Not a single play for top-5 single: band’s open letter re BBC bias

Captain SKA is a politically-active band that has a long history of criticism of the government. Their 2010 single ‘Liar Liar’ attacked the coalition for tuition fee increases and their 2017 record Liar Liar GE2017, released a couple of weeks before last year’s General Election, reached number one on iTunes and number five in the UK charts.

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Top-5 band Captain SKA

No radio stations played the track before the election because of ‘purdah’ rules on political balance – but remarkably, the BBC did not play it on any channel for the rest of the year.

This morning, the band published an open letter to the BBC, challenging the state broadcaster to live up to its impartiality requirement by playing the track:

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The SKWAWKBOX contacted the BBC, with a copy of the open letter, to ask why it was behaving so unusually by not playing – in a period of over six months – a top-five track even once on any of its channels or stations.

A BBC spokesperson responded:

We do not ban songs or artists, however our editorial guidelines require us to remain impartial and the UK was in an election period at the time so we did not play the song.

When pressed to provide an answer as to why the track was never played after the election, the BBC added:

Each track is considered for the playlists at the individual networks based on its musical merit and whether it is right for the stations [sic] target audiences, with decisions made on a case-by-case basis.

This might be considered a less than satisfactory response in view of the usual prevalence of charting tracks in BBC musical output and the breadth of musical tastes for which the Corporation is supposed to cater.

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  1. https://youtu.be/IydnuAkqDic
    I feel as a public broadcaster you should be representational. This program, in fact all political programs show bias. Your guests are always a favoured bias to the conservatives. Take this program three out of the four guests were all supporters of the conservatives, add the presenter that makes it 4-1 bias. This means the main share of the show is favouring your conservative guests. This is a regular format of your so called experts, deliberately. Take Sunday politics, 9 out 10 times you have 3 right wing guests, paper reviews right wing papers. I believe propaganda is the word. As a license payer, I would expect all political shows to be representational, obviously this is something the BBC staff are not. Hence bias.

    I’m waiting for usual response, but I taking it as far a I can this time

    Waiting for the usual response, but I’m taking it further this time.

    1. I understand you felt this programme displayed a strong political bas in favour of the Conservative party. I also note you believe this bias was made clear by the presenter and through the choice of guests for that particular episode.

      Having looked at the link provided, I can confirm the guests for this episode were LBC presenter Iain Dale, Faiza Shaheen of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, columnist Matthew Parris and Deborah Mattinson of Britain Thinks.

      Impartiality is a core value of the BBC, and one reason why we believe our news coverage is trusted and respected around the world. We apply this principle to our reporting of all issues.

      We never take a position on anything that we cover, but we always aim to reflect a broad range of voices on any given subject and we’d explain that Newsnight regularly includes a wide range of voices on this and other important issues.

      The BBC is of course independent of any political or commercial interests, and our news agenda would never be influenced by any outside organisation.

      With regards to Evan Davis’ role we’d like to emphasise that all staff working for the BBC, though clearly entitled to hold personal opinions and beliefs, are acutely aware that their views should never in any way influence their work for the BBC, nor should they be apparent to our audience.

      It is important to recognise however that a when one of our presenters or interviewers challenges a contributor, they aren’t expressing a personal viewpoint, but simply fulfilling their responsibility to scrutinise a claim that is being put forward.

      Nevertheless, we appreciate you may continue to hold a different view and I do also take note that you feel this same issue often occurs on Sunday Politics also. I have forwarded your complaint to senior management and the Newsnight team by way of the audience feedback report. This report is amongst the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures your complaint has been seen by the right people quickly.

      Many thanks, once again, for getting in touch.

      As expected usual self regulating garbage.
      I have asked to take the complaint further

  2. The more we show the Tory bias in the BBC, the better people will understand why things just aren’t the way the BBC portrays it.

