Read this: The BBC's Impartiality Crisis
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BBC sounds music Radio podcasts hello, I'm Andrea catherwood, and this is the media show from BBC Radio 4 today we're going to be taking a look at the latest crisis at the BBC this time at the Fallout is from the corporations Handling of the Naga Munchetty complained and YouTube's new strategy to tempt us with what looks suspiciously like fashions television programmes.
Let me introduce you to some of our guests we've got Krishnan guru-murthy is a presenter of Channel 4 news, of course just come back from the Tory Party conference in Birmingham going up to talk to you when we didn't get the prime minister.
We did get the cabinet so that the Prime Minister was not keen to face Channel 4 News questions, don't know why they picked us out.
We asked pretty difficult questions, but I didn't want to talk Dominic Cummings in his adviser has been pretty rude about you.
Not you personally but Channel 4 news is that was a good for the brand?
I don't think is particularly good for anybody to start hurling insults at each other generally I think Dominic Cummings get on with in.
I was running the country and not worry himself too much mediabrands, and we should all hold politicians to account and the prime minister should think it's part of these jobs coming on strong questions science is YouTube head of Originals for commissioning new shows for YouTube in Europe the Middle East and Africa many people associate YouTube of course the DIY tutorial viral videos, why do you want to become known as a destination for quality original TV I think really that there are so many passion points explored on YouTube Through the videos that come in as part of the open platform for are really exciting trying to see what we can do to help the people who crazy stuff on YouTube 8NA higher level of creativity to do something for the owners.
They just couldn't do without us and mean and mode it is from.
Keeper crossword people like Luke erupto is YouTube something that you learn new skills from now absolutely I remember one of my best friends for 10:30 and it was from and how to do 1920s hair is great.
Thank you very much.
I will be talking to you a little bit later on but now you have missed it the BBC is in the grip of another crisis this time at the rise over a complaint against BBC breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty first the BBC said that she had broken impartiality guidelines over her response to a Tweet from President Trump then after a huge outcry the director-general stepped in to overturn the decision of the corporations executive complaints unit that you were an active part of a campaign to get tony all the general to look at this again as well.
He's poorly done the right thing in overturning the decision, but there's an awful.
Lot they still mysterious we still don't know why this.
Decision was formed willy on what basis.
No one's apologized for the on truth that BBC executives came out and you know and said to people during during interviews they claimed that there have been no complaints about Naga munchetty's co presenter Dan Walker it now turns out that had so there's an awful lot about feeling both outside and inside the BBC I think it's been very damaging because ask the BBC to come on.
They were unable to provide anybody this afternoon.
I would like to bring in on the line from Edinburgh Chris bunting who is the former director of standards and a current member of the sky News for your regulators house on woman wrong here well unfortunately.
It's become a little bit messy and as a Christian implied not very clear about what is actually curd nice thing that goes back to the original decision that was published which basically didn't have enough reasoning and it hardly had any reasoning about.
At the BBC made his decision he didn't explain what it said and most of all he didn't look at the editorial guidelines and assess what had been reached that meant that from there onwards BBC was constantly on the back foot explaining the decision added to that when Lord Hall decided to overturn the decision.
It's my view that again that email really reasoning is not clear.
How Lord holes role in this is supposed to be because if you look at the procedures, there is no review mechanism of course he is the editor-in-chief and he makes the final decision, but it does raise questions over the editorial complaints unit independence and what procedures were followed so as a consequence.
There's a lot of love you a lot of misunderstanding around what the decision was a what the decision should have been and I think it's all become very mixed up on impartiality and raised.
Actually, it's about impartiality and political controversy.
I think that's where the confusion has been called ok.
You say that there is a lot of mixed up about impartiality and raise the whole crowd has been stoked by the fact that the Guardian leaked the initial complaint and that complaint was against both lager and her male white co presenter Dan Walker but the ruling only mentioned Naga night.
Obviously it would be great if I have the BBC in here to explain this.
I don't know how do you think that happened in some of the bride dresses of the BBC lights process it has three stages and fundamental when you get to stage 3 the editorial complaints unit the local final decision only the appeal which goes to them they don't look at the previous correspondence now as far as that was no even in a case like this which clearly was going too well.
Did spark so much controversy, they really wouldn't have gone back and looked at the initiative of done.
Yes, do they the answer as far as I'm aware no and the reason for that is there just looking at the appeal the complaint that writes the third letter to say I want to appeal against decision and this is the reason that as far as I understand.
