Monday, 20 February 2012

Complaint to the BBC

Here's a complaint I sent to the BBC last night (not that I expect it to do much good):

Complaint title:
Biased coverage of tax allowance increase

Complaint description:
I am astounded by this article on the BBC news website: 


In it you discuss Ed Balls and his decision to support a range of measures including increasing the income tax threshold to £10,000. In it you use the word "conservatives" four times and "labour" six times. The Lib Dems are mentioned precisely once in the context of: 

'As well as Mr Balls' proposed VAT cut, "in an attempt to put pressure on the chancellor ahead of next month's Budget, he also sets out an alternative menu of options which he thinks might appeal to some Conservative and Lib Dem backbenchers", says BBC political correspondent Iain Watson.'

Not once do you mention that raising the income tax threshold to £10,000 was a key Lib Dem 2010 manifesto pledge (mentioned on the front page of their manifesto) and one of the headline Lib Dem policies being implemented. Nor do you mention Nick Clegg's speech earlier this week outlining ways to increase the tax threshold to £10,000.

I think that this article shows shocking anti-Lib Dem bias by omission and also deprives those reading BBC News online of the full story. I'd very much like to see how you claim to justify this.

12 comments:

  1. Well done George. I will attempt to do similar

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  2. Seriously? You seriously think that the article shows 'shocking anti-Lib Dem bias by omission' really? I mean really?

    Oh my word do we have to have a quota of mentions of all the parties in each article they write now? A piece about Ed Balls interview needs as many Lib Dem mentions as Tory? What about the Greens, UKIP, the BNP?

    They can justify it quite easily. The article was about an interview Ed Balls did. In said interview he mentioned George Osbourne and the Conservatives several times hence why they are referenced. If you go back to articles about Nick Clegg interviews you'll see they predominately talk about the Lib Dems. It is kinda how journalism works. You have a story and you write about it. You don't just think you need to balance everything up.

    There is nothing wrong with the article either in terms of how the BBC wrote it up or how they portray the Lib Dems in general.

    Think you are being a tad over-sensitive on this one and looking for things that aren't there...

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    Replies
    1. Right, so an opposition stealing one of a governing party's key policies (key as one of the four key election pledges they made) doesn't even get a mention and you think that's unbiased?

      A single sentence mentioning that it was a Lib Dem policy might have been at least something.

      And, given that the BBC has a duty to inform and provide balanced coverage, I bloody do "think you need to balance everything up."

      Delete
    2. Neil, the piece was inaccurate. It said "Mr Balls' ideas include a VAT cut, a 3p income tax cut for a year, bringing forward the planned personal allowance rise to £10,000 and higher tax credits."

      The £10,000 tax allowance and the idea to fast track it is NOT one of Ed Balls' ideas. The piece is factually WRONG!

      It is a Lib Dem policy, and idea originated in 2008 by Vince Cable. It was on the front of the LIB DEM Manifesto. Nick Clegg called for it to be fast tracked in his speech on 26 January.

      Balls has no claim to this policy. It's fine that he supports it, but he should NOT be credited with the idea!

      Delete
    3. The BBC have a duty and a charter that means they have to provide fair and balanced coverage but that is overall and not on every individual article. That is just sheer lunacy.

      As for the opposition stealing one of our key policies. Whoo hoo. Isn't that great news? Labour agree with us? Isn't that a feather in our cap? Ed Balls even says that it is Nick Clegg's policy in the interview. So he is giving us total credit for it and he backs it or any other stimulus package for the economy.

      Yes in an ideal world a sentence is thrown in saying 'Ed Balls backs Nick Clegg's call for a faster rise in the income tax threshold' but is omitting that sentence really showing anti-Lib Dem bias by the BBC? That seems a tad OTT to me.

      As for the piece 'crediting' Ed Balls with the idea. It actually doesn't. It says some of Ed Balls ideas for the stimulus package that will speed up the economy. It is taken from the interview you can watch. He clearly states and gives credit to Nick Clegg and David Davis for their two ideas as well as proposing his own idea.

      Yes the piece isn't the most transparent in the world but if you watch the interview and dissect what he says then the article flows fine. I don't think the Beeb are saying that it is Ed Balls idea and Ed Balls certainly didn't.

      Could it have been better? Of course but what article couldn't be better?

      I just think the perception of this shows an anti-Lib Dem bias is just nuts.

      Delete
    4. I think you are being somewhat naive Neil. If you watched closely on the BBC you'd see a lot of bias against the Lib Dems.

      The fact remains the actual article is FACTUALLY WRONG. You can't get away from that. It can be read separate from the video and taken in isolation.

      How do you think a friend of mine got a mouthful from a voter saying it was Labour's policy and we were stealing it.

      I think you need to open your eyes a bit more.

