Jun 11th, 2014
BBC election bias petition hand-in
By Rachel Oliver
Should the BBC’s election reporting be fair, unbiased and non sensationalist? Of course, you say! How do you think they did during the recent European and local Council elections? Well, 38 Degrees members Andy and Portia weren’t happy with the BBC at all.
So they decided to launch campaigns using the 38 Degrees website Campaigns By You. Portia’s petition “BBC: Stop this media blackout of the Green Party” has gathered nearly 50,000 signatures in just over two weeks, whilst Andy’s petition on “BBC Bias in election reporting” is almost at 9,000.
On Monday, Andy and Portia, along with a lovely group of supporters, handed their petitions into the BBC – to both Broadcasting House, where the news desks are based, and BBC Parliament where the political editors are.
Here’s how they thought the day went:
Portia: “When I arrived at Broadcasting House, myself, Andy, and our wonderful supporters were met by a host of worried BBC security staff. We were told we weren’t allowed on BBC property and couldn’t enter the building to deliver our petitions.
I was shocked. The BBC is essentially owned by the public and as a member of the public, representing a further 50,000 licence fee payers, I expected to be allowed to walk in and deliver an envelope, like anyone else can.
A couple of police men turned up and diffused the situation as they realised the security had overreacted. We still had to hand the petition to the head of security as opposed to going in ourselves, but at least this way it went straight to the director general’s office! Thankfully, we all took it in good spirit.
Later at BBC Parliament, the receptionist did a bit of a double-take when I mentioned the number of signatures on my petition. She assured me Nick Robinson and Sue Inglish would definitely receive it “this afternoon or tomorrow morning”. I will follow this up with phone calls and emails until I get a direct response.
Whilst we were waiting outside BBC Parliament David Davis, Tory MP, walked passed, tapped my petition box and announced he agrees that the BBC is unfairly “biased against your party”. This, along with David Cameron’s comment that any Leader’s Debate featuring UKIP should also feature the Greens, is encouraging. Perhaps things are going to change after all. I will certainly do all I can to ensure they do.”
Andy: “Our petition took a different perspective from Portia’s one about the Green Party and isn’t directly linked to it, it’s point being that, whilst journalists have to make content interesting, as a publicly-owned body the BBC has an absolute responsibility to report accurately and not to descend into campaigning for the sake of entertaining the audience; the BBC are NOT just another commercial media station and are NOT entitled to be partial. They are NOT entitled to report in a way that has any influence on these or potential future election results, which is what I believe they have done this time.
I think the petitions together made this point well but that shouldn’t be the end of it. I will be following this up with emails and letters to the BBC management to secure assurances that BBC reporting in the next election will be fair and unbiased and to secure explanation of how they will make sure that happens. I need your continuing support in this in making the case. Please continue to tell your friends about the petition – people are still signing it – the more signatures we can get the more of a case we have to make the argument with.
Thank you all of you for standing up for this argument. 8500 people are not wrong. I also want to thank 38 Degrees staff, and particularly Bryony and Rachel for the support they have provided in making this point to the BBC in a way that is clear and visible.”
Here are some more photos from Monday: