We’re committed to honest, unbiased reporting

Yes, you guessed right, it’s the BBC again.  A reader has kindly shared their story about a complaint to the BBC about the lack of balance and journalistic rigour during an interview that focused on – yes, you guessed again – climate change.

Our contributor, who wishes to remain anonymous, picks up the story…

I contacted the BBC last month to complain about the following Hardtalk interview (6/12/10) with President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives (see attached) : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wkjpk
I had asked the BBC why the interviewer, Stephen Sackur, had not asked the President questions about his claims that the Maldives are sinking when the scientific studies by Dr Nils Axel Morner have shown that sea levels around the Maldives / Pacific Island’s are not rising.  Not once during the interview was there any questioning of the flawed science and exaggerations about the Maldives sinking.
The BBC’s derisory response is attached below. For some strange reason the BBC have even managed to get the question wrong. I had asked them why the interviewer did not raise questions about the flawed science, but the BBC seem to think that I was asking why there was not a guest on to raise the question. Very odd.

From: complaintresponse@bbc.co.uk <complaintresponse@bbc.co.uk>
Subject: BBC Complaints – Case number xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
To: “xxxxxxxxxxxxxx” <xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: xxxxxxxxxxxx

Dear xxxxxxxxxxxx

Reference xxxxxxxxxx

Thanks for contacting us about ‘Hardtalk’ on 06 December.

I understand that you felt that the programme was biased because you believe that scientists have proven that there have been no sea level rises in the Maldives and you felt we should have invited a guest onto the programme to provide this view.

We’re committed to honest, unbiased reporting and are determined to remain free from influence by outside parties. Impartiality forms the cornerstone of BBC News and Current Affairs and we don’t allow influence from any other outside body.

However, guests aren’t always available to contribute to our programmes and so it’s not always possible or practical to reflect all the different opinions on a subject within programmes. Editors are charged to ensure that over a reasonable period they reflect the range of significant views, opinions and trends in their subject area.

We don’t seek to denigrate any view or promote any view. We seek rather to identify all significant views and to test them rigorously and fairly on behalf of the audience. Evidence does indicate widespread confidence in the impartiality of our reporting.

Nevertheless, I do appreciate that you felt the discussion on rising sea level was one-sided and so I’d like to assure you that I’ve registered your complaint on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s circulated to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

Leanne Bennett
BBC Complaints


What a complete and utter load of rubbish. ‘Here Leanne, we’ve got another one from those bloody deniers. Let Harrabin know cos he likes a good laugh. Standard response for this is in file 13. Do the usual then get us a coffee will ya?’.

I suppose the obvious question here is, has anyone ever complained to the BBC about bias or lack of balance and ever had their complaint upheld by the complaints department? We know of numerous complaints being recorded on the audience log, but nothing changes. One wonders if the log is simply used for some self loathing liberal mirth at the expense of people who live in the real world outside BBC centre.

Surely a more accurate description for this department would be the BBC Complaints Rebuttal Unit.  The annoying thing remains that we are compelled under pain of fine or imprisonment to fund this misinformation masquerading as news programming.  The contempt shown towards the viewing public is incredible.

8 Responses to “We’re committed to honest, unbiased reporting”

  1. 1 right_writes 05/01/2011 at 6:43 am

    It was the same story for me (and many others) in regard to the slur by David Baddiel and Alan Davies regarding Norris McWhirter a few weeks back.

    “Thank you for contacting us regarding remarks made by David Baddiel about Norris McWhirter and the Freedom Association on The Alan Davies Show on BBC Radio 5 Live broadcast on Saturday 18 December.

    On the show David Baddiel was discussing a television film he has recently made entitled ‘The Norris McWhirter Chronicles’. The film centres around a speech that Mr McWhirter made at David Baddiel’s school in the 1970s. The young Baddiel had expected a talk about the then popular TV programme ‘Record Breakers’ and was disappointed that Mr McWhirter’s speech was of a political nature. The comments made by David Baddiel were quite clearly his personal description of Mr McWhirter’s political allegiances.

    The Alan Davies Show is a live, light hearted, entertainment programme and in this context we are satisfied that no broadcasting guidelines were broken.

    Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

    Kind Regards

    BBC Audience Services”

    This “stock reply” was in response to our complaint that Baddiel had stated that the Freedom Association was akin to a posh BNP, and Davies’s riposte that he and the TFA, were like a crowd of brownshirts.

    As in your post AM, they misrepresented the complaint and then ignored it.

    I would suggest that the contempt is more than incredible, it is criminal. Perhaps we should refuse to fund a criminal organisation. It is clearly not the TFA or the late McWhirter that are fascist, rather the BBC.

  2. 2 Derek Reynolds 05/01/2011 at 8:29 am

    The BBC, media, and money.

    This story relates to a Rights of Way issue for motor vehicles that was under threat back in 2005/6, and resulted in an effective loss of more than 50% of an available network through the passage of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (NERCA 2006).

    The issue contested historic rights held on behalf of the user, and restriction/removal of those rights on behalf of land owners. The users were individuals themselves, clubs representing user groups, and sporting and Land Access and public Rights of Way organisations.

