The BBC? Biased? Surely not!

Anti-shale-gas demonstration in Westminster last December

Anti-shale-gas demonstration in Westminster last December

Ben Pile is a researcher who works with me and my colleagues on energy issues.  He was interested by my recent blog on the politics of shale gas, and came up with his own very interesting aperçu on the media coverage of the issue.  I thought I should share it with you.

He has been trying to compare the reaction of the media — and the BBC in particular — to the shale gas and wind farm campaigns respectively.

The BBC national coverage of anti-wind campaigns, he notes, has been all but silent, and fails to address the concerns of the campaigners themselves.  BBC local coverage reports the protests more accurately and fairly. It seems clear that a few hundred anti-fracking protesters from around the country can attract the attention of the national media, simply by making a very visual image — dressing up, banging drums, causing widespread disruption, getting arrested and so on.  On the other hand, wind farm campaigners, almost to a man, are disinclined to cause inconvenience to others, much less break the law.  Who would film a polite protest, made by articulate, normal people, who use lawful processes to pursue their aims?

Climate sceptics have never shut down an airport, road, train line, power station, or lawful business.   Yet the BBC presents the hysterical opposition to fracking as an important and reasonable position, but opposition to wind farms as ignorant and prejudiced Nimbyism.

The contrast is stark.  In fact, the wind farm campaigners, in spite of their politeness, are further from the government’s policies than the hippies and anarchists.  In addition, the BBC and other media are broadly sympathetic to the idea of fracking being “controversial”, whereas they regard climate change and wind farms as beyond discussion. The BBC’s coverage confuses loudness of protest with numbers of protesters, as though the events at Balcombe represented wider public opinion.

Ben went to the anti-fracking protest at Westminster in December to take pictures and video (see above).  The protesters numbered no more than 300.  In a city of 8.1 million people on a Saturday, the Green Party and its allies could muster just dozens. No doubt many of the same people have been at Balcombe in Sussex.

This should remind people of the road protests in the 1990s, when just a few individuals held up the progress of vital road infrastructure. The nascent green movement were portrayed as heroes by much of the media, and courted by subsequent governments, who abandoned road-building projects.

In summary, it might be worth reflecting on how small these protest movements are, how they don’t speak for the public at all, and how the media and politicians from the old parties have encouraged, or been beaten by them.

There is perhaps a read-across here to the hunting debate.  While opinion polls on hunting tend to be ambiguous, the fact remains that the animal rights brigade struggle to get a few hundred onto the streets, whereas the Countryside Alliance can muster half a million (I was there).  I believe that on both issues, down-to-earth common sense hugely outweighs the bluster of the antis.

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28 Responses to The BBC? Biased? Surely not!

  1. Graham Brown says:

    Roger, I have rarely disagreed with your hugely informative and entertaining posts in recent weeks. They largely typify the ‘common sense’ approach to political issues UKIP has trail-blazed for years. However, in this post, I have to take issue with your comments on hunting. While the Countryside Alliance may muster large numbers of vocal hunt supporters, no amount of lobbying, however strongly and vigorously made, can convince millions of rational people that hunting wild animals with horses and packs of large, powerful dogs is just plain wrong. You choose to overlook the fact that the majority of those who find hunting abhorrent do not get onto the streets and make a fuss because many are the same quiet, law-abiding, tax-paying, articulate, polite people who strongly oppose wind turbines. Conversely, I suspect many landowning hunters and their supporters are raking in zillions by allowing the wind power shysters to erect their monstrous turbines on their land.

    • Thanks Graham. I will be dealing with the hunting issue in more detail in an up-coming blog. But the fact is that hunting with hounds is absolutely the most humane way known to man to manage fox populations.

      • Graham Brown says:

        I’m afraid that’s the line trotted out by hunt enthusiasts every time. They and you will have to try much harder to persuade opponents that chasing a mammal over many miles of countryside, cornering it and then allowing it to be torn to pieces is in any way ‘humane’. If it is, then why are criminals hanged, electrocuted or gassed for capital crimes instead of being subjected to this ‘humane’ end? Or indeed why does the government sanction the culling of badgers by shooting when there is a much more ‘humane’ way of despatching them by hunting and dismemberment?

      • ahey2013 says:

        Hello Roger,

        I am a UKIP member but I have to say that the current stance on fox (or anything else) hunting with packs of dogs is one aspect of UKIP policy I don’t agree with. I very much agree with the late & great Patrick Moore (also a UKIP supporter) on this.

