BBC viewers say the broadcaster’s TV news is more biased than ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky News
- Only 58% believe the corporation’s coverage is impartial, 1% fall from last year
- Decline was enough to see it drop to bottom of list below Channel 5
- BBC admitted a Newsnight episode did not meet ‘standards of due impartiality’
The BBC is the least impartial main TV news provider, according to viewers.
It lags behind Channel 5, Channel 4 and ITV for its coverage, according to research by Ofcom.
Only 58 per cent believe the corporation’s coverage is impartial, a fall of 1 per cent on last year.
The BBC is the least impartial main TV news provider, according to viewers
This decline was enough to see it drop to the bottom of the list below Channel 5, which saw its own figure rise from 58 to 61 per cent in the year.
Impartiality at the BBC has come under scrutiny in the last 12 months following several on-air controversies.
There was a huge row in May after Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis delivered a highly critical monologue about the Dominic Cummings lockdown controversy.
The BBC admitted the programme had not met ‘standards of due impartiality’.
It followed tensions with government over the election coverage last year. The BBC has also come under scrutiny over its journalists’ use of social media.
There was a huge row in May after Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis (pictured) delivered a highly critical monologue about the Dominic Cummings lockdown controversy
New BBC director general Tim Davie has made strengthening impartiality at the broadcaster a top priority.
As for the BBC’s rivals, the Ofcom analysis showed that 63 per cent thought ITV’s news was impartial. Channel 4 got a score of 66 per cent while Sky News got the highest with 69 per cent.
The figures were included in this week’s annual report into the BBC by the media regulator.
The BBC said impartiality was ‘one of its top priorities’ and added: ‘Independent research repeatedly shows the British public are most likely to turn to us for impartial news coverage.’
Jo Brand’s ‘milkshake’ comments on R4’s Heresy show received the MOST complaints – behind BBC coverage of President Trump’s state visit and the 2019 General Election
In its annual report on the BBC, broadcasting watchdog Ofcom revealed that an edition of comedy show Heresy was the most complained-about.
In an episode of the programme aired on Radio 4 on June 11, 2019, comic Jo Brand said the following about milkshakes being thrown at politicians –
‘I think that’s because certain unpleasant characters are being thrown to the fore and they’re very, very easy to hate and I’m kind of thinking why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid – that’s just me and it’s all right, I’m not gonna do it, it’s purely a fantasy, but I think milkshakes are pathetic. I honestly do – sorry’.
The BBC assessed 441 complaints it received under the BBC First process that the comments were highly offensive and likely to incite violence.
Ofcom then received six complaints which had completed the BBC’s complaints process, but concluded that the complaints did not warrant further investigation by the broadcasting watchdog.
It explained that Brand’s comments had ‘clear potential to offend listeners’ but were justified because of the programme’s ‘satirical’ nature.
‘We also took into account that Ms Brand immediately qualified her comments, making it clear they should not be taken seriously or acted upon’, the report states. ‘We therefore concluded that the complaints did not warrant further investigation by Ofcom’.
The other most complained-about programmes were:
- European Election Results, BBC One, May 26, 2019: 111 complaints that this coverage was biased against the Brexit Party;
- BBC News/Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Two, June 3, 2019: 97 complaints that coverage of President Trump’s visit to the UK was not duly impartial;
- Andrew Marr, BBC One, April 14, 2019: 91 complaints about David Lammy comparing Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson to Hitler;
- BBC News, BBC One, November 23, 2019: 79 complaints that a clip of Boris Johnson answering a question at a Question Time Leaders’ Debate had been edited to remove audience laughter.
In all these cases, unlike Heresy, Ofcom received no complaints that had completed the BBC First process.