On Saturday BBC Views Online’s News Ticker trumpeted:


BBC: “Labour peers visit UK teacher Gillian Gibbons in custody in Sudan” – Doh!

As you can see, the two peers (and there were only two) on the diplomatic mission seeking Gillian Gibbons release from Sudanese ‘justice’, are the Labour peer Lord Ahmed and the Conservative peer, Baroness Warsi, yet for some reason, our Beeboid friends natural assumption is that both are Labour peers. Why is that?

This lazy assumption on the part of the Beeboids responsible smacks of the patronising leftie presumption that Muslim must equal Labour – there can be no other explanation for cocking up such a basic and easily checkable fact – but did the Beeboids bother? (And would anyone who is interested in current affairs, let alone a supposedly professional BBC journalist, really not know that Baroness Warsi is a Conservative?). No, they got straight on with bigging up the supposedly Labour credentials of the two peers in the delegation.

This stupidity wasn’t limited to BBC Views Online – according to Biased BBC readers it also featured in reports on Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live on Saturday afternoon… surely someone at the BBC should have noticed this huge smacking error before such nonsense made it on air?

General BBC-related comment thread:

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Following up on the discussion here at Biased BBC

about Adam Mynott’s shoddy report and two-way on the BBC Six O’Clock News, here’s a transcript of what was said, and video of the start of the Six, complete with textual annotations:


Adam Mynott: “Gillian Gibbons insensitivity… a good natured

protest… smiling faces… almost theatrical…” – Yeah, right.

Sian: Good evening, and welcome to the Six O’Clock News. The British teacher, Gillian Gibbons, imprisoned in Sudan for letting her children call a teddy bear Mohammed, has been moved to another jail for her own safety, that’s according to her lawyer. Around a thousand protestors have been demonstrating against her fifteen-day sentence, calling it too lenient. Some have even said she should be executed.

Ben: Tonight there is a glimmer of hope for Gillian Gibbons, the Labour peer, Lord Ahmed, is on his way to Sudan to try to press for her early release. He’s leading a private delegation, which is expected to meet the Sudanese president. Our correspondent Adam Mynott, is in Khartoum for us tonight, Adam…

Adam: Ben, yes, Gillian Gibbons first day serving her sentence for insulting islam by allowing her school children to name a teddy bear islam, eh, to name a teddy bear Mohammed, I beg your pardon, er, has been, er, a day of, er, silence from the Sudanese authorities here and the British, but a day of noise and anger on the streets of Khartoum.

Fluffed lines Adam? That’s the trouble with ‘going live! We then cut to Adam’s filmed report:

Adam: Insults to islam in Sudan cannot go unpunished and unprotested, and hundreds poured out of Friday prayers in Khartoum to vent their anger on the streets.

Apoplectic man: We cannot accept it from anybody. If they can do it in Europe, they cannot do it here in Sudan.

Adam: But this was, for the most part, a good natured protest.

Good natured? What was all that angry ranting and waving of machetes and swords we saw about then?

Banners were waved and sticks shaken, but the smiling faces showed this was not a furious outpouring of anger.

Emphasis from the original. Smiling faces? Not Angry? What about those swords and machetes Adam? What about the angry shouting and mob tension we saw? You were there, weren’t you?

However, there’s no question that some had been offended by Gillian Gibbons insensitivity

Gillian Gibbons insensitivity? How about ‘perceived insensitivity’? Or, more accurately, ‘islamic hyper sensitivity’?

Angry youth: Our prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, we love him very much, and we have a big, uh, great red line in talking about him…

Red lines? An interesting choice of idiom. I wonder where he picked that up.

Adam: And she crossed the red line?

Ah, could’ve been from Adam…

Angry youth: Yes, yes.

Adam: Most people in Khartoum were not up in arms. The court case has not received much media coverage, many had heard little of it, and some Sudanese even felt the prosecution of the 54-year old school teacher had been an over reaction.

Considerable diplomatic pressure is still being applied by Britain on the Sudanese government here in Khartoum, and I understand that the British authorities feel that there is still room for a compromise where Gillian Gibbons can be released ahead of serving her full fifteen day sentence.