She did the mental he did mention Dan Walker in that finally so consequently the complaints unit didn't look at it that obviously that raises the issue that surely if you're looking at a complaint.
You should go from the beginning to the end and there's obviously a lesson to learn that this has left the BBC open to a lot of criticism does the BBC have a problem with race.
It's definitely got a problem with race and this is exposed it.
You know people for ever asking you give me an example of how people are treated differently well here's an example and Chris has highlighted the absurdity of the process whereby perhaps the executive complaints unit.
Get the original complaint but David Jordan who is the editorial policy chief who went out on television and radio to defend the BBC's position should have had access to those those complain we don't know whether he did or not really that we don't know whether he knew what he was saying wasn't true or whether he was speaking out of ignorance.
This is because he said on there that I had not been complaining yes and so you know that the whole that the real problem with intensive white has BBC got a problem on race it is the way it approached the end of racism and impartiality it was basically saying Naga Munchetty should not have revealed the viewer should not have known how she felt about the racism.
This is the third position to be in and it's one of these you still getting in a mess over what impartiality is because BBC journalists are in partial about.
Breakfast Ulverston quite rightly everything about famine or murder or terrorism or all of these sort of universal values that are generally accepted with within Society so why should Races not be one of those things that are accepted as a as a bad thing there was nothing wrong with the viewer knowing but Megan and Chelsea fans racism is bad.
This is why I think there's there's a misunderstanding and this is caused by the published decisions by the BBC I believe having listened to various interviews that they did probably go to the right process, but it hasn't been drafted and published so to answer the questions comments.
Can you call out somebody for racist language is go home raises the answer is yes, of course you can and broadcasters do not by law have to be neutral on every issue or detach from fundamental democratic principles.
That's written into the App Store guidelines that point one.
Can you say that racism is not acceptable of course you can and you must be able to fully.
Can you say how you feel as a person of colour about racism.
Yes you can in the right context of course you can however what BBC journalists and particularly presenters can't do is give their opinion on matters of political controversy all about all day feel about political leaders.
It's a very very fine line this one and whether the presenter on this case you did or didn't do that is open to question and clearly the editorial thought that she did and loadhaul thought that she didn't but because the BBC didn't go through that process.
I've just described and explained it.
We've got a position where people are say over the BBC is not impartial advice.
That's not the case.
They can be passionate embrace what they can't be partial on is opinions about political leaders and that is of controversy and it's a very sad.
Very important point with common Sense and the reason they seem to have been lacking in that common sense.
I think it's because of the lack of diversity.
You know the complaints unit that was looking at this overwhelmingly white male and BBC management is overwhelmingly white male there's a huge lack of diversity in this organisation and it's obvious from the decisions.
They say the people they hire and the people who are all in the senior decision-making roles that they have something of a monoculture that that's that's really good the basis of this problem BBC internal in the BBC presenters have said that they feel that they are window dressing so BME staff said that they they feel like the window dressing that the brakes seriously do you think that the BBC has left itself open to it by the way that it's handle this hasn't helped itself by the way.
It's handle it simply because it hasn't been clear.
It's console on the back foot about this and
I might be wrong about diversity in the BBC in terms of its effects but from a purely regulatory point of view this is because it's been mixed up and I think people are either unconsciously or consciously mixing up the issue of race with impartiality when it wasn't there.
I think that if you leave the BBC didn't appear to do this and either it's decisions if you look very very closely at the words that she said and whether she was being impartial.
It's incredibly and it's a really difficult decision to make and I've listened to it to a number times and I come from that regulatory background so as a consequence.
It's a really tough decision, but if you don't go through stages if you don't explain your reasoning ay it's very very tight and what you actually looking at because you're not looking at race you're looking at whether she made a comment on trump of how she felt about Trump
Don't get the right decision and then you have everybody rightly or wrongly accusing the BBC of lacking diversity.
Ok, when you've had to me all night overruling the executive complaints unit is it in shreds Chris does it have to go now? I don't think it has to go in the BBC is a licence for a funded organisation has two in the first make decisions on complaints.
It has a relationship.
It's viewers and listeners, but I do think that it needs to be reviewed and reformed it needs to have an understanding about how you write decisions and adequate reasoning and putting to the guidelines so you know what your judgement against it and go through the stage.
I think there's a consequence you will get too much better decisions about to the process of transparency and understand how decisions are made so whether you still call that you have to complete the BBC still has a role in judging complaints not least of all because it gets a quarter of a million of them.
Come to host it wouldn't do anything anywhere you just beginning with BBC complaints when you look at impartiality guidelines.
