The disproportionate influence of the Guardian at the BBC

Last week saw the release of the Audit Bureau of Circulations figures for national newspapers for January, reported in the Press Gazette. For those who don’t tend to keep an eye on newspaper circulation the audit throws up an interesting picture (including some poor proofing of the figures).

It also poses a question for the BBC’s management about its relationship with the Guardian.

(The Up/Down figure is the year-on-year percentage rise or fall in circulation)

When you look at these figures it is easy to see why the BBC should account for the disproportionate number of television and radio appearances by journalists from the Guardian. When given a choice of a national newspaper we can see that out of an average 10,197,331 copies sold each day during January 2011 (including bulk buys) less than 280,000 copies in the UK were the Guardian. That represents just under 2.74% of national circulation.

That puts the Guardian’s popularity, or lack thereof, in its proper context.  So why is it hardly a day goes by where a Guardian journalist is not rolled out onto the BBC airwaves to promote their opinion and analysis to the viewing and listening audience?  One only has to watch BBC TV or listen to BBC radio to see that no other newspaper’s journalists feature so frequently.

The figures show the Guardian’s news and comment is overwhelmingly rejected by those who choose to part with their money to take national newspapers.  Yet the BBC is determined to push the Guardian’s views on the public via the airwaves, something we are forced to pay for under pain of fine or imprisonment.  There is also crossover with BBC personalities publishing their comments in Guardian columns.  How is this balanced or impartial?  We wait in vain for an answer.

What this also puts into context is the BBC’s indefensible bias in only trawling a very narrow and self professed left wing pool when only using the Guardian to advertise vacancies.  It is a measure of the naked political bias inherent in our national public service broadcaster, which proves it is nothing more than a self serving broadcaster.

36 Responses to “The disproportionate influence of the Guardian at the BBC”


  1. 1 right_writes 18/02/2011 at 10:58 am

    This is simple AM… I am surprised that you missed it.

    The Guardian is the BBC’s Literary Department…

    The BBC + The Guardian probably does manufacture prolefeed for the majority of the population.

    It can be the only explanation.

  2. 2 David Jones 18/02/2011 at 10:59 am

    2.74% … and the percentage of interviews and comment spots given to Guardianistas would be? I should guess 15 or more times that figure.

    BTW what is happening at The Times? Paywall problems? Probably not but it is a huge circulation drop.

  3. 3 Autonomous Mind 18/02/2011 at 11:01 am

    I didn’t miss it, I want readers to make the connection themselves. As you demonstrate readers of this blog are far from silly and don’t need to have everything spelled out for them.

  4. 4 Autonomous Mind 18/02/2011 at 11:05 am

    The Times was NuLabour through and through and its credibility has been damaged. The Telegraph’s slide will accelerate now people are realising it is no better with its blind support of Cameron.

  5. 5 Agincourt 18/02/2011 at 11:18 am

    We can & do complain about the BBC, & its biases. But what will really change it – & other broadcasters? Sharing its TV licence revenue with other broadcasters would be shock enough for the BBC, as it is so addicted to its TV licence money largesse. But that – & a regulator, or something similar, whose remit is to ensure broadcasting impartiality (including their relationships with newspapers) – are the barest minimum. But will Parliament actually make this happen? That’s almost as unlikely as giving us a referendum on the EU (which in fact should routinely occur during every 5 year Parliament)!

  6. 6 Barry 18/02/2011 at 11:53 am

    The BBC – “The Guardian reports …”

    The Guardian – “The BBC reports …”

    A self supporting clique. I wonder how much money the Guardian receives from the BBC in subscriptions.

  7. 7 jameshigham 18/02/2011 at 11:56 am

    Great stuff – well researched. And still they try to maintain the fiction.

  8. 8 James morrison 18/02/2011 at 12:08 pm

    That’s (yet another) great observation AM! Thank you!

  9. 9 James morrison 18/02/2011 at 12:13 pm

    …and is it telling us something that the Daily Mail is the only newspaper whose circulation is going up?!

  10. 10 Autonomous Mind 18/02/2011 at 12:16 pm

    I doubt Parliament would do it Agincourt because the BBC is, wrongly, part of the establishment. We need a strictly impartial regulator and independent complaints process but how cthere be one when politicians appoint their own placemen in such roles as a reward for some service or other?

    But the problem is deeper. The journalist corps is incestuous. Even journos at the Telegraph, Times etc share many of the left wing traits of the BBC/Guardian. That’s why so many flit between different papers. It is only certain columnists like Booker and Delingpole that give the impression of the Telegraph being centre-right. Read the news items carefully and it could easily have been written by a Groan hack.

