BBC receives record 500,000 complaints from viewers in a year amid concerns over broadcaster’s ‘perceived bias’
- BBC received 462,255 complaints in 2020/21 which ‘was an increase of 93,878’
- Analysis of BBC programmes found list of complaints topped by Emily Maitlis
- It comes after Ofcom said it received an ‘unprecedented’ number of reports
The BBC was hit with nearly 500,000 viewer complaints in just 12 months amid concerns at ‘perceived bias’.
The broadcaster received 462,255 complaints in the year 2020 to 2021 which it said ‘was an increase of 93,878 on last year,’ according to its own annual report published this week.
Chair of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines and Standards Committee Ian Hargreaves said: ‘The volume of complaints to the BBC remains a concern. This financial year has seen another sharp increase in the number of complaints received.’
He continued: ‘The committee has explored the reasons behind this increase in volume year-on-year and asked the executive to review the operational handling of complaints.’
The BBC was hit with nearly 500,000 complaints in just 12 months as viewers expressed their anger at ‘perceived biases’
The BBC’s annual report stated: ‘In the age of disinformation, echo chambers of opinion, and noisy partisan media outlets, a trusted, universal BBC has surely never been more important.
‘Our research shows, however, that too many people perceive the BBC to be shaped by a particular perspective.
‘This is not simply about the politics of left and right. We recognise that many feel the BBC does not get the world from their point of view.’
Analysis of BBC programming found that the list of complaints was topped by Emily Maitlis with her monologue on Newsnight about Dominic Cummings in May 2020, The Telegraph said.
Ms Maitlis, during a discussion about Mr Cummings’ journey from London to Durham during the first national lockdown, claimed Boris Johnson’s former adviser ‘broke the rules’ adding: ‘The country can see that, and it’s shocked the Government cannot.’
Her speech later prompted 23,674 complaints and broadcasting watchdog Ofcom warned the BBC that hosts must not ‘inadvertently give the impression of setting out personal opinions’.
Analysis of BBC programming found that the list of complaints was topped by Emily Maitlis with her monologue on Newsnight about Dominic Cummings in May 2020
BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty, alongside co-host and Charlie Stayt, also attracted 6,498 complaints after the pair appeared to mock Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick over the size of the Union flag in his office.
Ms Munchetty was later forced to apologise after liking social media posts in support of the on-air comments.
She wrote: ‘I ‘liked’ tweets today that were offensive in nature about the use of the British flag as a backdrop in a government interview this morning.
‘I have since removed these ‘likes’. This do not represent the views of me or the BBC. I apologise for any offence taken.’
And Andrew Marr’s interview with Prime Minister Boris Johnson was another bombarded with accusations of bias as it received 1,712 complaints.
The broadcaster received 462,255 complaints in 2020 to 2021 including reports about programme’s fronted by Naga Munchetty (left) and Andrew Marr (right)
The report comes after Ofcom said it had received an ‘unprecedented’ number of complaints over the last year.
The ‘vast majority’ of the record-breaking number were about ‘content that audiences found offensive’, the regulator’s annual report said.
Ofcom received 142,660 complaints in 2020/21 – a sharp rise on the previous year’s total of 34,545.
A spokesman said: ‘We’re a nation of TV lovers, and it’s kept us entertained and informed like never before during lockdown.
‘But, from time to time, viewers see things that trouble them, and that’s where we come in.
‘We assess every complaint we receive, and while we don’t step in lightly given the importance of free speech we take strong action where we find serious harm to audiences.’
Ofcom’s report said it is ‘unusual’ to receive such a large volume of complaints about individual broadcasts.
It said there was an ‘increase in the number of complaints specifically about potentially racially offensive broadcast content’.
Previous research by Ofcom found ‘societal norms have shifted in recent years and discriminatory behaviours and language are now more commonly perceived as unacceptable than was previously the case’.
Ofcom said it also received a high number of complaints relating to content about the pandemic.
‘Most of these complaints did not raise issues warranting investigation under our rules,’ the report said.
‘However, when they did, we expedited investigations due to the serious nature of some of the content.’
Source: Read Full Article