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Major new complaint submitted to BBC

An interesting development in the ongoing struggle between British AGW sceptics and the BBC happened last week, the details being given on Paul Homewood's blog, 'Not a lot of people know that':

Complaint to BBC

"A major new and serious complaint has been sent to the Director General of the BBC, regarding the Corporation’s persistent bias in reporting of climate change issues. The complaint is a massive 163 pages long, and is a joint submission from ten complainants. In addition, there are several technical annexes, totalling 125 pages."

The ten complainants include some prominent British AGW sceptics and are (in alphabetic order): Piers Corbyn, Richard Courtney, David T C Davies MP, Philip Foster, Roger Helmer MEP, Alex Henney, Paul Homewood, Lord Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, John Whitfield and Rupert Wyndham.

This is the first time I think I've seen the AGW sceptic side submit a substantial, organised complaint to the BBC. THe other side has of course been doing this well-organised aggressive complaining thing for many years, for example in their strong reaction to Martin Durkin's 'Great Global Warming Swindle' documentary on Channel 4 back in 2007. A more recent example would be where a radio broadcast by Quentin Letts in 2015, which was critical of the Met Office, was removed from the BBC records as a result of complaints by the Green lobby.

The covering letter for the complaint includes 14 recommendations that it is suggested the BBC should adopt. A few extracts from these recommendations are given below:

"To ensure balance, and to give senior executives at the BBC a proper understanding of the sceptical viewpoint, the Trust should arrange for Lord Monckton to co-ordinate a team of leading sceptical scientists and economists to give a day-long, high-level briefing for senior BBC executives in broadly the same job descriptions as those who attended the secret briefing in 2006. This meeting is a minimum requirement to restore even-handedness at the BBC on the climate issue by ensuring that all relevant senior BBC personnel are obliged, whether they like it or not, to respect the principle of natural justice as well as the BBC’s obligation of impartiality by hearing the other side of the case."

"Prominent “sceptical” journalists and climate scientists from the UK and US should be invited to put together a series of TV programmes giving the other side of the story on the climate. The programmes should be broadcast on the BBC during prime time. This series is a minimum requirement if balance is to be restored to the BBC’s climate-science coverage as the law requires."

"The BBC should employ at least one climate sceptic in a senior journalistic role."

"Messrs. Renouf, Harrabin, Shukman and Heap should be reassigned from climate programmes on grounds of prejudice."


The Paul Homewood blog post also provides links for the complaint documents. The complainants are also threatening to apply for a judicial review of the BBC and/or BBC Trust if the complaint is not responded to in what they regard as a satisfactory and timely fashion.

An interesting question about this complaint is why are these prominent AGW sceptics doing this now? They could have been making this sort of robust complaint many years ago. Also the recommendations look a bit over-ambitious - you have to remind yourself that they're asking the BBC to implement these. It raises the suspicion that there might be some change in the forthcoming BBC Charter arrangements that make this complaint more likely to be taken seriously than it would have been in the past.

A recent Daily Telegraph article reports on the likely contents of the draft White Paper about the new BBC Charter expected to be released during May 2016:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/30/bbc-faces-new-checks-into-quality-of-tv-and-radio-shows/

The headline for the DT article is "BBC faces new checks into quality of TV and radio shows", though the article doesn't expand on what these checks are. It might be that these new quality checks may include consideration of bias.

Re: Major new complaint submitted to BBC

Thanks Dave,
but did you notice if any reference had been made to the inclusion of pro-AGW commentary/bias in their non-factual programming?
And I recall that when the population scare looked like being the next topic one of their talking heads on a supposedly live Night Watch or Nature watch program segued into a prepared monologue about population.

More importantly, perhaps, the BBC is likely to be under fire on another topic where its bias is plain - the EU Membership - and of course, the two are not distinct (The EU's involvement with various Green organisations campaigning to stay in the EU) so this is possibly something else to come up.
Perhaps the best thing would be for the BBC's pension fund to be managed quite independently so they themselves do not know where their money is invested and thus cannot be unduly influenced.
Quite how much money the BBC receives from the EU I am not sure but it seesm to me that they should be very clear about where their money does come from and some sources should be off the table.

We should not forget that the politicians have their own axe to grind with regular complaints about bias. However, given that Call me Dave is so besotted with appearing r=green and is a confirmed EU sympathiser who is not above playing dirty, we should not be surprised if the Governemnt steps in to defend the BBC from this complaint and will be keen to kill it before any complaint about EU coverage is raised which might prove damaging.

Re: Major new complaint submitted to BBC

I don't think the complaint documentation covers non-factual programmes, though I haven't spent much time reading the documentation. I'm not entirely sure what you've got in mind there. I suppose an example would be the left-liberal 'comedians' attacking the idea of climate change scepticism in the form of material where they railed against one of their hate figures, Jeremy Clarkson. But now Clarkson has got the boot from the BBC (about a year ago), the left-liberal comedians don't seem to mention him as much.

Clarkson used to provide two valuable services to the BBC. The first was bringing in a shed-load of money through his very popular, internationally successful 'Top Gear' TV show. The second was that the BBC could use him to counter accusations that they are strongly pro-Green, as Clarkson was the most prominent and probably the only nationally recognised anti-Green figure in the UK. The BBC would probably claim that they couldn't be all that pro-Green if they were employing Clarkson.