  11. 11 Autonomous Mind 18/02/2011 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks James. Indeed, love it or hate it the Mail is doing something right to attract readers – and the Guardian can’t tag it with the Murdoch slur either.

  12. 12 Cassandra King 18/02/2011 at 12:22 pm

    The BBC and the guardian are very similar organisations, both would fail in a fair free market. Both lead a parasitical existence and both have no qualms about using underhand and morally questionable methods of revenue raising.
    Both are hard left Marxist propaganda outlets and both share the same world view and both rely on the same sources for their stories and use the same people to support or attack as the narrative demands.

    The Express has more than double the circulation and yet has almost no representation at the BBC, they cannot even bring themselves to show the Express at a newspaper review especially if it is running a sceptical climate story. Bulk buying by the BBC must inflate the guardian circulation figures quite substantially, it would be interesting to find out how many copies the BBC buys each week.

  13. 13 Gerard 18/02/2011 at 12:38 pm

    The ‘Daily Mail’ doing something right to attract readers? Or do the circulation figures include the amount of free copies dumped at airports for the travelling public to pick up for free? (which, to be fair, sort of works as I read it for the first time in donkeys years…though still not actually tempted to part with cash for it…)

  14. 14 Mike 18/02/2011 at 1:16 pm

    Universities may account for a significant portion of the Guardians readership. As I recall from Plymouth Uni, they had a stack of Guardian newspapers in the student union shop. Though that’s proabably more to do with the ‘jobs section’ of the paper, which commonly has govt related posts listed in it, rather than any ideological bias from the academia.

  15. 15 peter geany 18/02/2011 at 1:26 pm

    The Guardian figures are worse than appears if you strip out all the copies the BBC buys and those that are delivered to other captured areas such as libraries etc. What ever way you cut the figures it has far too much influence at the BBC.

    I had 15 minutes with my MP (new Tory) last Friday and the BBC and its Bias was on the agenda. I get the impression Cameron likes the left bent of the BBC as it allows him get away with not tackling the real issues, and that certainly my MP was not prepared to really accept what I was saying. I told him that in the last 4 years I had moved from grudging support for the license fee and the notion of a public broadcaster, to a position of complete disgust with the BBC and would vote to abolish the license fee tomorrow.

  16. 16 Matt 18/02/2011 at 1:51 pm

    Surely something like this is the way forward:

    http://www.tpuc.org/stoppayingtvlicencefees

    It would seem like there is now enough of us who have had enough of the BBC for this to become more than the fringe movement it currently is?

  17. 17 Terrible But True 18/02/2011 at 2:11 pm

    Still somewhat of a Quixotian question in light of the BBC’s ‘unique’ level of embedding within the politico-media establishment, but it would be interesting to find how many would defend this clear (mis)representation disconnect acceptabel, yet at the same time overtly and vocally support voting and other regimes based on the numbers of folk standing behind various banners.

    On this basis, we should see a Grauniad mouthpiece, whose opinion becomes front page news in a heartbeat, scoring a slot on Ceebeebies about once a year.

  18. 18 Terrible But True 18/02/2011 at 2:21 pm

    As the BBC now seems to get all its ‘news’ from the twittering from a rather small circle of chums, it may be interesting to see how long before this topic gets raised…

    guardianeco Guardian Environment
    Reading: Johnny Ball ‘abused by environmentalists’ over climate change denial http://bit.ly/h8yKLY <<want us to blog on this?

    … or not.

  19. 19 Jonathan Stuart-Brown 18/02/2011 at 2:33 pm

    For once you have severely over-estimated something.
    The Guardian has fewer than 50 000 real purchasers.
    It is bought on block in volume with public money by The BBC,
    Charities, Quangos, Unions, Lobby Groups, Libraries, University Library and Departments (such as Law Departments for its legal reports), local authorities and local authority departments, the NHS, as well as political parties (which is not public money).
    Its real readers are often just looking at the jobs adverts because of The BBC lock (and media cluster as a result) on Monday, then the union job adverts, local authority job adverts,
    charity job adverts etc
    It would be out of business but for being subsidised by the public purse to the tune of over 80% of its income.
    It is still failing and falling. It is starting to axe staff. There is hope the dragon can be slayed.
    http://www.savethebritishfilmindustry.com/2011/01/as-20-year-tv-news-anchorman-peter-sissons-confirms-marxist-bbc-bias-against-britain-why-does-the-bbc-subsidise-the-guardian-to-the-tune-of-100-a-year-per-genuine-guardian-purchaser/

  20. 20 Mike H 18/02/2011 at 3:29 pm

    I was once told that the Guardian and the BBC were two cheeks of the same arse.I see no reason to change that view.

