BBC local Midland news programme prefixing ‘good news’ investment stories with the phrase ‘Despite the threat of Brexit’.
Initial complaint was simply fobbed off, raising it again, to ‘Stage 1’ resulted in the following, begrudging admission of ‘accidental bias’…
Dear Mr Durnell
Many thanks for getting back in touch about BBC One’s ‘Midlands Today’ bulletin broadcast on 3 October, and we apologise for the delay in responding to you.
We were concerned to learn that you remain unhappy about the reference to “despite the threat of Brexit”, and reviewing correspondence we realise that we haven’t addressed the point about the wording having been changed in the reports.
We’ve spoken to the programme’s Editor personally with your points in mind, and would clarify that the “threat” wording only ran in the first two regional Breakfast bulletins, and was then amended thereafter.
On reflection, the Editor would accept the that the “threat” word should not have been used on the basis that the vote had by then been cast and the UK Government had said Brexit is happening, thus making the word itself inaccurate here.
That said, we can assure you once again that there’s absolutely no bias and no intention to scaremonger or anything else – it was evidently just clumsy writing in the initial bulletins which was clearly reassessed by the team themselves early on and so was changed.
The BBC had and has no agenda on the EU Referendum and we did not “promote the Remain campaign” as you put it – we are an impartial and independent news organisation with no view on any matter and we are not connected to Government, the State, nor any side in any issue. We report matters and hear the views of others and facilitate the debate. You’ll appreciate we can’t comment on the views of a commercial newspaper who of course have their own views on the EU Referendum and on the BCB itself.
As a result of your complaint, the Editor has asked us to pass on her promise that she will watch more carefully the programme’s use of language around Brexit to hopefully ensure this isolated incident of regrettably clumsy wording is not repeated.
Many thanks once again for taking the time to get in touch. I do hope my reply here helps to clarify matters and allays any concerns you may have had. I also hope this demonstrates that your complaint has been taken very seriously, and indeed that the point you raise was actually spotted by the team at the time and rectified there and then.
BBC Complaints Team