Following hard on the heels of the post below

, Nigel Reynolds of the Telegraph reports that Andrew Marr’s BBC warning angers Sky:

“Our main competitor, Sky News, always trumpets that it is first with this, first with that.

“Well, we are the BBC and we have to be sure that we are right. We must not, therefore, get into the culture of first with this, first with everything – first and frequently right.”

Sky News reacted angrily to the attack. A spokesman said later: “Sky News takes accuracy just as seriously as the BBC.

“We come from the same broadcasting culture. It just so happens that we are faster at bringing that accurate information to the viewer.”

The channel may judge itself particularly hard done by Mr Marr’s criticism because it was named News Channel of the Year at the Royal Television Society Awards in February. In their commendation, the RTS judges said that Sky News was” vibrant and innovative and frequently first with the news”

“The jury was impressed by its immediacy, impact and the variety of its coverage.”

The BBC rival was also named best news channel at the Broadcast Digital Awards in June. Then, the judges said: “Sky is generally about two minutes ahead of BBC News 24. It is an excellent channel – first to the spot every time a story breaks… it engages a wider audience than the BBC.”

Sky usually is faster with the latest news on big stories, and not just faster, but very often better too, with excellent correspondents such as Adam Boulton and Martin Brunt ferreting out the facts. The downsides to Sky are vacous presenters such as Emma Crosbie and Julie Botchingham (though the BBC certainly has plenty of those too) and brash intrusive adverts for Sky this and Sky that – though unlike the BBC, basking in a jacuzzi of spare public cash, as Mark Thompson put it before his assimilation into the BBC Borg, Sky does have to pay its own bills.

Marr’s criticism of Sky News is of course entirely unrelated to Adam Boulton’s description of Marr in October as a “sympathetic interviewer” after Marr was summoned to act as the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman when the great clucking fist bottled out of taking advantage of favourable polls to hold an early general election. Unfortunately for Marr, this latest spat has given the mischievous Guido an opportunity to run that cartoon of Marr again.


Gordon Brown’s favourite: ‘Sympathetic interviewer’ Andy

Marr does his bit as the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman.

Just for good measure, Nigels Reynolds piece in the Telegraph concludes:

Mr Marr himself is no stranger to the perennial questions raised over political bias at the corporation.

Though his career has moved on to embrace programmes about culture and literature, when he became the corporation’s political editor, many wondered whether the opinionated former editor of The Independent, who had made no secret of his enthusiasm for Tony Blair and New Labour and most of its works, could become a completely impartial voice.

He was once likened to being “a loyal junior minister” and Lord Tebbit pulled no punches when he declared: “The BBC is already owned by, run by, and takes its orders from the Labour Party. Mr Marr will make no difference at all.”


In related news, Press Gazette reports that BBC banned Andrew Marr’s Charles Kennedy drink story:

Marr told the House of Lords Communication Committee that he could give them “one example where a story was killed”.

He said the story had been about the “nature of the problem” for which Kennedy, then the Liberal Democrat Leader, had been seeking help.

But he said: “The decision was taken at that point that we wouldn’t run it. We had an unequivocal denial and we were the BBC and we had to be very careful about these things.”

P.S. When choosing which 24 hour news channel to watch, don’t forget that Mark Thompson is tired of turning up in newsrooms and studios to find Sky News on the monitors rather than News 24 and that during the Iraq War, the crew of HMS Ark Royal chose Sky News over BBC News because The BBC always takes the Iraqis’ side. It reports what they say as gospel but when it comes to us it questions and doubts everything the British and Americans are reporting.

Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Following hard on the heels of the post below

  1. Lee Moore says:

    A couple of weeks ago, one evening, I tried to compare BBC News 24 with Sky News directly – by flipping frequently between the two, starting at either 9pm or 10pm (I forget.) What was most apparent was how much more rapidly Sky told you the news. This was because the BBC kept on stopping for long interludes where a BBC pundit tried to give you an in depth bit, or where they showed you a long clip of some investigation they’d been doing. By the time we’d got to quarter past nine (or ten) Sky had covered about seven news items and the BBC had covered three. Then Sky did a rat-a-tat of about half a dozen other stories in a couple of sentences each, so that by twenty past, the BBC was miles behind. And they never caught up – there were just lots of bits of news that the BBC didn’t get round to.

