BBC DG: Olympic Coverage Is Too Patriotic, Must Now Support Other Nations

This was brought up in comments thread of  the “Nearly Back” post by Number 7, but I think it’s worthy of a full post itself and deserves discussion.

We are too focused on Team GB: Astonishing memo from ‘increasingly unhappy’ BBC boss over patriotic tone of news coverage

BBC chiefs have ordered their news teams to stop focusing so much on Team GB’s stunning Olympics success.

Director general Mark Thompson is said to be ‘increasingly unhappy’ with the patriotic tone of the news coverage of the Games.


TV and radio newsroom staff were astonished by an email sent yesterday, which told them to focus on the achievements of other nations as well as our own.

In the message, titled ‘An order from the DG’, director of news Helen Boaden wrote: ‘Mark Thompson is increasingly unhappy that we are focusing far too much on Team GB’s performance to the exclusion of all else.

‘This is also becoming a theme within the Press.

‘As editor in chief, he has issued a directive that this needs to change from today. So you need to get cracking on making that shift.’

What, no hugs? Seems like a strange directive for the national broadcaster of the United Kingdom. Especially considering the bit in the Charter about “bringing the UK to the world”. Assuming that the following bit about “bringing the world to the UK” is about news reporting and not jingoism in sports, that is. Even so, this raises some serious questions.

1. Does Thompson believe that in reality there are enough immigrants or communities of immigrant origin in the UK who would prefer to hear about their own country’s success that he is seriously directing staff to pay more attention to other countries? If so, doesn’t that betray the entire concept of a nation united by values and that the much-vaunted concept of multiculturalism is in fact divisive balkanization? Not enough British people living in Britain, then?

2. Is this revealing of a certain embarrassment at the top levels of the BBC about openly supporting British success in the face of non-white nations? I’m pretty sure Thompson isn’t concerned about so much attention being lavished on Usain Bolt for his two brief events rather than on US athlete Ashton Easton for winning gold and setting a world record in the decathlon, which used to bestow upon the winner the title, “World’s Greatest Athlete”. Nor is Thompson talking about giving more credit to the French.

3. Has the BBC’s lust for evil profits, global reach and dominance caused Mark Thompson to subsume the BBC’s ultimate remit – providing public service broadcasting for the license fee payers in the UK as the official State broadcaster – in favor of pandering to audiences in other nations where the BBC reaps or stands to gain commercial revenue?

4. Is Thompson simply the Panderer General?

5. What does this tell us about the line of defense we’re always fed that there is no top-down editorial directive at the BBC, that there are no memos handed down from on high giving editorial directions, that the BBC is too large and too disorganized for there to be an institutional bias of this kind? According a BBC insider the Mail quotes, this never happens:

‘We never get direct orders like this.

Except, we know they do. Maybe it’s just that there’s been no serious objection before when orders come down from on high about Global Warming or Islam, for example.

6. Does the shock amongst regular BBC staff signal at least some hope for the reformation of the BBC after all?

‘It is only natural that our viewers and listeners want to hear about Team GB’s successes. All the other countries celebrate their own medal winners.

‘It would be a shame if we had to water down our coverage to satisfy an abstract notion of fairness.’

Do they not feel, as Thompson seems to, that a significant amount of their audience in the UK is not British or proud of British achievement? Presumably it’s more than just the one or two disgruntled assistant producers who leaked this to the Mail. Or will this current patriotism vanish next week and it’ll be back to business as usual because the only time Beeboids approve of patriotism or nationalism by the English, British, or certain other countries is during sports tournaments?

As an outsider living in a country where the BBC is most definitely trying to increase influence, audience share, and evil profits, I find this very amusing as well as important.

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37 Responses to BBC DG: Olympic Coverage Is Too Patriotic, Must Now Support Other Nations

  1. DJ says:

    Not to go off at a tangennt, but is it really ‘a theme within the Press’? Does he mean the ‘Press’ in the sense of newspapers people actually read, or just a tiny sliver of money pit rags that could be printed in Thai for all the average person would notice?


  2. Demon says:

    I’m sure I just heard Sue Barker say “We are moving over to BBC2, we’ll have Handball and we will talk to the President of the United States”. I hope I misheard, or will they, during this election campaign, interview Romney as well!!


    • Demon says:

      I did mishear – sorry Sue Barker. It was the president of the IOC. I was in the other room and misheard.

