Melon Farmers Original Version

BBC Watch


2018

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Comment: BBC pro-religion bias...

National Secular Society responds to a consultation on the BBC's guidelines establishing new restrictions on the criticism of religion


Link Here16th November 2018

The National Secular Society has urged the BBC to treat free expression as a positive value as it raised concerns that new guidelines defer excessively to religious sensitivities.

In response to a consultation on the draft guidelines the NSS warned that the corporation risked curtailing free speech by placing an excessive focus on avoiding offence when handling religion.

The NSS said the BBC should defend and uphold the principle of free expression. The society warned that the BBC's current position risked exacerbating a climate of self-censorship and acquiescing to de facto blasphemy codes.

The NSS said in places the guidelines gave religions protections which were otherwise only afforded to people. The society also questioned a section which appeared to place a particular premium on depictions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Much of the NSS's criticism focused on the excessive deference given to religious sensitivities. In a statement of the BBC's values, the guidance says: In exercising freedom of expression, we must offer appropriate protection to vulnerable groups and avoid causing unnecessary offence.

The guidance also says the BBC should take care to avoid unjustified offence because religious beliefs are central to many people's lives and arouse strong views and emotions. It says this despite suggesting there is no longer an offence of blasphemy or blasphemous libel in any part of the UK.

The NSS said these lines risked acquiescing to de facto blasphemy codes and placed an unjustified focus on the feelings of the religious.

The society suggested a replacement section which would say the BBC should take care not to create a de facto blasphemy law. It also pointed out that the BBC's statement on blasphemy is factually incorrect, as Scotland and Northern Ireland both have blasphemy laws.

Elsewhere the NSS said the guidelines risked creating a double standard concerning treatment of religion, with critics of religion facing additional and unjustified burdens and restrictions.

The BBC's guidance says content dealing with religion which is likely to cause offence to those with religious views and beliefs must be referred to a senior editorial figure.

It also says producers of religious programmes and related content must ensure religious views and beliefs206 are not subject to abusive treatment, adding contributors should not be allowed to denigrate the beliefs of others.

The NSS said robust debate and exchanges of views should not be beyond the bounds of what is reasonable, provided such exchanges are measured and not abusive or insulting.

The NSS welcomed the fact that the guidance no longer contains a specific prohibition on depictions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad but questioned the inclusion of a section dedicated specifically to that subject.

The guidance says the BBC must have strong editorial justification for publishing any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad. It adds that any proposal to do so must be referred to a senior editorial figure, who should normally consult Editorial Policy. It says many Muslims regard any depiction of Muhammad as highly offensive.

The NSS described this as an improvement on previous guidance which forbade any depiction of Muhammad. But it added that the section suggested a particular taboo which added to a climate of censorship brought on by the unreasonable and reactionary views of some religious extremists.

 

 

Falsely accused...

BBC responds to complaints about violence in an EastEnders prison storyline


Link Here3rd October 2018
EastEnders
BBC One, September 2018


Complaint

We have received complaints from some viewers who were unhappy with scenes of violence in the Mick Carter prison storyline.

Response

We're aware that any scenes of violence and unpleasantness can sometimes be upsetting for some of our audience but occasionally it's necessary to the narrative. EastEnders has a long established relationship with its audience who have come to expect big dramatic moments such as these and as our regular viewers will know, the scenes in question were part of an ongoing storyline which has seen Mick pushed to his limits after he was falsely imprisoned.

We are always extremely mindful of the content within an episode and the time slot in which it is shown. All of our content, including language must be editorially justified and we're always careful to film and edit scenes in such a way that they do not exceed reasonable expectations for the programme -- with much of the violence being implied rather than explicit.

It's also important to note that EastEnders is a fictional drama but, like society, it's made up of many different character types. We feel the scenes in question are crucial aspects of the overall storyline of Mick's time in prison, and that they were not included gratuitously.

 

 

What is the point of TV censorship?...

Well according to Tony Hall it's to impose onerous expenses to even up commercial imbalances


Link Here17th September 2018

Tony 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.

 

 

Fake arguments...

Such is their lowly level of respect for free speech, British broadcasters think they can have free speech taken away just to right what they perceive as market imbalances


Link Here5th September 2018

A 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.

 

 

Offsite Article: Diversity quotas kill comedy...


Link Here1st September 2018
Michael Palin was dead right to criticise the BBC's PC box-ticking. By Patrick West

See article from spiked-online.com

 

 

Out of Order...

Frankie Boyle says that the BBC edited out comments about Israel and Gaza from his New World Order show


Link Here23rd May 2018
Frankie Boyle has accused BBC television producers of editing out comments he made about last week's Palestinian deaths on the Gaza border and his joke about Israel being an Apartheid state.

The outspoken comic called out the censorship after he was screened discussing left-wing antisemitism with guest David Baddiel on last Friday's episode of his New World Order chat show series on BBC2.

Responding to criticism from viewers that he had failed to address the deaths of over 60 Palestinians following demonstrations in Gaza, Boyle tweeted:

There were, of course, various jokes in this weeks's New World Order monologue about the situation in Gaza, and about Israel being an Apartheid state.  Edited out for reasons nobody has yet explained to me, despite assurances to the contrary.

Ok. Happy to quote this sentiment, which I've had from literally hundreds of people, that anti-semitism in Britain should not be discussed while Israel commits warcrimes. The idea that Jewish people have collective responsibility for Israel is racist. Have a great day

 

 

Hat rack...

BBC lets Newsnight off for its Corbyn's Russian hat slur


Link Here11th May 2018
The 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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