General BBC related comment thread:

Please use this thread for comments about the BBC’s current programming and activities. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog – scroll down for new topic-specific posts. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments, rants or chit-chat. Thoughtful comments are encouraged. Comments may be moderated.

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144 Responses to General BBC related comment thread:

  1. Grimly Squeamish says:

    The 8:00 am radio news is considered a flagship bulletin; more people are listening than at any other time of day, so news editors like to make sure that the big stories of the day are covered, enabling people to get a snapshot of important news events before they get to work.

    Good to hear BBC Radio 2 news following this fine tradition today by telling us that Patsy Palmer, a character in Eastenders, will be rejoining the cast soon.

    Even Terry Wogan, the Old Togmeister himself, was moved to comment after the bulletin “…quiet news day is it?”

    Well no Tel, it isn’t.

    But BBC TV schedulers do like a bit of cross-promotion, using the licence funded radio network as their unofficial advertising agency, plugging as many programmes as they can.

    An example of biased BBC?

    Surely not.

    In fact I look forward to BBC Radio News providing details of cast changes to ITV’s Emmerdale.

    On their 8:00am bulletin, of course.


  2. George R says:

    It seems that the prevailing view of the UK Labour government and the BBC towards the Saudi regime, and towards King Abdullah on his visit here, is one of respect.
    The reality is that this regime represses its own people, and internationally funds mosques and madrasas to spread propaganda all over the world and to foster the Islamization of Europe especially.
    As ‘A Second Look at the Saudis’ points out:
    ” Of the 19 hijackers who attacked this nation”(USA) “on September 11, 2001, 15 were Saudi Arabian. Moreover, each and every one of the 19 hijackers was personally chosen and provided with training and financing by yet another Saudi native – Osama bin Laden. Yet from that day to this, in spite of these incontrovertible facts, members of the Bush administration” ( and, of course,the UK Labour government) “have glibly and incessantly assured us that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is in fact one of our closest friends and allies in the War on Terror.”


  3. will says:

    The BBC will not want to be too critical of Abdullah as that would devalue any criricism of the US that they can extract from him.

    Dame Simpaon told BBC1 Breakfast TV that Abdullah refused to answer questions on Iraq & Iran because he is so angry at America’s actions that he may say something out of turn.


  4. Martin says:

    Well if King Abdullah wanted an easy time and a BBC mouthpiece to speak for him, they should have booked in onto the Andrew Marr show.


  5. Bridgitte says:

    A shocking report from BBC News about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rated “Best Satire On The Internet”. Finally someone standing up to BBC media bias.


  6. Lurker in a Burqua says:

    A story of little consequence:

    Minister detained at US airport

    is turned into an issue of Race with the addition of an invidious question

    Are you a Muslim who has been detained in an American airport? Did you think it was justified? Send us your comments using the form below

    Baaaad Americans!


  7. Dr R says:


    Not just that. When you do write into their laughable “What’s Your View?” threads, if you say anything critical of the BBC it is automatically censored out.

    Rather like the Question Time audiences. Nobody must ever dissent from the Holy BBC!

    Ridiculous organisation.


  8. D Burbage says:

    Grimly Squeamish | 29.10.07 – 9:59 am | #

    Ha! They don’t call it “BBC News” for nothing!!


  9. John Reith says:

    Grimly Squeamish | 29.10.07 – 9:59 am

    But the entertainment sector is only a minor beneficiary of the extended definition of news that is currently fashionable.

    What about all the free plugs for brands in the sports and leisure industry?

    Today, for instance, Tottenham Hotspur Plc gets huge enormous coverage here:

    Back in the good old days, when the BBC policed its own guidelines on brand mentions, no-one would ever refer on air to ‘ a Rolls’. Correct form was ‘large, expensive motor car’.

    One possibility would be to wind the clock back and ban all mentions of brands such as Manchester United (and worse: ‘Man U’) and refer only to ‘a football team in the north west of England’.

    Or we could all just relax and allow Radio 2 listeners to be told about things many of them are interested in … soaps and football.