        Are we sure that fox population needs managing at all? What real harm do they do? They might even be beneficial in my opinion, by preying on other potential pest species. Deer are destructive to woodland and (in the absence of natural predation) arguably need their population to be artificially controlled by human predation, but even here the general consensus is that shooting is more humane than hunting with packs of dogs.

        What would happen if we did nothing at all about the fox population. Would we really end up with plague of foxes? My understanding is that the fox population naturally self limits anyway as they are territorial animals and those that don’t get to control a large enough territory don’t get to breed.

  2. If fracking attracts a few hundred motleys, it makes you wonder how many more will turn up when nuclear plants start to be built.

    If we allow them to win that battle, we will be on the road to third country status.

    Our descendants in 50 years time really will be bitter about us if we fail then now.

  3. BTW – July global temperatures are now out, and still confirm no increase for 17 years and more.

    http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/global-temperature-reportjuly-2013/

  4. 1957chev says:

    Reblogged this on Mothers Against Wind Turbines and commented:
    Wind turbine protestors are the actual victims. Oil and gas protestors are “greentards”, rebels without a cause.

  5. PitPony says:

    OK Roger why not fight the BBC? Hit them where it hurts. Right bang in the middle of that slobbery gob anchored to the public teat.
    This is how.
    If you pay your licence fee monthly follow these steps
    1. Phone TV licensing on 0300 790 6130
    2. Tell the operative that you want to cancel your monthly direct debit
    3. The operative may ask if you no longer have a TV
    4. Say that I still have a TV and want to keep my licence in force.
    5. The operative will say “Fine. We will remind you in six months to renew your licence”

    You see when you pay monthly the BBC take double the mathematical monthly payment in the first six months. From month seven they restrict their greed to the true monthly payment. That means that most people are owed six months advance payments by the BBC.
    Normally the only time when you might ask for this advance payment to be returned is when you die.
    Makes sense to ask for it now,

  6. Me_Again says:

    It seems that the anti-frackers and the anti-bat mincers have one thing in common.
    The government doesn’t listen to them.

    So in summary, being nice doesn’t get you what you want and being noisy doesn’t get you what you want. The only difference appears to be the amount of press coverage.

    Perhaps everyone should ignore the press as well?

  7. Techno says:

    I remember as a child in the 1970s being told that the oil will run out, but we can use solar, wave and wind power, and watching films like Silent Running. I loved science fiction so I thought all this was brilliant.

    All those 1970s kids like me are middle aged now, and they have worked their way into the media and government, which is why these idealistic, hippy-type sentiments are dominating the media right now.

    The way they use their children for emotional manipulation is despicable. Children often realise in adolescence that they are being used and end up resenting their parents, so they had better be careful.

  8. Brenda says:

    Along with many others I regularly complain about BBC bias and did so again following their coverage of the fracking demo:
    Full Complaint: Every time fracking is mentioned in the news and Today programme the word controversial is used in connection with it. Fracking is no more controversial than wind energy so why is wind never described as controversial? Could this be due to the well known fact that the BBC is biased in favour of wind? The UK has a huge number of anti-wind protest groups and there are frequently large demonstrations which are completely ignored by the BBC but one protest against fracking gets massive coverage. Windfarms do huge damage to the environment and turbines regularly throw blades, catch fire or collapse completely – this is all recorded. One very minor tremor due to fracking in this country has resulted in hysteria fanned by BBC reports. It is time that the BBC lived up to its mandate to be unbiased.

  9. neilfutureboy says:

    One conclusion would be that we should be using force. Certainly if speed cameras can be destroyed windmills should be vulnerable.

    The alternative is that the BBC is not motivated by the damage done, any more than by the size of the demo and is simply a wholly corrupt totalitarian propaganda organisation willing, with total contempt for its legal charter duty of “balance”, to spin or lie to push scare stories for which the “solution” is always more government power and regulation.

    If there is another alternative I have yet to hear it.

    Last year the SNP conference had 2 demos. One of 20-50 people protesting the party becoming less antagonistic to Trident, and one of 500 protesting the party supporting windmills. No prizes for guessing which got more than 20 times as much coverage.

  10. cornwallwindwatch says:

    Reblogged this on Cornwall Wind Watch.

  11. Patryk says:

    The BBC will show a German WW2 drama “Our fathers, our mothers” which takes the responsibility for the war away from the Germans. I wonder how will R Helmer view this especially in line with the recent book by one of UKIP’s treasurers which claims that the war started due to “Polish aggression”. I know you as a party don’t like the Poles, and especially those who come to live and work in the UK, but historical revisionism is taking things too far.

