Writing for irreverent techie news site The Register

, James Woudhuysen, Professor of Forecasting and Innovation at De Montfort University, asks What’s Auntie for, exactly?

Getting into his stride on the second page, the Prof. writes:


  • Science ran a piece on how changes to the stratosphere will affect surface climate. It concluded [PDF] that predicting the dynamics was “a substantial task”, and one not yet undertaken by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • Nature had an essay on the dynamics of ocean mixing, which in the long term could offset slowing of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation brought about by more rain and more melting at the North Pole. It argued that “much remains to be discovered” [PDF – subscription required].
  • The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published on the “irreducible” imprecision of computer models of atmosphere and oceans.

Each of these uncertainties has a texture as chocolatey as the BBC Trust’s beloved Wagon Wheel. Yet the BBC insists on the old dry Seesaw approach. It repeatedly puts reporters in front of fast-dripping glaciers or spreading deserts and gets them to express their personal shock, awe, loss, and disgust. Then, back in the studio, a gnarled “sceptic” may occasionally be wheeled on to show that the Beeb still gives a voice to Creatures from Another Planet.

What we need from the BBC is leadership, and – as far as is possible – dispassionate enquiry, objective facts, and dispassionate presentation of those facts. Instead, we get dumbed-down moral absolutes, far-out footage, and a sprinkling of “balance”. Nobody at the BBC says this is the strategy; but BBC News, in particular, applies it with the utmost vigour.

Do read the rest, and the comments too. As Biased BBC reader 1327, who spotted the Reg article says, it is “interesting (and heartening) that the bread and butter topics of this blog now seem to becoming mainstream”. Beeboids take note.

BBC Views Online’s Entertainment

page trumpets Does Islam have a sense of humour? – a happy story, illustrated with a glossy library picture of burka clad girls (with one peeking out to smile at the camera), where:

Keen comedy fan Tosifa Mustafa nails a widely-held stereotype, before dismissing it in the same breath. It’s “just not the case,” she says.

Protests over cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad combined with images of Muslims criticising frivolous aspects of Western culture have left the impression for some that Islam and comedy are incompatible.

And as with most stereotypes, there is a kernel of truth. In some Islamic societies entertainment – music, film and comedy – are forbidden.

Gotta love the understatement and juxtaposition of the last two paragraphs. “Protests over cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad” is just a bit milder than the reality, as BBC Views Online well knows. Murderous threats on the streets of London, murder, death threats, people in hiding, uncontained anger and aggression and widespread destruction of property just about covers it – just a bit more than the “kernel of truth” our fearless Views Online Beeboids think they can get away with…

Update: Biased BBC reader Pounce points out that the BBC have somehow managed to miss out some relevant background to their cheery report on the muslim comedians of the Allah Made Me Funny show: University ban on Muslim comedy attacked:

MUSLIM comedians have been banned from performing at a Scottish university in a move described as “ridiculous and undemocratic”.

Glasgow Caledonian University backed out of hosting Allah Made Me Funny: The Official Muslim Comedy Tour this month after complaints from its Muslim students’ association…

A spokeswoman for Glasgow Caledonian University said: “The university’s responsibility is to listen to and respect the views of all students on campus.

“When the Muslim Students’ Association expressed reservations about the show, it was decided the booking would not go ahead.”

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.

For crying out loud, Now BBC fakes sound of babies crying on quintuplet film


Sky and ITN ran clips of the footage without the audio, the BBC’s footage contains the sound of children crying, even though the babies have respirators in their mouths.

A spokeswoman for the Oxford hospital said: “There was no audio on our clip.”

“The BBC must have put it over.”

“I thought they weren’t supposed to do things like that.”

A BBC spokesman said the corporation should have left the footage alone.

He said: “We received the film without sound and on reflection we should have kept it that way.”

The sound of babies crying has now been removed from the story for its viewing on the Six O’Clock News.

This latest demonstration of the BBC’s attachment to manufacturing ‘the truth’, fake but accurate style, was briefly mentioned at the end of last night’s Newsnight, though wasn’t newsworthy enough to rate a mention, nor even an apology on the BBC’s Six or Ten O’Clock news broadcasts. Strange that. Would anyone care to bet on the likelihood of an apology on today’s One O’Clock news broadcast? Anyone?

Thank you to Biased BBC reader Bernard W. for the link.

John A, formerly of the respected Climate Audit blog

, has submitted comments to the BBC in response to their current, doubtless passing, interest of sorts, in the arguments against reducing Western Civilization to subsistence farming as a means to avoid the fiery fate predicted by legions of global warming doom mongers.

Just in case his comments, for some predictable reason, don’t make it past the BBC’s censors, he’s posted them on his blog, BBC Black Propaganda #1 and BBC Black Propaganda #2 – interesting rebuttals worth a read.

Update (4pm): Coming up on 24 hours ago I submitted a comment in response to Steve Herrman, Editor of the BBC News website, and his post on the BBC Editors Blog, Climate Sceptics, yesterday. Lots of comments have appeared since then, but for some strange reason, mine, a perfectly reasonable, germane and on-topic comment, hasn’t. This is what I said:

Jeremy Paxman summed up the BBC approach quite succinctly:

“People who know a lot more than I do may be right when they claim that [global warming] is the consequence of our own behaviour. I assume that this is why the BBC’s coverage of the issue abandoned the pretence of impartiality long ago”,
Jeremy Paxman, Media Guardian, January 31st, 2007.

Scary stuff indeed! Perhaps Mr. Herrman or one of his minions would care to explain why this comment isn’t fit for publication on the BBC Editors Blog.

Keen on filing Freedom of Information requests and complaining, rightly, when public bodies prevaricate

, the BBC is getting a reputation of its own for prevaricating over Freedom of Information requests to the BBC by and on behalf of the tellytaxpaying public.