  10. Grimly Squeamish says:

    JR writes…. “Or we could all just relax and allow Radio 2 listeners to be told about things many of them are interested in … soaps and football.”

    Yes….allow the pressnters to chat merrily about them.. fair enough… But as an 8:00am news item???

    I don’t hear many BBC radio 2 news items about Coronation street cast changes.

    News should be immune from BBC cross promotional puffery.

    And you know it.


  11. BaggieJonathan says:

    Go to the BBC news middle east page and the headline is ‘US hands over Karbala to Iraqis’ with a sub headline of ‘Control of the Shia province of Karbala is passed to the Iraqis, as 27 die in a suicide bombing in Baquba.’

    Only for those prepared to follow the link and read the detail would you realise that Baquba is not in Karbala.

    Misleadingly though the headline is about Karbala’s handover almost all of the article is actually devoted to reporting the bombin in Baquba.

    In fact 9 paragraphs in the article is still having a pop at the US saying the situation in Karbala is far from peaceful (implying unready) for a handover. Still suggesting that the incident in Baquba relates to Karbala and how poor it is of the US to withdraw (though of course they want the US to withdraw so its a damned if they do damned if they dont scenario).

    Not until paragraph 17 (for those that have stuck with the article till then) do we hear that Baquba is actually in Diyala province and no mention is made of the fact that that Diyala is not under Iraqi security control.

    BBC: Agenda, agenda, agenda…


  12. Haversack says:

    “Or we could all just relax and allow Radio 2 listeners to be told about things many of them are interested in”

    Or we could all just relax and stop having the BBC putting you in jail if you don’t send them money.


  13. Rob Clark says:

    And don’t you just love the quote from Shahid Malik: “I really do believe that British ministers and parliamentarians should be afforded the same respect and dignity at USA airports that we would bestow upon our colleagues in the Senate and Congress.”

    Isn’t this just a posh version of: “Don’t you know who I am?”

    “Obviously, there was no malice involved but it has to be said that the USA system does not inspire confidence.” In fact, it probably does! If I was an American I might possibly be quite pleased that my airport security is checking out Muslims…

    Sorry folks, but that seems eminently sensible to me in the current climate.


  14. The Admiral says:

    John Reith – a question for you. Less about bias than about consistency. I am genuinely interested in the answer and should declare some sort of interest in that I work in the PR industry.

    We work on the assumption that brand mentions of our clients on BBC will always be kept to a bare minimum and sometimes not be mentioned at all. While this can be frustrating, we broadly accept it. It is part of the Charter etc etc and also it is what makes getting coverage on the BBC all the more valuable. Frankly, getting coverage for your client where brand mentions are sprayed around is not very attractive. we all know the score and accept it.

    However, it does depend on what your definition of a brand is. If you are a big bad multinational (that, shriek, tries to be profitable)then you can expect the BBC to be unsympathetic or even hostile to brand mentions. If you are an author or a musician, you will be asked onto chat shows, your new “product” will be plugged to the skies (the price might even be mentioned) and you can expect a big rise in sales. In fact there are any number of commercial concerns that have a free kick at goal when it comes to getting their products and messages onto the BBc airwaves.

    Why this discrepancy? In what way is a book or a song not a product, in the same way an ipod is or a washing machine?

    All other things being equal (e.g. newsworthiness or editorial appropriateness)there does seem to be some extreme double standards.

    Or can you explain this?



  15. Martin says:

    Radio 5, the Simon Mayo show. Discussion on the pay of so called “fat cat” chief execs and how much more they are paid than other workers.

    Usual left wing attack by the BBC (a public funded company paid for by a mandatory tax) on private organisations.

    I did email the show to ask how much Mr Mayo gets paid (no reply or not read out of course)

    I wonder how much cleaners get paid at the BBC? As much as Jonathan Ross do you think? Or is it OK for companies funded by you and me to pay huge salaries to the top fat cats?

    Does Jonathan Ross get a salary cut if his ratings drop?

    What is the obsession of the BBC and what other workers get paid? They are always banging on about it, but won’t tell us how much THEY all get paid. An awful lot more than most of us I suspect.


  16. Roland Thompson-Gunner says:

    Admiral: Commenting from outside the BBC, but I don’t think there can be consistency. IMHO you aren’t comparing like with like. Placing a product in a show – which I’m sure must happen despite BBC guidelines – isn’t offering the viewer a flavour of it in the same way as a musician playing his latest song on a chat show. The first is a subliminal thing and the second is a genuine sample.

    How would “consumers” of music get some handle on artists if reviews and performances vanished from public service broadcasting? OK, they would still be on commercial alternatives and record company websites, but there you’d have every reason to expect that you were literally being sold a product.


  17. John Reith says:

    The Admiral | 29.10.07 – 5:59 pm

    In what way is a book or a song not a product, in the same way an ipod is or a washing machine?

    I expect the usual chorus will accuse me of Oxbridge elitism again, but I welcome the fact that the BBC takes the traditional (even ‘conservative’) line that though there is a certain amount of commodification of culture • that’s a regrettable fact of life; novels, plays, symphonies etc. are not primarily or essentially ‘products’ and shouldn’t be treated as such. In much the same way, I believe that education is about something more than ‘preparing youngsters for the world of work’.

    Market models are jolly useful for a whole range of things • but when it comes to religion and culture, they’re not much help.


  18. Martin says:

    Interesting that the BBC were banging on about “uman rites” in Saudi Arabia (or rather lack of them) yet I thought according to the BBC Islam was a wonderful religion and that it’s us evil lot in the West that have it wrong?

    At least Sky News did get a dig in about Islamic values to Vince Cable. Anna Botting suggested that the Islamic world had a different perspective on Human Rights and that we should be more tolerant of these views. To which Mr Cable diagreed strongly.

    Don’t see that question getting raised by the BBC.


  19. Martin says:

    oh and I know this is a little off target. But has anyone else seen the whole farce over this TV dancing thing on BBC 1?

    I just thought it was really funny hearing a bunch of poncy arts types complaining that people voted the wrong person off. Oh yer, I’ve been wondering how a prat like Blair got elected THREE TIMES. Perhaps the BBC should stick to something more serious?


  20. Anonymous says:

    I realize that nobody with an ounce of sense would choose to read The Guardian. That said, I do from time to time have a peek at what the other half is thinking.

    Here’s a bit of a shocker! Seems that we are paying for a MAJOR roll out of the BBC brand across the world. Looks as if they are gearing up for the day the license fee is dropped.

    “New channels galore as BBC aims to rule the world – with help from Doctor Who and the Teletubbies”


  21. The Admiral says:

    JR – I hear what you say but you are deliberately choosing “high culture” examples such as plays and symphonies. I am talking about the multi-billion dollar pop industry that is as rapacious as any other or indeed the multi-billion dollar publishing industry.

    Would you still say that Fifty Cent’s latest single, or the Cheeky Girls’ cynical combination of buttocks and innuendo are not commercial? it doesn’t seem to stop the BBC promoting them. Or Ricky Gervais talking about his Flanimals book or A.N. Other Luvvie plugging their memoirs on the chatshow couch.

    I’m not pretending there are easy answers here. However, I think that when you combine an ethical grey area with an endemic anti-business bias and a predominantly arts degree educated workforce you end up with unjustified bias.

    I think probably the only fair and unbiased approaches would be to either turn the clock back 40 years and apply the same rule equally in not allowing commercial promotion at all or allowing other brands the same access as the record companies and publishing houses. The latter approach would have its downsides, I concede.


  22. Roland Thompson-Gunner says:

    Anonymous: Won’t the reported roll-out of extra channels via BBC Worldwide just (if successful)generate revenue which will reduce pressure to hike our personal tax burden? What’s to oppose?


  23. Nka says:

    Somaye Zadeh

    Does anyone know about this speaker at the recent Stop the War Coalition meeting on Iran? It is reported by some that she is a BBC studio manager.

    This is a video of her grovelling apology for the Iranian regime:

    I’d be stunned if she was a paid up Beeboid…


  24. Mark says:

    If it’s the same person a google search reveals Somaye Zadeh works for The World Service Newsroom, Bush House, London. The irony…

    Click to access UAFnews030505.pdf


  25. Mark says:

    Sacked from BBC (webpage has no date)


  26. Anon says:

    She’s very active in BECTU -they tried to fire her but had to back off:-


  27. matthew says:

    Re Minister Detained At US Airport: I left a comment, which they have not felt fit to publish, pointing out that it’s hardly sensible to stop Buddhist monks or Catholic priests, when they are at threat from Islamic terrorists.


  28. Sarah says:

    They’ve buried that HYS now, matthew. My comment was rejected, too. There’s a thing.


  29. Bryan says:

    Owen Bennet Jones had a lengthy rant at Benazir Bhutto on the World Service today, going in depth into the corruption allegations against her. Describing her homecoming and the bomb that killed 130 people, he said so many were killed because they had turned out to see her.

    It was one of those BBC moments when you wonder if you’ve heard correctly.

    No, Mr. Bennet Jones, all those people were killed because that’s what Islamic terrorists are good at. And no, we didn’t miss the subtle implication that if Bhutto hadn’t returned, those wonderful, gentle devotees of the Religion of Peace would not have felt obliged to commit mass murder of civilians. Of course, now I get it. If she hadn’t gone back home, everything would have been fine.

    I’m getting the distinct impression that a large percentage of BBC hacks with their plummy accents and occasional double-barreled surnames have not only converted to Islam but have been radicalised.

    Why else would they continually promote and justify the terrorists’ ideology and belittle their opponents?


  30. Martin says:

    But the BBC NEVER uses profits made from TV shows to offset the Teletax. If only it would.

    We are all shareholders in the BBC. Shouldn’t we all get a rebate every year based on profits made from the sale of BBC shows to the rest of the world that WE have paid to fund?


  31. Lurker in a Burqua says:
  32. Anonymous says:

    More American “crimes against humanity”

    America promotes the use of biofuels in order to raise the cost of food and starve the poor. Last year’s trick was to subsidize agricultural products in order to drive farmers in developing nations out of business. What will we think of next?


  33. Anat says:

    People, I don’t think you understand the role of BBC international commercial ventures and their affect on news as shown in Britain. It isn’t all teletubbies, you know. BBC World has to do with news items to satisfy the taste of foreign countries, with much emphasis on audiences in the Middle East and especially the rich gulf states. In 1994-6 they even tried an Arabic television channel which was financed by the Saudis. It failed, but BBC World does the work fine in English. It is clear to me that much of BBC bias comes from such commercial interests in the Middle East. Now I asked before and I repeat, how many news items broadcast in Britain actually come from BBC World? It would make commercial sense to reuse material already produced. But you wouldn’t know, because BBC commercial ventures are not on offer in the UK. You are prevented from comparing. Is the BBC practicing divide and rule? Are they feeding you news paid for by people with other interests, some of them diametrically opposed to British interests?

    You whine about the tellytax, when the actual problem is perhaps not the tax itself but the preferential treatment for others who willingly pay even more. BBC is not free from commerce, as they claim. They could well be one of the worst commercially affected broadcasting companies on earth.


  34. Humble BBC hack says:

    Well here’s a thing. I wrote that story about Eastenders, and suggested it to someone senior to me for inclusion in the morning news (either the 0700 or the 0800)

    I didn’t get it off a BBC press release, I got it from the Press Association. And I wrote it because Radio 2 listeners are, by and large, soap viewers, and Bianca from Eastenders is, to my judgement, one of the more memorable soap characters of recent years.

    You’re right: we don’t do many soap stories, but I can also remember writing a short item about the death of Mike Baldwin in Coronation Street. On ITV. I also remember covering the tributes following the death of John Thaw, who was most famous for playing Inspector Morse on ITV. There are probably others.

