Posts Tagged ‘Fran Unsworth’

BBC Denies Political Bias and that Politicians’ Views Are Their Own

November 5, 2019

Ah, the allegations that the Tories are massively biased in favour of the Tories are clearly starting to upset the Beeb. The Corporation’s Director of News, Fran Unsworth, has appeared in the pages of today’s I newspaper for Tuesday, 5th November 2019, denying that the Beeb is biased and saying that allowing politicians to give their views is not platforming them. The I’s article by Richard Vaughan, ‘Political views are not our own, BBC tells viewers’, which reports her comments runs

The BBC news director has been forced to remind audiences that interviewing politicians does not mean the corporation endorses their political opinions.

Fran Unsworth told viewers that “interviewing is not platforming” and said that audiences will have their beliefs challenged as the country prepares for five weeks of generation election campaigning.

Journalists have been regularly booed and jeered at political events by audiences objecting to the line of questioning of a political leader.

Last week, an audience member at the launch of Labour’s election campaign catcalled the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, blaming her for the party’s failure to win a majority in the 2017 election.

When Ms Kuenssberg pointed out Jeremy Corbyn did not secure enough votes to gain a majority in 2017, an audience member shouted, “No thanks to you, Laura.”

During the Conservatives leadership campaign Sky’s political editor Beth Rigby was subjected to booing by Tory activists for asking Boris Johnson a question.

Ms Unsworth told audiences to expect a range of political opinions to be given air time by the BBC. She reiterated that airing political opinions is not endorsing them, and the BBC will not seek to create a false balance in its general election reporting.

She wrote: “We have one simple priority over the next few weeks – our audiences. They have a wide range of views, and political allegiances, and we are here to serve all of them, wherever they live, whatever they think, and however they choose to vote.

“We do not support ‘false balance’. There are facts and there are judgments to be made. And we will make them where that is appropriate.”

Ms Unsworth has cited Ofcom research indicating that audiences tended to shy away from spaces or programmes in which their opinions will be challenged.

Just who does Unsworth and the Beeb think they’re kidding? 

There is an abundance of evidence that the Beeb is extremely biased against Labour. I’ve blogged before about how the media monitoring units at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cardiff universities found that the Beeb was far more likely to talk to Conservative politicians and spokesmen for the City about politics and the economy than Labour politicians and trade unionists. And Barry and Saville Kushner, the authors of  Who Needs the Cuts? attacking austerity, state that the Beeb and the media generally far prefers talking to Tories and other politicians and economists, who support the wretched Tory policy. They won’t have on trade unionists or politicians that oppose them. When these voices do appear, they are shouted down or rapidly cut short in what they have to say. The Beeb is very definitely platforming the Tories. Only the other day I reblogged a graphic from EL4JC showing just how biased the Tories were in their selection of guests for their news and politics panels. These are mostly Tory, but Centrist politicians are also included more than the Left. To deny that this is not platforming the Tories is ridiculous.

And then there’s the issue of the bias of the interviewers. Like regarding the anti-Semitism smears. In fact, Labour is the party with the least anti-Semites within it, as I’ve said. The witch hunt to root out anti-Semitism isn’t about Jew hatred at all. It’s a cynical ploy by the Blairites to purge the party of Corbyn’s supporters, which they’ve tried to do on risible, trumped up charges. As they’ve done to people like Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni, Marc Wadsworth and Mike. The right-wing Zionists hate Corbyn and his supporters because they criticise Israel for its brutal treatment of the Palestinians. The Tories and the political and media establishment, on the other hand, are simply using the accusations as a useful tool to smear Labour, because they’re really afraid of a government that will overturn Thatcherism and actually help ordinary working people. Which naturally include Jews.

Hence whenever a Labour politician is interviewed, as John McDonnell was on Sunday, there are questions about the anti-Semitism issue. But the Tories have a higher level of anti-Semitism in the ranks, and a vicious strain of Islamophobia. But this is certainly not subjected to the same scrutiny.

