The BBC favours business over Greens. | Brussels Blog

The BBC favours business over Greens.

posted by on 19th Jan 2015
19th,Jan

Below I list some recent complaints I made to the BBC on the coverage of business and climate change.

The complaints and replies below aren’t easy reading and I have not enough energy to follow through with a considered complaint to the BBC Trust as the last reply suggests.

A quick glance at the membership of the BBC Trust suggests a leaning towards a business that would make them unprepared to accept necessary lessons on climate change. For example, Rona Fairhead was previously head of the Financial Times Group and was appointed a British business ambassador by the prime minister.

The BBC dropped the the Green Party from the election debates. We need a debate between the BBC and a prominent green.

What about George Mombiot on the green side and Rona Fairhead for the BBC?

Would be a good debate. Much more gripping than the stuff below.

 

Complaints and replies

Oct 5, 2014 CAS-2951985-CXGM61

BBC: only economic growth can create jobs.

All major political parties and business are pushing for economic growth. This is reported widely on the BBC and in other media. The BBC has extensive coverage of business and presents economic growth as essential for the creation of jobs. The BBC also promotes economic growth as “good thing”.

Every hour of every day there is business news, climate news is much rarer and of mixed quality (I will make a separate complaint on this.) There is hardly any mention of the fact that economic growth brings more environmental hazards, such as greenhouse gas emissions, except occasionally that “green growth” is a possibility.
By leaving the underlying assumption that jobs depend only on growth, the BBC is promoting a falsehood. The green agenda is being buried by growth propaganda.

“Public purposes: Sustaining citizenship and civil society” says “You can trust the BBC to provide high-quality news, current affairs and factual programming that keeps you informed and supports debate about important issues and political developments in an engaging way.” In leaving the public ill-informed the BBC is failing its guidelines.

For background see: Job creation doesn’t need economic growth, Greenwash from Stern?, Public purposes: Sustaining citizenship and civil society.

Oct 6, 2014 CAS-2951985-CXGM61

Reply from BBC Complaints

Thanks for contacting us.

I understand you feel the BBC is reporting that all major political parties and business are pushing for economic growth but fail to mention that economic growth brings more environmental hazards such as greenhouse gas emissions. I also note your comments that by leaving the underlying assumption that jobs depend only on growth the BBC is promoting a falsehood.

The time given to each issue or report in the news is frequently a very difficult decision for our editors. Our audiences don’t look at events in the same way and there’s no one universal news agenda that applies to all. The time given has to be selective and no matter how carefully such decisions are made, news editors are always aware that some people may disagree with them.

Essentially this is a judgement call rather than an exact science but BBC News does appreciate the feedback when viewers and listeners feel we may have neglected a story or focused too much on a particular story or item.

Thank you again for contacting us, we value your feedback about BBC News. All complaints are sent to senior management and programme makers every morning and I included your points in this overnight report. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your complaint has been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future programmes.

Oct 7, 2014 CAS-2954926-6XZMFL

Lack of clarity in a complaints response

I have received a response from BBC Complaints. I would like to know if “Essentially this is a judgement call rather than an exact science” refers to

1. “economic growth brings more environmental hazards”
2. “leaving the underlying assumption that jobs depend only on growth the BBC is promoting a falsehood”

Why do you dispute either of these statements?

At a pinch (1) could be a “judgement call” for there are cases where this might not be true but in general it is the case that economic growth brings more environmental hazards.

In the case of (2), you can only be correct by refusing to classify economics as an “exact science”. I would appreciate a response that indicated if you assert this. Is it possible for you to consult one of the BBC’s economics experts?

Oct 22, 2014 CAS-2954926-6XZMFL

Reply from BBC Complaints

Thank you for taking time to contact us again recently. We had referred your complaint to the relevant staff and are normally able to investigate and reply to most complaints at this stage (which is stage 1b of the complaints process) within 20 working days of receipt, or around four weeks. However this is to inform you that we believe it may now take longer than 20 working days before you receive our reply.

We apologise for this and have brought the matter to the attention of the relevant staff again. The delay in answering may be due to their unavailability or other production commitments. We therefore ask you not to contact us further in the meantime. If however it does prove necessary to do so please use our webform at www.bbc.co.uk/complaints or write to us, quoting the case reference number we have provided.

We aim to use your licence fee as efficiently as we can, so if you have complained about the same issues as others we will send our response to you and everyone. We may also not investigate or reply in great detail if a complaint doesn’t suggest a potential breach of BBC standards, or a significant issue of general importance. This is in line with the BBC Trust’s complaints procedures which you can read at: www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/governance/complaints_framework/

We appreciate your continuing patience in waiting for a response and will reply as soon as possible.

Nov 10, 2014 CAS-3013771-H8DMTT

Bias towards business/growth

I have complained about the BBC’s promotion of economic growth without [the BBC] explaining that it means more carbon pollution. In the Kaya identity predicting global CO2 emissions, the (CO2/energy) term may be reducing but this is not enough to keep below the carbon budget recently issued by the IPCC.

The concept of a carbon budget is not perfect but it is useful to policy makers and democratic knowledge. In practice, this budget is calculated by climate scientists using computer models – the CMIP5 models. A note by the Parliamentary of Science and Technology (POST note 454) have pointed that these models had missing feedbacks. This means that the models were underpowered and overestimate the allowable budget before dangerous climate change is triggered.

