BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Sunday, 18 October 2009


As I always do a review of The Politics Show on Sunday afternoons, I can't really miss out on it this week, even when I've found only minor evidence of bias in it. That would be unfair of me.
Today's The Politics Show was much better behaved. Indeed the Conservative interviewee, Mark Hoban (one of the party's least able TV performers), was only interrupted once (I.C. of 0.2) - though he was ambushed (like other recent Tory guests) with something personally embarrassing, which Jon Sopel admitted his team had dug around for (a quote over demutualisation, in this case). In contrast Labour's Lord Adonis was interrupted 13 times (I.C. of 2.1). The big interview though was with Nick Clegg. This was not especially tough, especially when the questions moved onto bankers' bonuses and the postal strike, and contained 8 interruptions (I.C. of 0.9).*
Both the programme's reports were about the Conservatives. I've seen much worse (many, many times) on the BBC.
The first was about Boris's plans for an airport in the Thames Estuary, and the pros and cons were well discussed by David Thompson (and his various Conservative talking heads) - once we got beyond all the 'Fantasy Island' nonsense. Of course, the issue of Tory splits was doubtless in the minds of the programme's makers - and Lord Adonis praised the report for clearly showing just that! - and the 'Boris-is-an-idiot' element was probably also in their minds - and Lord Adonis also praised the report for clearing showing just what a daft idea it was! - but, contrary to the appreciative Lord Adonis, I didn't find it especially biased against the Conservatives, nor particularly unfair to Boris's big idea. Fair dues.
The second report was decent enough too. It looked at Conservative-run Essex County Council's intriguing plans to share many of its key responsibilities with private companies. Now yes, Jon Sopel's introduction was a little loaded in its language ("Essex Council calls it 'transformation', others see it as the effective privatisation of the council itself") and reporter Gillian Hargreaves's questions to the council leader Lord Hanningfield did seem to have the agenda of highlighting resultant job losses ("And how many will be working directly for you?", "So it would go from 7000 workers down to about 3500 directly employed by the council?"), but each side of the argument was heard. Saying that though, to each of Lord Hanningfield's two bites of the 'talking head' cherry, there were also two bites from a skeptical Tony Travers of the LSE, as well as a hostile bite from Heather Wakefield of the Silurian-era union UNISON. Still, as I say, I've seen much worse, many, many times, on the BBC.

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