BBC "savings cuts"

The BBC has ‘abandoned’ investigative reporting and has a fundamental bias towards the party in power, says the former head of investigations at BBC Newsnight in a damning editorial.

Meirion Jones won the London Press Awards Scoop of the Year for his part in the investigation into Jimmy Savile, and says the BBC “let down” whistleblowers who came to them because it was too cautious.

He also slammed the corporation for its coverage of news that could portray the government in a bad light.

Take the junior doctors’ strike this month. Newsnight, to its credit, ran a MORI poll showing 66% public in favour, 18% against. But on the day of the action Today trawled for anti-strike patients, and the BBC News at Ten ran two negative voices from ordinary people, and no-one in favour.

He said it wasn’t just the Tories, but a general pro-government bias that also existed during the Iraq War.

Investigations aim to hold power to account, and one of the most powerful institutions is the government. People ask me is the BBC biased, and my answer is that the fundamental corporate bias is pro-government, regardless of party. It’s the licence fee – stupid.

In his essay, Jones outlines how the BBC has consistently let down investigative journalists working at the corporation and failed to challenge powerful, vested interests.

Back in the 2000s I was asked to draw up a plan for a BBC investigations unit, to take on the papers. I wasn’t necessarily interested in running it but I was interested in writing the blueprint and working in it. It was because we had created something similar on a smaller scale at the BBC’s ‘flagship’ current affairs show Newsnight. I had previously worked in radio (on Today, World at One and PM) and on moving to Newsnight I was shocked at how little journalism TV producers really did. The production demands of television meant that booking guests, getting crew to the right places, finding pictures, and ordering graphics took precedence over finding out what the story was.

This isn’t a surprise to anyone who watched the BBC’s coverage of Junior Doctors strikes

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  1. I made a complaint about Laura K to the BBC as I was concerned over their political reporting. There were many others who felt like I did .They also felt that it was futile to complain to The BBC as a trite reply would ensue. This is exactly what happened.
    On the one hand, I hear that The Government is anti BBC and pro Murdoch..and I want to save The BBC, the next one hears about the political dept. being definitely pro Tory!!It`s crazy!

  2. I’ve become more and more saddened over the BBC’s bias towards the governing party (esp the Tory’s) there is a lack of challenging towards any Tory policy; as i believe the BBC are scared stiff about loosing their charter, as Murdoch and his commercial chums are lobbying the Tory party & fuelling the BBC’s demise through their nasty tabloid rags.

    I also took issue with Laura K & her politically biased reporting, which was shocking; I never bothered reporting it, such as the apathy i have to the complaint going no where.

  3. They do not address complaints seriously. Just a stat reply, with a bit of spin! Much like the goverment they are protecting!

  4. Wojciech Pisarski says:

    Just how much the BBC favours the government became evident during the Labour front bench reshuffle. They trawled juniour front bench spokespeople until they found one that was considering resigning in support of the few that were being sacked and then induced him to come into the studio to announce his resignation before it reached Jeremy Corbyn, thereby allowing Cameron to jeer about it in PMQs when Corbyn was not aware of it. You can;t get more of a pro-government setup than that.

  5. It was always an Establishment Pony.The coverage of period Dramas and the awful Strictly Come Dancing .Tory Great British Bake Off and endless Cookery Shows and its Political Shows are as tedious as they are biased.
    We pay for an Independent BBC but its real problem is it is stuck in History not the present hence its Tory Shows and abysmal News Coverage.

  6. They would only be anti government if that government was actually of the people for the people – rather than of the establishment for the establishment – which is what every government since Atlee’s has been…

    The Sir Humphreys, and their league of sociopathic gentlemen in power, always wear down any radical attempts to change the system by any small group of upstart MPs
    New Labour government anti the nukes? – see the combined weight of the establishment follow the set formula –
    Wear them down, ridicule, divide and conquer, bribe, spread false rumours, eliminate –
    the BBC is happy to be part of that system, false reporting and editing of news is now the norm…

  7. Commenting on a news story on BBC Daily Politics facebook page, I pointed out as an aside that the BBC had made no mention at all of former Dragon’s Den panelist Doug Richard’s association and business trips with David Cameron, in their news story about Richard’s child sex abuse trial. Other media covering the story, including pro-Tory media, had mentioned this in their stories.

    To my surprise, the following day I discovered that my comment had been deleted by the moderator (though a Nigerian scammer’s comment posted around the same time remained untouched).