    • Me_Again says:

      First, no one with more than one brain cell can suggest for a second that Poland was the aggressor in WW2, no idea where you got that stupid idea from, it definitely wasn’t UKIP. [One of our MEPs is married to the daughter of a Polish war hero].
      I have no idea which treasurer you are talking about please supply their name and the book title and ISBN.

      Then you write this rubbish:-
      ” I know you as a party don’t like the Poles, and especially those who come to live and work in the UK,”

      UKIP do not generalise about nations or people for a start. For a second we do not object to anyone who comes here legally and works hard, what we object to are the rules which allow them to do so. People from ‘anywhere’, should only be able to come here by invitation, for work in which they have specialist skills and which are lacking in our country.

      Otherwise it costs this country to employ them. The money they earn goes home, and the British person who could be doing the job is out of work and costing the country money in a variety benefits. So it makes no sense to employ people who are not British because at the lower end of the pay scales they reduce working conditions and wages for other British workers. So says Bob Crowe general secretary of the RMT union and definitely not a member of UKIP.

      Lastly Poland would do well to reassess its relationship with the EU. You had just 5 years of NAZI occupation and part of your country had 5 years of Soviet occupation. You followed that with another 40 years or so of being a satellite state of a communist empire where your freedom and democracy were squashed beneath the soviet heel.

      Then less than 20 years after the likes of Lech Walesa and other brave Poles broke the Soviet hold on your country, you give away your freedom to another soviet empire which has its headquarters in Brussels! I would ask whether you are mad or not but I think you were simply lied to like we were.

    • Patryk, I agree with you that the Poles were not responsible for WW2. But I disagree with you that “UKIP doesn’t like the Poles”. We’re very happy with Poles in general and our Polish colleagues in particular. Please don’t insist on conflating opposition to mass immigration with dislike of particular nationalities or ethnic groups. We’ve nothing against Romanians, either. I’m a big fan of Alina Cojocaru.

      • Patryk says:

        Thanks for your reply Roger, point taken. Apologies on my part for the insinuation that UKIP doesn’t like the Poles. It’s just that we are the largest EU immigration in this country and strangely Nigel Farage usually criticises the Eastern European immigration without mentioning th Asian or African ones at all that I had this impression.

      • @Patryk, that’s because UKIP isn’t even against immigration per se, it’s UNLIMITED immigration and the loss of control over our borders thanks to our membership of the EU that UKIP object to. Talking about African and Asian immigration in that context would be nonsensical.

    • Me_Again says:

      Seems my response went astray Patryk, So I apologise for the tardiness of my reply.
      The Huff puff is a left wing blog so I am unsurprised at its tone. Still I’d like to see what was written by Hugh before passing a comment on it. However he’d be very wrong to suggest in any way that Poland ‘asked for it’. No one that the NAZIs invaded ‘asked for it’.

      The TV program? Well I haven’t seen that either but if it suggests that ordinary Germans [including soldiers] were victims of the NAZI reich then it would be correct, but usually that’s called it’s tough being on the wrong side, but it doesn’t make what the NAZIs did any less wrong. There was never any justification for invading Poland, none. do you suppose that the BBC will produce a similar drama trying to excuse the soviet invasion of Poland? No I don’t either. Russian aggression seems a taboo subject as well.

  12. Mike Stallard says:

    Last night (Saturday 24th August) on BBC news there were two stories about black people qua black people. One was the unnecessary murder of a black mother on the streets of London. She was, we heard, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then a story of the great speech of “I have a Dream” followed by the demonstrators about Trayvon Martin who was also black and involved in a shooting incident.
    Why, please was Trayvon included? The case went before the courts and was fairly judged by a jury. It had absolutely nothing to do with the magnificent speech.
    If black people are always associated with gun crime – and incidentally Muslims with civil war, terrorism and street violence, we are heading for big trouble. The black people I know are usually law abiding Social workers! The Muslims I know are very respectable and law abiding workers!

    • Me_Again says:

      You have a very valid point Mike. It is a real problem. I had a young lady secretary for 6 years. She was brilliant, put her an my daughter of the same age together and close your eyes -two young women taking the mickey out of dad and boss respectively. She was British born of Bangladeshi parents, my wife and I attended her arranged marriage to a really nice guy straight in from Bangladesh [that’s wrong I think, importing spouses], of course I didn’t know he was a nice guy yet and neither did she but it worked for them and it worked well.

