Archive for the ‘BBC’ Category

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tony hallTony Hall, the BBC’s director general, has repeated his call for global streaming companies, Netflix and Amazon to suffer the same censorship as the UK’s traditional broadcasters — or else risk killing off distinctive British content. He said to the Royal Television Society’s London conference:

It cannot be right that the UK’s media industry is competing against global giants with one hand tied behind its back.

In so many ways — prominence, competition rules, advertising, taxation, content regulation, terms of trade, production quotas — one set of rules applies to UK companies, and barely any apply to the new giants. That needs rebalancing, too. We stand ready to help, where we can.

Hall will use the speech to warn that young British audiences now spend almost as much time watching Netflix — which only launched its UK streaming service in 2012 — as watching BBC television and iPlayer combined.

Citing Ofcom figures, Hall warned that Britain’s public service broadcasters have cut spending on content in real terms by around £1bn since 2004. He said that global streaming companies are not spending enough on British productions to make up the difference, while their UK-based productions tend to focus on material which has a global appeal rather than a distinctly British flavour. Hall added:

This isn’t just an issue for us economically, commercially or as institutions. There is an impact on society. The content we produce is not an ordinary consumer good. It helps shape our society. It brings people together, it helps us understand each other and share a common national story.

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BBC logoA number of TV broadcasters, mobile network and internet service providers has urged the UK government to introduce a new internet censor of social media companies. In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph, executives from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, as well as Sky, BT and TalkTalk, called for a new censor to help tackle fake news, child exploitation, harassment and other growing issues online.  The letter said:

We do not think it is realistic or appropriate to expect internet and social media companies to make all the judgment calls about what content is and is not acceptable, without any independent oversight.

There is an urgent need for independent scrutiny of the decisions taken, and greater transparency.

This is not about censoring the internet:[ …BUT… ] it is about making the most popular internet platforms safer, by ensuring there is accountability and transparency over the decisions these private companies are already taking. The UK government is aware of the problems on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Last October, it introduced an Internet Safety Green Paper as part of its digital charter manifesto pledge. Following a consultation period, then digital secretary Matt Hancock (he’s now the health secretary) said a white paper would be introduced later in 2018.

And in a comment suggesting that maybe the call is more about righting market imbalances than concern over societal problems. The letter noted that its signatories all pay high and fair levels of tax. The letter also notes that broadcasters and telcos are held to account by Ofcom, while social media forms are not, which again gives the internet companies an edge in the market.

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corbyns russia hatThe BBC has published its findings after investigating the rather blatant knock at Jeremy Corbyn on Newsnight. Newsnight used an image of Corbyn in a Russian style hat set amongst Moscow images as the back lot for a critical news piece. The BBC writes:

Newsnight
BBC Two, 15 March 2018
Use of Jeremy Corbyn’s image

Finding by the Executive Complaints Unit

This edition of Newsnight was broadcast at a time of heightened interest in UK/Russian relations following the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. The programme focused on Jeremy Corbyn’s position in the House of Commons on the previous day, and an image of him, set against a Moscow-inspired skyline, was used as the backdrop for the introduction and a later studio discussion. 48 people complained to the Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) that the backdrop had been deliberately contrived to convey an impression of pro-Russian sympathy on Mr Corbyn’s part, on one or more of the following grounds:

that the image had been manipulated to make Mr Corbyn look more Russian than in the photograph from which it had been taken, particularly by altering the appearance of his hat;that the superimposition of the image on such a background compounded this;that the selection of a photograph in which he was wearing what some described as a Lenin-style cap was also intended to suggest a Russian association.

Some also complained that the programme’s choice of focus represented bias against Mr Corbyn.

After investigation, the ECU reached the following findings.

Manipulation of the image

Many complainants maintained that the image had been photo-shopped , in terms which reflected what the Guardian columnist Owen Jones said in the following evening’s edition of Newsnight:

Yesterday, the background to your programme, you have Jeremy Corbyn dressed up against the Kremlin skyline…dressed up as a Soviet stooge…you even photo-shopped his hat to look more Russian.

Some illustrated their complaints with copies of the original photograph next to a screen-grab of the equivalent image in the programme, in which the hat did appear to be slightly taller. This, however, was not the result of photo-shopping or otherwise manipulating the image. It resulted from the fact that the screen onto which the image was projected is curved, meaning that the image as a whole appeared higher in relation to its width than it would on a flat surface.

