Bias at the BBC

Nobody should be forced to pay for a state broadcaster that mindlessly peddles a tired ideology and doesn’t even have the decency to admit it. As such, if the BBC can be found beyond doubt to be partisan, there is no way the licence fee can continue to be justified. So, just how bad is the bias at the Beeb?

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A report by the Centre for Policy Studies released in August this year found ‘the BBC has a left-of-centre slant in its reporting.’ This conclusion was reached after studying hundreds of think tank citations regarding the BBC’s reporting on think tanks as ‘independent’. More think tanks found to be left of centre, such as Social Market Foundation and Demos were reported as independent compared to think tanks espousing right wing views. The comparison was made by finding the BBC’s think tank citations correlated more closely with those of The Guardian than of The Telegraph.

Having found clear empirical evidence of a lack of impartiality prevalent at the BBC, the report then correctly summated ‘If [The BBC] systematically undermines the statements of right-of-centre voices while reinforcing those of left-of-centre voices then this is likely to have an effect on public outlook.’ In short, the BBC is failing in its duty as a public service provider of information, and so there is no way the licence fee can continue to be justified.

A Freedom of Information request in 2012 by The Commentator revealed the BBC had spent £335,000 covering Labour Party events in the preceding 10 years, £295,000 covering Liberal Democrat events and just £96,000 covering Conservative Party events. Given that Labour were in power for 8 of the 10 years covered in the data provided slightly higher expenditure on Labour events would have been understandable, but the extent to which the results disparage certainly suggests the BBC has a bias to ideas and party’s left of centre.

The anecdotal evidence is just as strong: former BBC news anchor Peter Sissons called the left wing attitude a ‘mindset’. In fact Sissons went further, admitting ‘at the core of the BBC, in its very DNA, is a way of thinking that is firmly of the Left.’ Sissons perception that bias at the BBC is an inherent culture is supported when we look away from purely news programming: Mehdi Hasan’s anti- Daily Mail tirade on Question Time in the wake of the Ralph Miliband hatchet job was met with rapturous applause and delight from the audience. It all seems left wing ideas are valued rather highly at our state broadcaster.

Then there was Mark Thompson, former Director General, who remarked in 2010 ‘there was a massive left wing bias at the BBC’. In his defence, the BBC’s entertainment programming certainly seems to point that way. The list goes on and on: Have I Got News For You referring to an event Nigel Farage was speaking at as a ‘lunatic fringe event’, Marcus Brigstocke on Radio 4 mocking the Daily Mail and the Spectator, Radio 4 recorded as having five times more jokes at the expense of the Conservative Party than the Labour Party. It all rather begs the question, why should we be forced to pay for a corporation that makes a mockery of their own promises of impartiality?

Let’s make it perfectly clear: when licence fee payers part with their cash, they are signing up to an impartial BBC, as stipulated in the Beeb’s own guidelines. ‘News in whatever form must be treated with due impartiality, giving due weight to events, opinion and main strands of argument.’

The above evidence surely shows that the BBC is failing to comply with its own regulations, something the BBC Trust remains oblivious to, concluding in July this year that in fact ‘The breadth of opinion reflected in BBC output is remarkable and impressive.’

The BBC’s own estimations aside, in a world of instant news and social media it is archaic to still have to pay £145 to any news institution, least of all one that has abandoned impartial coverage. It’s time we wave goodbye to the licence fee.

Elliot Burns

11 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s not forget the BBC runs on a Royal Charter and they are the most anti- Monarchy, PRO-republican mouthpiece ever. Impartial reporting my foot… never a voice for the crown unless forced do to do so. Their broadcasting of Royal events of State are below par and lack luster in their commentary, most of the time absurd, demeaning and condescending. Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant ring a bell? I am ever so tired of the BBC and prefer to watch their competition. As for the license fee… why pay our hard earned money to pay off and line the pockets of execs and those embroiled in scandal of their own making? The BBC wastes our license fee money on their own luxuries and desires thinking they are above everyone else. UNJUST!!!

  2. The BBC is really the Bruxelles Broadcasting Commission. The BBC should be privatised and the Licence fee finished. I do not have a tv licence because I object to paying for the freeloaders at the BBC. I prefer to get my news from RT or Der Spiegel for free on the internet. I sometimes watch a programme on iPlayer, but very seldom. When UKIP are in Westminster I do hope that they get shot of the BBC asap, and stop the nonsense of UK citizens getting criminal records for not paying the BBC licence fee.

  3. Utter bollocks. The CPS methodology was laughably flawed. Apparently where a think-tank is cited is evidence of whether it is left or right wing. So the Guardian citing Think Tank A as being brilliant and citing Think Tank A is rubbish both count as evidence that Think Tank A is left wing.

    Ignoring that CPS are a bunch of Tory hacks with no academic standing, you have failed to mention the proper academic research which shows that the BBC overwhelmingly cites Tory, anti-Europe and pro-business sources, the exact opposite of the BS claims of right-wing idiots. http://theconversation.com/hard-evidence-how-biased-is-the-bbc-17028

    Until you can write a proper article objectively evaluating both sets of evidence when drawing a conclusion you simply deserve to be laughed at. Rather like the CPS.

  4. Te initial premise is wrong because bias should not play a part in the matter. Irrespective of whether the BBC is good or bad, biassed or impartial, I want the freedom to decide whether or not I wish to buy it.

  5. Last week Newsnight hosted a debate over the future of the BBC. The 2 sides were taken by BBC exec James Purnell (formerly a scruffy Labour minister now suddenly looking all smart and trendy) and FT journalist John Gapper. Purnell argued that the BBC was great and ought to expand. Gapper argued that the BBC was great but ought not to try and do so much. Wonderful balance of views there!

    No one questioned the license fee, even though Purnell’s own arguments demonstrated one reason it’s antiquated. To justify taking money from all TV viewers, the BBC must provide TV that appeals to all. Of course mass appeal TV is provided perfectly well by many other channels (700 on the full Sky package) and if your taste is sport, films, music, soaps, American drama, vintage telly or reality TV there are channels that cater for you better than the BBC. So why should you pay £145 a year on top of your Sky or Virgin bill so the BBC can provide more of the same?

    The other reason the license is obsolete is it’s based on viewers watching scheduled broadcasts, which fewer and fewer people are doing. It’s far more convenient to download catch-up TV at your leisure and if you do so, you don’t need a TV license. The BBC are probably not entirely dumb and they must realise they’ll need to change their funding method in the near future to keep up. There’s no realistic way of monitoring whether catch-up viewers have a license so what they’ll probably want to do is make internet users liable to pay also, as has been done in Sweden. I think they’ll find people here are far more restistant to that than the state-worshipping Swedes.

  6. I think it’s more a case of ‘running with the hare and hunting with the hounds’ as regards News Coverage- how many reports have there been about anti-government protests?
    During theTory Party Conference, thousands marched against NHS cuts. How much BBC Coverage was there? None.
    Regarding Entertainment output: most of that is now contracted out in true Thatcherite style and most of the comedy artists tend to be left-leaning – probably as a result of their Universities.
    Actually, I can’t remember ANY Right-Wing comedian – unless you count Farage

    • Why should the left wing unions and political groups expect prime time news coverage every time they get together on a Saturday afternoon to go marching? By now we know who they are and what they think. If the Tories do something, I can guess what Len McCluskey and Owen Jones’ take will be.

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