And then there’s the insulting treatment they give ordinary Labour politicians, and the stunts they pull for the benefit of the right. Like the mass resignation of Blairite Labour MPs, which was announced on the Andrew Marr show, appears to have been planned with the show’s producer. Fiona Bruce has disgraced Question Time by gaslighting Diane Abbott and falsely claiming that the Leave campaign did not break electoral law. And when she did ask a tough question of a Conservative panelist, she tried to soothe it all over by telling him she was ‘just teasing’. And so on ad nauseam.

Unsworth’s comments about Ofcom don’t cut any ice either. Not when the Beeb has received a massive number of complaints about the flagrant bias of their Panorama documentary about anti-Semitism in the Labour party. Mike’s posted an extensive critique of this journalistic travesty, as have very many other left-wing blogs. And a complaint has been made to Ofcom or the relevant authorities. There’s even a documentary being made and about to be released about the programme’s bias.

Unsworth is, I believe, simply lying through her teeth when she claims that the Beeb is not biased. It is, and provably so. And she insults us by telling us that isn’t. But the fact that she has had to try to defend and rebut the accusations show how they’re biting.

Good. Let’s continue until every last shred of credibility the Beeb has for its news reporting is gone and the Corporation is forced to admit its bias and correct it.

If that’s possible.

Andrew Neil’s ‘This Week’ BBC Show Axed

February 18, 2019

Last week was not a good one for Andrew Neil, the presenter of the Beeb’s politics shows ‘This Week’ and ‘The Daily Politics’. It was reported on ITV News on Friday that his show, ‘This Week’, was being axed. The article about it in this weekend’s I for 16-17th February 2019, by Keiran Southern on page 16, entitled, ”This Week’ ends as Neil quits his late-night show’ read

The BBC’s long-running politics show This Week is to end after presenter Andrew Neil announced he was stepping down.

The BBC1 show, which airs on Thursdays after Question Time, will be taken off air this summer when its current series ends, the corporation said.

Neil has fronted the show since it began in 2003 and regular guests include the former Tory MP, Michael Portillo, and Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott.

Fran Unsworth, BBC’s director of news, said: “We couldn’t imagine This Week without the inimitable Andrew Neil, one of Britain’s best political interviewers. After 16 years, Andrew is bowing out of late-night presenting on the show, at the top of his game.”

Neil will continue to present Politics Live on Thursdays, Ms Unsworth added, and the BBC wants to keep the 69-7ear-old “at the heart” of its political coverage.

This Week is known for its informal look at politics, while Ms Abbott and Mr Portillo formed an unlikely TV double act, despite being on opposite sides of the political divide.

The announcement comes amid uncertainty surrounding the BBC’s news output – it is under pressure to cut £80m from its budgets and to attract younger audiences.

Earlier this week, BBC journalists wrote to the broadcaster’s director-general to oppose the decision to shorten its News At Ten programme after it emerged it would be cut by 10 minutes to make way for youth programming and Question Time.

Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen and other foreign correspondents have asked Lord Tony Hall to reconsider.

Last year, Sunday Politics, hosted by Sarah Smith, was axed and replaced by Politics Live, which airs Monday to Friday.

Other people, who are sick to death of the Beeb’s right-wing Tory bias, including Andrew Neil, are actually quite delighted and amused. The good fellow at Crewe, who does the Zelo Street blog, posted a piece on it on Friday, whose title said it all ‘Andrew Neil Nearly Out the Door’. He noted that despite Hall defending Neil over his ‘crazy cat woman’ remark to the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr, the cancellation of one of Neil’s vehicles shows that the comment and the outrage it sparked has had an effect.

The deputy political editor of the Heil on Sunday, Harry Cole, was furious, tweeting

“A bloody outrage. Will only give succour to Corbynistas and sad sacks like Jukes and Carole who are modern equivalent of green ink dickheads who pester management. Since when did boss class start listening to loons before the viewers? Bring back #ThisWeek and make @afneil DG”. Which brought forth the reply from Peter Jukes

Harry Cole defending Andrew Neil, and desperately trying not to look like a member of the boss class.