The BBC made clear from the outset that the photograph had not been photo-shopped or manipulated to make Mr Corbyn seem more Russian, and some complainants understood this as a claim that it had been shown unaltered. However, it was immediately apparent from the backdrop that the source images had been modified in some respects. In fact, the graphics team had increased the contrast to ensure enough definition on screen, and given the whole backdrop a colour wash for a stylised effect (as the then Acting Editor of Newsnight explained on Twitter). Newsnight’s graphics team regularly treats images of politicians from all parties, and other,s in this way, to create a strong studio backdrop for whichever story is being covered. As a result of this treatment, much of the detail of Mr Corbyn’s hat visible in the original photograph was lost, and the hat appeared in silhouette. This was the effect which suggested to some complainants a likeness to a Russian-style fur hat.

Superimposition of the image on a Moscow-inspired skyline

Visual montage is a commonly-used device in TV programmes to highlight a story or theme. The use of the technique in news programmes such as Newsnight is intended to epitomise the story rather than to express or invite a particular attitude to it, and the montage used in the item in question was no exception. The backdrop in the previous evening’s edition of Newsnight , which focused on the current state of relations between Britain and Russia, also included a Moscow-related image. As the focus of the 15 March item was on Mr Corbyn’s reaction to the claim that Russia was responsible for the nerve agent attack, it was entirely apt for the backdrop to combine his image with this backdrop.

Selection of the photograph

The photograph was chosen because it was a typical and readily recognisable image of Mr Corbyn, of a kind which has been used many times across the media without remark. Complaints about its use on this occasion focussed on the supposedly Russian associations of the Lenin-style cap he was wearing, but this objection conflicts with the objections of those who maintained that it was the alleged photo-shopping of the hat which gave it a more Russian appearance. Neither objection has any basis in fact.

Choice of focus

The reasons for Newsnight s choice of focus were made clear in the introduction to the item by the presenter, Emily Maitlis:

Did Jeremy Corbyn misread the mood of his party in the Commons yesterday when he refused to point the finger at Russia? Last night a group of Labour backbenchers said it unequivocally accepts the Russian state’s culpability for the spy poisoning. Overnight they were joined by senior frontbenchers, who command the defence and foreign affairs briefs. Today, Corbyn clarified, stressing his condemnation of the attack and saying the evidence pointed towards Russia. But he reiterated the need not to rush ahead of evidence in what he referred to as the fevered atmosphere of Westminster. Is he right to go slowly? Or is more cross-party solidarity called for at a time when a foreign agent appears to be targeting people on British soil?

That is entirely in keeping with an editorial decision made on the basis of sound news judgement. The item which followed consisted of a report by David Grossman on the British left’s current and historic attitudes towards Russia, and a studio discussion whose two participants were both generally supportive of Mr Corbyn, though one of them believed he had missed an opportunity to be “crystal clear” in his condemnation. The ECU saw no grounds for regarding the contents of the item as less than impartial or fair to Mr Corbyn.

The ECU has not upheld the complaints.

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enoch powellThe BBC has defended a decision to air Enoch Powell’s 1968 Rivers of Blood speech on Radio 4.The Archive on 4 programme, presented by BBC media editor Amol Rajan, will on Saturday broadcast the right-wing MP’s anti-immigration speech – voiced by an actor – in full, for the first time.

The decision to do so was criticised as an incitement to racial hatred. The peer Andrew Adonis has called for the broadcast to be bnned, and has written to the TV censor Ofcom. He wrote: What is happening to our public service broadcaster? He said the speech was the worst incitement to racial violence by a public figure in modern Britain. He added: Obviously this matter will be raised in parliament should the broadcast go ahead.

Presumably critics are worried that the concerns voiced by Enoch Powell still exist today, and so may chime with listeners. Surely if this is the case, then it would be better if views were aired so that the authorities could address the concerns. For instance if politicians had been better aware of  such opinions, they would not have called the incredibly divisive Brexit referendum.

The BBC said there would be rigorous journalistic analysis and the show was not endorsing controversial views.

Delivered to local Conservative Party members in Birmingham, days before the second reading of the 1968 Race Relations Bill, then MP Powell referenced observations made by his Wolverhampton constituents including in 15 or 20 years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man. He ended with a quote from Virgil’s Aeneid, when civil war in Italy is predicted with the River Tiber foaming with much blood.

