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Tory bias at the BBC

Margaret Thatcher on TV, pic by rahuldlucca

The BBC is beholden to an agenda that is anti-British, pro-union, and left-wing. Or so the argument goes. Thing is, there’s no evidence for it. Back in November, I had a bit of fun asking if the BBC’s Question Time was biased. This little study, based on the political allegiances of guests appearing on the programme between December 2008 and November 2012 found there was bias – the number of rightwing panelists outweighed guests from the left. Now a group of academics at Cardiff University have performed a wider content analysis. Funded by the BBC itself, it wanted to know how impartial its reporting really was.

Guess what? This report based on actual, real evidence and not ideas plucked from the hot air of a rightwing dinner party, found there was no leftwing bias. Yet again, coverage was tilted to the right.

For example:

Among political sources, Labour and Conservatives dominate coverage accounting for 86% of source appearances in 2007 and 79.7% in 2012. Our data also show that Conservatives get more airtime than Labour. Bearing in mind that incumbents always receive more coverage than opposition politicians, the ratio was much more pronounced when the Conservatives were in power in 2012.

In strand one (reporting of immigration, the EU and religion), Gordon Brown outnumbered David Cameron in appearances by a ratio of less than two to one (47 vs 26) in 2007. In 2012 David Cameron outnumbered Ed Milliband by a factor of nearly four to one (53 vs 15). Labour cabinet members and ministers outnumbered Conservative shadow cabinet and ministers by approximately two to one (90 vs 46) in 2007; in 2012, Conservative cabinet members and ministers outnumbered their Labour counterparts by more than four to one (67 to 15).

In strand two (reporting of all topics) Conservative politicians were featured more than 50% more often than Labour ones (24 vs 15) across the two time periods on the BBC News at Six. So the evidence is clear that BBC does not lean to the left it actually provides more space for Conservative voices.
The observations made in my small examination of Question Time appearances are borne out by the systematic study of BBC output.

Yes, sure, a foam flecked Tory will be able to find reports that are critical of the government’s record, or an occasional item on the EU in which it is not denounced as the USSR’s second coming. But facts are stubborn things. The numbers show the BBC is a big C Conservative institution.

One Comment

  1. Rob the cripple says:

    Would that be the same Cardiff Uni now funded by UNUM Provident, so anything Cardiff does these days will not be of much good.

    The BBC backs which ever party is in power and will back it.

    Sadly when Labour brought in the welfare reforms each time they brought out a green paper the same week the BBC brought out a program about scroungers accidental my back side.

    Then again these days how do you tell if Labour is socialist or conservative.

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