BBC too anglocentric, says BBC Trust…

THE BBC Trust has slated the BBC’s regional coverage in its main news bulletins and factual programmes, saying it is “falling short of its own high standards” and failing to meet its core purpose of helping inform democracy. The Trust’s study was commissioned after accusations that the corporation was too England-centric and found that the further people live from London, the less they see their lives reflected. The study concentrated on health and education stories in the national news broadcasts; out of 136 stories, none were from the devolved regions. The Trust chairman said: “The problem is not about impartiality, but about clarity, precision and the balance of reporting from around the UK.” On Talkback at the moment, Newton Emerson is arguing that what the Beeb really needs to do in an era when we can get our news from a variety of sources (many free) is to get back to first principles and report facts, instead of present the national news as a magazine-style show that barely scratches the surface.

  • Quaysider

    Ironically that item was itself a good example of how an interesting local story can be ruined by tedious parochialism (i.e. every word uttered by Jude Collins). His contribution amounted to nothing more than saying “north of Ireland” a lot and waving his poor little tricolour. Somebody needs to teach that old dog a new trick.

  • Gum

    Funny, last night I wished we had much less local programmes. The UK got an apparently great documentary on American photographer Annie Liebowitz while we had a hopeless ‘interview’ of Bill Clinton.

  • foreign correspondent

    Shock revelation: ´The BBC is too anglocentric´.
    In other news it has been revealed that the Pope is Catholic and that George Bush has failed his MENSA test 🙂

  • willowfield

    I think the BBC Trust is correct.

    Stories about education, health, crime, etc., often present the English position as though it were for the whole of the UK. They haven’t caught up with devolution yet.

    English Ministers are interviewed without reference to the fact that their responsibility extends only to England.

  • Bruiser

    I have to agree. The Nolan interview with Bill Clinton was simply awful. Nolan came across as bring unprofessional and didn’t ask the right questions. Whilst his style may have its place it wasn’t suited to interviewing a man of Clinton stature. I also cringed when he kept pushing how Clinton felt when he address the crowd in Belfast – he really dragged it out.

    Unfortuately the standard of media here is consistently low with programmes covering issues that are too insular and quitely simply boring (e.g. NI Wags). BBC NI politcal programmes are similarly of a low standard – covering the same issues and interviewing the same people.

  • Driftwood

    The NI Wags programme was sureley a low point even by BBC NI/UTV dismal standards. Excruciating. Though there was a ‘yoof’ programme several years ago, I forget its name that was really cringeworthy.

  • The solution is so obvious. Both to the concerns of the BBC Trust and the commenters such as Driftwood who are worried about the ongoing decline from provincialism into parochialism of the output of BBC NI – broadcast all programmes in Irish. There’s no antidote as sure as that for this anglocentricity.

    How about Newsline in Irish? Or an Irish langugae commentary from Windsor Park on the latest Northern Ireland international…..

    Translation into Irish won’t help NI Wags.

    The Irish language output of the BBC NI Irish language unit is consistently good – too bad there isn’t much more of it. There should be given that the BBC is bankrolling its existing low level of Irish language output from the Irish Language Broadcast Fund rather than using the fund to create additional programming.

  • Granni Trixie

    There needs to be a balance between local progrmmes catering to local interests and giving space to news/programmes from the wider world They introduce new knowledge/concepts and perspectives,helping avoid parocialism.

    Because of the troubles NI has received far too much attention. For example,I remember on the radio, Colin Tobin expressed surprise at how small, in relation to his expectations, the various streets important in narratives of the troubles in Derry were. We have benefited from the squeeky wheel syndrome (gets most attention) – more doses of the real world out there would do us good.

  • Driftwood

    Concubhar, a few years ago, I watched an old firm game in my local on TG4 (the only channel showing it) with commentary in Irish. I don’t think anyone knew or, if they did, cared, least of all the Rangers supporters (it was a mixed bar.)
    Couldn’t you get Eamonn Dunphy to speak Irish on RTE, that would be woth watching.

  • “Funny, last night I wished we had much less local programmes”

    I wish most nights that we had less local programmes, although if nationwide TV reflected more the regional diversity of the UK then it would be easier to dispense with local programmes. No more ‘Bikes’ replacing ‘Russia’. No more NI Wags rather than HIGNFY. No shit Irish Language programmes replacing Palin. No Let’s Talk instead of Question Time.

