Breaking: BBC under Ofcom investigation for bias

The national broadcaster is frequently criticised for abandoning impartiality to act as a government mouthpiece. Ofcom considers accusations substantial enough to require investigation of the Corporation’s practices

Broadcast regulator Ofcom has announced that it is to conduct a ‘review’ of the BBC over complaints of bias – effectively an investigation into the BBC’s practices in its radio and TV news output:

Noting concerns about the BBC’s fulfilment of its responsibility to help UK people participate in the democratic process in an informed way, Ofcom observes that:

The BBC has a central role to play in providing trusted, impartial news. Yet our research has shown that audiences consistently rate the impartiality of the BBC’s TV and radio news less highly than many other aspects of BBC’s news output.

For these reasons we consider it is appropriate to undertake a review, to examine in detail the BBC’s delivery of the first Public Purpose.

This finding is entirely in line with the phenomenon the SKWAWKBOX has frequently reported: that key pro-Labour, pro-Corbyn or anti-Tory stories receive a small mention on the BBC’s news website – allowing the BBC to claim it has covered them – but are ignored or misrepresented in the broadcast versions.

The Ofcom statement also notes that complaints about BBC bias form the largest portion of the complaints it receives about the broadcaster:

during our first full year regulating the BBC, the most common type of complaint about its content related to impartiality

SKWAWKBOX comment:

The national broadcaster, which has a duty of impartiality written into the charter that forms the basis of its existence, is under investigation for a persistent failure to be impartial.

That failure, more like a wilful abandonment, should surprise no one – but the news is welcome that the regulator agrees those issues are substantial enough to investigate.

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  1. About bloody time.

    There have been several academic papers highlighting this since 2015.

      1. When medialens did a proquest search in July of last year re >jeremy corbyn anti-semitism<, the following was the result:

        'Jeremy Corbyn' and 'antisemitism' before May 2015 = 18 hits

        'Jeremy Corbyn' and 'antisemitism' after May 2015 = 6,133 hits

        In their latest search it was:

        'Jeremy Corbyn' and 'anti-semitism' before 1 May 2015 = 18 hits

        'Jeremy Corbyn' and 'anti-semitism' after 1 May 2015 = 11,251 hits

        So in the space of seven or eight months there have been over five thousand additional 'articles' in the main stream press on this completely manufactured issue/smear campaign.

      2. Actually, thinking about it again – as I just did a short while ago – the proquest search they did must have been of ALL British newspapers – ie dailys/Sundays, regional and local (the last of which would be weekly usually), as 6,000 plus articles in the space of around eight months just for the daily/Sunday press would amount to several articles a day for each of them. And I assume the search included the Jewish newspapers too, but I don’t actually know, but they churn them out on a daily basis.

    1. Agreed – I see the review has not been reported on the BBC News channel yet!

    2. Absolutely correct re. the wealth of academic evidence illustrating media bias. The Glasgow Media Group’s connected work on the distorted reporting and perception of Israel/ Palestine issues goes back even further.

      The situation is appalling – but I sense some flickering light on the horizon.

      Firstly, those perceptions of Israel/Palestine are shifting a bit as information gets through, and the behaviour of Israel becomes more and more obviously egregious. Thus the frantic attempts to shut down truth.

      Secondly – and in some ways similar – the Beano and Dandy absurd quality of the attacks on Corbyn and Labour are being clocked by more people. This is assisted by the wider knowledge that has emerged about the venality of characters like Hodge and Umunna and mates.

      I’m not over-sanguine (it needs only a slight influence to translate into electoral damage) – but there are, I sense, fewer people willing to have the label ‘Mug’ stuck on their foreheads by the fantasy comics.

      What is now needed is journalists to start feeling uncomfortable in their role as court harlots as opposed to the ‘fearless’ investigators that they like to see themselves as.

      They really don’t like being laughed at in their pretensions to glory.

      1. P.S. : Perhaps the news from Wavetree is an indication of that increased awareness.

  2. The last 2 weeks I have tweeted “credit where due” to the Merr show. Perhaps this now explains the change in approach ? also The Politics Show has changed it’s format too, although they are extreamly relient of very bias staff in my opinion. Newsnight haven’t change yet but Andrew Neil’s show is ending. Says something doen’t it?

    1. You could well be right. I have commented myself that Marr has suddenly stopped interrupting his guests.

  3. Also this may explain why the islamifobia in the Tory party is now being given airtime. Don’t forget that argument was live and running well before AS became live.

  4. For those who can’t wait, here is the result: Ofcom finds that there is no widespread bias in reporting. Overall, the BBC has worked hard to eliminate a perceived left wing bias and while a few cases could be construed as favouring the establishment line, generally there is a healthy mix of neoliberal propaganda. The BBC has shown, through its fair and balanced reporting of Brexit, that it is still the world’s best etc.

    1. Absolutely agree with you. Furthermore the bias is not just on News Bulletins e.g. the mocking and undermining of Diane Abbot on Question Time by Fiona Bruce was unworthy of a national broadcaster. The programme is so heavily biased in terms of panelists and the audience that I have not watched it since.Fiona Bruce is a prime example of BBC anti Left bias but she is far from being the only one who does not behave professionally or impartially.
      What gets me is that WE are paying, via our TV licences, BBC presenters and production teams massive wages for spreading Tory propaganda. WE pay presenters like Bruce more than we pay those in government and opposition – more than party leaders or cabinet and shadow cabinet ministers. Presenting on the BBC is a real gravy train ride and its about time it stopped.
      I would like to see the charter BBC’s charter revoked. The BBC could then operate as a commercial station like Sky and it could voice its political bias at expense of the Tories who would no doubt be its main sponsor rather than the rest of us.

