The BBC's Charter and its Producers Guidelines state:
...'Due impartiality lies at the heart of the BBC. All programs and services should be open minded, fair and show a respect for truth? [BBC reports should] contain comprehensive, authoritative and impartial coverage of news and current affairs in the United Kingdom and throughout the world??
In the edition of Question Time on 28/02/2013 the BBC really excelled themselves. The "non-politician" panel member was film director Ken Loach.
He really expressed the modern non-political view that all the current politicians are useless. This, he explained, was because they all embraced a market economy which could never guarantee full employment.
He specifically said, "We need a new party of the left to get rid of the market economy" and the first step should be to "nationalise all the banks." I couldn't believe anyone would still subscribe to this thinking after the collapse of the USSR's directed economy.
On the BBC web site they list the participants, and they won't tell me what order they use to list them, so I assume that they use the BBC's estimate of the panelists' importance. For this programme the list read:
Participant Ken Loach Participant Jeremy Browne Participant Angela Eagle Participant Claire Perry Participant Neil Hamilton
The reaction from the members of the public to Loach was not, as I would have expected, mixed. he was generally supported, which says much for the "randomness" of the audience.
The audience is clearly far from random (as the chairman has stated) but is carefully selected to include the BBC's idea of the "right" people. The initial application form is as follows:
AUDIENCE APPLICATION FOR BBC QUESTION TIME
1. Name and address
2. Have you been on Question Time before? If yes, when?
3. How old are you?
4. What is your occupation?
5. What two issues would you like to discuss in the current news?
6. What is your opinion of the situation in Afghanistan?
7. Are you pro-EU or sceptical?
8. During the series, we shall be visiting London and various cities and towns around the country. Would you please name the venues most convenient for you.
9. If there were a General Election tomorrow, which political party would you be most likely to vote for? Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Green, Scottish National, Plaid Cymru, Ulster Unionist, Democratic Unionist, Sinn Fein, Social Democrat & Labour, Alliance, UKIP, Would not vote, Undecided, Other (please state)
10. Do you fully support the leader of that party?
11. Which of these groups do you consider yourself to belong to? White, African-Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, African, Mixed Origin, Other (please specify)
12. Do you consider yourself to have any disabilities?
13. If you are disabled, do you require wheelchair access?
14. Are you a member of a political party?
15. The audience for BBC Question Time is totally proactive and we wish to ensure that the opportunity to put forward questions and take part in the debates is given to those people wishing to participate. If chosen to attend you will be asked to put forward two questions, one by email and a further question on arrival at the venue, would you please confirm that you are keen to get involved and if selected will ask your question.
16. Add any more relevant information.
17. The information you provide will be collected by the BBC. The BBC will share your information with Mentorn, producers of Question Time. Are you happy for your email details to be retained for up to 4 years on behalf of Mentorn, so that Mentorn may contact you about appearing in the audience for other BBC programmes?
Once again, the order of the political parties in the list is interesting.
Well posted Charm I knew of Loach's anti-Israel stance, but have never delved further into his political view. I too noticed that the panel this week were all degrees of left, with Loach being the most odious. It's not surprising he would be the BBC's favourite, with his views so closely matching theirs.
The Question Time application has been the same format for years, with the earlier question being 'did you support the Iraq war?' instead of the one on Afghanistan. Shows they can 'balance' the audience exactly to their desired agenda.
I believe next week Melanie Phillips will be appearing, and there's no doubt the audience will be in full voice to make sure her opinions receive the negative response that the BBC wants to create.
I've had an opinion about formats like this for a very long time now. Since they are stacked to the left with the token conservative to give the appearance of objective fairness it's bothered me that anyone of note on the right participates. I know they justify it by saying at least it's an opportunity to get the other side out but I think that's foolish. I believe the lasting result is only a furtherance of the program's agenda by helping to justify its legitimacy.
Last night's (25.iii.13) "Any Questions" starred Bob Crow giving the traditional Marxist view that we need to nationalise everything. His opening speech lasted almost 5% of the total programme and was listened to in respectful silence, then applauded warmly by the "random" audience. When it came to "Any Answers" today six of the seven contributors on this topic agreed with him.
Haven't listened to the programme yet, though it's available here to listen to for the next year.
I see that the UKIP panellist Diane James was the same one that was on Question Time a few months ago, and there were accusations against the BBC that they had purposefully put a Labour plant in the audience to harass her.
I also see that Bob Crow was in the news a few months ago when it was revealed that his union invested in various places that shows his supposed political views are not matched by his actions, especially if it means he can get more money.
... Do you think that if they would have gotten people dismayed at the Comic Relief investments ...
Don't get me started on Comic Relief's funds. Returns to the Charity Commission show that regularly they have more reserves than they collected the previous year - which means they are not spending a lot of what they receive except, of course, the fees the BBC (£1,000,000+) and some celebrities charge.
At present, the BBC is only answerable to itself in deciding its standards and coverage. How does it measure up to what you consider good quality, and impartial and unbiased reporting as required by its charter? All TV viewers in the UK are forced by law to pay for this 'service'. Do you believe that what is received truly 'serves' the society, - or merely increases the problems within it?
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