Tuesday, October 24, 2006

UK: State broadcaster: Daily Mail reveals BBC self-understnading of its bias in news, comedy, and internal culture

A blogger, EUROSOC Two reports from the UK in regard to the now-somewhat-admitted bias of BBC programming, content, and star-selection (promotion). Reflecting on Two's coverage and comment, it seems useful to see "bias" in terms of a graduated scale: slant, bias prooper, prejudice, and bigotry. The item on allowing comedians to throw a Bible in the garbage, while not allowing a Koran to be so treated, is definitely a case of bigotry. As to prejudice, since the BBC in Two's piece regards itself as politically correct, it may only be able to acknowledge a prejudice against prejudice on the bases of ... (you fill in the blanks, but note that one basis has already been mentioned -- namely, religion ... a prejudice against Christianity, a prejudice against Islam is not). Here's EUROSOC blog's account:

"Impartiality summit" reveals deep bias among stars and executives

A leaked account of a high-level summit on the BBC's impartiality shows that the broadcaster's top professionals allow their left-leaning sympathies to govern the Beeb's output.

According to the Daily Mail, which jumped on the leaked report with understandable glee, BBC staff:

- Would allow a Bible to be chucked in a bin on a comedy show, but never the Koran
- Promote an anti-American agenda
- Are dedicated to the promotion of multiculturalism

Furthermore, it was reported that the BBC's "diversity tsar" Mary Fitzpatrick is keen on allowing veiled women to read the news.
Europe > Britain
There is an admission among senior staff that the BBC's staff have allowed their personal agendas to dominate the broadcaster's output. Speaking after the summit, one insider said "There was widespread acknowledgement that we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness."

Political commentator and former political editor Andrew Marr added, "The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It's a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias."

This might be the first leak of internal soul-searching in the BBC following criticism of its biases, but individual journalists and producers have spoken about the prejudices of their colleagues in the past. Rod Liddle has written on the BBC's pro-EU bias, while recently former BBC business editor Jeff Randall reported on how he was instructed to remove his Union Jack cufflinks before appearing on air, as they were deemed to be too close to something a National Front supporter would wear.

Randall's response was colourful and not suitable for publication on a family blog.
In Canada a few years back, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio host planned to knock Christmas carols out of the season's program, ostensibly in the name of multiculturalism. The absue was cawt, and the CBC followed public opinion, which is far-more weited to Christmas and its carols than the engineers of religious sentiment at CBC would have it. In general as well, CBC is anti-American, perhaps more slickly than in the BBC's case. But the bias of both private and public broadcasting against our near-neibour is patent, saturating tone, line of questioning, and numerous other factors of newscasting. It was worse in the ays of the Liberal majority and minority govts. The Conservative govt being only a minority, tho there has been some self-correction in relation to present realities, the CBC bias is still much preent.

Whether utter neutrality is possible is another question, beyond this post. Yet something much more proximal to neutrality is poss9ible than the CBC, like the BBC, seems competent to attain. Nevertheless, it's the CBC that sets the tone for the non-govt TV media like Global TV and CTV here. There is no major small-c conservative newsmedia in Canada. Christian TV is neither liberal nor conservative, but weak and usually boring, sentimentalist, and pietist. I can't say for sure about the BBC, but certainly the CBC which emulates the BBC, needs an inner reformation of newscasting.

In the USA, cable TV has allowed the Murdoch-established FoxNews-channel offerings on TV to broadcast a version of what a conservative newscast could be. You have to pay thru the nose to get it from Rogers Cable in my area of Toronto. While in the USA, you can get the usually ultra-left Public Broadcasting System's news in many places (depending on the existence of an affiliate station in your area). Still, criticism of PBS has led to its keeping some non-leftists going like Juan Williams, while still featuring leftist has-beens like Bill Moyers. There is not much true pluralism in using the govt-supported media. And the privately-owned media are a mixed bag, mostly weited to the left, with certain formidible exceptions like Fox on TV and talk show entrepreneurs on radio.

For fredom of newscasting (including the accessiblity factor), I would rank govt-supported news in the USA as first and best, Canda second and not so good, and BBC last and worst (preent info making that clear). However, this is not at all to disparage news reports online (vs those on TV) which BBC News features. Nor do I disparage the Neil-Lehrer Report on PBS in the USA. I benefit from both, especially the BBBC which has a much wider coverage worldwide than any other English-speaking news source. TV is another matter which especially compromises the BBC as an honest pluralist source relative to the demographics of its listeners and viewers.

-- Politicarp

Further Research:

Daily Mail's devestating report on BBC bias
Feb 2004 Hutton Report now looks like a whitewash

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