  • A producer from Radio Five Live phoned me this morning and asked if I would discuss this report on air. I said yes but he phoned back ten minutes later and told me they were going to focus on Scotland.
    Slighted again.

  • fenian bastard

    So the BBC Trust think themselves too Anglocentric.

    From their own website:
    We aim to ensure……..
    that the BBC contributes to the standing of the United Kingdom in the world, to the economy and to British culture

    I am a NI Irish Nationalist. They do nothing but take my tax money and use it to oppress me with a foreign culture.

    I am a bitter enemy of the BBC. But no more bombs in Shepherd’s Bush, we’re going to see how we get on the other way.

  • bruiser

    I’m up for NI games from Windsor Park in Irish so long as it gets Jackie Fulteron off the air – NI media cringeworthyness personafied.

  • ”Dáithí O hEalaithe – cúl! Cúl ag Daithí”

  • bob Wilson

    The BBC’s natioanl programming might well be ‘anglocentric’ but the opposition is also true.
    NI current affairs and politics programming is far too N I centric.
    Our hacks – having gone round in circles for years are over excitied by their new toy up at Stormont.
    Westminster is not covered locally – the Scots and Welsh BBC programmes cover things like the impact of the 10p tax row etc but Lets Talk managed to ignore the Budget TWO days after it happened!

  • picador

    There is too much BBC NI Crap in Norn Iron too much popmpous South-Eastern English crap elsewhere. The BBC is a pompous self-important organisation which deveours huge amounts of tax payers money. Pare it back on all fronts I say. Why do we have to pay for Radios 1 to 7? Why do we need BBC3, BBC4? Who is building these empires with our tax money? Why is BBC ‘national’ news relentlessly patronising? Why is it relentlessly censorious? Why do they fail to call half-rate British politicians to account for their misdeeds? Why do presenters behave like primary school teachers who know best? Agh, I could go on but I need to go home. I refuse to give them my hard earned cahs

  • PeaceandJustice

    Bob Wilson – “NI current affairs and politics programming is far too NI centric.”

    I would agree with that. More UK wide issues and guests should be involved in current affairs programmes on BBC NI. It might remind some NI politicians that they are only a dot in the ocean when it comes to the bigger issues.

  • pacman

    It must be a malaise across the organisation then, as BBC NI (and UTV) are far too Belfast-centric in their news output.

  • PeaceandJustice

    While BBC NI doesn’t give enough of a UK perspective in its own programmes, they have started to cover a lot of RoI stories – sometimes as the top story. Last time I checked, people in Eire don’t pay the UK licence fee and don’t come under the remit of the BBC. The BBC should concentrate on its UK remit and cover RoI stories at the end of the main NI and UK news.

    Also, the BBC NI web site seems to be run by Sinn Fein PIRA members trying to promote minority interests such as the terrorist linked GAA and the Irish Language.

    We need more balance from BBC NI.

  • David Hamilton

    Peace and Justice- don’t be ridiculous. Much of what you refer to are events being covered less than 2 hours away. If nothing else just think of yourself as a European and take some interest in the world around you. Nothing good can come of being so isolated.

  • Bemused

    Interesting to hear anyone from the BBC try to defend their odious policy of using ‘the province’, ‘ulster’ etc. to describe Northern Ireland but banning similar terms used by the Nationalist community (‘the North’, ‘the six counties’ etc.)Seems like an open and shut case of preferring the nomenclature of one community to that of another. Before all the usual dullards start complaining that “It’s the BRITISH broadcasting corporation – what do you expect?”, the fact that it is British doesn’t mean that it should side with one part of the Northern Irish population and adopt their geo-political nomenclature. Parity of esteem would be nice.

    P.S. Alan Simpson (on Radio ‘Ulster’ in the afternoons) is an utter horror story – why replace one cringeworthy sub-Alan Partridge abomination (George Jones) with a marginally younger but no less ghastly version????????

  • into the yard, Street the wild as proud that and we

  • PeaceandJustice

    David Hamilton – “Much of what you refer to are events being covered less than 2 hours away.”

    So if it’s less than two hours away (by car, plane, boat?) BBC NI should cover it, regardless of its remit. As Eire is a foreign country, NI and UK news should get priority.

  • David Hamilton

    “As Eire is a foreign country, NI and UK news should get priority.”

    90% of the time it does- I’d qualify your statement by applying how relevant or interesting the news is to the people of Northern Ireland. Usually BBC NI does a decent enough job.

