Friday, 25 May 2018

Brexitwatch: BBC pro-Brexit bias - the BBC's response to my complaint


In my post of March 30, I put up a complaint I had sent to the BBC about pro-Brexit bias.

Below is the BBC's reply:

Dear Mr Withington
Thank you for contacting us in relation to the BBC Radio 4 broadcast of 'Today' on 30 March.
I understand you have concerns of pro-Brexit bias relating to a number of segments during this broadcast. I have reviewed these sections of the programme for you.
I understand that you feel that Nick Robinson's piece in the lead up to 8:00am contained inaccuracies and implied those who wished to remain were trying to undermine the EU Referendum. It is important to note that this was part of a day of programming on 29 March which saw Radio 4, with one year to go until the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union, broadcast a number of specialist programmes under the theme UK at the crossroads.
Nick Robinson had provided an analytical piece, exploring the question of 'What happens if the government fails at the Westminster Parliamentary hurdle.' In this report he discusses that "there is; as of yet, no agreement amongst Remainers on how to maximise their chance of beating the government, some favour a vote on a customs union, others on a second referendum or as they prefer to present it, a people's vote on a deal the Prime Minister does".
All staff; including Nick Robinson, working for the BBC, though clearly entitled to hold personal opinions and beliefs, are acutely aware that their views should never in any way influence their work for the BBC, nor should they be apparent to our audience. It is important to recognise however that a fundamental part of the role of our correspondents is to offer analysis, using their experience and knowledge, but this is not indicative of bias.
I also note your concerns relating to an interview which took place later that morning with Dr Liam Fox. On this date a range of contributors including Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Tony Blair were invited on to the programme to discuss numerous topics relating to Brexit over the next 365 days.
During this interview Mishal asks Liam Fox a range on questions looking ahead to 30th March 2019 and what trade will look like for the UK and also explores how this will impact citizens living in the UK. They also explore the subject of a deal between the UK and the EU and what would happen if Parliament failed to vote in it's favour. As the interview wraps up Mishal questions Liam Fox on the subject of employment in places such as Nifco and whether the UK could compete outside of the EU.
In a fast-flowing interview situation, it may not always be possible for an interviewer to cross-check every statement and claim that is made by a guest, we're sorry this spoiled the interview for you. We always seek to ensure that the interviewer's particular question is answered by the guest first and foremost.
The key point here is that we aim to cover the ongoing Brexit negotiations with due impartiality. This means we carry a wide range of views about the European Union from across the political spectrum on our output. We regularly hear from those who are in favour of leaving the EU and those who wished to remain. As with any story we cover, the BBC does not have an opinion on the European Union, or on the UK’s position within it. Instead we try to explain the different and sometimes complex issues affecting our audience during Brexit. Our aim is to give them the information they need in order to follow the process clearly.
Due impartiality isn’t necessarily always achieved in one single report or programme, so we would ask that you take account of how we cover a topic over time.
We do value your feedback about this. All complaints are sent to senior management and the team at Today and I’ve included your points in our overnight report. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your concerns have been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future content.
Thank you once again for getting in touch.
Kind regards
Donal Rainey
BBC Complaints Team

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