    Even more surprising, though perhaps coincidental, was this: the BBC Doug Richard story I had referenced in my comment had been blocked from their search listings on their website. It had appeared 6th down in the search listing for “Dragon’s Den” the previous day. It still existed – I could reach it by its web address – but it wasn’t searchable; paged down in the listing many times, but it was simply not there.

  8. Martyn Wood-Bevan says:

    I’ve stopped watching news on BBC, just watch Channel 4 news or read articles online from other sources. I am amazed how much of what happens day to day never gets reported on the BBC News, which is a pale shadow of what it has been.

  9. It really is way past time to have a grown up conversation about the BBC. I’ve always been taught to be sceptical of relying on any one news source and it was during Bush and Bliars war on terror that this proved to be a lesson that had been well worth learning.
    The current state of BBC investigative reporting is woefully laughable if it weren’t so serious. The only way forward is to cut the strings of political interference, the BBC is to a greater or lesser degree a propaganda machine for whichever party is in power. What has become abundantly clear however is that this present bunch of Journos aren’t just happy to lean toward positive government they are embracing it. Even Nick Robinson has had to mention how bad it has got. The thing is they no longer pretend to any sort of balance.
    The end came for me when IDS appeared on Question Time and not one question was allowed to be asked about Social Security in the middle of the biggest reform since the inception of the Welfare State.

  10. johnny rudkin says:

    the majority of elderly people rely on the bbc to get their news but they are not getting the news they are getting tory propaganda and lies i am disgusted by bbc scotland run by the labour mafia family the biased reporting and biased presenting is a disgrace to journalism scotland needs its own broadcasting company run by a non political independent committee

  11. If you complain to the BBC they just write back saying their policy is X. Which is the policy that you are complaining they didn’t stick to….it’s a complete waste of time.
    I gave up after three goes (having assumed that there might be someone other than interns reading the complaints.

  12. Lawrie Ireland says:

    Patrick Graham’s point is very valid. I am more cynical. The new group of Scottish MPs are, or have been virtually silenced, (I recall the notable comment from Mhairi Black, in her TV interview, that commuting to her £74,000 pa job was bothersome), but in truth when the SNP MPs party’s policies on taxation, the NHS and public services virtually align with the government’s, there is litte to opppose.
    That said, when “opposition” MPs, along with tge rest, are as ridiculously well paid as they are, in comparison to say, junior, or even senior, doctors, ambulance “drivers” and even “tv reporters”, they may just be too comfortable to make much in the way of criticism of whichever party is in power or of the Establishment’s broadcaster. After all, £74,000 pa plus a guaranteed pension, plus expenses, is a deal few employees could hope for. I am certain many unemployed Scots (English, Weish or Irish) would endure the commute to with few complaints.

  13. Briefly, it’s important to recognise that there is a very long history of pro-government bias by the BBC, going back to the coverage of the General Strike in 1926 when Lord Reith was very clear where his duty lay and carried it out assiduously.

  14. I’m so glad to see this. BBC independence, has, logically to be a myth. The relies on (current) government coercion to collect its ‘licence fee’. So it is never really going to bite the hand that feeds it. Secondly, the so-called ‘trust’ is also stuffed with the great and good including the currently aberrant HSBBC arrangement (though apparently she has resigned from the HSBC bit?) not with the Sharons and Kevins who pay for it.

    Apart from the bias, it’s becoming more self-referential (‘Strictly’ outtakes), trivial (Bargain Hunter) and Pointless. Nothing serious except BBC4 sometimes.

    We really need something like this (I don’t actually believe there was a golden age, but things were better) but the current BBC is not it.

  15. Kevin McGrath says:

    I’ve lost count of the number of complaints that I’ve made to the BBC, with regards to the daily bias of its flagship political prog Daily Politics. Fronted, just like every other political show, by Murdoch’s chief assassin Andrew Neil, the programmes treatment of Jeremy Corbyn, post landslide, beggars belief.
    However,the most serious complaint I made was in relation to the appearance of Robin Tilbrook, Chair of the English Democrats, who used his platform to call for asylum seekers and migrants to be shot for the crime of throwing stones. I wrote to the BBC, seeking assurances that he would not be invited back on the show (they refused), and asking whether they would pass the transcript of the show on to the Police as Mr Tilbrook was clearly inciting racial hatred( they ignored that aspect on three occasions).

