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Kathy Gyngell: BBC complaints system could have been dreamed up by Kim Jong-un


News-watch is an “organisation with an agenda”. That’s how the BBC has dismissed the latest evidence of its blatantly biased pro-EU programming in the run-up to the referendum.

Yes! I cried out loud as I read this Kim Jong-un-style response to those with the audacity to utter any criticism of this irreproachable institution.

Yes! It has – to sort out BBC bias!

The recent statistical monitoring of pro-EU bias on BBC-2’s Newsnight by the monitoring organisation News-watch has got right up the BBC’s nose. Not so much, I suspect, because of the truth of their analysis but because the results got in the newspapers. The BBC doesn’t like negative publicity or anything that questions its own judge and jury status.

The headline: ‘Another BBC Brexit ‘bias’ row: ‘Clear evidence’ of Beeb ‘in favour’ of remaining in EU’ has clearly rattled them.

Though the BBC is required by its charter to offer impartial coverage, News-watch’s recent analysis of 25 feature items about the EU referendum on its flagship news programme, Newsnight, revealed that it has given twice as much space to pro-EU supporters.

In one-on-one interviews on the referendum, there have been 12 supporters of Remain compared to only six who were in favour of Leave.

Out of all 40 editions of Newsnight, of all the guests who have appeared to discuss the EU, there were 25 who clearly supported the Remain option and just 14 who want Britain to quit the EU – a proportion that hardly reflects the balance of popular opinion in the opinion polls (currently about 50:50).

What’s more, those who supported Remain were given much greater prominence than those who want to Leave.

An interview with MP Kate Hoey was: “a very rare appearance on the BBC of a Labour figure supporting EU exit”.  Yet the main thrust of the interview by James O’Brien was not her reasons for wanting to leave, but rather the extent to which the exit movement was split.

David Keighley, managing director of News-watch, who blogs regularly for us on this site, said about these findings: “Political balance is always a complex equation. But this is clear evidence that Newsnight has got off to a very disappointing start in its reporting of the referendum debate”.

It has indeed. But then, as we know, the BBC has form in these matters – such form that it bears huge responsibility for suppressing debate about our membership of the EU for years now.

And true to form they are, in effect, now saying that no matter what analysis of their output finds, they are going to dismiss it. Even were 100 per cent of their Newsnight guests pro-EU, I suspect they would not bat their North Korean dictator eyelids.

In any case, they have set up their own complaints system to ensure that there is no point in complaining. The BBC complaints process is structured never to consider the type of scrupulous research conducted by News-watch based on comprehensive monitoring. It only allows the public to complain about one-off programme items.

How very convenient.

However, News-watch have set up an alternative complaints site on which you can complain about any aspect of the BBC’s EU programming – and it welcomes all observations and detail of output that viewers observe or record.

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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