Guardian restored as BBC's newspaper of choice - corporation corrects inaccurate FoI response

The BBC has corrected a Freedom of Information response suggesting it had cut down on its copies of The Guardian.

Last month, Press Gazette reported on an FoI response which said that the corporation bought more copies – 78,463, costing £40,482 – of the Daily Mail than any other daily newspaper in 2014.

The response also suggested that the BBC had scaled down the number of copies of The Guardian purchased – to 45,672, costing £63,061 – following numerous reports, based on previous FoIs over different years, showing it to be the most popular within the corporation.

However, the BBC has now corrected this response to state that, in the 2014 calendar year, it purchased 80,679 copies of The Guardian, costing £127,643.

In an editorial last month – before the original FoI was reported – a Daily Mail editorial criticised the BBC for not following up on a story stating that Edward Snowden did not read all the NSA documents he leaked to The Guardian. It asked: "[W]ith the BBC buying more copies of the Guardian than any other newspaper, is its Left-wing, metropolitan bias really still a surprise?" 

The BBC has dismissed the "suggestion of bias", pointing to the fact it buys "almost as many copies of the Daily Mail or Telegraph as The Guardian".

The table below shows that, out of the ten daily newspapers bought by the BBC, The Guardian is the most frequently purchased, making up 13.44 per cent of the 600,190. Meanwhile, in the second half of 2014, the newspaper's average circulation was 179,138 – 2.6 per cent of the ten titles' combined circulation of 6.9m.

The table also shows that the BBC spends more money – £127,643 in 2014, 22 per cent of the £571,218 total – on The Guardian than any other newspaper. 

Daily papers Copies bought by BBC in 2014 Total cost Avg circ in second half of 2014 % of BBC's total daily papers Percentage of total circs
Daily Express 42,263 £21,134 466,836 7.04 6.79
Daily Mail 78,463 £40,482 1,669,620 13.07 24.28
Daily Mirror 60,528 £28,269 939,172 10.08 13.66
Daily Star 17,988 £6,830 452,581 3.00 6.58
The Daily Telegraph 75,308 £89,069 501,367 12.55 7.29
Financial Times 40,253 £83,061 214,963 6.71 3.13
The Guardian 45,672 £63,061 179,138 8.08 2.6
The Guardian 80,679 £127,643 179,138 13.44 2.6
The Sun 66,202 £22,730 1,996,427 11.03 29.03
The Independent 61,339 £73,175 61,916 10.85 0.9
The Times 77,167 £78,825 394,721 12.86 5.74
Totals 600,190 £571,218 6,876,741    

Reporting on the new figures today, the Daily Mail quotes a spokesman for the Freedom Association, which lobbies against the licence fee, as saying: "This is the equivalent of almost 900 licence fees. It is clear that the Corporation is intent on propping up its friends in the Left-wing media."

A BBC spokesman said: “Viewers rightly expect our journalists to be across all newspaper stories and as a major international broadcaster and programme-maker we need to know what’s in all the papers.

"Given we buy almost as many copies of the Daily Mail or Telegraph as the Guardian any suggestion of bias is nonsense.”

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