      Delete
    5. I wouldn't call me naive - well I would but not on this issue. If you analysed every little thing any publication or company said or wrote then you could point out biases everywhere. Everyone believes everyone is biased against them. You'll even find people who think the Daily Mirror hate Labour and that The Telegraph hate the Tories and the Daily Mail is a respectable paper.

      When it comes to the media and Journalism I think my eyes are rather open. You know me having a Journalism degree and being a Journalist an all.

      The Beeb aren't perfect but I can assure you of this. They go out of their way to ensure they give as much air time to all three major political parties and report things as straight down the line as any news corporation in the world. They might not get everything right but if you truly believe there is a vendetta or a real attempt to have an anti-Lib Dem bias then that is your paranoia talking and not the truth.

      Delete
    6. Okay Neil, let me give you another example and let's see if you would call this biased.

      A while ago there was an edition of Question Time where the main topics of discussion were to be the Iraq War and electoral reform. There are always give panellists - enough for a figure from or supporting of each of the three main parties plus two other voices outside the political mainstream, right?

      However, the BBC selected as the panellists one Labour politician, one tory politician, one left wing journalist and one right wing journalist and someone else who I forget. There were no Lib Dems present - because clearly the Lib Dems have nothing to say about Iraq or electoral reform.

      Now, do you think that is a biased decision?

      Delete
    7. Following on from what George just said, David Dimbleby also has a tendency to cut Lib Dem panel members short on the few occasions they have one on. They never get to finish what they're saying, yet he'll let Labour or a left or right wing journalist whitter on no end!

      Also on an edition of 'This Week' there had been a whole deal made of a huge mistake made by a Labour MP in the Commons on the Wednesday. It was all over the internet, yet the following day 'This Week' chose to pick on Lib Dem after Lib Dem with no mention of the Labour cock-up the previous day. Either they have incompetent researchers, or they are bias and unfair.

      It's not paranoia Neil.

      Delete
  3. This is what I said in my complaint:

    In your article dated 19 February 2012 entitled "Ed Balls suggests Budget tax cut option" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17087726) you inaccurately state the following:

    "Mr Balls' ideas include a VAT cut, a 3p income tax cut for a year, bringing forward the planned personal allowance rise to £10,000 and higher tax credits."

    There doesn't seem to be a mention in the article that the £10,000 income tax threshold policy is a Liberal Democrat policy from the front page of their manifesto. It is not a Labour or Ed Balls idea or policy, neither is the preference to "bringing forward" the increase.

    It was Nick Clegg who called for fast tracking this policy further and faster in his speech to the Resolution Foundation on 26 January 2012. See here: http://www.nickclegg.com/nccom_news_details.aspx?title=Nick_Clegg%27s_tax_cut_speech_at_the_Resolution_Foundation&pPK=dd9bb7ba-4acb-4801-825e-ace76c4bbe76 and I quote from Nick's speech: "Today I want to make clear that I want the Coalition to go further and faster in delivering the full £10,000 allowance."

    This article is inaccurate and bias. The bias of the BBC in recent times is beyond contempt. Not only are you content to let David Dimbleby cut off Lib Dems during BBC Question Time, you are happy to print lies and give Labour credit for clear Lib Dem policy.

    All Ed Balls has done is to write in great big neon letters Labour's tendancy to jump on the latest bandwagon and steal policies.

    Please correct this inaccuracy.

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  4. The BBC is biased in many different ways. It is particularly biased against the SNP.

    On one occasion, in a 'Question Time', from GLASGOW, Old Bumblebum actually told the Deputy First Minister of Scotland that she couldn't talk about something which was only of interest or relevance to Scottish viewers because this was a programme that went out in England.

    The next week, the programme from Chester (I think) covered the Health Service, education and prisons...all English only matters.

    Of course it is time the old fool was retired off.

    But yes, I understand how they suck up to whosoever is likely to keep their generous licence fee pouring money into their vastly inflated organisation. They probably don't know that yu are in government too.

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  5. I don't see the problem. Most of the country is biased against the Lib Dems for helping the Tories screw over disabled people (amongst others) So do you want to complain against them as well?

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I'm indebted to Birkdale Focus for the following choice of words:

I am happy to address most contributions, even the drunken ones if they are coherent, but I am not going to engage with negative sniping from those who do not have the guts to add their names or a consistent on-line identity to their comments. Such postings will not be published.

Anonymous comments with a constructive contribution to make to the discussion, even if it is critical will continue to be posted. Libellous comments or remarks I think may be libellous will not be published.

I will also not tolerate personation so please do not add comments in the name of real people unless you are that person. If you do not like these rules then start your own blog.

Oh, and if you persist in repeating yourself despite the fact I have addressed your point I may get bored and reject your comment.

The views expressed in comments are those of the poster, not me.