Rather more damaging to Brillo and his supposed impartiality was another photo Carold Cadwalladr unearthed, showing Neil in the company of the former Ulster Unionist MP, David Burnside, who was formerly the PR man to Cambridge Analytica shareholder, Tchenguiz, who was in his turn the publicity man for Dmitryo Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch wanted by the FBI. And Nigel Farage, now desperately trying to claw his way back into British politics with his wretched Brexit Party.

Zelo Street also noted that this was in addition to the discomfort Neil was bringing the Beeb with his continued association with the Spectator, now increasingly Alt Right, which specializes in climate change denial, pro-Brexit propaganda, and vicious islamophobia from pundits like Douglas Murray. As well as the snobbery and elitism of James Delingpole and anti-Semitism and Fascist propaganda from their other long-running contributor, Taki. Who a few weeks ago embarrassed the magazine by praising the Greek neo-Nazi group, Golden Dawn, as just ‘patriotic Greeks’, who were just a bit rough around the edges. Like when one of them murdered left-wing journalist, perhaps, or when the attack and demolish market stalls belonging to illegal immigrants and attack and beat asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East.

The Zelo Street article concluded

In any case, Andrew Neil should be grateful that he’s been allowed more or less free rein to reinvent himself as a broadcast journalist after falling out with Rupert Murdoch. Now he’s got more dosh than he knows what to do with, it’s time to yield to youth.

He’s at the top of his game? Good. Then he may be remembered well. Time to go.

See: http://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/02/brillo-almost-out-of-bbc-door.html

Unsworth’s cancellation of his show, rather than handing it over to someone else to present, also says something about the show’s audience. It’s viewers are clearly people, who want it to be helmed by an older White man, whose backgrounds is very much in establishment, centre-right journalism: Neil was editor of the Sunday Times and The Economist. And Zelo Street has quoted other journos at the Spectator that he is another Thatcher cultist, who wishes Maggie was still around running the country. Presumably it’s the same kind of audience that avidly supports John Humphries on Radio 4’s Today programme, another massively overpaid, right-wing White man of mature years. Which would indicate that the audience for these two is also largely made up of right-wing, very establishment White men who are middle-aged to elderly.

It seems to me that Neil’s show needn’t be axed, but could easily be handed over to someone else, someone younger, who was rather more impartial, or at least less publicly biased. It struck me that the team on the Beeb’s breakfast news could probably do it, Charlie Stayt, Naga Manchetti and Louis Minchin. And the rise of the new left-wing media on the internet has show what very incisive minds there are well outside of the establishment media. Like Novara Media’s Ash Sarkar, and The Canary’s Kerry-Ann Mendoza and Steve Topple. They’re all young, Sarkar and Mendoza are both BAME, while Topple definitely had a countercultural appearance with his Mohican coiffure. But they’re all very shrewd reports, who keenly analysed and dissected the news. And their example shows that out there is a vast pool of talent, which is currently being ignored by the current media political establishment.

Of course the Beeb’s refusal to appoint someone else to present the show may also be partly based from their experience of what happened to Newsnight after Paxo left: its audience collapsed. But rather than cut back on current news reportage and analysis altogether, the Beeb could actually launch a replacement instead, presented by younger people and aimed at younger people. You know, all the millennials and younger, who are trying to make their voices heard in a political climate dominated by the old and middle-aged. The people a genuinely functioning democracy needs to get involved and interested in political debate.

But I’m sure this would be a step too far for the Beeb. You’d have the establishment media whining that the Corporation was dumbing down, that it was ‘Yoof TV’ after the various tasteless disasters in youth programming spawned in the 1990s by Janet Street-Porter and others of her ilk. As well as the more serious fact that the establishment is absolutely terrified of millennials and what the Victorians used to refer to as ‘the rising generation’ because they’re generally more left-wing than their elders in the political establishment. You know, all those pesky kids in America and Britain, who are backing Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn against the corporatists in the Democrat Party, Trump and the Republicans, and Tweezer, the Tories and the Blairites over here. Young people, who want socialism rather than the tired, destructive Neoliberalism of the past forty years.

