BBC responds to complaints about anti-austerity demo – with a form letter


Vox Political readers forcemajeure007 and Sarah Ledsom have been in touch to forward the responses they have received from the BBC to their complaints about the non-coverage of the People’s Assembly anti-austerity demonstration on Saturday.

Like the (lack of) coverage itself, it is extremely disappointing.

Both commenters received exactly the same response, with the only change in wording at the top – their own names. The remainder reads as follows:

“Thanks for contacting us about coverage of the People’s Assembly anti-austerity demonstration on 21 June.

“We understand you feel there was insufficient coverage of this demonstration by BBC News.

“We have received a wide range of feedback about our coverage of this story. In order to use our TV licence fee resources efficiently, this general response aims to answer the key concerns raised, but we apologise in advance if it doesn’t address your specific points in the manner you would prefer.

“Your concerns were raised with senior editorial staff at BBC News who responded as follows:

“’We covered this demonstration on the BBC News Channel* with five reports throughout Saturday evening, on the BBC News website on Sunday, as well as on social media. We choose which stories we cover based on how newsworthy they are and what else is happening and we didn’t provide extensive coverage because of a number of bigger national and international news stories that day, including the escalating crisis in Iraq, British citizens fighting in Syria and the death of Gerry Conlon.**

“‘We frequently report on the UK economy and what it means for the British public. We also reflect the concerns of people such as those demonstrating, and others who hold opposing views, across our daily news output on TV, radio as well as online, and we also explore them in more depth including in our political programming and current affairs investigations, debates on ‘Question Time’ and during interviews and analysis on programmes such as ‘PM’ and ‘Newsnight’. Inevitably, there may be disagreements over the level of prominence we give to stories, but we believe our coverage of this subject has been fair and impartial.’”

It seems the BBC’s bosses have caught the Tory disease and cannot be bothered to apologise when they make a mistake. If they received a “wide range” of feedback about their coverage, and are now responding with a form letter, rather than individually, you can be sure that many, many people complained. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the response was wholly negative, given that coverage was restricted to a few spots on the rolling news channel and the utterly pathetic excuse for a story on the website.

Does anybody else believe that was fair and impartial?

If so, consider this. In 2011 the BBC covered a PRO-austerity demonstration by the Taxpayers’ Alliance (of all organisations). Total attendance: 350 people.

They’ll cover a 350-strong pro-austerity demo but not a 50,000-strong anti-austerity event.

Fair and impartial?

Don’t make me choke.

*If it was on the BBC News Channel, why not the main news?

** And the Solstice, which happens every year.

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  1. Ratty June 25, 2014 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Unless you’re committed to watching live TV there’s no reason to buy a licence. Vote with your feet.

  2. henworld1h June 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    I got the same.

  3. damien willey June 25, 2014 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    Got exactly the same rote response – disgusting

    • gusman June 26, 2014 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      yeah me too, Rather watch Shame on BEEB.As someone who has lived abroad for many years it used to be my “touch base” I used to hold the BBC in such high regard, it has lost my loyalty and respect. State TV now, like Chinese CCTV, China being my last sojourn.

    • Ian Duncan June 30, 2014 at 5:56 pm - Reply

      Ditto. Word for word.

      There was a video doing the rounds of Facebook a day or two ago, it was a programme on BBC News 24 about the criticism. Owen Jones was in the studio to do a good job of bollocking the BBC but who did the BBC send in to defend their coverage..? Nobody, just gave he host a prepared statement and that was it.

      Their cowardice strongly implies they know they’re in the wrong. If the BBC thought they were right they’d have had no trouble putting someone forward to defend their coverage.

      This is another irritating thing about the BBC; the high-handed attitude to criticism. The right have used that as a stick to beat the BBC with and I generally thought it was grumblings of the paranoid Tories but I’m starting to think they have a point, just from the opposite direction. The BBC *are* high handed and arrogant and *do* ignore criticism when it doesn’t suit them. They also do seem complacent because the ‘unique way the BBC is funded’, as they once said.