On the issue of David Cameron intervening to protect the BBC from the complaint, he could be on the way out as Conservative party leader by the end of June. I'm quietly confident that the British public will vote to leave the EU. Cameron has left himself in a difficult position to stay on as leader in the event of a vote to leave by being much more partisan over the EU Referendum than was expected, particularly after his unimpressive renegotiation efforts.

Another problem with Cameron is that he was the most outspoken of any government leader in criticising Donald Trump in 2015, calling Trump "divisive, stupid and wrong", and adding that "If he came to visit our country he'd unite us all against him." I can see Trump quite easily being the next President of the USA, and it is not in the interests of the UK Conservative party to have a leader who has a poor relationship with the US President.

Re: Major new complaint submitted to BBC

Dave,
You are right, Clarkson is or was an enigma at the BBC because he so obviously didn't fit and one assumes it was only his earning power (and the knock on effect in pensions?) that perhaps explains his continued presence, and perhaps, as you suggest, a non-PC non-Green who all alone was supposed to be their "balance".

In the end I am not at all convinced his departure was not in some way contrived - the circumstances seemed to be rather too convenient.
Given his non-PC nature who would have imposed upon him a new producer likely to be offended or give offence? We see it all the time in their reality shows - because it is good entertainment - where the dinner guests have personalities likely to rub each other the wrong way, chefs with a language problem and so on.
So easy to apply the same mechanisms in their production environment. In an age of psychometric profiling, the selection of people to work or interact not for harmony but for the sparks that might fly is easy enough and something the BBC is well versed in.
I don't know, but maybe if they just fired Clarkson or "let him go" they would have had to pay a big payout to him? Or maybe they wanted shot of him but hoped he would become toxic to other stations.... yeah that paid off..... There have been "personalities" before now that have been "disappeared" by the beeb. Simon Dee for example, though he survived for a while outside the BBC.
We might compare and contrast the differing treatment of such people as Jonathan Ross, Clarkson and Professor David Ballamy.......

What I was referring to was the use made by the BBC of pretty much all of its wide range of programs to promote its message in an almost subliminal manner. Programs like the "Archers" were once all about farming and seen as a mechanism with which to package and present modern farming methods through dramatisation. Its been a while since I last listened I have to admit but over time programs like this have been employed to present other messages through its characters.
I think we have seen it all with the Archers now, everything from climate change to multi-culturalism.
Of course, David Attenborough has also been used to promote the Green message, willingly I suspect, but none the less his programs were an ideal vehicle with which to promote the AGW message and with some apparent justification. That is, justification to consider the implications of AGW if true, but not necessarily to represent AGW as being true.

This is the BBC engaging in "total war" or "total propaganda". They leave no possible avenue untried. Not sure they have managed yet to make use of the numerous cookery programs but there was some AGw comment on one the equally numerous antique shows - that I noticed, but their chief vehicle for "subliminals" would appear to be their soaps with their massive following. Audiences that send flowers when a character dies because they seem to have lost touch with what is reality and what is not, because, perhaps, they are the most easily lead.

Of course, this is largely speculation on my part based on a few instances that I have personally noted, it would take some seriously hard work to quantify the extent of this but it fits with the nature of the BBC as we now see it. The end justifies the means.

If anyone were to question the difference between the modern "science" of Neuro-Marketing and propaganda they'd be hard pressed to find a difference in mechanisms, ethics or application. We have come a long way from the sort of propaganda easily recognised for what it was and the marketing is a great way to develop propaganda with an apparently honest motive.

New BBC Charter

The White Paper about the new BBC Charter arrangements, a document called "A BBC for the future: a broadcaster of distinction" has now been released:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/522824/DCMS_A-BBC-for-the-future_linked__1_.pdf

The Conservative government has unfortunately squandered the opportunity to get rid of, or substantially reduce, the licence fee funding arrangement, though of course they didn't say they were going to make any major changes to the licence fee arrangement in the 2015 Manifesto. But I'd be surprised if The Conservatives, even with Cameron as leader, haven't tried to do something in the White Paper about the BBC's lack of impartiality, as addressing this issue might help the Conservatives win future general elections.

One thing, that I don't think is very well-known, is that in 2006 the Blair government encouraged the BBC to be even more biased through introducing the idea of "public purposes" to what the BBC does in the current BBC Charter which runs from the end of 2006 to the end of 2016:

Current public purposes
1) sustaining citizenship and civil society

2) promoting education and learning

3) representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities

4) stimulating creativity and cultural excellence

5) bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK

6) in promoting its other purposes, helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services and, in addition, taking a leading role in the switchover to digital television


The whole idea of the BBC being impartial is potentially compromised by public purpose No 1, the vague idea of "sustaining citizenship and civil society", which a BBC employee could easily interpret as being encouraged to make the whole country just as Metropolitan Liberal as the BBC is. Politically incorrect views on multi-culturalism, the EU, climate change, renewable energy and so on could be argued to deserve being suppressed as these views may not be helpful to the principle of "sustaining citizenship and civil society".