Not content with its infamy (and sheer hypocrisy) for spending hundreds of thousands of tellytaxpayer pounds on legal action to withhold the Balen Report from the scrutiny of the public who paid for it, the BBC’s now doing its utmost to cover up whether or not its presenters are being paid for their work on Children in Need, the BBC’s annual charity telethon.

The Belfast Telegraph reports, Do they get paid for Pudsey?, that:

The corporation was forced to disclose within the past year that Sir Terry Wogan received an “honorarium” for anchoring the network-wide sections of the annual charity extravanganza.

But it has turned down a similar Freedom of Information (FoI) request from this newspaper relating to presenters on the Northern Ireland wing of the show.

Read the rest of the article for more details on the BBC’s machinations. Hat tip to Tony Sharp for posting Accountability BBC style on his blog, The Waendal Journal.

Oh dear. Another day, another BBC Blue Peter scandal!

According to the Daily Mail, Blue Peter admit ‘competition winners’ were child actors:

In the latest deception, children were asked to apply to the Blue Peter website for an opportunity to go to the show’s studios and interview Dead Ringers impersonator John Culshaw.

Six children were chosen, but after the show it emerged two had been picked from a local drama group to liven up the slot.

Each child was asked to come up with a question and joke with John Culshaw as he impersonated a number of celebrities.

It is understood that the show’s producers enlisted the help of the actors to make sure the item went according to plan.

“It would have been preferable not to have given viewers the impression that all the children in the item had contacted the programme through the website.”

“In recent months we’ve taken a number of measures to ensure we get these things completely right, including the introduction of special training, so that viewers can continue to have complete confidence in the programme.”

That last paragraph is revealing – it doesn’t say much for the BBC and its staff that they need to ‘take a number of measures’ and introduce ‘special training’ to ensure basic honesty when it comes to something as straightforward as not deceiving their viewers.

This story has also been covered by The Times, Blue Peter had child actors pose as viewers, The Telegraph, Blue Peter in new fake scandal over ‘viewers’ and the Grauniad, Blue Peter in third TV fakery row. Curiously, BBC Views Online went with the BBC’s defence of itself up front, Blue Peter plays down ‘fake’ row, whilst the story wasn’t mentioned at all on the BBC Ten O’Clock News, nor in what I saw of the One O’Clock or Six O’Clock News programmes.

After the first Blue Peter fakery incident, where an alleged phone line problem led to a visiting child posing as a competition winner, Mark Thompson blamed blind panic on the studio floor. That defence isn’t even plausible for the subsequent rigging of the vote to name a Blue Peter cat, nor this latest Blue Peter deception. Clearly there is something else at work other than ‘blind panic’.

Earlier this year the BBC ordered its staff to come clean about any other deceptions that they were aware of. In July the BBC claimed they had audited over a million hours of output going back to January 2005 and had uncovered six further instances of dishonesty, with the implication that six instances of cheating out of a million hours wasn’t too bad.

The reality is that the BBC’s ‘audit’ relied on the honesty of BBC staff to come forward and admit their dishonesty – hardly the most rigorous of investigatory techniques. The latest Blue Peter deception was revealed not by the BBC, but by one of the BBC’s child actors spilling the beans while chatting with one of the genuine competition winners. So much for the effectiveness of the BBC’s audit.

According to the Telegraph report:

Sources close to the programme said the child actors were contacted because the show had simply not received enough interesting questions from viewers.

…which, if true, sounds strange – that out of thousands of competition entries the BBC could find only four that were capable of being used on the show. Sufficiently strange that, without any further details about who won the competition and who the child actors were, would it be too much of a stretch to wonder if the real reason for selecting the fake competition winners was some kind of misguided attempt to ensure the winning group reflected the BBC’s idea of vibrant multicultural Britain? Call me a cynic, but given the political correctness of the BBC we all know and love, that wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

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.

In recording the errors and follies of the BBC we often touch upon the TV licence

, the BBC’s compulsory tellytax on every television owning household in the UK – sometimes to mock all the wonderful things that are possible because of, as the BBC boasts, “the unique way the BBC is funded”, at others to note, for instance, the unique way the BBC’s tellytax is collected by BBC bootboys.

This often leads to interesting discussions about both the theory and the practice of the BBC’s mass intimidation approach to customer relations, with their fleet of TV detector vans that apparently roam the land, supposedly hunting down unlicensed televisions. Here, courtesy of heartandhumour on Youtube, is a classic piece of 1970’s BBC TV detector van propaganda:


The BBC’s coming to get you, yes, you, at no. 5, in the front room…

Scary stuff indeed! Those of a nervous dispostion can seek comfort and support over at Jonathan Miller’s TV licence resistance forum.

Other gems from the same source include Wish I’d brought me brolly, Prince the talking dog from That’s Life and, for viewers in Wales, Tufty & Bobby crossing the road in Welsh.

Charlie Beckett, Director of POLIS

, “a joint initiative from LSE and the London College of Communication aimed at working journalists, people in public life and students in the UK and around the world”, invites everyone to a public debate tomorrow evening:

The Future of Impartiality:

Is the Public Service Ethos Doomed?

Thursday November 8th, 2007, 6.30-8pm

New Theatre, East Building,

London School of Economics,

Houghton Street, WC2A 2AE

The speakers will be Emily Bell of The Guardian, Evan Davies, the BBC’s Economics Editor, and Richard D. North, author of Scrap the BBC!* The debate will be chaired by Elinor Goodman, former political editor of Channel 4 News.

More details are available on the event page. See also: travel information, maps & directions and finding your way around LSE.

* Available in hardback direct from the publishers, The Social Affairs Unit, for a bargain £4.00 plus £2.75 postage via Amazon Marketplace (look for seller omm-sau).