      Well we have digital technology now, it is possible to make the BBC a subscription-only service, just like Sky Sports etc We’re overdue a petition to demand just such a thing, that might just knock the haughty attitude out of ‘Auntie’.

  4. pat June 25, 2014 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    I received an identical email as well.

  5. Sarah June 25, 2014 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    ‘5 reports throughout Saturday evening’, maybe they did, but surely that was only after many people had complained of lack of coverage. As I said in my email to them, when you take public money, then you have a ‘contract’ to give a public service and the fact that there were many thousands of potential license fee payers protesting against austerity, they deserved a better service.

  6. Mr.Angry June 25, 2014 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    Totally unacceptable we now why we are paying are licence for total deceit from another government controlled organisation. Wonder where Chris Pattern fits in with all this after all he was Thatchers puppy, that’s when she she sent him off to Hong Kong running scared to sort out sovereignty what a joke. That’s after he introduced the immoral council tax bill.

  7. robert fillies June 25, 2014 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    I also recieved the same boring response.

  8. Nay June 25, 2014 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    What Ratty said. I got rid of my Virgin box last autumn and don’t miss live TV in the slightest. Hideous, bloated, out of touch, propaganda spewing dinosaur of an organisation.

    • jaypot2012 June 25, 2014 at 8:37 pm - Reply

      Haven’t watched tv for just on 7 years now and don’t pay a licence as I have declared that the tv I have is only for watching dvd’s.
      I don’t think I could ever go back to watching such a load of drivel, and the lying news channels.

  9. aturtle05 June 25, 2014 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    So, I have to watch “News on a Loop” to get news, instead I am served up with the news that some nobody (well, I had to Google his name to find out who Gerry Conlon was) so that news that 50,000 people had exercised their rite to demonstrate about things that affect people in this country, not thousands of miles away.

    • Mike Sivier June 25, 2014 at 6:26 pm - Reply

      Gerry Conlon wasn’t a nobody – the Guildford Four case was an appalling miscarriage of justice and it is right that he should be mentioned, as a reminder of how badly justice went wrong. That being said, the BBC got its priorities badly wrong.

  10. Colin M. Taylor June 25, 2014 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    Remind me again, how many BBC Staff were sent to Brazil to cover a Sports Tournament?
    More than 270

    And 300 are being sent to the Annual Glastonbury Festival.

    Is this a good use of the Licence Fee?

  11. jane wilson June 25, 2014 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    I think people need to let go of this and concentrate on the problems we have

    • Mike Sivier June 25, 2014 at 7:09 pm - Reply

      This is one of them.

    • Ian Duncan June 30, 2014 at 6:03 pm - Reply

      We have many problems, one of those problems is not enough people know about the extent of the problems. If more people knew about the homelessness, poverty, foodbank use, sanctions run wild and mistreatment of disabled people there would be much more pressure on the government to wind their necks in. That’s where the BBC comes in. We expect routine bias from the Murdoch and Rothermere shitrags but the BBC is directly publically funded and is supposed to reflect that.

      Nothing will change if the people don’t know to what extent things need to change. That’s exactly why this is important.

  12. F. Clarke June 25, 2014 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    Don’t report on the internet unless you are going to include internet with the license fee..20% of license payers don’t have internet access yet you have program’s only available on internet filmed on BBC equipment, hosted by staff payed by the license payer but not unavailable to everybody….the license payer should b your first concern not the rich….also it should have bin on the BBC one news not the news channel

  13. Dave Lyne June 25, 2014 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    But you’re all missing the exciting fair play of the overpaid prima donnas conning referees in the “best” world cup in years, the totally fair and impartial politics on Newsnight, Question Time, etc AND David Cameron on the news “accidentally” ruining a £100M trial result that could see “Andy” get off lightly due to a premature public apology (c’mon, give the Prime Minister a break….I know he’s educated AND his Brother is a top legal bod involved in the trial but ANYONE can make an honest mistake, guv’nor)! And the masses fall for it….time after time after time after time…..! You couldn’t make it up; well they did, actually, in the comedy shows of Python, Fry and Laurie, Not The 9 o’clock News, et al. Their spin doctors are getting lazy and simply regurgitating old comedy sketches. Laugh? I could bloody weep!