    Oh and “(by car, plane, boat?)” Most stories tend to be about Dublin or north, so I’ll qualify again- 2 hours, 10 minutes, 90 minutes.

  • USA

    PeaceandJustice,
    Are you Willie Frazier? You really are a sad individual, narrow minded and blinkered. So many things must eat you up inside, your viewpoints do nothing but bring shame on you.
    Try to show a little more respect toward your neighbours and you may start to enjoy your life a little more.
    Out of interest, would you consider yourself to be a supporter of the TUV?
    Thanks,
    Have a nice day.

  • JT

    Slugger – i also agree with the BBC Trust’s conclusion. As an Irish person living in the south of England, the devolved regions might as well be located in China for all I hear about them day to day.

  • jone

    Once again P&J;libels BBC News Online staff and his comments are allowed to hang about for hours…*rolls eyes*

  • picador

    There was a good piece on Newsnight tonight about the Lisbon Treaty referendum. The reporter quite correctly referred to the corruption scandal that brought down Bertie as affecting people’s trust in politicians.

    There have been a number of financial scandals in the UK recently involving MPs and MEPs (mostly Tories) but the BBC can never bring itself to use the C word. Why the diffidence and self-censorship? It seems foreigners are prone to corruption but British people just aren’t capable of such a thing (or at least that it wouldn’t be cricket to say so). Or maybe its just that the BBC journos spend so much time hanging around Westminster and they know what side their bread is buttered. Smacks of corruption (and xenophobia) all the same.

  • I’m amazed that the English Broadcasting Corporation’s ludicrously biased coverage of sport hasn’t come in for more criticism on this thread. Although, at least as far as rugby goes, the 6 Nations wouldn’t be the same with out Baldy Moore’s loathing of all things Irish and French and ludicrous defence of every English performance, no matter how woeful. How pleasant, though, it has been to watch some excellent football at the European Championships without the usual mewling sub-patriotic nonsense about England and whining about refereeing decisions every time they lose a match!

    There is one bit of the BBC which massively outclasses it’s private rival in terms of genuinely representing every part of the UK, which is Radio 3. Not only do Seán Rafferty, Stephanie Hughes, Sandy Burnett and even the slightly cocknified Rob Cowan get a fair crack of the whip, but non-English national orchestras are paid for or heavily subsidised, including our own Ulster Orchestra. Compare with Classic FM, where bowlderised pap is served up for posh people who like pretending to be cultured and even the advertisers have to sound like escapees from Goodbye Mr. Chips.

    It’s just a pity that this is under threat by Radio 3’s executives who want to replace it all with studio based world music from London to show how down with the kids they are.

  • Once again P&J;libels BBC News Online staff and his comments are allowed to hang about for hours…*rolls eyes*

    Posted by jone on Jun 11, 2008 @ 11:10 PM

    I sympathise with you. I’ve been libelled here myself recently by another poster who, happily, has been shown the door for his troubles. And I thank Mick for his prompt action in the matter.

    I haven’t seen any evidence that there’s an increase in the amount of Irish on the BBC NI website and I have never seen any Irish on the BBC News Online site. As for being pro IRA or SF, I hardly think so.

    You have to remember that being fair and objective qualifies you as a rabid IRA supporter in the eyes of Peace and Justice. I wonder where P&J;stands on the issue of Unionist terror groups and death squads.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    “While BBC NI doesn’t give enough of a UK perspective in its own programmes, they have started to cover a lot of RoI stories – sometimes as the top story. Last time I checked, people in Eire don’t pay the UK licence fee and don’t come under the remit of the BBC. The BBC should concentrate on its UK remit and cover RoI stories at the end of the main NI and UK news.”

    I agree, Peace & Justice. Northern Ireland is British and it is an intrinsic part of Britain. It’s whole population views itself as British too. Eire (aka the Republic of Ireland) is a totally different and foreign country, far, far away. It is as foreign to Northern Ireland as Bukina Faso, Nepal, or Chile. Therefore, there should be no coverage of any Irish news on the BBC as there are no Irish people living in Northern Ireland whatsoever, just loyal British folk. For that matter there should be no ‘foreign’ news on the BBC as ‘Johnny Foreigners’ do not pay the BBC license fee, only loyal British folk. Therefore, the BBC News should be (and rightly so) Anglocentric, as there is usually fuck all of interest to report in the provincial backwaters of the United Kingdom like Northern Ireland to English folk on the main evening news. The IRA who run the BBC Northern Ireland website as you say yourself, should be sacked too.

