BBC governors 'concerned' over news bias

BBC governors raised concerns about the impartiality of the BBC’s news coverage this week, after the panel in charge of addressing programme complaints said it was “particularly concerned” with bulletins over the past quarter.

In the latest report from the programme complaints committee, released on Tuesday, chairman Sir Robert Smith said it had been “particularly concerned with issues of impartiality in news coverage” to ensure that the BBC complied with its charter obligations. “Impartiality is a core value which lies at the heart of the BBC, and no programming is exempt from it,” he added.

News and current affairs programmes took a very slim lead over entertainment as the programme genre most complained about over the period, with 147 (23 per cent) and 141 (22 per cent) complaints respectively.

Factual programmes accounted for 14 per cent, with 91.

Complaints against three television news bulletins and a Radio Five Live Breakfast programme featuring Labour MP George Galloway were upheld during the period.

The One O’Clock News on BBC One on 25 April was found to have infringed the privacy of a hospital staff member, who agreed to appear on the report if her identity remained secret, but was nevertheless identified by a particular shot. The BBC apologised to the complainant and assured her the shot would not be rebroadcast.

Viewers’ claims of bias in an Iraqi war report on BBC Two’s Newsnight on 26 March were upheld, after a reporter called the conflict a “holy war”.

A BBC News 24 report on 18 April was censured for factual inaccuracy, when a viewer complained that a headline said the Stevens Inquiry into Northern Ireland had found the security forces to have colluded with Protestant paramilitary units during the 1980s “to murder Catholics”.

Finding no warrant in the Stevens report for the using the term “Catholics”, the governors upheld the complaint.

Almost half of all complaints to BBC governors regarding programmes broadcast in the past quarter were upheld, according to the figures released this week.

From a total of 645 complaints lodged regarding 227 items aired between 1 April and 30 June, 312 complaints were upheld (48.5 per cent), 23 of those partly.

This compared with 229 complaints concerning 142 items in the same period last year.

 

By Wale Azeez

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