But the political, media and industrial establishment is absolutely petrified of them and their views. They don’t want them to be heard. And so they’d rather axe one of Neil’s shows than hand it over to them. Which shows how paralyzed the Beeb is in trying to hang on to its aging, establishment audience at the expense of trying to bring on board young, and potentially radical talent.

BBC Director of News Warns Young Turning Away from Beeb

June 18, 2018

Last Friday, 15th June 2018, the I newspaper carried an article reporting a warning about the Beeb’s future given by Fran Unsworth, the Corporation’s Director of News and Current Affairs, at the Women on Air conference. Young people are increasingly turning away from the Beeb, and if this continues, it will threaten the Beeb’s future as it no longer has an audience.

The article, under the title, Youth Exodus from News ‘Threatening BBC’s Survival stated

The BBC’s existence is under threat if it cannot encourage more younger viewers to watch its news services, a senior executive warned.

Fran Unsworth, BBC director of news and current affairs, said the corporation was playing a “deadly serious” version of The Generation Game. She told the Women On Air conference: “The most significant challenge facing the BBC is how we reach younger audiences. Less and less are under 35. Our very existence might be called into question.”

Recent BBC figures showed that 16-24 year-old spend more time watching Netflix in a week than with all of BBC TV, including the BBC iPlayer. The sizes of audiences tuning in for scheduled news bulletins is declining rapidly, the Digital News Report, published yesterday, found. (P. 9)

The remainder of the article dealt with the issue of getting more female experts on television news. Unsworth stated this was right, but they couldn’t just sack people.

Okay, I’m not the best person to explain why young people under 35 aren’t watching the Beeb, as it’s well over a decade since I was that age. I can’t really talk about changes in entertainment tastes, as I don’t share many of them. Or at least, I’m not interested in some of the programmes that excite the reviewers in the media, like the various TV dramas about detectives hunting down deranged serial killers, and uncovering a web of lies and corruption. Or equally tense dramas about child abuse. My taste in detective television basically extended to Columbo and Van Der Valk, when he was last on back in the 1990s.

But I can make a good guess why young – and older – people aren’t tuning into BBC news. And it’s because of the Beeb’s appalling pro-Tory bias. Young people are the section of the British public in which support for Jeremy Corbyn is strongest. And the Beeb’s coverage of Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour party has been overwhelmingly, and very blatantly biased. And it’s become very, very obvious. The Corporation no longer has the same strong position as Britain’s trusted news broadcaster it once had. People are able to get their news now from a wider variety of sources through the internet, as well as the Corporation’s competitors on the commercial channels. And these news shows, such as RT, Democracy Now, Telesur English, Al-Jazeera, and in America The Young Turks, Secular Talk, Sam Seder’s Majority Report, the David Pakman Show and so, present a very different picture of what’s going on in the world. While the Beeb runs the establishment propaganda that our invasions and interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere are all for humanitarian reasons, these show how the real motivation is simply western corporate imperialism. They will also show just how the Israeli state is oppressing and viciously persecuting the Palestinians, and how the US – and Britain- has sponsored coups in Latin America, Iran and elsewhere, which have overthrown liberal and socialist regimes and installed Fascist dictators. All to protect US and British corporate interests, of course.

The Beeb, however, is very much part of the establishment, and its broadcasting is very much aimed at the corporate and political elite on the one hand, where it reflects their interests and concerns, and on the other aimed at getting the rest of us to accept it. There isn’t anything particularly unique about this. The Corporation’s bias against Labour is shared by the rest of the lamestream media and press. But they’re also increasingly under pressure from these alternative news sources.

If the Beeb really wants to get young people, and a large part of the older generation, back watching the news, then they should change their bias and start reporting Corbyn and the Labour party objectively and truthfully, as well as stop repeating flag-waving establishment propaganda about the wars in the Middle East. But this would be too radical a change, I fear. It would mean clearing out all the various Tories in the Beeb’s news teams, like Laura Kuenssberg and Nick Robinson, or telling them to do their job properly. And so the Beeb is stuck as the voice of a right-wing, Tory, imperialist establishment, while more and more people take their news from elsewhere.