    I was just trying to tell the audience something I thought they might have been interested in. Sorry if you weren’t.


  35. Anonymous says:

    Is the strike over proposed reductions at al-Beeb going ahead? What’s the latest? Someone please tell me they’re going to strike – pllleeaase!


  36. John Reith says:

    Bryan | 30.10.07 – 1:05 am

    I’m getting the distinct impression that a large percentage of BBC hacks with their plummy accents and occasional double-barreled surnames have not only converted to Islam but have been radicalised.

    Sometimes, Bryan, you get quite close to sounding like a crank.


  37. Sarkis Zeronian says:

    I thought that this letter from today’s Guardian might be of some interest to you, it’s from a new think tank, Progressive Vision, and is about breaking up the BBC:


  38. pounce says:

    The BBC, its defence of radical Islam and half a story

    ‘Hate leaflets’ found at mosque
    Literature which claims that it is permissible to kill Muslims if they turn away from their faith has been found in a mosque in Edinburgh. It was uncovered at the Islamic Centre of Edinburgh, which is attached to the King Fahd Mosque. The find came during a UK survey by the think tank Policy Exchange. It was the only example of so called “hate literature” found in Scotland, where eight mosques were studied. The mosque was unavailable for comment.

    So according to the BBC only one mosque has been found in the UK. Here is one written earlier by the Times.

    Lessons in hate found at leading mosques
    Books calling for the beheading of lapsed Muslims, ordering women to remain indoors and forbidding interfaith marriage are being sold inside some of Britain’s leading mosques, according to research seen by The Times.
    More than 80 books and pamphlets were collected during a year-long project in which researchers visited 100 mosques across Britain. One book, Fatawa Islamiyah, which urges the execution of apostates, was found in bookshops at Regent’s Park mosque and at the huge East London mosque in Whitechapel. Muhammad Abdul Bari, the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), is the chairman of the East London mosque.

    The BBC, its defence of radical Islam and half a story


  39. Dr R says:

    Regarding the story about hate literature being found at a quarter of the Mosques visited, I can’t find the story anywhere on the BBC website.

    Pls can someone provide me with the link (surely even the brazen BBC couldn’t ignore such a story)?

    By comparison, can you imagine the BBC response if 25% of churches (or synagogues) housed racist, homophobic and/or anti-semitic literature?


  40. Charlotte says:

    Dr R | 30.10.07 – 1:10 pm

    By comparison, can you imagine the BBC response if 25% of churches (or synagogues) housed …. homophobic …literature?

    Would Leviticus count?


  41. Ryan Roberts says:

    >Would Leviticus count?

    No but a tract by Fred Phelps or Jack Chick would. Good try at knee jerk equivalence though, do you work for the BBC?


  42. Dr R says:


    Are you aware of any Jewish or Christian persecution of homosexuals, such as exists in Islamic countries? Or, to put it another way, if gays were tortured and murdered in Israel or America (as they are in Palestine or Iran), do you feel it might get some coverage on the Holy BBC? I think it mighty. Why the difference, do you think?

    Do you work for the BBC? Curious, that’s all.


  43. Charlotte says:


    Just cuttin’n’pastin’ :

    ‘Throw the homosexual off the mountain’ • Abu Usamah (attrib.)

    “If a man lie with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

    Knee jerk equivalence?

    No, I don’t work for the BBC. But I’m married to someone who does. And my brother used to…. so you could say I’m ‘family’.


  44. Toneybaloney says:

    Re product placement and bands etc.

    I think this is a really tough area but I have a major concern in particular over participation of pop stars in fund raising events. Take the Live Earth (or whatever it was called) event. For the acts who participate this can be like winnng the lottery with huge exposure framed in positive terms for ‘supporting a good cause’. We know that album sales go through the roof after the event. It is hard to see a way round it so why doesn’t the BBC just embrace it and charge the artists a ‘listing fee’ which it forwards on to an appropriate charity? At least this would be more honest.

    Just a thought.


  45. Dr R says:

    Thanks Charlotte, yes I did understand your point the first time round but thanks and well done for explaining it again.

