again) have to wait until its a done deal, like with Operation Gladio..
But then again how does one save a sinking ship?

  • 86.
  • At 10:23 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Bob wrote:

Dear Mark,
The following is a suggestion to save a huge amount of money which could be utilised for the Newsnight budget and re-balance the overly lefty PC culture at the Beeb:

Stop advertising BBC jobs in The Guardian and advertise them on air instead.

Don't say you're not allowed to advertise because you constantly show "trailers" for BBC programs, which proves you must be struggling to fill airtime.

  • 87.
  • At 12:18 AM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • scott wrote:

must've made mistake in putting comment on before, can't see it. BBC needs to know that i is full supported in its searc for the Truth. The evidence an crimes of 9/11 have fo too long been censored by the BBC. Well Done for finally accepting responsibility and searching for the truth. Britain deserves to know. Well Done BBC.

And in regard to Post No 17, the one thing I do trust is that the BBC will not start running around chasing daft conspiracy theories.

You see - it's not all bad!

  • 89.
  • At 01:53 PM on 24 Sep 2007,
  • J.WESTERMAN wrote:

The following dated 21.09.07 that got moderated out of existence. Small wonder that nothing changes.

To Mark Thompson.

You are not out of the woods by a long way.
BBC journalists still feel free to add gratuitous comments and opinions. If you would like a good example look at my very recent submissions to The Editors regarding government proposals for children, described by one of your journalists as “Stalinesque”.

Would you care to take up a challenge? Set up a blog inviting viewer/listeners just to quote further incidents of this kind – no more: no less. It may succeed where your management has signally failed.

I would add that what has happened to BBC integrity is sad. It is regarded as a great loss.
It also appears that we will have to put up with your persistent between program advertisements and overblown news presentations.


  • 90.
  • At 04:32 PM on 24 Sep 2007,
  • frasay wrote:

I agree with post 17. BBC needs to report openly and honestly about 9-11, if it is ever to restore it's integrity.
I don't want daft conspiracies, I just want to read verified facts. It looks to me like the BBC has intentionally covered up the facts regarding 9-11. But the serious unanswered questions of 9-11 are starting to filter into the mainstream media, in BBC editors blogs, Guardian opinion pieces, and American talk shows, etc, etc.
I hope the BBC realises how important this issue is to the world. You may not have any integrity, but there are hundreds of millions of people out here who do...each year the number of 9-11 researchers grows and grows. We will never stop fighting for the truth about 9-11.
It's heartbreaking that you guys at the BBC don't feel the same way.

  • 91.
  • At 05:46 PM on 24 Sep 2007,
  • J.WESTERMAN wrote:

The one dated 21.09.07, as below, that got moderated out of existence. Small wonder that nothing changes.

To Mark Thompson.

You are not out of the woods by a long way.
BBC journalists still feel free to add gratuitous comments and opinions. If you would like a good example look at my very recent submissions to The Editors regarding government proposals for children, described by one of your journalists as “Stalinesque”.

Would you care to take up a challenge? Set up a blog inviting viewer/listeners just to quote further incidents of this kind – no more: no less. It may succeed where your management has signally failed.

I would add that what has happened to BBC integrity is sad. It is regarded as a great loss.
It also appears that we will have to put up with your persistent between program advertisements and overblown news presentations.

J Westerman

  • 92.
  • At 07:55 PM on 24 Sep 2007,
  • peter lorenzo wrote:

Since getting a comment published here seems to require: a) not being critical of Mark T b) not being critical of the BBC or does it really take days to agree to consider putting a comment up, one has to ask what is the point of this "response" mechanism. So to make the job easier for the owner...let's not talk about the myriad problems facing the DG and the BBC most of the problems which seem to have come about since he took over, but do let's talk about Yentob. Let's talk about trust.

You ask your staff to trust you you have an "amnesty" to renounce bad things they have done, you then sack and discipline them (not quite my recollection of the meaning of an amnesty) but Yentob gets away with a pat on the shoulder and a "don't do it again".

So Mark T, please square that circle with your issue of "trust" as frankly it stinks and seems to go to the heart of so many problems that are bedeviling you. Let's see if this makes the grade and how many days before it is posted (if at all).

Here in Asia I have a large number of north American friends who choose to watch the BBC rather than the likes of CNN because they feel it gives a far better objective view, quality of reporting,k and explanation of things.

Good job BBC.

You still have a number of major problems that need to be sorted, but don't try to imitate your competitors. Not even in areas that they might be doing well. It doesn't mean you need to copy those things. You set the standards for a generation. Don't compete with the other's on their level.

"Be the BBC". Don't try to be anything else.

