BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Sunday, 28 March 2010


A special-listener panel...and the Today editor Ceri Thomas were gathered together by Feedback.
One of the listeners challenged Mr Thomas about biased reporting, comparing the downplaying of Gordon Brown's retraction of his lies to the Chilcot Inquiry over defence spending with the acres of coverage given to the latest twist over Lord Ashcroft on 18/3. Mr Thomas, being a typical BBC editor, rejected the criticism. The lying prime minister's correction was a 'one-fact story' that broke the previous day and was widely covered (he said) by Radio 4's other current affairs programmes on the day itself. "Once he had said "I'd made a mistake" there wasn't a great deal more for us to explore...", said Thomas, ignoring the question of whether the "mistake", as Thomas kept calling it, was a deliberate one or not. That might have been worth exploring.
Thomas then said that the main reason they covered Lord Ashcroft so much on the 18/3 edition was that the Conservatives had rung Today at 6.15am, offering up William Hague, who Today had been trying to get "for some time". He didn't mention that Today had previously announced (at 6.00) that it had been leaked a secret cabinet document about Lord Ashcroft (by some Labour lackey no doubt). The idea that they wouldn't have made a mountain out of that, with or without Mr Hague, is laughable.
He continued, "I think a definition of impartiality is not in the end radio by numbers. It doesn't mean that we have to do the same amount on stories that have to relate to two different political parties". Or report them fairly, or interview politicians from the political parties in a balanced way, or base stories on reports from a broad spectrum of think tanks and pressure groups, etc?
The other two listeners on the panels indeed sounded like Guardian-reading types. The woman on the panel wanted a 'gender balance' on the programme and much time was spent discussing this.

Regardless, Mr Thomas rejected all criticism. He's a BBC editor after all.

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