Ofcom has released a midterm report of the BBC, reviewing its approach to complaints and public perceptions of its impartiality. The report slams the broadcaster for failing to uphold its complaints procedure, demanding it “change[s] its policy and publish sufficient reasoning in cases where it decides not to uphold due impartiality and due accuracy complaints”, and warning that public trust in its impartiality had declined dramatically in recent years. As Guido reported on Monday, new figures show that public distrust in the BBC has fallen by 20 points in the last five years…
According to Ofcom’s own figures, 11% of adults had cause to complain about the BBC in the last year, with ITV at 6%, and Channel 4 at 4%. Of that figure, most didn’t have confidence their complaints would be upheld or taken seriously. Why would they? Time and again, the BBC’s top stars clearly breach social media impartiality rules and, at worst, face a warning and slap on the wrist. A few months later, they do it again…
Ofcom chief Dame Melanie Dawes didn’t mince her words:
“Viewers and listeners tell us they aren’t happy with how the BBC handles their complaints, and it clearly needs to address widespread perceptions about its impartiality. So we’re directing it to respond to these concerns, by being much more transparent and open with its audiences. The BBC must also adapt quickly to keep up with changes in what audiences want, and how they get their content.”
The review also warns the BBC to get its act together quickly, or it will recommend the government gets involved:
“We are also expecting the BBC to alert us at an early stage to potential serious editorial breaches… If the BBC fails to do this, we will recommend that the Government makes this a legal requirement.”
One of the major proposed changes is an updated Operating Licence with a far greater emphasis on transparency. The full review is expected early next year…
Lee Anderson provided daytime fireworks as he confronted the BBC over anti-Boris bias live on the channel. He also called them “quite sad” over their refusal to let the Boris leadership question drop, accusing them of spearheading a witchhunt. Agree or not, it was great TV…
Yesterday Nadine Dorries announced a new departmental review assessing whether the BBC needs reforming to “achieve greater impartiality” and hire more people from working class backgrounds. With excellent timing, yesterday the BBC hired a St Paul’s and Oxbridge educated 5 Live presenter who called on people to vote Labour at the local elections, called the Tories racist, and said Boris and Nadine are “unfit to govern”. Guido doesn’t think the corporation’s set to pass DCMS’ review with flying colours…
Some personal news (thread!):— Matthew Stadlen (@MatthewStadlen) May 26, 2022
After nine years away, I’m going back to work with the BBC as a stand-in presenter on @bbc5live.
The station was one of the soundtracks of my teenage years and I can’t wait to get started in a few weeks. 1/4
Matthew Stadlen announced to his followers yesterday his delight at returning to the corporation after nine years, claiming the move “means a return to impartiality”. Less than three weeks after calling the PM “racist” on a podcast.
The tweets have caused concern in government, with a senior government figure telling Guido “Matthew’s social media suggests he doesn’t just hold private political views, he’s nakedly partisan. These aren’t historic tweets, he was slinging mud at the Government just a few weeks ago. Something has gone very wrong with the BBC’s recruitment process.” The BBC really knows how to bite the hand that feeds it…
UPDATE: Job offer withdrawn
NEW: BBC withdraw job offer to aspiring Labour MP Matthew Stadlen.— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) May 27, 2022
He’s been deleting non-historic tweets but spokesperson said: “We have many conversations with a diverse range of potential presenters. We had offered him some temporary work but our plans have changed for now.”
Following Guido’s story earlier today on Emily Maitlis’s apparent breach of BBC impartiality rules, Maitlis has now taken down the initial tweets and apologised for sharing them:
I have deleted my earlier retweet of the below and would like to apologise for the hurt I have caused. https://t.co/b0XqCO3t7C— emily m (@maitlis) February 1, 2022
Still managing to share Stewart’s initial tweet in her apology. Probably a coincidence.
A furious government source gets in touch to say Maitlis “is sticking two fingers up at Davie’s promise to deal with impartiality”. Clearly the BBC’s ‘impartiality training‘ is going to good use…
The BBC’s impartiaility drive seemingly doesn’t apply to the lefty ‘artistic’ drivel that Radio 4 comes out with, not least Today’s Thought for the Day segment, which would often sit perfectly well as a Labour Party press release. Earlier this month the channel broadcast a particularly egregious example of left-wing bias, during a show called Something Understood. The following poem was read out:
“Aberfan, multiple sclerosis, spastics and the Somme. Bloody mysterious.
Cancer, Culloden, famine and President Botha. Weird.
Motorway pileups, cot deaths and Hiroshima. A trifle peculiar.
Schizophrenia, Zeebrugge, Thatcherism and Belsen. Damn strange.
Aids, Ulster, Strokes, carboard city and of course the human being. Is he worth an hour on Sunday? Surely not.”
The poem clearly listed examples of the world’s most evil and tragic phenomena and events. Why was Thatcherism included directly next to Belsen and not, more relevantly, Nazism, Stalinism or Maoism that between them killed tens upon tens of millions? That will be one for the BBC editorial team to justify…
The usual suspects were aghast at Nadine Dorries’s appointment as Culture Secretary yesterday: James O’Brien – whom she once labeled a “public school posh boy f**k wit” – is appalled; Anna Soubry thinks it shows “everything that’s wrong and rotten” with Boris’s leadership; Jolyon’s already threatened to send a judicial review pre-action protocol letter (obviously). She’s been in the job for 17 hours and is already annoying all the right people…
Given Jess Brammar’s appointment as executive editor of BBC News yesterday, Guido thought it’d be worth reminding her about the person she’ll now be dealing with at the top of DCMS. In 2014, Dorries advocated for reforming the licence fee, having added her name to a bill amendment that would’ve decriminalised its non-payment. Writing on her blog, she said:
“The BBC as an organisation has become too big, too badly designed and consistently badly managed. Over-promoted television producers, it turns out, cannot run a large organisation efficiently or effectively. Who would have guessed?”
“The model of the BBC, which is in effect state run television, is outdated in this modern world of media and communication. Such a structure of payment and aggressive persecution would be more in keeping in a soviet style country.”
Her views on the TV licence remained the same several years later:
July 2017: “My issue is not what talented people paid but more that BBC hounded elderly on state pensions all way to jail #licencefee #BBCsalaries”
March 2018: “The public are paying a fee/tax for a biased left wing organisation which is seriously failing in its political representation, from the top down.”
She’s also had a few choice words for BBC management:
January 2018: “You are breaking the law paying women less than men and provided cover for despicable paedo Saville #UnfitForPurpose”
February 2020: “…the [BBC] favour strident, very left wing, often hypocritical and frequently patronising views that turn people away.”
Neither will she accept the BBC’s constant disguising of party political activists as ‘expert guests’:
Guido couldn’t think of a better DCMS appointment…