  • 94.
  • At 09:06 AM on 25 Sep 2007,
  • J.WESTERMAN wrote:

The one dated 21.09.07, as below, that got moderated out of existence. Small wonder that nothing changes.

To Mark Thompson.

You are not out of the woods by a long way.
BBC journalists still feel free to add gratuitous comments and opinions. If you would like a good example look at my very recent submissions to The Editors regarding government proposals for children, described by one of your journalists as “Stalinesque”.

Would you care to take up a challenge? Set up a blog inviting viewer/listeners just to quote further incidents of this kind – no more: no less. It may succeed where your management has signally failed.

I would add that what has happened to BBC integrity is sad. It is regarded as a great loss.
It also appears that we will have to put up with your persistent between program advertisements and overblown news presentations.


  • 95.
  • At 11:05 AM on 25 Sep 2007,
  • Jonathan Torode wrote:

Surely this debate is now going too far? Who cares whether the "noddies" take place at the same time the questions are asked, or even if Alan Yentob did or didn't conduct the interview? As long as the content is correct, unbiased and fairly reported, then surely it is the content we are concerned with? It's difficult enough to make and produce television programmes without having to worry about little technicalities.

After all, isn't this for entertainment?

And this has been going on for a long time. I remember going to see a day's filming of Countdown on Channel 4 in the 1980's. The famous Carol Vorderman had to use a solution from a member of the audience to complete a numbers game, but it was filmed and edited in as though Carol had achieved it! Add to that a number of long words from dictionary corner added in after the programme had finished filming, and it's not a lot better than recent years. But, does it matter when the programme is entertaining?

  • 96.
  • At 11:21 AM on 25 Sep 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

So why hasn't Alan Yentob been punished ?

Richard Marson is someone who Biddy Baxter referred to as a very good Blue Peter editor. And if anyone is fit to make that judgement, surely it is she.

He has been sacked, Yentob has been given a light slap on the wrist.


  • 97.
  • At 05:12 PM on 26 Sep 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

I don't want to pay for this 'Guardian in TV form' discredited, biased tripe any more.

Give people an option to opt out of the TV tax.

  • 98.
  • At 04:05 AM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Aldo wrote:

A campaign for mass non payment of the TV licence should get under way in the UK, everyone has been duped by this corporation, they have lied to us all big style about and since 9/11, the deceit is beyond shocking and they are still living the big lie even when challenged... The BBC should be held accountable in a court of law and everyone who has paid for this propeganda TV should get a refund dating back to September 2001, The BBC are no longer trust worthy!

  • 99.
  • At 10:03 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Ashley Brown wrote:

As you've not posted a blog entry about your forthcoming cuts, I'm going to stick this comment here and see what happens.

It seems the only two areas the BBC does reasonably well - News and Factual - are to take the brunt of cuts.

It's also a shame these are the only parts of the BBC I actually make use of these days (and for the last 10 years or so), given that most of the drama/entertainment is utter tosh or has gone completely off the rails (e.g. Torchwood). Lowest common denominator comes to mind.

I used to be perfectly happy to pay the "license" fee just for the news and factual output, but it seems I'm going to get considerably less value for money.

  • 100.
  • At 10:16 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Ross MacBeath wrote:

All we want is the facts, we don't want interpretation of the facts and we certainly don't want speculation as to what the facts might be or for that matter what's going to happen next.
The benefit of live feed is that we can take the facts when presented properly and make these interpretations ourselves, we can wait and see what actually takes place rather than the rambling predictions which have a less than 50% chance of being right. Speculation is the enemy of truth and only serves to breed mistrust. Speculation is mistaken for truth so when you get it wrong you lie.
It's getting to the point that it's frustrating to watch any news item before 6 PM as once the speculation has turned to fact more often than not the story bears no resemblance to that presented in the first place.
It's not only damaging the perception of the BBC’s integrity, it leads us to question that very integrity the BBC purports to cherish.

  • 101.
  • At 09:04 AM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • neil fletcher wrote:

I have just heard the shocking news that the BBC Natural History Unit is about to lose a third of its staff.

At first I thought it must be a mistake as the BBC Natural History Unit is such a flagship for the Beeb.

Cutting the guts out of the Natural History Unit must be one of the most stupid decisions the BBC will ever take.

Please don't do it!

  • 102.
  • At 10:02 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Ynda wrote:

Has the BBC even ever shown the collapse of WTC Building 7 on TV? If it hasn't or won't then how can it be considered trustworthy?

Alternative websites are covering the Missing Nukes on B52s and some mysterious deaths near the bases... could or world the BBC investigate that? I guess nuclear war isn't as interesting as the naming of a cat!?

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