The street protest lasted a full two hours, and it dissolved as quickly as it had started. It had the look of an orchestrated, almost theatrical event, as the streets echoed to the sounds of public demonstration [Audio of angry ranting inset]

A theatrical event, ‘almost’ – with that ‘almost’ covering a multitude of spins.

Adam: Gillian Gibbons began her term in an overcrowded women’s jail in the capital, but it’s understood she’s now been moved to another location.

We then cut back to Adam, live:

Adam: And we understand, according to sources here, that she was moved for her own safety, and we’ve also heard tonight that diplomatic pressure has been ratcheted up a notch with the news that Lord Ahmed is leading a parliamentary delegation to Britain, which has set off. Back to you Ben in London.

Ben: Okay Adam, many thanks.

Curiously, the BBC Ten O’Clock News report of the same past events took a quite different line. Mynott’s report was thoroughly remixed, complete with previously unseen footage and audio and the lame Mynott two-way was dispensed with, in favour of a more rigourous analysis from Frank Gardner in the studio, revealing along the way that Lord Ahmed’s group also includes Baroness Warsi, the Conservative peer – an interesting fact entirely omitted from the Six. Here’s a clip of the relevant part of the Ten O’Clock News:


Remixed: an improved report of the same events. Most curious.

General BBC-related comment thread:

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Dumber BBC! On Thursday, BBC Newsnight reported

that the “Dow Jones was substantially down amidst more credit crunch fears”, with a market fall of 210 points – all nonsense of course: the financial markets in the US were closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving Day, with the figure reported being Wednesday’s close.

On Friday afternoon, Peter Barron, Editor of Newsnight, wrote a rather contrite apology on the BBC Editors Blog, concluding:

I’m sorry and I’m determined this won’t happen again.

A couple of years ago we thought one way of avoiding problems with the markets was to abolish the spot altogether, but the outrage then means we won’t try that again. Instead, we have inserted a note in the markets page which will read for ever more:


Fast forward to Friday night’s programme, presented by Emily Weightless, sorry, Maitlis, and here, complete and unabridged, was Newsnight’s markets report for Friday:

Take you to a quick look at the markets, at the end of the week, the FTSE 100 share index closed up, sadly we can’t show the exact figures, um, holiday season as you know in the US, so the Dow Jones remains unchanged. Against the Euro, the currencies here, the pound up, against the dollar the pound was down. You’ll just have to take my word for it. We’ll get you some figures by Monday.

Evidently Peter’s determination wasn’t sufficient to keep Mr. (or Ms.) Cockup from making a second appearance! Leaving aside the generally slapdash and indifferent nature of the summary (“You’ll just have to take my word for it. We’ll get you some figures by Monday.”), Wall Street was trading on Friday, following the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. Doh!

Still, at least Peter has had the courtesy to apologise to tellytaxpayers for the first of these visits from Mr. Cockup, which is more than can be said for BBC Radio News, guilty of the same mistake on Thursday night.

Update (2.50pm): Peter Barron has spoken again on the BBC Editors Blog:

I despair! We are having a complete revision of the way we collect and check the markets information.

Much mirth being had by Guido and co. too!

Thank you to Biased BBC reader David S. and others for the tip.

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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.

Dumb BBC:

Biased BBC reader John Gentle comments:

Thursday’s BBC Newsnight has just informed its viewers that the FTSE was up 80 odd points, but the Dow was down 210 points. That’s funny, it was down 210 points on Wednesday as well. And closed Thursday for the start of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Oh dear. I can imagine a Beeboid flunky checking the stats and not noticing this, but for it to get all the way to being on air is surprising (or at least would be, if we didn’t know the BBC so well).

Update: Will reports that Radio 4’s midnight news was the same. Doh!

Update: Bryan points out that Peter Barron, Editor of Newsnight, has apologised for this mistake, writing:

Our economics editor Stephanie Flanders was mortified – “unforgivable and embarrassing” was her verdict. This is, I am ashamed to say, not the first time we have made such a mistake. The markets information is almost always the last thing we do on Newsnight and in the scramble of a particularly lively programme last night we neglected to notice that the US markets were shut and blithely reported the day before’s figure. I’m sorry and I’m determined this won’t happen again.