    No doubt the BBC would argue that they were giving more depth and context to the stories, and Sky was skimming them shallowly, but it didn’t feel like that – perhaps because the in depth bits from the BBC correspondents didn’t really add much beyond the BBC correspondents speculations. The BBC news was much more a mixture of news and current affairs punditry, with the result that Sky’s straight news approach was far better, quicker and more comprehensive, as a news programme.

    There was one breaking news story – I forget about what – and Sky got there about ten minutes before the BBC.


  2. will says:

    News 24 & its never ending list of how to spend more taxpayer money, has this am landed upon the idea of compensating those losing their homes on the Holderness coast, famous since time immemorial for its erosion.


  3. John Gentle says:

    Well, the BBC was certainly faster than Sky at bringing news on the big fall in the Dow Jones on Thursday!!!!


  4. Essex Boy says:

    I do hope Marr doesn’t fall out with the Beeb. He’ll have a hell of a job finding employment elsewhere.

    Unless the Labour Party throw him a bone for services rendered.


  5. John Reith says:

    Lee Moore | 23.11.07 – 9:15 am | #

    A couple of weeks ago, one evening..starting at either 9pm or 10pm (I forget.) …… By the time we’d got to quarter past nine (or ten) …There was one breaking news story – I forget about what …

    There’s nothing like solid, evidence-based commentary to underpin your critique of the professionals, is there?


  6. dave says:

    note Marr admits that there is a “liberal (i.e. left wing)instinct (i.e. bias)” at the beeb.


  7. Dina says:


    “There’s nothing like solid, evidence-based commentary to underpin your critique of the professionals, is there?”

    – agreed, Lee could have clarified this a lot better, but I have been keeping an eye on both and I think his comparison is essentially correct.

    The Beeb should spend less time filling reports with ‘analysis’, opinion, hearsay, allegations, speculation etc. They should just report observable facts. And then shut up.


  8. Lee Moore says:

    “Lee could have clarified this a lot better” if Lee had bothered to keep the piece of paper on which he was scribbling down the stories that the BBC and Sky were covering. But since Lee was not attempting to uncover bias by his scribbling, rather than just an impression of how the two channels delivered the news, he didn’t bother to post the scribblings on B-BBC. As I recall the news was quite heavy with murders that day, and both the Maddy thing and the Perugia thing were covered. I think the breaking news was another murder somewhere up North.

    JR is of course right that there’s nothing like solid, evidence-based commentary, which is why B-BBC complaints are disproportionately based on the website, and why Newsniffer has proved quite popular here.


  9. Cynic says:

    “Sky News reacted angrily to the attack. A spokesman said later: “Sky News takes accuracy just as seriously as the BBC”

    That has just put me off Sky News!


  10. fnu snu says:

    Marr’s just upset that everyone’s laughing at him for being Brown’s spokesman.


  11. Martin says:

    Er, I don’t think it’s being his spokesman that people are laughing at Marr for.

    I’d suggest it’s something smilar to that horrid job some poor sod has to do for Abu Hamza every day.


  12. Martin says:

    On a more interesting note, George Galloway is always attacking Sky News (for the usual garbage) yet he’s always getting airtime off them.

    When was the last time you saw the Scottish (Galloway that is) windbag on News 24?


  13. Gibby Haynes says:

    His ironically titled ‘Respect’ party is in freefall right now. Maybe when it buries itself in the ground they can have him on BBC to ask him where it all went wrong. Obvious reasons aside (embracing supposed-to-be diametrically opposed idologies), he can blame it on America and the BBC news monkey can nod sadly.
    Everyone’s a winner.


  14. Susan says:

    I think it was probably Galloway’s turn in a pink leotard, impersonating a cat, that made even the Islamists want nothing to do with him.


  15. ANOther says:

    If you read the Press Gazette story, which is about the gagging of news media by proprietors, it’s interesting that the only instance that the gagging WAS successful is in the case of the BBC & the Kennedy drink story.
    In all the other cases the proprietors backed down.