  14. TheBockingfordKid June 25, 2014 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    I posted the response on Facebook, with a screenshot of the BBC news website at the end of the day (June 22) showing all the news they felt worthy of covering, the march not mentioned. It has now gone from both places. Anyone else posted it on FB and had it vanish?

  15. leonc1963 June 25, 2014 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    “In order to use our TV licence fee resources efficiently” Hmm I think that would be bringing the news everyone wants to see and yes it is what would want to see as it is new fresh news of something that affects us all.

  16. Guy Ropes June 25, 2014 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    Of course the self same denial of news occurred when over (I think) 50,000 people marched in Manchester against NHS cuts not too long ago. It might be as well to enquire who is responsible for this denial of news, as an obvious pattern is emerging. Is it down to good ol’ Jeremy at No. 10 ?

    • Mike Sivier June 25, 2014 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      Or is it good ol’ James (Harding) at New Broadcasting House? He’s the director of news, apparently.

      • Guy Ropes June 26, 2014 at 9:08 am - Reply

        I’m not arguing Mike but I prefer to believe that ‘news’ is orchestrated from No. 10. Incidentally, it might be a thought to inform your readers (if they don’t already know) of exactly who decides which “news” is chosen for us to consume over our wheaty-bangs each morning. It’s the same whichever channel you choose, so who holds the strings?

  17. Liz Matron Spencer June 25, 2014 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    Well, if \i get a standard response then I will complain about it not being on the main news.

  18. Phil Workman June 25, 2014 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    I got exactly the same response. What the BBC don’t seem to understand is that they occupy a special place with regard to their reporting; we are (with a few exceptions) licence payers and deserve to have our views represented which includes items such as this march. Other news outlets are commercial enterprises and are largely about entertainment but one has the choice whether or not to buy. This is not the case with the BBC and they risk p***ing off the licence payer over this sort of thing at their peril. The current gang in government would love to see it dismantled and a BBC that does not report on items like this while enthusiastically reporting about the length of the grass at Wimbledon will not win many supporters.

  19. elizapdushku June 25, 2014 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on elizapdushku's World.

  20. Tina Anderson June 25, 2014 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    The following is the complaint I wrote to the BBC. I too received the ludicrous response that EVERYONE else was sent. The BBC is shaming itself and making a mockery of news service in the UK. What little they claim they reported was so miniscule to be embarrassing. For their credibility…..
    Thanks Mike Sivier, for your blogs and sharing of really important information.

    ‘Complaint Summary: Why has BBC News ignored the Austerity March?Bias?’

    Full Complaint: I am disgusted with the BBC bias and blatant news black out for the Anti Austerity March held today, 21st June 2014. In a democracy news agencies are expected to broadcast fair and honest information. The current government is receiving such vitriol from the public because they are so clearly not for the people. I am thankful for YouTube and Facebook, and alternate news sources for publishing the truth. Do the men running the BBC really think their cavalier attitude towards the common people will go unnoticed? It smacks of cronyism and the Old Boy system of schooling in this country where the privileged wealthy protect each other when they have climbed over the bodies of ordinary, vulnerable and/or working poor to ‘lead’ the country into the dirt. Not showing this massive protest on the news is clearly an action against reasonable, intelligent, honest people who care about the destruction of life as we know it in Britain.


  21. […] BBC responds to complaints about anti-austerity demo – with a form letter. […]

  22. Judith Robinson June 26, 2014 at 7:24 am - Reply

    exactly the same email same for me too

  23. Mark June 26, 2014 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    i got the same standard e mail back what a shambles the BBC is in it proves just how BIAS they are towards people unless they are rich or the government shame on the BBC

  24. Lipstuck Rizla July 3, 2014 at 1:22 am - Reply

    Everyone knows the BBC old news on a 24 hour’s utterly ridiculous and pointless.