Kudos to Peter for fessing up and taking steps to avoid a repeat, though I can’t help thinking that it’d be more reliable to look up American public holidays a year or two ahead and then annotate the Newsnight diary accordingly, rather than expect a flunky to check daily for something that only happens once in a while.

No news yet from Radio 4 re. their boo-boo over the market data.

General BBC-related comment thread:

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Back in August, Wednesday August the 8th, at 12:50pm to be precise

, the third biggest story in the world for UK tellytaxpayers, according to BBC Views Online, was Channel 4 accused of ‘distortion’.


The third most important story in the world on 08AUG2007?

The story first appeared, according to Newssniffer, at 10.50am, with the headline No charges over mosque programme, becoming Channel 4 accused of ‘distortion and C4 ‘distorted’ mosque programme as it went through the BBC Views Online spin cycle, making it to the third most important story position at lunchtime, remaining on the Views Online front page in one form or another until after 7am the next morning.

What is strange is the enthusiasm and high priority BBC Views Online gave this story – they didn’t, for instance, report on the high-profile Undercover Mosque programme at all when it was first broadcasttoo busy, not enough space, not important enough: all the usual BBC flannel for avoiding covering news that Beeboids don’t want to report.

And yet, when a politically correct bunch of West Midlands plods, abetted by the Can’t Prosecute Service, stick their oar in, without, it should be noted, any complaints from the public, BBC Views Online rushed to tell the world all about it with great fanfare and import, complete with lengthy quotes of shock, innocence and hurt feelings from those who were condemned out of their own mouths on the undercover film.

In the meantime, Private Eye (see Biased BBC here) and BBC Newsnight have amply demonstrated just what a crock of the proverbial the criticism of Undercover Mosque was.

Yesterday, BBC Views Online did a reasonable job of reporting Mosque programme claims rejected, but here’s another strange thing, this news wasn’t important enough to merit the BBC Views Online front page treatment. No, it was reported for a while on the Entertainment page, way down at the bottom, in the More from Entertainment, TV and Radio section – not exactly setting the record straight after Views Online’s silence of January and the front page fanfare of August!

Kevin Sutcliffe, Channel 4’s deputy head of news and current affairs said that the actions of West Midlands Police:

gave legitimacy to people preaching a message of hate to British citizens… and damaged the reputations of those involved in producing and broadcasting the programme

Given BBC Views Online’s slanted coverage of the Undercover Mosque story from the beginning I suspect that WMP aren’t alone in giving “legitimacy to people preaching a message of hate to British citizens”.

P.S.: An anonymous wag drew attention yesterday to what one Beeboid, a certain ‘John Reith’, said back in August:

Given the ringing endorsement ‘Undercover Mosques’ received on this blog and how many contributors chided the BBC for not having made the programme themselves, I’d be interested to know what you’ve got to say now that it has emerged that parts of the film are said by the authorities to be about as reliable as an RDF showreel.

Presumably this isn’t one of those cases then where those involved in the real business of broadcast journalism (making TV and radio) get a bit narked about being judged on the basis of small but significant shortcomings of the News Website then!

Addendum: David Henshaw, executive producer of Undercover Mosque asks Why did police want to censor me?:

Context? No one from the West Midlands Police, the CPS or Green Lane Mosque has yet given us the correct context for the notion that women are born deficient, that homosexuals should be thrown off a mountain or that young girls who refuse to wear the hijab should be hit.

So what was the police’s intervention about? Why did the police and the CPS feel entitled to act as television critics and, in effect, as potential censors of what we could watch? Clues to the motive, I think, lie in the slightly sinister phrase “community cohesion”.

Anil Patani, the Assistant Chief Constable who reported the programme to Ofcom, is in charge of “cohesion” in the West Midlands force. He said he was worried that those featured in the programme “had been misrepresented”.

His chief was worried that our alleged “distorted editing” would create an unfair perception of sections of the Muslim community in the West Midlands. Feelings of public reassurance and safety would be undermined. (The feelings of gays and women, apparently, were not so high on the agenda.)

Thank you to Biased BBC reader Lurker in a Burqua for the link.