Friday, June 01, 2012
Freedom of Information request
With the importance of the independence referendum and the massive, oligopolistic if not completely monopolistic control the BBC has over Scottish news reporting I wish to ask for some information.
1 - The BBC Charter requires that you show "balance" in all reporting not merely party political issues, though they are particularly obvious. Who is ultimately responsible for monitoring this coverage & how does he do it?
2 - The most recent polls show that UKIP has the support of 4% of Scots, matching the LibDems and twice that of the Greens. They do substantially better than that across the UK. The Scots Green leader almost a permanent fixture on the BBC; the Greens getting 40 times more coverage than UKIP per vote and thousands of times more supportive coverage, since only Peter Sissons didn't, before his removal, give the greens fully supportive questioning. What efforts is the BBC making to ensures that, over the entire period from when the new SNP government proposed the referendum, the coverage of UKIP (committed maintaining the Union) will be proportionate to their poll support and they will thus be invited to appear on "Big Debate" and similar programmes twice as often as Mr Harvie (committed to separation)? In England that will obviously be 4 times more often.
I acknowledge that the ratio of coverage to overall support or perhaps even to supportive coverage to popular support is not quite as outrageously disproportionate between UKIP and the 2 larger parties, though obviously the ratio of straight coverage, without correcting for support, is far worse.
3 - Formal debate has always been a mainstay of democratic societies. Yet the BBC consistently refuse to allow it, inaccurately describing the Question Time format of "uncontrolled and unstructured yelling and aggressive arguing that leaves everyone annoyed" as if it were true debate http://utadebatesociety.org/formal-debating/ The BBC have specifically refused to allow any true debate on your channels or even to say why you will not consider it. I would now like to formally ask who sets the management policy of not permitting true debate; what reasons or memoranda have been produced to justify the decision; copies thereof; & the same for the decision not to respond to suggestions of allowing such.
4 - In the specific case of the AV referendum the BBC acceded to the wishes of the No campaign to hold no formal debate, despite the wishes of the Yes campaign that there be one. How was this management decision justified as consistent with the Charter duty of balance let alone of public service?
5 - Has a decision been taken to allow no formal debates on the independence referendum. If so how was the decision reached. If not when are such debates to be allowed and how many of them.
6 - Some years ago Damien Whyte, the BBC manager for answering complaints responded to me by stating that the BBC do not deliberately censor to promote racial genocide. I asked him how this could possibly be true bearing in mind the total censorship of the massacre of at least 210 unarmed civilians by British police outside the British HQ at Dragodan in Kosovo. He promised to check the facts and reply but I am still awaiting that reply. I would like to know why no response was made.
Bearing in mind the massive coverage of the possible killing, in unknown circumstances of about 100 people in a much smaller but otherwise possibly comparable massacre in Syria, were BBC coverage being determined in any way by journalistic standards the Dragodan massacre, the direct legal responsibility of this country's leaders would have received many 10s, perhaps hundreds of times as much coverage & still be regularly reported today. Therefore I would like to know who was responsible, in management or acting in a management capacity in this instance, for the initial and continuing censorship of this atrocity, comparable to My Lai or Lidice & what the official reasons for doing so were?.
I know that there is a "journalistic materials" exemption from the FoI Act and that the BBC regularly use it to conceal such little known facts as the number of times a BNP guest has been invited to appear on Question Time, however all these questions involve management decisions not those of on screen staff let alone of anybody in anything like "the collection and editing of news for presentation", aka "journalism", assuming that editing for presentation of information is different from, indeed precisely opposite to censoring for suppression.
Please acknowledge receipt of this request.
It applies to "public authorities at all levels ... quangos, regulators, advisory bodies, publicly owned companies and the BBC and Channel 4 (though not in relation to journalistic materials)." (p7) It reads like that exception was requested by the BBC as a way of ensuring journalistic sources could be protected. They used it previously to avoid answering a question about the ratio of Question Time appearances by the BNP and the Greens. The BNP, getting twice the vote of the |Greens are entitled, under the BBC's duty of "balance" to twice as many appearances. In fact everybody knows that the BNP have only been allowed to appear once, on a programme which the BBC too obviously set up as a lynching, whereas the Greens are on about 1 in 5 programmes, which makes 120 appearances since 2000. If the BBC are able to prevent this being put on the record they are able to prevent the fact that they are therefore no more than 1/2 part in 120 (0.0042) honest and 99.6% totalitarian fascist propagandists, but everybody knows it is the case.
The requested acknowledgement has not been received. One way used to break the law, which I have experienced, is to pretend that the letter/email must have got list in the post. So I am sending it again.