  16. johnstone little says:

    The BBC is full of the old boys from private schools.They aren’t the brightest,but they keep each other safe in the BBc bubble.Just take a look at their sports,all middle/upper class,cricket,rugby,golf and horse racing (they gave this up because the drunks started attending),bowls,ballroom dancing,night at The Proms etc,all paid by working class.Their journalists are poor at questioning Tories/Blairites but vitriolic against Corbyn and SNP members.

  17. I so rarely watch TV these days, this will be the last year give the BBC a £145.00 especially in the light of their so blatant bias.. I do hope many more will follow..

  18. Have been an avid BBC watcher/listener for 50 years. The current programming is to say the least dismal. Their ‘news’ coverage is just the worst on TV which is saying something when you realise that SKY & ITV do better. Their political/economic reporting is so bad as to be laughable and I reckoned it was the bitter end when I saw that were airing a program about the best salesman of mobile phones. Such a shame that such an august organisation could come to this. I’m thinking of cancelling my licence and going digital.

  19. The current news and political reporting bias to the Tory party is nonsensical. They pander to those that despise them and are not only ideologically opposed but paid assassins for Murdoch who gave the papal blessing in 2010.
    Had the board of governors resigned en masse after the first thuggish attack on funding (and tricksie budget stresses such as taking BBC World from the FCO and onto the BBC balance sheet) then they might have died on their feet.
    By acquiescing to the Tory / Murdoch machine they slowly commit suicide on their knees by becoming another ITV / Sky pro business mouth piece.
    Another fine institution too timid and lacking confidence to stand up to these bullying tactics.
    The truth is the Tories know how popular the BBC is and daren’t openly eviscerate it, it’s only the BBC management that lacks self confidence to defend themselves and in the process let us all down.

  20. paul raybould — how in god’s name is the Great British Bake Off a ‘Tory’ programme?? I can see how some people might find it dull, but biased? How??

  21. Watch from Friday onwards,and judge for yourself the Bois that will be given to Cameron and co.He will be applauded for all the great bargaining skills that has enabled our Country to be able to give away concessions to foreign workers and their families,Not much talk of his pledges,swept under the carpet,just normal service will be resumed,when the lights are shone on what the Tories want.By the way not much talk in the way of sorting out our borders,and who is allowed to speak about the shush shush word Imigrants.Probably Dimbleby will lead a debate for at least four minutes,until the right question is asked,then as normal,”anyway we’ve spent enough time on this lets move on to another question”!!

  22. State broadcaster the BBC is simply an establishment mouthpiece.

    They recently held a consultation about the future of the BBC, but didn’t get the answers they wanted, so have decided to hold another, and presumably another and another, until they get the results they want from the continually revised questions.

  23. I agree with most of the above people especially the blatantly biased comments made by Laura K who has made it quite obvious she is a tory. I help pay towards BBC staff’s salaries with my £145 licence fee and receive a one sided view, even when politicians are interviewed the tories are given a soft glove interview while others are given a grilling.
    It’s about time the BBC levelled the playing field and stopped giving the tories free propaganda at the public’s expense, I expect the BBC will not read and totally ignore all the comments made in this column.

  24. There’s a difference between the BBC as an institution and BBC News, which seems to be staffed only by Tories and only runs stories which are totally in support of the government. The only thing to do is complain. The Corbyn bashing seems to have diminished( a bit) after the complaints about Kuenssberg.

  25. I no longer watch news on the TV or buy a newspaper- they cover what they want YOU to digest.
    The BBC is terrified that the tories will hand the lot over to uncle Rupert unless they tow the line.
    Nothing more than a big mouthpiece for the Westminster elite.

  26. It’s interesting to contrast World Service with other BBC news and current affairs. The latter seems to be trying to compete with the tabloid newspapers, and sometimes comes up with very bizarre choices of what they consider ‘news’. Far too often I hear things like “today the Chancellor will make a statement . .” just regurgitating Westminster press releases. I’m afraid if I want to know what’s going on in the world I no longer look to the BBC except perhaps World Service which is still excellent.

