Tuesday, 3 June 2008

BBC News: An Unbalanced Diet

IMAGE: Screenshot from BBC News online video

Anyone who still thinks the BBC give a toss about balanced news reporting probably doesn't tune in that often.

But they really should have been watching the BBC News at 6 o'clock this evening, for one of the most ludicrously biased news reports I've seen them have the gall to beam to the nation.

You can see the video of this polemic masquerading as a news report here. It is anti-ASDA and indeed anti-capitalist from start to finish.

On the 6 o'clock news, this was followed by some comment from Roger Harrabin (yes, this Roger Harrabin).

Balancing comment, from a conventional economist and/or (god forbid) a spokesperson from ASDA? Not a sausage.

I want to see a public apology for this report broadcast on the BBC, together with a promise not to use licence-payers' money to produce left-wing polemic and pretend it is news ever again. If they do so, we should all be legally entitled to a full refund on the fee. Until then, anyone who tries to tell me that BBC news doesn't abuse its 'remit' to broadcast left-wing propaganda knows where to shove it.

7 comments:

Patrick Vessey said...

I am genuinely confused by your indignation.

For a start, the BBC piece -- notwithstanding a few suspect comments from the punters -- was actually a corporate puff piece for ASDA, prompted by this press release put out by the company. If you want to complain about anything, it should be about the media being led by the nose, and disguising corporate publicity as news.

I guess that you could infer that saying that the sausages only contain 34% pork could be construed as saying they are shite. This, no doubt, they are -- but the legal minimum pork content of sausages (if labelled just 'sausages' as the ASDA ones are, not 'pork sausages') is a pitiful 30%. So this product is no crappier than most everyone else sells; in fact the price is probably a better reflection of production costs than other folks products.

If you want to get angry, get angry about that production process. Mechanically recovered fat and connective tissue posing as 'meat', from animals treated in truly shocking ways.

If the BBC piece had wanted to be 'anti-capitalist', that is what they would have focused on, not the price.

QT said...

Interesting riposte.

The whole item seemed to me to be about saying "isn't it awful that those evil capitalists can give UK consumers 2p sausages while people in other countries are starving". When, actually, there isn't a connection between the two. (At the very least, the BBC didn't do anything so impressive as provide evidence for it, they just asserted it through the presentation of their 'report')

More often than not, famine in the third world is, as is terribly clear in the case of Zimbabwe, the result of tyranny - often predicated on left-wing ideology.

The BBC report, in the context in which it was broadcast (i.e. between two items about the food summit in Rome), gave the impression that there was somehow a connection between the ability of ASDA to sell a 2p sausage, and starvation elsewhere. They slammed ASDA throughout the item and had Roger Harrabin do the same afterwards. The only way this was balanced is if you believe in the "all publicity is good publicity" axiom.

Patrick Vessey said...

The BBC report, in the context in which it was broadcast (i.e. between two items about the food summit in Rome), gave the impression that there was somehow a connection between the ability of ASDA to sell a 2p sausage, and starvation elsewhere.

I didn't see the news, just watched the video that you linked to -- the context was missing.

More often than not, famine in the third world is, as is terribly clear in the case of Zimbabwe, the result of tyranny - often predicated on left-wing ideology.

Often it is. However, in saying that so baldly, now you're missing the wider context! That context being, of course, the activities of the WTO, IMF, World Bank et al, that provide funds to such regimes on the agreement that they undertake 'structural adjustment programmes'.

Yes, the regimes are guilty, but so are the western profiteers.

QT said...

I think this is getting a little off-topic.

Do you agree or not agree that the BBC were wrong to broadcast such a one-sided, critical report in the context I have described?

Patrick Vessey said...

I agree that the BBC shouldn't pass off corporate publicity as news.

If you don't want to discuss the more pertinent issues (to your original argument of it being an 'anti-capitalist' piece by the Beeb), fine -- I'll just shut up.

QT said...

As I've described, and you've seen because you watched the video, the article:

- Was critical of ASDA and their ability to sell 2p sausages to UK consumers throughout.

- Followed by commentary from Roger Harrabin which again attacked ASDA as unethical.

- Broadcast on the 6 o'clock news in a context which implied a connection between ASDA and famine elsewhere...

...And yet you still refer to it as 'passing off corporate publicity as news'.

How negative would a piece (broadcast as NEWS, remember - not on a documentary or current affairs programme, but on the 6 o'clock news) about a company have to be before you'd consider it to represent bias?

Richard said...

Agreed with Ian on this one. This was a blatant piece of anti-capitalist propaganda. His conclusion was that what Asda are doing is unethical, and he came within a hair's breadth of saying it outright: "Whatever the ethical implications are..."