      The reason for the boring preamble is to place me in the tolerant normal side of English life as a white Englishman. T.C and I had many hours of discussions on any subject under the sun, she was young and pretty naive and I’ve been around the block many times. After she married she chose to wear a burka. Apparently he didn’t want her to but she made the choice and started getting quite religious. IN our free and frank discussions she discovered that as a scientist of sorts I didn’t find a contradiction in there being a God. But where we differed was that I rejected all religions and refused to even try to define what God might be.

      Anyway, she was adamant that what was written in the Koran was fact -because she had been told so. So I gently pointed out that even the Koran wasn’t written during Mohammed’s life and that he couldn’t read or write and so wouldn’t have been able to verify the notes his disciples were taking. Not only that, I pointed out, they didn’t get collated into the Koran for over 150 years or so. She mulled that over and decidedthat it didn’t change anything but I was ok with that. We were close enough that I could joke about her having bought a new sack to wear and things like that but, she had decided that her religion was paramount above her nationality which is where we get a lot of our problems from now isn’t it? I spent ages trying to convince her that therein was a problem for people like her in this country. I seem to remember around that time the French passed the law about wearing religious things in public. There was a quote from some Ayatollah, when offered help from north African militants to attack the French he said ‘I am French, and you stay where you are’ or some such. We discussed that. I pointed out that religion wasn’t an issue to this guy in regard to his nationality so why should it be for people here? I pointed out that Christians have been killing each other ever since Christ and that British Christians were bombing German Christians and vice versa in the second world war.

      As peaceful as she was, she said she’d fight for her religion. Naive as she was I doubt it would take much of a smart arse Imam to convince her that Mohammed himself had given her a very special task…..

      On the day that Lee Rigby was killed she sent me a text saying she was disgusted and considered what had been done, supposedly in the name of her religion, to be barbaric. We are still in touch regularly even 3 years after I retired. She now wears western clothes again but modest, very modest.

      She is a classic example of colour blindness but cultural clash. She is the problem and the solution. In these days where we are slowly but surely being forced apart, the media have serious responsibility to not make a bad thing worse -and they don’t.

      I am not a coronation street fan but my otherwise hyper-intelligent wife is, so it’s on in the background. They recently ran a story where someone in a pub said ‘play the white man’ to a friend when asking for fairness in a darts match. This was overheard by his erstwhile friend the black guy. Suddenly saying that was racist
      and this story ran for weeks without ever noting that the remark wasn’t actually racist. I even wrote to David Nugent complaining that they were seriously misrepresenting things but his reply was just platitudinous mush. Tha’t what I call irresponsible. failure to understand the language and then beating someone over the head with a supposedly racist comment…. crazy.

      Anyway enough of this diatribe.

  13. Brenda says:

    So now I have had my reply – if only they meant it !
    ” I understand you feel that our reports on the issue of fracking should not state the word ‘controversial’. You feel that fracking is no more controversial than wind farming.
    The BBC cannot take a stance or hold an opinion on any public issue.
    We’re specifically prohibited from expressing a view of our own on any issue with the exception of those specifically related to broadcasting. We seek to provide the information which will enable viewers and listeners to make up their own minds; to show the political reality and provide the forum for debate, giving full opportunity for all viewpoints to be heard.
    We don’t say we never make mistakes, but we strive hard to be accurate, balanced and fair. Audience research suggests that most people who use BBC services greatly appreciate those efforts.”
    Doublethink or what?

    • Graham says:

      It seems the BBC actually believes its own propaganda. Any fair minded viewer or listener who has heard the BBC’s coverage of climate change will know the reply you received is patent nonsense.

    • neilfutureboy says:

      The 28 gate fraud is not denied even by the BBC. It proves beyond any question that the BBC, almost every department, deliberately & knowingly lied (even lied to in a court) to say that they had the support of 28 of the world’s leading scientists for censoring dissent on warming.

      If they have lied to promote what they know to be, at least in large part, a false scare story designed to enhance government power and are still maintaining the lie then there are no circumstances whatsoever under which what any BBC employee says can ever automatically be treated as intended to be truthful.

  14. Thomas Tidswell says:

    The BBC is so biased that it is a waste of time complaining. It’s News programmes are mostly propaganda where the BBC’s internal policy co-incides with the Government’s. Where it doesn’t, the subject is couched in terms that the 9 and 10 year-olds in its audience recognise as indicative of distrust or disapproval.
    The situation is like a perpetual political sheet-anchor, firmly entrenching a permanent left-wing slant on almost everything.
    Brenda seeks to play the statistics, confusing “Services” with “Reportage”. The BBC has so many tentacles in so many nooks that its inherent political bias is irrelevant.
    “Doublethink” Brenda? Naah, simple dishonesty.

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