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Fox News vs. BBC impartiality

Fox News breached impartiality rules, says state censor Ofcom.

Ofcom’s ruling concluded there was “no reflection of the views of the UK government or any of the authorities or people criticised” and the presenter “did not challenge the views of his contributors; instead, he reinforced their views.”

Leaving aside the question of whether the state has a role in telling broadcasters what news they can broadcast (it does not), let me take a quick look at the front page of the BBC News website right now.

Here is my translation of the pertinent headlines (stories that are probably neutral I have marked in italics, and non-political stories I have omitted):

  • Big companies like Apple should pay more tax.
  • Tax avoidance is wrong.
  • Lewis Hamilton should pay more tax.
  • Bono should pay more tax.
  • Rich people should pay more tax.
  • The state should control who has guns.
  • Mugabe wants his wife to take over from him.
  • Plastic is bad and greedy people are destroying the planet with it because they are greedy.
  • Global warming is still really real and only states working with the UN can save us.
  • Trump is being mean to Turkish people.
  • Trump wants Japan to help defend against North Korea.
  • People were kidnapped in Nigeria.
  • A writer used politically incorrect language.
  • A woman who was rude to Trump got fired.
  • People who voted for Trump probably regret it.

No sign of anything other than a completely neutral world-view there. None at all.

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19 comments to Fox News vs. BBC impartiality

  • Michael Jennings

    I stopped paying the licence fee in 2009. Not once have I regretted this.

  • morsjon

    Once you stop it is easy to continue not paying it. They probably regret letting non-users not pay, as the cat is out of the bag now.

  • The Ofcom ruling reads astonishingly at first glance, given what we’ve all seen on UK TV for years and indeed decades, never mind what the OP noted about today’s stories. I watched back-to-back the BBC and ITV coverage of Trump’s inauguration. My memory is that ITV managed to be 100% negative, thereby making BBC less extreme in their coverage – but not hugely so.

    I’ve not seen the Fox programmes complained about, but the description gives me no impression whatever that they did or could greatly exceed in one direction what is the norm here in the other. So I suspect the Ofcom finding of being sheer insolence – and a good reason why the state’s opinion in such matters should have no authority.

    Whatever lefties accuse others of doing is usually what they are doing somewhere else but in this case Ofcom appears to demonstrate crude bias in the very act of asserting there was crude bias. I actually found myself wondering whether the very calm and occasionally qualified tone of the Guardian’s report of it hinted that even the Graniad writer thinks the ruling just a bit debatable; what do others think?

  • Snorri Godhi

    Very good translation of BBC News-speak.

  • Mr Ed

    I saw something suggesting that the OFCOM ruling was a hit-job to help to scupper a Fox-Sky TV merger. I have not had a TV for 8 years now and I don’t miss it. Cut the cord, as they say in the States for cable viewers jumping ship.

    Not having had a TV at the time, I don’t recall the BBC promoting any shows about Obama voters with regrets 1 year in. I do like to remind myself that I am not paying for the BBC and they are around £1,100 the poorer for my decision.

    And it’s news to the BBC that Mr Lewis Hamilton is faster than the taxman. Wow!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well I think Rob’s list is shocking shocking!

    …in its excellent summary of The News Today.

    And we don’t even have to pay the licence fee.

  • Laird

    The US has no “impartiality rule” (although it once did, in the risibly-named “fairness doctrine”, but that was jettisoned years ago), so if what Sky showed was simply a rebroadcast of the US shows there is nothing it could have done about it. Also, “Hannity” and “Tucker Carlson” are both avowedly and proudly opinion shows; by definition they are not “impartial”. Does the BBC have no such programs?

  • Zerren Yeoville

    “Big companies like Apple should pay more tax.
    Tax avoidance is wrong.
    Lewis Hamilton should pay more tax.
    Bono should pay more tax.
    Rich people should pay more tax.”

    Yup, the BBC pandering to the Guardianistas and the howling Daily-Mirror-mob again. Where, in the interests of balance and impartiality, are the PRO-tax-haven, PRO-offshore voices?

    It so happens the Queen is the sovereign of the Cayman Islands and Bermuda; I would have thought it perfectly in order for her to have money and/or investments in any of the territories she rules over.

    No-one, so far as they act lawfully, is obliged to arrange their affairs for the convenience of a cartel of high-tax states, or for that of noisily squawking, self-righteous politicians wanting to maximize their tax-plunder to squander on politically-correct BS, out-of-control bureaucracy, or invading other countries in the pursuit of mythical weapons.

    The well-known quotes from Lords Clyde and Tomlin bear repeating:

    ““No man in this country is under the smallest obligation, moral or otherwise, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or to his property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest shovel into his assets. The Inland Revenue is not slow – and quite rightly – to take every advantage which is open to it under the taxing statutes for the purpose of depleting the taxpayer’s pocket, and the taxpayer is, in like manner, entitled to be as astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue.” (Clyde)

    “Every man is entitled, if he can, to arrange his affairs so that the tax attaching under the appropriate Acts is less than it otherwise would be. If he succeeds in ordering them so as to serve that result, then, however unappreciative the Commissioners of Inland Revenue or his fellow taxpayers may be of his ingenuity, he cannot be compelled to pay an increased tax.” (Tomlin)

    No doubt there will be those who go “blah blah schools blah blah hospitals blah blah roads” as if these necessary things would be nonexistent without tax-funded government provision. They should pause to reflect how it is that the lifeboat service round the UK coasts is provided independently of state funding. Probably only a small proportion of the UK population donates any money to the RNLI in any given year, and yet virtually every port and holiday resort and fishing village round the British coast has a fully equipped and staffed lifeboat station which provides its services freely and 24/7/365 to those who need it.