      Grateful if any of the admins can remove the above post please.


      • Deborah says:

        but I could have believed that the BBC could have unterrupted their Olympic coverage to have an interview with the President of the United States


  3. Sir Arthur Strebe-Grebling says:

    Thompson is yesterday’s man but DG-elect Entwistle is a BBC insider, largely responsible for their decision to treat the once-in-a-lifetime Queen’s Jubilee not as a historic event but as a backdrop for stunts by BBC luvvies.
    So I guess that tells us what he thinks about patriotism and Great Britain.


  4. deegee says:

    Could this be a financial consideration? The BBC as news provider wants to have a product that it can sell. Not to the British people who are a captive market who have to pay whether they use the service or not but to paying customers, like for example, the Arab World?


    • Dysgwr_Cymraeg says:

      How long before Dopey Dave makes the DG a lord?
      Dave is stupid enough !


      • Old Goat says:

        No, there’ll be an overflow of honours this year for all the sporty boys and girls, who although they might have run/skipped/jumped their way to a medal, have done bugger all to solve all the problems of the Former UK, which, as in the case of all post-analgesics, will come bouncing back when the Olympic euphoria wears off.

        No room for DGs.


      • Sir Stamford Raffles says:

        And not just Dave. It’s the Tory party who haven’t yet realised that at heart, and whenever possible, the BBC doesn’t like them and will do them down. And still on the subject of Tory media blindness….I can’t forget how Willie Whitelaw in 1982 allowed Channel 4 to be set up. Surely he must have known they were not going to be Tory friends, but apparently not.


    • London Calling says:

      Always follow the money. In the BBCs case the trail leads to 24 million British bank accounts. Personally I dont see why we need the BBC at all. Why not hand the license fee directly to the Labour Party and cut out the middle man? The Labour Party can then commission independent productions to sing its praises, explain the Policies of The Party and why they are for our own good. Presenters can read out grain harvest and tractor statistics on the hour, and close every night with Thought for the Night from our glorious Leader in waiting. Milliband Loves You. Our transformation will be complete, as tinted window ZILs of the Labour Broadcasting Corporation speed along the reserved lanes on Party Business.


  5. Guest Who says:

    It would appear to have registered as a slight poo in the pool of market rate coherence…
    Beyond being pointed at the in no way sycophantic witterings of the… head of BBC PR, whose tweets are are his own personal views*… [bless] my personal favourite line refers to Hugs Boaden’s Nuremberg moment: ‘…it was not meant for general consumption, and definitely not the Daily Mail.’
    That whole ‘power being held to account’ thing can be a bitch when it bites you on the ass, can’t it?
    I like the word ‘robust’, mind.
    Though not sure if ‘ze Fuhrer demands you comply’ really falls under that category, frankly.
    I also have to wonder what may have been the reaction from Aunty’s minions if those in the executive suite of other media had trotted out gems such as this: ‘As editor in chief, he has issued a directive that this needs to change from today. So you need to get cracking on making that shift.’
    Failure to comply resulting in what, exactly?
    I just ask, as the whole ‘please stop making us look bad via twitter’ plea a while back kinda, sorta got like totally ignored.
    *’All views are those of the guys who hire and sign my paycheque; those who fund them can however go fish’. Now.. that’s integrity.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Curiouser and curiouser. Thompson was more vague but Ms. Boaden went overboard with it? Same questions apply, really. This is the kind of thing which kept her from winning that DG job, then.


  6. Deborah says:

    Speak to any beeboid and their perennial cry is ‘the DMail hate us’ – but they never think to ask why.


  7. Louis Robinson says:

    Hmm. Could this be a new policy adopted from the very top” From General Lord Patton of Hong Kong himself? In which the BBC re-positions itself as a “global broadcaster”?
    Not only would this indicate a degree of self-importance unheard of so far, but it would be a dangerous move. Would the licence fee payer accept funding the international aspirations of a corporation whose aims are so grandiose? The new radio 4 slogan could be “Today Britain – tomorrow the world.” What would the Saudis make of Humphries and gang?
    But on second thoughts – its unlikely. Patton’s sensitivity to other cultures is probably just your average liberal’s (yes – he’s a lib in wet conservative clothes) who follows the rule of all liberals: whatever you do, act against your own self-interest.