  3. You are spot on Masmit. I renamed question time ‘ Tory Time’ a while ago.The pevert Toby Young scandel is a good example. Imagine the out cry from that shower if it was a Labour supporting person involved.
    One only has to look at Dianne Abott’s blunder on LBC. That poor excuse for a journalist Jeryme Vine had her words fumble “it costs” and repeated over and over again as did the radio 4 to-day/pm progamme recently, although the interview took place a full 6 months ago. It was’nt even a BBC interviewer. They can’t even produce their own stuff to denigrate anybody who might be off message or a Corbyn supporter, so they dig up crap from rival radio stations when it suits their narrative. They are worse than the Mail/Sun etc at least they don’t pretend to be fair and balanced. Good luck with your complaint but don’t hold your breath. I’ve tried a couple of times and did’nt even get a reply.
    I would be happy to support a super complaint though, if there is such a thing. In a nutshell I would describe them all as cowards and bullies that tow the party line regardless of fair and accurate reporting.

  4. all bbc radio listeners should request it when calling in. Regardless of what station you listen to.

  5. I get so fed up with the BBC declaring that they never show a bias – of course they do, every single day!
    The fact that I’m forced to pay for a licence, because of them, makes me sick to my soul 🙁

  6. Oh come on, really? The track hasn’t been played since the election because it’s no longer in the top 5. Don’t turn into one of those blogs that screams “bias!” at everything you don’t like.

    1. It was in the top 10 for weeks after the election, not played try reading the article

    2. Altho the subject of the article maybe a little trivial , it illustrates an important issue with the BBC.In that as a publicly funded state broadcaster with a precise set of rules governing it , It should be providing a balanced picture of what it transmits. The BBC has ( since the Tories took it over ) now on many occasions failed to do so and that is the bias this article seeks to illustrate .

  7. Let’s face it, SKA music died out in the 80’s, nobody wants to hear SKA or 2 tone any more. The BBC won’t play Cliff Richard either for a very good reason.

    1. So getting in the top 5 is unpopular?
      The argument is about being representational, whether you or other people like it or not a proportion of the country’s licence payers do.
      David below mentioned, the BBC try to keep their bias subtle.
      Are they subtle by promoting ring wing papers daily, were they subtle when these papers were used by the BBC showing the lies about Corbyn during the election.
      The BBC is run by conservative supporters and it’s clear it does not represent the population, when it comes to news and political programs.

      1. “Subtle” gave them more credit than they deserve – I should have said, “concealed.”
        I just think we lose credibility by choosing marginal examples to illustrate their bias.

    2. I like this music. Its ‘fab’ and ‘groovy’ Thats not to imply I might be getting on a bit though. As for Cliff, of course they don’t play his music,(thankfully) they are too busy flying helicopter camara ships over his house in order to get an exclusive scoop, at the licience payers expense of course. All in the public interest , as this upholds the high journalistic standards of the BBC. Indeed there must be thousands of people who need to know what a Surrey mansion looks like from the air so we have the educational aspect also……..er ….cont Page 94

  8. The BBC’s bias certainly exists but I’m not sure this is an example of it.
    I listened to the song on youtube and to me it seems to stretch the principle of fair comment quite thinly.
    I think it’s probable that the BBC would also avoid playing something as in-your-face aimed at JC.
    The BBC try to keep their bias subtle enough to claim (falsely) that criticism from both sides proves their impartiality – or so I believe.
    If there has been such a song that they have played that I’m unaware of I apologise and withdraw my comment.

  9. Of course the BBC is “BIASED”, there isn’t a day goes by without some mention of how well May and her CRONY BREXITER MINISTERS are doing!
    Against old news, regarding JEREMY’S SOCIALIST LEFT LABOUR PARTY!
    There’re afraid (as a private organisation) that they will be brought back in house when the Socialist Left get into “POWER”, which will make them tow the line of “equality” when it comes to political debate”
    Get a Tory light Labour MP on the BBC they’re always on spouting about their blue agenda, attacking the LABOUR LEFT, for the many, not the few!

  10. ‘Auntie’ ducks and weaves and maintains it arrogance towards the people! Time to put into the hands of the ‘workers’ and the communities which it’s supposed to serve and take it out of the hands of Government per se’! No ‘great’ and ‘good’ should have anything to do with running and controlling it (advising yes) but hardworking people of the UK not the idle rich should be in democratic control of our BBC!

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