  • gram

    It takes some doing in an industry where Steven Nolan, Paul Clarke and George Jones can find regular employment but NI Slags represents a new low for NI broadcasting.

  • Very funny Greagoir.

    I think that P&J;dude has some serious mental issues, I have rarely seen such an out and out one sided poster with so much hate for the nationalist community who make up 85% of Ireland’s population. He’s practically a stereotype of the orange bigot, and the irony is, the Brits would see him as just another paddy like some bogtrotter from county Kerry, no difference for the Brits, all paddies to them. Bemused is right too, BBCNI is like some colonial home counties outpost of a TV station. When you hear the “Province”(60% of a province in actual fact), you’ve got to laugh, considering the folk of the other 40% of the province never get a look in.

  • Reader

    dave: When you hear the “Province”(60% of a province in actual fact), you’ve got to laugh,
    Clearly, they are referring to NI, the administrative province of the UK, rather than the ancient sporting provinces of the GAA. I think the first definition of ‘province’ appear higher up the list than the second in most dictionaries.

  • Paul

    [i]Also, the BBC NI web site seems to be run by Sinn Fein PIRA members trying to promote minority interests such as the terrorist linked GAA and the Irish Language.
    We need more balance from BBC NI. [/i]

    PeaceAndJustice,

    is that the same GAA that administer Northern Ireland’s most attended field sport, namely gaelic football?

    Is it the same GAA that committed to providing 150k fans per year to a shared stadium, in contrast to the 80k and 40k crowds drawn to soccer and rugby?

    On that basis, I fail to see how gaelic football can be regarded as a minority sport here.

    I think we need more balance from you, as well as the BBC.
    Thinking about, I’d say that the BBC still spend too much time covering minority sports like local soccer that struggle to attract crowds of more than 5 men and a goat.

  • Gwerty

    I’d like to point out that the BBC being too London centric or too national (as opposed to regional) centric is not necessarily the same thing as it being too England centric.

    Too many people seem to be implicitly conflating those concepts.

  • PeaceandJustice

    Con – “I wonder where P&J;stands on the issue of Unionist terror groups”

    I’ve repeatedly said that I don’t support any sort of terrorism. Unlike the majority of Pan-Nationalists on here who gloat about murder, torture and ethnic cleansing.

    dave – “I think that P&J;dude has some serious mental issues”

    That says more about you than me. You obviously can’t handle the fact that the greater number of people in Northern Ireland don’t share your opinions – thank goodness. You come across as if you don’t want a Protestant about the place.

    Paul – “is that the same GAA that administer Northern Ireland’s most attended field sport, namely gaelic football?”

    And your point is? I’m just stating the facts i.e. the GAA is a terrorist linked organisation which glorifies death squad leaders from the recent ‘Troubles’.

  • Paul

    PeaceandJustice,

    [i]And your point is? I’m just stating the facts i.e. the GAA is a terrorist linked organisation which glorifies death squad leaders from the recent ‘Troubles’. [/i]

    You stated that gaelic games were a minority sport.
    My point was that this is clearly not the case.
    Gaelic football is by far NI’s most popular spectator sport,as reflected in the Maze attendances committed by the three main sports bodies.
    I thought that would have been easy to work out.

    Moving on, you describe the GAA as a terrorist linked organisation.

    I would say that a more accurate description is that GAA’s NI membership reflects the NI nationalist community as a whole, ie it includes shinners, SDLP supporters, and the odd Alliance supporter.

    To brand the GAA as terroist linked because some terrorists played gaelic games is absurd.

    To extend your logic, almost every NI organisation, from the Boys Brigade to Pigeon Fancying Clubs would be terrorist linked because at some time, some terrorist happened to be involved in its activities.

    When you say that the GAA “glorifies death squad leaders from the recent ‘Troubles’.”, you are presumably homing in on one club in Derry who named their club after a local hunger striker.

    Its important to note that this is just one club out of thousands in Ireland, and that none of the rest name their clubs after local paramilitaries.
    The GAA, as an organisation is non-political.

    However, it is inescapable that local clubs will reflect the areas from which they draw their membership.