  27. I have complained to the BBC (Biased Broadcasting Company) I believe they are completely controlled by the Tories; The Beeb is a Tory mouthpiece. When the Tories are shown to be bleeding the countries poorest to fill the pockets of the Tory rich and the big companies who have supported the Tories over the years the Beeb just skims over these issues and uses Tory dictated diversionary questions to try and befuddle the public and the media allows the Tories to vomit forth streams of what is jokingly called weasel words ( “LIES” in other words) mixed up with a load of flim flam and diversionary comments about other parties, they have used a perpetual political tool “control by misinformation” to divert the peoples attention away from the real issues. The Tories have been very good at turning ordinary people against each other which has kept them focused on the wrong issues, a perfect example of divide and conquer. And question time is just another Tory platform.

  28. Totally agree with the above comments. We are disgusted with the BBC political bias especially Daily Politics and This Week. We have boycotted both programmes.

  29. The establishment has got the BBC running scared. We gave to very aware that this government does not want a free press. They use any excuse to further shackle the press e.g phone hacking , all in the name of protecting the public interest. Negative news such as the benefits cuts are swept under the carpet never to be seen again. The beeb know that if they are seen to opose the government they will lose their funding.

  30. Stuart Jennings says:

    …has anyone noticed that every Morning the BBC News reports on another NHS ‘Scandal’……this Morning there were two!…..Check out Tommorrow Morning’s News for the latest ………

  31. Katherine Oliver says:

    A stark example was when the implications of Lansley’s Health and Social Care bill were passed over almost entirely by BBC news programmes in exchange for licence renewal. And why did it take Corbyn to point out to BBC pundits that it was the lack of banking regulations not Treasury spending which caused the recession? The answer is blowing with the wind.

  32. Every day I scan the ‘Today’ running order for environmental news – noticably absent. There is an establishment view that only lefties are concerned for wildlife and environment; almost that anti-hunting, concerns about fracking, pesticides and global warming are some kind of plot to limit the ‘snouts in the trough’. No!…..but if government and BBC want it that way, I’ll wear the leftie badge with pride, add add that a vote for the right is a vote for a ruined environment (our foundations).

  33. We have had to stop watching BBC news because of their appalling right wing biaise. We follow Jon Snow and Channel 4. I have given up complaining because I get the same bland reply. Given that our country is going through a major transformation, one which the majority did not vote for, including the privatisation of welfare and health, I expected there to be challenging journalism, investigative reporting and documentaries. Nothing! Radio 4 File on 4 which does uncover the effects of punishing and cruel government policy effects, when asking each week to interview a minister, gets the same response. ‘No one was available for comment’. This is surely a story in itself. I have never experienced such a lack of accountability from a government, such disregard for democracy and such lack of challenge by the BBC. These are dark times!

  34. The overall direction of the news programmes needs a re-think. Apart from the dull regurgitation of stories fed to them, they appear to be run by and for a very arts biased clientele.
    How else would Bowie’s death take up half the news time?
    Have a look at the prominence given to “arty” (I use the term loosely) stories and inconsequential trivia.
    I too have decided to switch away from BBC news. Where has the quality gone?

  35. I have complained to the BBC about right wing bias. Iain Duncan Smith has introduced a 45p per minute charge for phone calls for people on welfare yet nothing is on the BBC. They leave out such stories regularly, because they clearly have been told not to give this dictatorship bad publicity. The only way you can get hold of such stories is through the social media. QT frequently shows right wing bias; it’s all pretty sickening. I have heard that one of the recent new employees running the news programmes was a tory aide. They have clearly been ordered to be hostile to the left wing. Bang goes freedom of the press. BBC – grow a pair and stand up for balanced reporting.

  36. I watched the Daily Politics show on 3 February and I don’t understand why Andrew Neil needed to be so rude to Chris Bryant, there is absolutely no need for this behaviour. Andrew Neil is supposed to be impartial and he certainly wasn’t in his treatment of Chris Bryant he clearly came across as disliking Chris Bryant, on several occasions he made rude and disparaging remarks. Another example of BBC partiality although I do think it’s difficult for them, they are under constant threat from Government and Murdoch lobbying. I emailed the programme but just got a general reply, I have posted on their fb site, I wonder if it will be allowed through!

  37. BBC bias in foreign affairs is v noticeable. Recently there have been lots of reports from besieged and starving rebels in Aleppo but nothing at all about Saudi bombing of Yemen or Turkish shelling of Kurds in Syria. It’s anti Russian and pro Sunni to the v last item. FCO script. It was much the same during 2014; Kiev could no wrong and it was all Russia’s fault.

  38. Finally they’ve all noticed!!!! We got it all through tour referendum all the bias and scare tactics!!! Welcome to our world!!!

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