The anti-immigration speech ended his career in Edward Heath’s shadow cabinet.

Archive on 4 will broadcast on Radio 4 on Saturday at 8pm.

Update: BBC response

14th April 2018. See  article from bbc.co.uk

BBC logoComplaint

We received complaints from people who feel it is irresponsible to broadcast Enoch Powell’s 1968 Rivers of Blood speech.

Response:

BBC Radio 4’s well established programme Archive on 4 reflects in detail on historical events. Many people know of this controversial speech but few have heard it beyond soundbites and, in order to assess the speech fully and its impact on the immigration debate, it will be analysed by a wide range of contributors including many anti-racism campaigners.

This is a rigorous journalistic analysis of a historical political speech. It is not an endorsement of the controversial views and we believe people should wait to hear the programme before they judge it.

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bbc burma logoThe BBC’s Burmese language service is pulling a broadcasting deal with a popular Myanmar television channel citing censorship, with insiders saying the partners had clashed over coverage of the Muslim Rohingya minority.Since April 2014, BBC Burmese broadcast a daily news programme on MNTV with 3.7 million daily viewers. Now the BBC said it was ending the deal after MNTV censored or pulled multiple programmes since March this year.

The spat seems to be that the local channel objected to the BBC’s use of the word Rohingya in their reports. Myanmar’s government — and most local media — call them Bengalis, portraying them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh despite many living in the country for generations.

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hignfy westminster sexism video Have I Got News For You
BBC One, 3 November 2017BBC Logo

Complaint

We received complaints from some viewers about the programme’s coverage of recent allegations of sexual harassment at Westminster.

Response

Have I Got News For You is a long-running panel show that takes a satirical approach to covering the latest news stories and events. It has built a reputation for irreverent satire and, as such, contains jokes and provocative comment rather than genuine political reporting or debate.

The programme has dealt with many subjects over the last 27 years, and this show reflected the speculation around the biggest news story at the time of record. Given the extensive coverage that arose from allegations of sexual misconduct in Westminster it would have been odd for Have I Got News For You to ignore this story.

Guests are booked in advance, rather than for particular topics, and we try very hard to book guests from all areas of the political spectrum. This means there will sometimes be panel members with views that the audience and others on the show may disagree with. We do not necessarily share or endorse the views of the panellists and their material doesn’t reflect the opinions of the BBC. The host is also there to chair the show and to add perspective and balance when needs be 203 as we saw when Jo Brand made her points so eloquently in taking panel members to task in this edition.

While most viewers know what to expect from the programme, it doesn’t set out to deliberately offend viewers. Its purpose is to be entertaining and to maintain the standards the show has set over the last 27 years. That said, we accept that tastes vary enormously and that some viewers might have a different point of view.

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Ofcom logoThe BBC is facing a court battle after it defied Ofcom orders to publish figures on complaints about its shows.

Channel 4 and ITV already disclose the numbers, and release detailed information about objections to their programmes every two weeks. But the BBC nsists on keeping that information a secret. Perhaps this more about revealing political accusations of bias rather than trivial whinges by the ‘easily offended.

Now TV censor Ofcom has waded in and told the BBC it has no choice but to become more transparent. Ofcom insiders have also made it clear that they are prepared to go to court over the matter if the BBC digs its heels in. Sharon White, Ofcom’s chief executive, regards it as an important point of principle.

Kevin Bakhurst, an Ofcom director and a former BBC news boss, has told Corporation executives they need to comply. In a strongly worded letter, seen by the Mail, he said:

The greater transparency we propose is necessary to build and maintain public confidence in the operation of the BBC… and to provide public accountability.

Ofcom has given the BBC until the November 19 to comply with orders and publish fortnightly complaints bulletins that go into the same level of detail as Ofcom’s reports about Channel 4, ITV, Five, Sky and other broadcasters.

BBC bosses will then have to publish the exact number of complaints the Corporation receives about every programme that registers 100 or more objections. Every time a complaint sparks an investigation, it will also be forced to disclose full details of the complaints, the points of principles at stake and the outcome of its probe.

A BBC spokesman has responded:

The BBC is already the most transparent broadcaster on complaints, including publishing data every month and responding on our website, and numbers are often influenced by orchestrated political campaigns but of course we are considering Ofcom’s letter.