  • Sam Duncan

    I accidentally caught some of the “Paradise Papers” coverage today. It was simply assumed, without question, by all involved that tax avoidance is both morally wrong and economically damaging. It wasn’t simply that the reporters ignored any contrary opinions; they all seemed completely unaware that there is anyone with a different opinion. The closest I saw to such a beast was one “expert” wheeled on to assure us that of course people have the right to arrange their affairs to minimize the tax they pay, but it makes life very difficult for the governments who want their money. And that’s a Bad Thing. (What expenses scandal? Do government projects go over-budget? News to us.)

    Which is all actually quite odd – or suspicious – because I’ve noticed that where this has come up in non-political, non-news, sites (such as those covering Formula 1, thanks to Lewis Hamilton’s inclusion in the “Papers”), opinion in the comments seems to be pretty evenly split.

  • Andrew Douglas

    I stopped terrestrial television a couple of years ago and don’t miss it.
    Harder to avoid the radio, however.
    On radio 4 yesterday they were trailing a programme marking the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution. The tone was almost celebratory, and there was no hint of the disastrous consequences that have flowed from that event.

    What other major political events will they mark in future? The seizure of power by Pol Pot? Mao’s Long March?

  • Mr Ecks

    The BBC needs to be shut down in a 24 hour time-scale. Which will need careful planning.

    Morally the folk who just work there –techies, tea ladies etc should get redundancy. But the CM boss class and the luvvies need to go out with zero compensation and their pensions confiscated. Ditto Channel 4 and then a broadcasting free for all.

  • Laird (November 6, 2017 at 9:57 pm), I can best answer your question:

    “Hannity” and “Tucker Carlson” are both avowedly and proudly opinion shows; by definition they are not “impartial”. Does the BBC have no such programs?

    by combining Sam Duncan (November 7, 2017 at 2:05 am):

    It wasn’t simply that the [BBC] reporters ignored any contrary opinions; they all seemed completely unaware that there is anyone with a different opinion.

    with what I heard the BBC say on the morning of November 9th. While analysing the election’s outcome, the presenter remarked

    but Wisconsin wasn’t even in play for us

    The BBC has many opinion programmes, only a few of which they label as such.

    BTW, it would not surprise me if the Ofcommers who wrote the report did not even know that those US shows were opinion shows. But it would surprise me even less if they simply did not care.

  • decnine

    This morning, I listened to a representative of the Isle of Man government explaining that their VAT regime is functionally identical to that of the UK; it’s even audited by HMRC. The reason Lewis Hamilton registered his jet in the IoM was the much lower fees charged by the IoM, with consequent lower VAT. It did not occur to John Humphrys to ask why aircraft registration in the UK is so much more expensive.

    The BBC: always happy to pander to the greed of Government.

  • Kevin B

    Yeah but be fair to the beeb. It wasn’t as if there was anything else going on in the world. Like missiles being launched at Riyadh or lots of Saudi princes being arrested.

    Seriously, why does the BBC news website have virtually nothing on the goings on in Saudi and Lebanon?

  • Mr Ed

    It’s about time the Isle of Man decided to stop the BBC licence fee in the island, and it could simply say to the BBC that they could come to some cable or subscription arrangement for those who wish to view it.

    Quite why the blind get made to pay half-price for a TV licence is beyond me, after all, they are only getting the radio part, and they don’t get anything more from colour.

    Type of Television Cost (effective 1 Apr 11)
    Colour £145.50
    Monochrome £49.00
    Blind Rebate Half price

    Unless they include the partially-sighted.
    And they still have dog licences on the Island, £20 a year.

  • Paul Marks

    “Ofcom” shares the ideology of the BBC and the other leftist television news networks.

    There are many English language television news networks – but only one of them is not leftist. Fox News.

    It is no coincidence that it is Fox News that the EVIL SCUM (words carefully considered before I typed them) “Ofcom” attacks.

    Of course News International has been crawling to the bureaucrats for some time – Fox News did not even broadcast to Britain on election day earlier this year (all the leftist television news stations carried on as normal on election day) and now the Fox News does not broadcast at all to the United Kingdom – giving the left a monopoly of television news and current affairs. News International crawls because it hopes it will be allowed to buy the rest of Sky if it crawls.

    This whole Fascist system disgusts me. And it is Fascist – it is allowing private ownership (as Mr Mussolini did) as long as the private owners do what the state wants them to do. There is no freedom, no diversity – just FOLLOW THE LINE LAID DOWN BY THE GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATORS.

  • Phil

    Currently the BBC news website has an extra big headline (usually reserved for super serious stuff, like nuclear war or Bruce Forsyth passing away) on “The island that swapped donkey rides for offshore cash”.

    FFS.

  • Derek Buxton

    Mr. Douglas and Mr. Ecks,
    I feel that the BBC is in full communist mode and has been for some weeks. Not a single criticism of the Soviet Union just happiness all around, sick making!

  • […] relies mainly on unsubstantiated Twitter posts in its initial reporting of a story. Consider too this post from Rob Fisher at […]

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