Another BBC non-response to an NHS coverage complaint

A Twitter contact (@denisechester) read my post on the BBC’s arrogant non-response to my complaint regarding their lack of coverage of the damage being done to the NHS and to the disabled and other vulnerable people, and sent me the one she received to hers.

I’m pasting it below, but before you read it, you should know that Denise didn’t, in her complaint, make any reference to any kind of rally:

From: bbc_complaints_website@bbc.co.uk [mailto:bbc_complaints_website@bbc.co.uk] 
Sent: 04 July 2012 05:41
To: Denise Chester
Subject: BBC Complaints – Case number CAS-1535347-WX3FZ1

Dear Ms Chester

Reference CAS-1535347-WX3FZ1

Thanks for contacting the BBC.

I understand you feel that there has been a lack of coverage given to Health and Social Care Bill.

BBC News has reported extensively on the opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill across our news programmes and bulletins since the Bill was originally proposed. We have reported on the health, political and business dimensions of the debate during our flagship news programmes and news bulletins and have heard from politicians, NHS workers, public sector workers and members of the public alike, as well as from supporters of the bill.

There have been numerous protests and demonstrations held in opposition to the Government’s proposals. Such shows of opposition have been varied in size and were spread across the different stages of the bill’s formation. We believe we have accurately and fairly reflected the nature of this opposition in our news coverage.

While you were unhappy about the level of coverage given to the rally on 17 March, the political opposition to the Bill culminated in the House of Commons emergency debate on 20 March. Accordingly, the Commons debate featured heavily in our news coverage on the day and was the lead story during our main news bulletins.

The Health and Social Care bill has been one of the biggest UK stories over the past few months and we believe we have afforded it the appropriate level coverage in a fair and impartial manner, allowing viewers and listeners to make up their own minds on the matter at hand.

Feedback like your own helps to inform the discussion about a programme’s tone and content and the reactions of our audiences are closely studied by our producers and senior management to ensure the right judgement is being made about what is acceptable to the audience in general.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Note the date of the email response: 4 July 2012 – some 3.5 months after the bill passed into law and became an Act. Like me, Denise was complaining about the non-coverage of the damage being done to the NHS under the newly-passed Act, not the Bill and the process of debate, opposition and passage into law.

The BBC may have given ample coverage to the Bill during the parliamentary process. It has self-evidently failed to cover the damaging consequences of the Act – just as it has failed to give any kind of significant airtime to the victimisation and vilification of the disabled, unemployed and working poor – except to parrot government propaganda and soundbites, in almost all cases without challenge or query.

Not only that, but the BBC clearly does not even consider the matter, or complaints about it, worthy of thought or a decent answer, and simply recycles a ‘response’ that doesn’t even address the actual substance of the complaint – and, in this case, which addresses a ‘rally’ that the complainant never mentioned.

Can there seriously be any doubt that the BBC has capitulated to government pressure and that, instead of fairly representing the people who pay for it, it is now acting primarily as a government mouthpiece on any issue of importance, with occasional distraction from those issues thrown in?

I think none at all.

If you wish to add your voice to the protests to the BBC in the hope (albeit a faint one) that a mass of complaint might be heard where reasoned individual complaints are not, then you can do so here. Feel free to send me details of any response you receive. I can’t promise to use each individual reply, but it will be useful ammunition nonetheless.


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