The White Paper has now come up with a new set of public purposes:

New public purposes
1)Providing impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them
The BBC should provide accurate and impartial news and current affairs to build people’s understanding of all parts of the UK and of the wider world. Its content should be provided to the highest editorial standards. It should offer a range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other UK news providers, using the highest calibre presenters and journalists, and championing freedom of expression, so that all audiences can engage fully with major UK and global issues and participate in the democratic process as active and informed citizens.

2)Supporting learning for people of all ages
The BBC should help everyone learn about different subjects in ways they will find accessible, engaging, inspiring and challenging. The BBC should provide specialist educational content to help support learning for children and teenagers across the UK. It should encourage people to explore new subjects and participate in new activities through partnerships with educational, sporting and cultural institutions.

3)Showing the most creative, highest quality and distinctive content
The BBC should provide high quality output in many different genres and across a range of platforms which sets the standard in the UK and internationally. Its services should be distinctive from those provided elsewhere and should take creative risks, even if not all succeed, in order to develop fresh approaches and innovative content.

4)Reflecting, representing and serving the diverse communities of all the UK’s nations and regions
The BBC should reflect the diversity of the UK both in its content and as an organisation. In doing so, the BBC should accurately and authentically represent and portray the lives of people across the UK, and raise awareness of the different cultures and alternative viewpoints that make up its society. It should ensure that it provides content and services that meet the needs of the UK’s nations, regions and communities. It should bring people together for shared experiences and help contribute to the social wellbeing of the UK.

5)Reflecting the UK, its culture and values to the world
The BBC should provide high-quality news coverage to international audiences, firmly based on British values of accuracy, impartiality, and fairness. Its international services should put the UK in a world context, aiding understanding of all parts of the UK. It should ensure that it produces content which will be enjoyed by people in the UK and globally.


So it looks like the White Paper has dropped the vague idea of "sustaining citizenship and civil society", and made impartiality a central idea in the new public purpose No 1.

The White Paper also proposes to change the BBC's historical mission statement (devised by John Reith) "to inform, educate and entertain” to become the more complicated statement "To act in the public interest, serving all audiences with impartial, high-quality and distinctive media content and services that inform, educate and entertain." So impartiality is now in the mission statement as well, together with the completely new idea of the BBC being required to be distinctive.

From the point of view of submitting complaints to the BBC that are then taken seriously about their climate change coverage and other matters, I suppose the more upfront emphasis on the idea of impartiality helps. Also getting rid of their sympathetic regulator, the BBC Trust, probably helps.

Re: New BBC Charter

Another thing I've noticed about the White Paper is that it sets tough new diversity targets for the BBC, including what I think is a virtually impossible target for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) of 10% representation in the workforce. This Breitbart article gives the details:

link

I went through the issue of LGBT figures in some posts in the "Gay Statistics" thread. The 10% is an often-quoted figure but is based on 1940s junk science by Alfred Kinsey. The Office Of National Statistics in the UK carried out a survey of 180,000 people in 2013 and came up with LG as being just 1.1%, LGB as 1.5%. LGBT could be reasonably taken as being virtually the same as LGB, 1.5%.

The diversity targets to be met by 2020, set on page 41 of the White Paper, are 10% LGBT, 15% BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) and 8% disabled for the whole BBC workforce, and 15% BAME and gender-balanced (which presumably means 50% female) in senior leadership roles in the workforce. In front of the camera, 15% of lead roles are to go to BAME actors and 50% of lead roles to females.

I've got a feeling that the overall effect of these targets will be to make the BBC less competitive. I think "Have I got news for you" has suffered from some BBC executive's arbitrary decision a few years ago to have at least one female on the show, either as a guest or host.

Re: New BBC Charter

Even with more or less correct statistics, positive discrimination never delivers positive results.
The primary criteria for delivering quality programs is to employ the people able to meet that objective. Can you imagine putting together a football team on such a basis?
Then too what it does encourage is the belief, often probably true, that someone only has their job because they meet some quota rather than being fit for the job.

Of course, on the other hand where there are so many "luvies" I suspect they'll have no difficulty meeting their GLTB targets . But, the problem is that while Kinsey may have come up with a nonsense figure, the problem is that even if true, how does the BBC or any other organisation know if they have recruited someone who ticks that box? Are they allowed to ask about sexual tendencies? About religion and ethnic background? These are some of the private features of our lives that many people prefer not to comment on.
Mind you, if you want a job at the BBC just claim to be gay or ethnic minority and you'll probably get the job whether you are qualified or not.
Or they may put you down as a minority if they really want you.
It is a pointless exercise open to all sorts of abuses.

But then, what do we expect of a whiter paper that's sole purpose would seem to be window dressing. (Unless, of course, it is borrowed from some EU proposal on national broadcasting intended to homogenise broadcasting across the EU so that when the day comes and there is only the Brussels Broadcasting Company with the BBC acting only as a regional relay station carrying EU propaganda......I wonder if the BEEB realises this is exactly what they are setting themselves up for with their support of the EU. Well, I don't suppose the fat cats at the top care. The EU will see them right.