Nearly half of Britons think the BBC fails to represent their values including a majority in the North of England, survey finds
- Survey found 48 per cent said BBC does not adequately represent their views
- Figure rose to 51 per cent in the north of England and 47 per cent in Scotland
- YouGov survey also found only four per cent of Britons think BBC’s values have become more like theirs
Nearly half of Britons think the BBC no longer represents their values, new research suggests.
The survey, by polling organisation YouGov, found that 48 per cent said the BBC does not adequately represent their views, with the figure rising to 51 per cent in the North of England.
A further 47 per cent of people in Scotland were unhappy with the BBC’s coverage, while the figure was 58 per cent among Brexit voters.
The findings come just a day after the broadcaster’s complaints unit found a documentary about Dominic Cummings presented by Emily Maitlis broke accuracy rules.
Investigators concluded the programme broke the rules by implying Mr Johnson’s former chief aid was prejudiced against Muslims.
Nearly half of Britons think the BBC no longer represents their values, new research suggests
The new survey, carried out for The Times newspaper, also found only four per cent of Britons think the BBC’s values have become more like theirs.
By contrast 33 per cent said the corporation’s values had become less like theirs.
Overall, older men living outside London and the South-east were most likely to be unhappy with the BBC’s perceived values.
The findings of the survey come ahead of a review by the Government into public sector broadcasting.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously made no secret of his desire to reform the corporation.
There is speculation the licence fee could be scrapped.
A previous row was provoked over the suggested appointment of former Daily Telegraph editor and fierce critic Lord Charles Moore as BBC chairman.
Sir Robbie Gibb, who was senior at the BBC before becoming Theresa May’s director of communications in Downing Street, told The Times: ‘These findings show why the BBC’s director-general, Tim Davie, is right to make improving impartiality his No 1 priority.’
The survey, by polling organisation YouGov, found that 48 per cent said the BBC does not adequately represent their views, with the figure rising to 51 per cent in the north of England. Pictured: BBC director-general Tim Davie
Mr Davie said last month an initiative to increase staff diversity was ‘mission-critical’.
A BBC spokesman told The Times that ‘recent research’ showed people still align with the corporation’s ‘core mission to inform, educate and entertain.
They added that new director general Tim Davie had made it ‘very clear’ the BBC must work hard to represent ‘a very broad section of views.’
The BBC’s documentary on Cummings, called Taking Control: The Dominic Cummings Story, risked misleading viewers by taking quotes from a paper by his think-tank about migration out of context, the unit said.
The documentary reported from a paper titled ‘How Demographic Decline and its financial consequences will sink the European Dream’ published by Mr Cummings’ New Frontiers Foundation in 2005.
The extract included in the programme stated: ‘The consequences of economic stagnation coinciding with rising Muslim immigration cannot fill anyone familiar with European history with anything other than a sense of apprehension, at least, about the future of the Continent’.
According to the Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU), the quotation ‘tended to support the impression’ that Mr Cummings was prejudiced against Muslims.
The BBC lags behind Channel 5, Channel 4 and ITV among viewers for its perceived impartiality, according to previous research by Ofcom
The BBC is the least impartial main TV news provider, according to viewers
Instead the ECU argued that the quotation from the think-tank paper ‘stood in a context which pointed to Europe’s relative difficulty in integrating immigrants, rather than anything connected with Islam, as the source of tension’.
The paper itself concluded that ‘there is little reason to be optimistic about Europe’s capacity to avoid a growth of extremist political activity, or its desire to avoid the traditional response of polities in crisis – blaming foreigners’.
In the ECU’s judgment, ‘the quotation would have conveyed a different impression in the programme if more had been done to reflect its original context’.
‘As this risked misleading viewers, there was a breach of the BBC’s standards of accuracy, and this aspect of the complaint was upheld,’ it added.
There was a huge row in May after Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis (pictured) delivered a highly critical monologue about the Dominic Cummings lockdown controversy
Research by regulator Ofcom last November found that viewers think the BBC is the least impartial of the main TV news providers.
It lagged behind Channel 5, Channel 4 and ITV for its coverage.
Only 58 per cent believed the corporation’s coverage is impartial, a fall of 1 per cent on 2019.
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.
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.
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