  25. Nice Jewish Girl July 13, 2014 at 8:53 am - Reply

    Sarah Ledsom? Would this be the same “Sarah Ledsom” who is a regular poster on holocaust revisionist sites – such as that by online conspiracy theorist Chris Spivey linked to below – and whom I received several mouthfuls of anti-Semitic abuse from back in November of last year? For someone who claims to be on the left you really do share some strange political bedfellows, Mike. Check out the contributions by poster “Sarah Ledsom” on the site below – if you are daring enough to handle the truth about who some people really are on t’ interweb:

    • Mike Sivier July 13, 2014 at 9:04 am - Reply

      If it is the same person, I can only judge them by what I see. I had no evidence that there was any reason not to use this person’s name when I wrote the article and in any case, from the responses of others, we know that the response from the BBC was the same to anybody who wrote in on this subject.
      At last count, Vox Political was being read by around 50,000 people every week. It is impossible to check all their backgrounds and, until they do something wrong here, everyone is welcome.
      (Of course, if they do break the house rules, that’s a different matter,)

      • sarahledsom July 13, 2014 at 2:34 pm - Reply

        “Sarah Ledsom” is in fact my real name unlike you Nice Jewish Girl. I don’t need to hide behind anyone or anything. You come on here,(8 months later) on a thread about lack of coverage from the BBC about an austerity protest, to question Mike’s blog and his readers views on another subject. You must be desperate that’s all I can say. 8 months later??? Hope you are getting paid well.

        “Would this be the same “Sarah Ledsom” who is a regular poster on holocaust revisionist sites”…please provide evidence of this, although it will take you a long time to come up with it, as it just doesn’t exist, does it NJG? Regular poster?? again I ask for evidence of this, any site will do to make it easier for you.

        I will defend the Palestinians against the holocaust/genocide, that is taking place in Palestine as we speak. I will state again to you, that Israel is the scourge of the earth as are all her supporters, for the psychological trauma, maiming and deaths of children in the Middle East.

        I stood up to be counted at the last census uk, and refused to comply with Lockheed Martin being in charge of the census, and what their weapons were doing to innocent children in war zones (and that does include Israeli children as I stated in a radio interview.) I was taken to court for over a year, and guess what NJG, my case was dropped (after a year!) and I represented myself. What have you done in your life that you were proud of?

        I will not be getting in to any more conversations with you, especially as I have no idea who or what you are, as you keep that hidden NJG.

        By the way, the photo next to my name, is actually me, sitting in my wheelchair outside the court, holding my placard in support of Palestinian children. What you see is what you get and I am not afraid to stand up and be counted.

        I am sorry Mike that this has happened on your site, but I have nothing more to add, the rest is up to you.

        • Mike Sivier July 13, 2014 at 3:02 pm - Reply

          I would like to say that the Israel/Palestine question is huge – and, if entertained on this site, is likely to swamp it completely. That’s why I try to avoid it (and most affairs relating to foreign countries) and concentrate on domestic matters.
          My own opinion is that I would rather nobody died over silly things like possession of a piece of ground or differing interpretations of books. The land will be there long after the people currently living on it are gone, and the correct interpretation of the books is probably different to what anybody currently believes.
          I do appreciate that this is not a solution to the problem.

  26. Nice Jewish Girl July 14, 2014 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    Well said, Mike. I totally agree with you and one of the things that saddens me is the loss of so much innocent life within the last few days because of the extremists on both sides.

    • Mike Sivier July 14, 2014 at 11:17 pm - Reply

      I’ve edited out the rest of your comment because it is not appropriate here.
      This blog does not tolerate personal attacks by commenters on other readers/commenters. We have a guideline here – “play the ball, not the player” – meaning comments should speak to the subject under discussion. You have not mentioned the subject of this thread once. I allowed your initial comment, along with the reply from the person you were discussing, because it is good to find out if particular commenters are likely to present a problem in the future.
      You’ve both had your say now.
      If the other person behaves inappropriately, that comment will not see publication here. Until she does, she’ll have the benefit of the doubt.

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