    • Sir Stamford Raffles says:

      … whilst pretending you are not.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      I’ll take that as a “Yes” to question #3. Although I doubt Patton’s involvement. That’s not his job, I don’t think.


  8. George R says:

    Next, BBC Thompson’s ‘All Shall Have Prizes’ mentality can be applied to warfare.

    E.g, BBC’s Thompson:-

    ‘Right, you British, you won at El Alamein; you should let the Germans win at the Normandy Landings.’


  9. Sir Arthur Strebe-Grebling says:

    Thompson should be happy with tonight’s News at Ten. Within the first 15 minutes they’d had special articles on athlete Oscar Pistorius running last in the 4x400m relay (disabled and South African, pity he’s white otherwise they’d have led the whole news on him); and on women participants. No news in either of these items, of course, but it ups their pc rating.


  10. As I See It says:

    I have to admit, the BBC are very very good – at creating the agenda.

    You see previously I didn’t fully realise that the Olympics was all about ethnicity and gender.

    Oh… and now I’m worried that as soon as the ‘funding’ dwindles then everything will go to pot.

    Who could have given me that idea?


  11. Doyle says:

    Newsnight were running some Olympic story one night last week and for the backdrop they used Mo Farah (a Somali) and Jessica Ennis (mixed race) … they couldn’t even bring themselves to put a white man (or woman) there. They’ll do anything to further their multi-cultural agenda … and the moment white, middle class, British athletes start winning golds Thompson says they should focus on foreigners. They really are despicable cnuts.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      And the Agenda spreads across the spectrum of BBC broadcasting. Again. But remember kids, the BBC is too large and disorganized for there to be an institutional bias of any kind, there are no top-down directives on this sort of thing, etc., etc. It just keeps happening magically, over and over again.


  12. Guest Who says:
    The piece itself seems a bit OTT, but I was intrigued by the highest rated comment(s).


  13. As I See It says:

    The BBC gleefully inform me that Jessica Ennis is ‘mixed race’. Frankly, I didn’t notice. (Perhaps my attention, somewhat unpatriotically, was lingering too much on some of the other female athletes – or perhaps I’m just not in the habit of racially categorising everyone I see).

    I like Mo Farah. His winning runs on the track stirred a certain amount of pride. The BBC tell me emphatically that his gold medals are ‘a victory for multi-culturalism’.

    If I think about the racial aspect (which I assume is what they are getting at here – could be his religion? – anyway this seems to be becoming a BBC obsession). Anyway what comes to mind is the fact that Mo Farah insisted in his pride in his Team GB vest. I assume this was his answer to some left-liberal journo quizzing him about his Somali background and keen to get some kind of ‘running under two flags’ angle going. I really think his bold pro-GB stance was a bit of a curve ball for the Beeb and that to claim Mo as a victory for multi-culti is a lame fall back. Actually it is a victory for integration and Norman Tebbit (Evil Racist Old Tory) and his Cricket Test (much denegrated by the BBC).

    But don’t let logic and facts get in the way of the narrative, eh?

    BBC, once and for all, give us the news and sport and leave out the bloody stupid lefty comments!


    • Span Ows says:

      Yes, Mo was well and truly integrated before new labour and their sinister project.


    • Pah says:

      Interesting isn’t it?

      Are the BBC really saying that people born here and running under the ‘Team GB’ monika are not British somehow?

      Can’t you now be British and black?

      How interesting.


  14. George R says:

    “If you believe that Olympic glory makes a nation great, just remember the USSR”


    Read more:


  15. Pah says:

    Been away for the whole of the Olympics but sadly was unable to avoid them entirely.

    Could someone answer me a question? Does ‘Team GB’ not include Northern Ireland because last time I looked Ulster was not part of GB but of the UK?


  16. David Preiser (USA) says:

    Tim Franks on Today this morning:

    What can top 29 British gold medals? The Spice Girls reforming for one night only!

    What a national achievement. You must all be so proud.


  17. Sir Arthur Strebe-Grebling says:

    I was interested to see the bit of the Olympic closing ceremony where Eric Idle was singing ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’, surrounded by Morris dancers then nuns on roller skates, only for the stage to be taken over by ‘ethnic’ dancers. After a while, Idle – dressed all in white and accompanied by Britannia with a trident – dispatched the invaders who had tried to change the culture.
    Obviously needs some Freudian analysis but it seems to be one in the eye for Danny Boyle and the PC brigade!