BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


Here is yesterday's tally of the number of posts on the BBC's live election blog that report comments (direct/indirect quotations) from party politicians. Election launches by the Conservatives, UKIP and Plaid Cymru resulted in a bad day for Labour, totals-wise. The Lib Dems had a very good day, even without an election launch.
Tues 13/4
Conservatives - 28
Lib Dems - 25
Labour - 18
UKIP - 10
Plaid Cymru - 8
Socialist Labour - 1
Now for the running total for the whole campaign. How do things stand after 7 days?:
Labour - 160
Conservatives - 117
Lib Dems - 100
UKIP - 17
Plaid Cymru - 13
SNP - 9
Greens - 5
Independents - 2
DUP - 1
BNP - 1
Communist Party - 1
Socialist Labour - 1


  1. Here, finally 8 days later is the full text and justification of the bias e on the LiveBlog f from the BBC in response to my complaint.


    Many thanks for your e-mail which has been passed on to us and please accept our apologies for the delay in replying - we have spent some time looking into your complaint in detail.

    Firstly, we should stress that the live text page is something of a hybrid, a cross between a news report and a blog. It contains facts, quotes, snippets, observations and contributions from tweets and bloggers. However, that does not mean it falls outside the BBC's commitment to provide impartial and balanced coverage. But it is important to consider the BBC's election guidelines, which do not require that every shade of opinion is reflected, or that each political party is mentioned, within every programme, report or interview. The aim is to achieve proportionate coverage for each party over an appropriate period.

    On any day it might be that one party is more dominant in terms of announcements or events, and that is likely to be reflected in the live page. On the day Labour launched their manifesto, there were 78 Labour mentions against 40 for the Conservatives. The following day - when the Tory manifesto was unveiled - there were 55 mentions for the party against 25 for Labour. Taken over a longer period, Labour has been mentioned about 430 times with the Conservatives on nearly 390.

    However, you highlight what you see as anti-Tory gossip and pro-Labour posts. As well as counting the entries, we have been looking at their content. In terms of what might be construed as a "negative" entry about a party, 25% of Labour entries would fall into that category compared with 26% of Conservative entries.

    A number of other parties have been featured on the live pages, with UKIP getting the most mentions so far.

    So we do take your comments on board, but are satisfied that, despite daily fluctuations, this record of events is meeting our own guidelines and that when the campaign comes to an end, the figures will have levelled out to demonstrate an appropriate level of balance.

    Best wishes,

    News website

  2. Ah Ryan, at least we made them sweat a bit!

    Also, they now know they are being watched and as they were clearly worried enough by your complaint to carry out some detailed-sounding research of their own, it could still have a beneficial effect. It might make even make them wary. After all, they won't want to be caught absolutely banged-to-rights by easy-to-compile statistics!

    Whatever, we'll have to see whether the figures balance out at the end - or not. If they don't we've got them!!

    One of the problems I've noticed with my simple rule (counting only direct/indirect quotations from party politicians) it that I'm having to tick several comments each day from Conservatives that are trivial, joky (etc) in character rather than substantial. This means that if, say, Michael Gove makes a joke about David Cameron's socks it counts just as much as a quote from Ed Balls that rubbishes Tory education policy. The latter is far more important as propaganda than the former. The Conservatives seem to be getting more than their fair share of the former and less than their fair share of the latter. So their figures are higher than they should be. I may have to keep a separate track of this from now on.


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