There are several eminent scientists that would question the size of this budget and make different estimates. Their estimates would be a useful measure of the scope of opinion about the seriousness of climate change. This is one measure on the “warmist” to “sceptic” scale (The WS scale?) that could be used.
I have made guesses to place prominent climate experts on the WS scale and noted their mentions on the BBC website. I find that there is a huge bias to experts with the “official” view in the middle of the scale. The BBC is not allowing a balanced debate on climate change.
I believe it is promoting a business/growth agenda which is dangerous to our future. The test I suggest will help the BBC construct an essential debate.

Nov 14, 2014 CAS-3020675-VSXSK0

Mixing politics and science

I met Nick Robinson at the Labour Party Conference and commented on the BBC’s approach to climate change. I remember him saying that Lawson was right, climate change is not science but politics.

There are significant political issues associated with climate change but many facts are within the realm of science. One highly relevant scientific fact is that the affluent cause much more carbon pollution than the poor. This is a scientific fact. I have never seen of heard the BBC mention this but I get a daily dose of business friendly coverage.

Another scientific fact is that some goods and services are much more polluting than others. Eating beef and lamb has been shown to have very high carbon footprints. I have not seen or heard the BBC reference this.

There are many other unmentioned examples of polluting activities, such as air travel, building construction, and car driving. All these are associated with businesses with political muscle.
Newsnight editor Peter Barron said in 2007 ‘Planet Relief was too “campaigning” in nature and would have left the Corporation open to the charge of bias.’ and ‘It is not the BBC’s job to lead opinion or proselytise on this or any other subject.

My complaint is that the desire to avoid bias (and threats to the BBC’s income) has mean that the BBC is avoiding vitally important issues which are backed up by scientific fact. The BBC is proselytising for business and downplaying scientific facts. This is bias.

Nov 26, 2014 CAS-2954926-6XZMFL

Reply from BBC Complaints

Thank you for your further contact and we’re sorry our original response didn’t address all of your concerns.
We would only mention environmental issues during a report on business/economic issues, if it was relevant to that particular report. At this point I would like to draw your attention to our Complaints framework:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/governance/complaints_framework/

It states that we can only investigate complaints when we are given a specific example of when a said incident occurred on output produced by the BBC. If you would like to give us a specific example of a story on economic growth that we covered (transmission date, programme etc), where you feel it would have been relevant to the story to mention environmental issues, we can investigate and respond in detail.
Most news stories have links to many other/broader issues, which would only be mentioned if relevant to the central issue of the news story.

Nov 30, 2014 CAS-3020675-VSXSK0

Reply from BBC Complaints Team

Thank you for taking time to contact us again recently. We had referred your complaint to the relevant staff and are normally able to investigate and reply to most complaints at this stage (which is stage 1b of the complaints process) within 20 working days of receipt, or around four weeks. However this is to inform you that we believe it may now take longer than 20 working days before you receive our reply.

We apologise for this and have brought the matter to the attention of the relevant staff again. The delay in answering may be due to their unavailability or other production commitments. We therefore ask you not to contact us further in the meantime. If however it does prove necessary to do so please use our webform at www.bbc.co.uk/complaints or write to us, quoting the case reference number we have provided.

We aim to use your licence fee as efficiently as we can, so if you have complained about the same issues as others we will send our response to you and everyone. We may also not investigate or reply in great detail if a complaint doesn’t suggest a potential breach of BBC standards, or a significant issue of general importance. This is in line with the BBC Trust’s complaints procedures which you can read at: www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/governance/complaints_framework/

We appreciate your continuing patience in waiting for a response and will reply as soon as possible.

Jan 5, 2015 CAS-3020675-VSXSK0

Reply from BBC Complaints

Thank you for taking the time to contact us and we appreciate that you felt strongly enough to write to us again.

We have noted your points and are sorry to learn you were not satisfied with our earlier response.

We are sorry to tell you that we have nothing to add to our previous reply. We do not believe your complaint has raised a significant issue of general importance that might justify further investigation. We will not therefore correspond further in response to additional points, or further comments or questions, made about this issue or our responses to it.

We realise you will be disappointed to hear this but hope this explains why we are not able to take your complaint further. If you remain dissatisfied about our decision you can appeal to the BBC Trust, the body which represents licence fee payers. The Trust has asked that we should explain to complainants that the BBC’s Royal Charter draws a clear distinction between the role of the Trust – which determines the overall scope of the BBC’s services and sets its standards – and that of the BBC Executive – which runs the Corporation and decides what to broadcast and publish.

The Trust does not entertain every appeal submitted to it. It will normally hear appeals about the Executive’s decisions only if a complainant can show that they involved a potential breach of the BBC’s published standards, or that an operational decision has raised significant issues of general importance. The Trust is the final arbiter of which appeals it should consider. For the full information about the BBC Trust’s appeals procedures please visit www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/governance/complaints_framework/.

If you wish to submit an appeal you must write within 20 working days of receiving this reply, explaining why you wish to appeal. You can contact the BBC Trust at 180 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5QZ, or by emailing trust.editorial@bbc.co.uk. Please include for them the relevant case reference which you may have been given (CAS-3013771 and CAS-3020675).

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