    The land owners were supported by the Countryside Landowners Association (CLA) of which several Peers were members of and highly influential, the Ramblers Association and other groups, along with a loud representation of what might be called ‘NIMBY’s’. With access to a wide variety of media and an expensive propaganda campaign with roots embedded in the House, a ‘dog’s dinner’ was presented, complete with lies, misrepresentation and everything comparable to ‘Climategate’.

    Such was the trust that the user groups placed in the ‘lobbying’ campaigns, and advice given by certain parliamentary people making sympathetic noises and a ‘just’ hearing, guidelines were followed, and largely adhered to. But they had not reckoned with the underhand and extreme power of big money – land owners and the CLA. In conjunction with great activity on behalf of Peers, a ‘debate’ was finally held in the Lords involving 15 – fifteen – peers who basically swept the Bill through unopposed. There was no ‘debate’, it was a stand up and announce what is about to become another Act of Parliament by the Ministers steering the Bill.

    End of story – and the BBC played their part:

    In addition to the misleading advice given to user groups, there was on the BBC an edition of ‘The Archers’ in which a confrontation between some hooligans on motorcycles caused upset to some horse riders. All this at the time when attention and support was being sought for the user groups campaign to retain their historic access. This may seem small beer, but to those whom it affected, it was the equivalent of social workers delivering a summons to claim ward of court over your child for missing school one day.

    That the BBC chose to broadcast that edition at that time led everyone to believe some very powerful hand was at work unseen. Never before had such an incident been raised on that program. Complaints were lodged with the editor of the program, as such issues had never been heard of before, and it was pointed out the affect it might have to a issue of national importance to many members of the public. Letters came back telling of how the program always tried to reflect current day issues, and in all probability some future program would see balance.

    I can assure you that no such balance has ever been heard on The Archers, nor has there been any satisfaction in having complaints upheld or reviewed. None whatsoever. The BBC were being used by big money to create a bias for the side with the biggest clout. The issue itself was very minor compared to that of reporting climate and how it changes, but the self same attitudes and bias were displayed. Just as the BBC has waved the ‘warmist’ flag on high, it did exactly the same for the land owners. Multi billion pound estate owners and more besides are no match for Joe public.

    The end result for former users in the above instance has been that the tiny amount of legitimate unsurfaced rights of way, around 4% of all, has been reduced and truncated to around 1.4%, with further restriction on the remaining.

    The BBC ‘Honest and unbiased’? Most certainly not!

  3. 3 Budgie 05/01/2011 at 9:10 am

    I tried to convince the BBC of its over reliance on Guardian journalists, many years ago. I received exactly the same sort of fob off replies: how wonderfully unbiased the BBC was.

    The only solution is not to buy a TV licence. I have the satisfaction of not having supported the BBC for more than 20 years. I am baffled why more of us don’t do that.

  4. 4 The Maldives are not sinking 05/01/2011 at 9:12 am

    You are absolutely right about the Maldives and you may find the attached evidence of interest.

    “Maldives wants ten new airports for resort islands”


    Peer reviewed scientific paper By Nils Axel Morner

    “New perspectives for the future of the Maldives
    Nils-Axel Mo¨rnera,*, Michael Tooleyb, Go¨ran Possnertc”

    Click to access MornerEtAl2004.pdf

    “Why the Maldives aren’t sinking :Nils-Axel Morner”


    Video of Nil’s Axel Morner on the Maldives islands, providing evidence of why they are not sinking.

    Morner’s very informative scientific presentation, at the Heartland conference, on sea level increases and the difference between observed data and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) model’s predictions.


    Evidence presented to Parliament, by Nils Axel Morner, showing that the Maldives are not sinking


    Spectator article on New Scientist magazines discovery that the pacific islands are growing hence backing up Morners theory.

    “Pacific islands defy apocalyptic climate change scenarios”


    You won’t hear any of this evidence on the BBC.

  5. 5 Phillip Bratby 05/01/2011 at 9:22 am

    This is typical of BBC handling of complaints (and is typical of civil servants in general) in that the response is often to a reinterpretation of the question so that a standard answer can be provided by some minion with no understanding.

  6. 6 Viv Evans 05/01/2011 at 11:22 am

    Don’t let the Beeb complaints people get away with this and other ‘answers’.
    Write back, using the reply button on their e-mail.
    Tell them you are hugely dissatisfied and want a proper answer, not their pre-formulated text modules.
    Tell them if this isn’t happening, you’ll write to the Board of Governors.

    You won’t get much more of an answer, but at least you’ve made them work for their salaries which we pay!

  7. 7 Neil Craig 05/01/2011 at 3:43 pm

    I assume the misquoting your question as asking for a counter guest is a way of evading the BBC’s responsibility to actually ask serious questions in an interview.

    However it involves them in a clear lie in that I simply do not believe that it was impossible to find any sceptical guest. Indeed I do not believe they even asked anybody & if replying to them “who” might be a suitable question.

    Officially the BBC, through their Charter, have an obligation to show “due balance”. They have admitted to producing 10s of thousands of hours of coverage supporting alarmism & zero hours giving free reign to sceptics. Clearly their commitment to their legal duty & to “identify all significant views and to test them rigorously and fairly” merely represents the highest standard of honesty to which these corrupt, lying, genocidal, organlegging, fascists ever aspire.

    However congratulations on actually getting any sort of reply – the BBC normally don’t even show that much decency.

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