  21. 21 Mike H 18/02/2011 at 3:30 pm

    Sorry. I read further, so forget that

  22. 22 Andy Baxter 18/02/2011 at 3:51 pm

    AM:

    could another analysis of the figures you present (i.e. falling circulation) be indicative of a growing realisation amongst the traditional MSM readers that they are being spoon fed the ‘on message’ shite and have come (at last!) to the realisation that there are blogs such as this and others providing more in depth intelligent analysis and accurate reporting of facts of teh state of the real world issues affecting our lives, without spin…..?

    just wondering….?

    maybe the message is getting through?

    but I have a question?

    is there any way, apart from the individual’s blogs hit figures, to determne collectively (such as MSM circulation figs) the circulation (hit) figures of blogs such as this?

    it would provide an interesting comparison methinks…

  23. 23 nemesis 18/02/2011 at 4:56 pm

    With a bit of luck a cut in public sector jobs should impact on its advertising revenue.

  24. 24 Span Ows 18/02/2011 at 4:58 pm

    Great stuff, have linked and commented.

  25. 25 Kevin 19/02/2011 at 1:19 am

    I listen to Radio 4 everyday. I can honestly say that in the past few years I have only heard a handful of journos from the Daily Telegrapg being asked to chip in their two pennyworth. In the same time I have endured having to listen to hundreds of contributions from Guardian Journalists!!!

  26. 26 London Calling 19/02/2011 at 8:29 am

    Interesting proof betrays how the BBC inverts its priority order of newspaper reporting

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12513463

    The sequence of papers selected is virtually the reverse of their circulation.

    Comes naturally really when you are “of the Left”

  27. 27 Lesley 19/02/2011 at 9:49 am

    Circulation and TV viewing figures are not the final story. How many people read the same paper in a household? How many read the paper on-line? How many read or watch the whole article or program and thought that it was worth reading or watching?
    I am an on-line newspaper reader and often see what is given as ‘most read’ only for me to look and find a complete waste of time as have been sucked in by a title that is not representative of the piece.

  28. 28 Junkk Male 19/02/2011 at 10:46 am

    It seems that today’s editorial in the Guardian, complementing UK Uncut demos, is coming under some scrutiny vis a vis multiplicities of standards, between (much of it justified, in my view) criticism of the banking community and their ethical standards, especially as regards tax, and those operated by the Guardian Group.

    Of course, one is sure the BBC will be over this disconnect like a rash, with many ‘by the way’ awkward questions for guest commentators as they clock on for the day.

  29. 30 Junkk Male 19/02/2011 at 5:44 pm

    ‘You got there before me JM, I was still writing :)’

    Gre… well, like minds:)

    It’s those pictures slowed you down!

    So long as the message gets out that some are a wee bit more prone to saying whilst patently not doing, and it’s not that healthy to be served rampant hypocrisy by over-dominant news feeds, then a little duplication in the eyebrow-cranking seats surely can’t hurt.

  30. 31 neil craig 21/02/2011 at 4:11 pm

    The arese in question being the state, or perhaps simply the civil service. The BBC is a state funded broadcaster whose board is appointed by the state. The Guardian’s income, like all newspapers, depends more on advertising than purchasers but unlike the others has advertising coming overwhelmingly from the state, particularly job adverts for recruitment to the afroementioned civil service.

    I suspect if it were not for keeping up with the adverts for makework jobs the G would have significantly fewer readers as well.

  31. 32 Junkk Male 23/02/2011 at 5:48 pm

    GuardianSustBiz The Guardian
    RT @guardianvalues: Is it possible to prove Guardian values run through our content like a stick of rock? http://gu.com/p/2na59/tf

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainability/blog/assurance-csr-sustainability?CMP=twt_fd

    Answers… on what may prove to be a very large postcard.

  32. 33 NotaSheep 25/02/2011 at 8:26 am

    A fantastic post, I have linked. Is there anyway you, I and Beeb Bias Craig could put your data and his together?

  33. 35 neil craig 25/02/2011 at 11:13 am

    How much the Guardian depends on government advertising can be seen by looking at any issue and comparing the proportion of advertising from government sources, including government funded fakecharities, compared to the proportion in a real newspaper.

  34. 36 Gill 25/02/2011 at 5:10 pm

    Don’t read the Guardian and don’t watch or listen to the BBC.
    Simples! As Alexander would put it.


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