    The club concerned have always maintained that they were honouring Kevin Lynch, the talented hurler, rather than Kevin Lynch the hunger striker. Given the notoriety, I’d say that most people would say that the club are being less than truthful. To the locals, Kevin Lynch was probably deemed worthy of honour.

    There’s no GAA rule dictating what/whom clubs can be named after, so there was little that GAA HQ could do about it.

    Obviously, in ignoring the feelings of their unionist neighbours, the Kevin Lynch club are turning their back on local unionists. It’ll be a long time before they get a local Cedric or Cecil to line out at full back.

    No doubt you will choose not to believe it, but in most areas, there is a strong will within the GAA to engage with the unionist community, to get unionists to accept that the GAA is no threat to them, that its not the “IRA at play” as the DUP’ers once shouted.

    Hopefully in time, playing gaelic football in NI state schools will become the norm.
    After all, we’re all in a battle to get bums in shorts, and with soccer and rugby making inroads into Catholic schools, the GAA need to evangelise in the other direction if they’re not to lose players.

    I’m under no illusion that it will all be plain sailing – there needs to a full and frank dialogue between the GAA and the unionist community. The GAA may need to remove some of its historical nationalist baggage. The recent events at Limavady Grammar may well precipitate such a dialogue.

    One things for sure though – there are many irreformable anti GAA, anti Nationalist zealots who will continue to ignore reality and fear change.

  • PeaceandJustice

    To Paul – I said that the BBC NI web site is promoting minority interests such as the terrorist linked GAA. It is a minority interest sectarian sport as ordinary football is followed by the greatest number of people in NI – e.g. going across to watch Celtic, Rangers, Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea etc or following them on the TV.

    Paul – “Its important to note that this is just one club [Kevin Lynch] out of thousands in Ireland, and that none of the rest name their clubs after local paramilitaries.”

    That’s just incorrect. In South Armagh we have the Lochrie/Campbell Park (Dromintee Football Club) named after Jim Lochrie and Sean Campbell. In Donagh Fermanagh the club also call their ground after an IRA terrorist, Louis Leonard Memorial Park. Cumann na Fuiseoige was launched in 2004 by the President of the Ulster Board of the GAA and SF PIRA’s Gerry Adams – “Our club badge, the Lark and the H-Block, is one we will wear with pride.”

    We have the Mairead Farrell Camogie tournament, the Michael McVerry cup. In Tyrone, the Gerard and Martin Harte Memorial Cup for U12s. In 2006 the Antrim county board allowed Casement Park to be used for a Republican rally commemorating the 1981 hunger strikes.

    There is also the issue of the GAA flying a foreign flag and playing a foreign anthem.

    As regards Kevin Lynch, at the opening of the park GAA president Nickey Brennan and the Ulster Council chairman were there along with members of the Lynch family. So when you state “there was little that GAA HQ could do about it”, you are again incorrect. The top man in the GAA gave it his blessing.

    That’s why BBC NI should stop treating the GAA as if it’s some normal sporting organisation. The facts show it is a sporting organisation with a political agenda. If it wants to change, then I would welcome it.

  • David Hamilton

    P&J;- “To Paul – I said that the BBC NI web site is promoting minority interests such as the terrorist linked GAA. It is a minority interest sectarian sport as ordinary football is followed by the greatest number of people in NI – e.g. going across to watch Celtic, Rangers, Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea etc or following them on the TV.”

    I think the point is- news about those teams you name goes in the England or Scotland section of the BBC news website. Whereas, news about GAA in NI goes in the BBC News NI section. Fairly easy to understand- no? That way everyone is happy.

  • David Caruso

    Sir Edward Carson palyed Hurking for Trinity College.

    Case closed.

  • PeaceandJustice

    David Hamilton – “That way everyone is happy.”

    Of course the news about English or Scottish teams goes into the appropriate section – and we have NI teams too! But no, the greater number of people in Northern Ireland are not happy about BBC NI using so much resources to promote the terrorist linked GAA.

    To David Caruso – the case is certainly not closed. As I’ve indicated above, if the GAA wants to break its link with terrorism then I would welcome it.

    The new minister for Sport needs to link future funding of the GAA with a programme of change. Drop the foreign anthem. Drop the foreign flag. Drop the links with PIRA/INLA death squad members. And be a purely sporting organisation.

  • perry patetic

    “Sir Edward Carson played Hurling for Trinity College.”

    Was he any good? Perhaps someone could name a club after him.