    2. Sadly accurate lundiel.When the BBC appointed ex Telegraph,ex Mail journalist Sarah Sands as editor of its flagship Today programme I was reminded of her infamous instruction to newsroom colleagues “frighten the people ……stop just short of distortion “. If recent Humphrys and Robinson contributions to the programme are anything to go by she has only succeeded on the first bit.

  5. well if nowt else it raises in the public perception that there is something up with the Beeb . Problem will be when the results come out that basically reflect what lundiel says above , it’ll reinforce in the dumbed down mindset that all is OK with the Beeb afterall .
    Still it’s a form of progress I guess

    1. Yes, it seems highly unlikely that the BBC is going to acknowledge that there is systemic bias in its news coverage and political programs etc, but at least they’ll be aware that there’s a spotlight on them and, as such, be more self-conscious about their coverage now.

  6. Wilful abandonment of impartiality, won’t surprise anyone. The fact that’s been allowed to go on for so long doesn’t bode well for a fair investigation. A fair investigation would see at least 20 of their top political edits and presenters booted out for wilful negligence of duty.

    1. Plus the fact that the BBC were obviously forewarned of the investigation as evidenced by the significant changes in editorial policy that many of us have noticed

      1. Yep, when the BrainBleachingCorporation hints that it might be a possibility that the Tories may indeed have some trivial issue with Islamophobia – and Norman Smith looks like a man chewing a wasp he’s so uncomfortable forming the necessary words – the extracorporeal excreta may already be vectored on the rotating atmospheric acceleration apparatus.

    2. Has anybody bothered to look at the list of ofcom board members? Read it and weep!
      A more perfect collection of capitalist establishment jobsworths you will never see.

      1. Naming them and papering the internet with details of other whitewashes they’ve been involved in might preempt plans for another whitewash.
        It might at least force the fuckers to think up something other than “we must do everything possible to ensure this can never happen again” and the rest of the predictable crap they spout after sitting with their feet up for two years drawing Their Lordships’ Dole.

  7. I’ll suspend judgment. What I hope is that Ofcom will take time and use recognized academic processes to analyze presentation and discourse over a representative sample of news output on relevant controversial topics, rather than a broad, impressionistic brush that omits key aspects of how bias can be critical.

    It is easy to show that ‘bias’ doesn’t exist by simply using categorisatin that misses key distinguishing features – e.g. if you just measure Party representation on programmes.

  8. The BBC in common with practically every other broadcaster has lost leave of its senses since Corbyn came on the scene. This organized madness is so fervent, they are blinded to the reality of life for the majority of society who need a broadcaster who will hold the government to account for its cruelty. When this government’s time is passed as it surely will, the BBC will have suffered irreparable damage but sadly, so will have our society.

  9. I hope Ofcom looks at the BBC news bulletin ( available on Youtube)when Dennis Skinner was interviewed by BBC news on 14 Sept 2015 on the green at Westminister. Dennis stated that he did not want a front bench role under Jeremy because he just didn’t want to be on the front bench and never had wanted this.
    The interview ended and Dennis walked off. The interviewer then stated that Dennis Skinner had refused to serve under Jeremy Corbyn making it appear that Dennis didn’t support Jeremy.
    Dennis overheard and walked straight back and challenged the interviewer, accusing her of spin. Her response? She said ” It was a joke”. Unbelievable from a publicly funded state broadcaster who was well and truly caught out.

  10. I would like to award BBC world news an award for unbiased reporting of the war in Syria. When everyone else knew that the White Helmets were making propaganda films, the BBC stood true. When people ridiculed the gas bottle without a scratch, that was alleged to be a chemical weapon that had been dropped from a helicopter and smashed through the roof (on the other side of the room), the BBC held true. When that poor boy was showed in the back of an ambulance with dirt rubbed on his face, the BBC held true, even when the boy and his family claimed it was faked.
    The BBC inter viewed earnest young men “activists” to find out the truth, even when people were claiming they were terrorists and the BBC stood resolute in the face of claims by eyewitnesses that American contractors funded by the CIA were ferrying ISIS commanders to and from battlefields.
    For all this and more, the BBC deserves a medal.

    1. Whatever my reservations, I’d be cautious about any reporting from the shit-show that is Syria, particularly anything from Puty’s RT, too.

      1. All, apart from the CIA allegations are verifiable facts and not rt exclusive. There are plenty of respected independent journalists working in Syria, unlike British media organisations, who work from Turkey and Jordan. The reporting by the BBC and Ch4 has been appalling propaganda, shocking in its omissions and outright lies. There was never any mention of Saudi Arabia affiliated army of god using slave labour to build underground tunnels of massive size, only above ground filming of bombed buildings the terrorists pretended were schools and hospitals. The same thing was repeated in every city but the BBC and ch4 only reported the terrorists propaganda.

      2. I would also point out, you are very knowledgeable about Palestinian/Israeli politics. I wouldn’t have imagined you’d be so closed to non msm reporting of Syria.

      3. I was commenting on reporting. It was a neutral comment about the quicksands of Syria – and a balanced scepticism about political influence on broadcasters and the shaping of narrative – be it by the British establishment or the Russian mafia.

  11. Ever since Cardiff Uni did research on BBC we’ve seen bias. Now it is so utterly blatant there is no room for doubt. Will Offcom actually do something this time? I won’t hold my breath.

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