    My point is a little more complex. I am asking you if you see a difference between the treatment of gays by Jews and Christians, on the one hand, and Muslims on the other.

    Let me re-state my question: if gays were tortured and murdered in Israel or America (as they are in Palestine or Iran), do you feel it might get some coverage on the Holy BBC? I think it might. Why the difference, do you think?

    Oh, and are you aware of the fact that neither Judaism (and I think Christianity) has executed gays for a very, very, very, very, very, very long time, probably because of the interpretive traditions that both religions have developed?

    PS I am glad your husband is paid by the license fee but can you understand why some of us do not feel we should be forced to support this vile, propagandist organisation?


  46. Ryan Roberts says:

    But the issue isn’t the religious texts themselves, though the Quran pips the bible for sheer volume and intensity of invective. It is modern works interpreting these texts. And here you will find the difference – mainstream Islamist theologians like Qaradawi are only comparable with Christian fringe lunatics like Phelps. I challenge you to find just one serious modern Christian or Jewish theologian who advocates the adoption of Mosaic law.

    Neither do the tiny number of Chistian dominionists have a modern day Calvinist Geneva or Protectorate England to look to as a working model. Muslims have Saudi, Iran and until recently Afghanistan and Somalia.


  47. Gerald Brown says:

    News Quiz

    Anyone else pick up on the throwaway comment on the recent broadcast in memory of Alan Coren, the gist of which was he was the supposed “right winger” on the panel to offset the three left wing “comedians”. Not too sure of Mr Coren’s politics but that of the “comedians” is usually plainly on show.


  48. Ali P says:

    Hello Charlotte, nice to have you here

    Your Leviticus thing is a well-worn counter against those who would criticise the Koran – its merits as an argument are debatable, but only in a Bible vs Koran discussion which this plainly isn’t.

    We’re talking about pamphlets being written today, distributed today that preach violence and hatred against Jews and gays.

    To compare that with a passage written millennia ago that no-one takes seriously is a pretty bogus sort of equivalence.

    Find me similar hate material in Britain’s churches and synagogues and then you’ll have a point. But I don’t think you’ll be able to.

    The leftist mindset holds that because the Bible is as ‘bad’ as the Koran, then drawing moral distinctions between the two is hypocritical, and by extension criticising Islam in any form is hypocritical. It’s a theory (and quite widespread); but not one I wish to pay to have extolled to me by the BBC.

    Ali P


  49. pounce says:

    The BBC, its defence of radical Islam and half a story (Part 2)

    In that BBC article about the only mosque in the Village. It quotes the Policy Exchange as finding offensive literature such as;
    “These reasons would make someone’s blood permissible to spill [to be killed for apostasy] and his wealth permissible to be usurped, because he is no longer a Muslim.”

    Actually BBC the start of that report quotes;

    And if he apostatises after that, his head should
    be chopped off, according to the Hadith:
    ‘Whoever changes his religion, kill

    Or if you go to page 148 of the actual report on Scotland.

    In the following passage, the author
    declares that by obeying human laws, over
    and above God’s injunctions, a Muslim
    becomes an apostate and therefore liable to
    the death penalty:

    Here is the synopsis of that report;

    and here is the actual report;

    Click to access 307.pdf

    Funny how the BBC kind of omits this from the above synopsis;

    * Some of the most high-profile and prestigious mosques in Britain are among the worst offenders; in many of them, it is openly available.

    The Hijacking of British Islam
    * Separatist literature is distributed at the East London Mosque – which is closely associated with the Muslim Council of Britain (which purports to be the main body representing British Muslims).

    Shocking statements

    Pamphlets, books and leaflets obtained from mosques and Islamic centres contain an assortment of shocking statements including:

    * “Jihad against a tyrant, oppressors, people of bid’ah [Muslim innovators], or wrongdoers. This type of jihad is best done through force if possible.”

    * “The Jews and the Christians are the enemies of the Muslim.”

    * “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.”

    The BBC, its defence of radical Islam and half a story (Part 2)