How do you interpret them? Do you feel you would be fair to say that you were curious about something that a racist tweet from a politician this wouldn't happen in a normal news programme on Channel 4 news presenter turned to the other ones.
How do you feel about Donald Trump's tweet doesn't happen, but this is a different kind of programme breakfast has been promoted and sort of a personality driven programs presented and sent out to do things like Strictly Come Dancing and they are there heating with the source of projectile vomit of opinion that comes out of Piers Morgan every morning on ITV so you know there in a different world.
So I think it was you know it was not a particularly wise to her, but once it's been had you have to apply some common sense to what's being said now.
They was very careful to carry her words and if anything it was her colleague.
Who was describing motive to watch trump was doing more than she was and and also I think again to come back to David Jordan I found what he said on the radio about equivocally saying that the trump tweets were racist quite peculiar given that any journalist would say trump denies that there were all sorts of other reasons BBC is now without any qualification say the tweets are racist as he had like to read to you something that the director-general said in his email to staff on Monday night.
He said I don't think now those words were sufficient to Merit a partial upholding of the complaint around the common.
She made he went on to say I've asked the editorial and lead teams to discuss how we manage live exchanges on are around these topics in the future, then he said Aaron possibility is UN is fundamental to our journalism and it's what our audience.
Expects of us about the director-general is actually considering changing the rules to allied BBC journalist to express their emotions more freely you talked about breakfast.
It is a very different type of place at a very different environment with journalists are expected to give of themselves and show their personalities.
I don't know what is internal walls mind and I'd love to know I'm about to come on the programs not because you know I think I find it and you seen some of the pushback from the likes of Michael grade and Mark Thompson talking about impartial.
I think it's very hard to actually write down.
How precisely you negotiate these things.
I think you know the answers you have to apply some judgement and common sense and what should have happened in this place was at the end of the program should have just said that just be a bit careful with these conversations and no we want you to talk about the news but be careful what you doing because you don't want to cross the line that would have been all that was needed.
Is absolutely right I mean this was so ambiguous that actually there are different ways of dealing with this and of course when things are ambiguous.
You have to give weight to freedom of expression but go back to your original comment.
I don't need the quote cos I don't think those words were sufficient to Merit a partial uphold of the complaint, but why we don't know why what what is the reason for that secondly in terms of what will change if you've got to understand that the law in this country currently says that when you're dealing with controversial issues, you have to apply due impartiality so that you're starting to you.
Then have to have better guidelines perhaps all or a better understanding of guidelines actually I'd say a better understanding of guidelines about what are matters of concern controversial matters and what not what a race human rights the right to vote freedom of expression are not up for grabs.
They are clearly things which everyone believes in and therefore you don't have to fight.
The weekend because Tony first statement on this did not question the executive complaints unit ruling you know if it's a tried to support her this Thursday for the clarification that went out Friday and it was only after the weekend and the revelation in the Guardian about the original complaint that Tony all of this is now on sustainable will look ridiculous and I just wonder if you would talk to you about the regulation there.
Are you saying that you think that there should be more regulation more guidelines as to which areas we have to be impartial avoid and which areas we know I don't think it will fit the guidelines fully cover this area, but there is clearly a misunderstanding both out there within the BBC about what is and is not a matter and this racist you pay straight into it people are keeps saying I racist been treated as a controversial issue.
You have to have impulse reality with it.
That's not the case now the point is that.
You dropped and published decisions those really help those who practice journalism and those who study it to understand where the lines are but if you don't put it in you you don't get that and so I don't think you need more guys.
You need more more guidance you just need to better understand.
How people are very rare.
You know it's quite you know it's quite unusual for the BBC's come out and castigate a presenter for something they said in a very high-profile position and they've done it to hd8 a young Asian woman and that sends a message you know that they haven't got your back.
You know they are not supporting their staff.
That's why so many people in the BBC and outside the BBC about upset about this universe that this is supposed to be an industry in which you know everybody should have been working together to get.
Products what happened was that they basically picked on you know the Asian woman talking about her experience of racism Chris I want to ask you about Piers Morgan he's over on the other side Christmas already mentioned.
He's doing breakfast television on ITV at the same time as BBC Breakfast of course.
He's controversial opinions which go viral on social media.
They drive ratings be there well.
You've got two positions.
I suppose you could argue on impartiality what impartiality means Ofcom is the regulator for all of the industry particularly commercial licences, but also the BBC and it applies at the law the Jew partiality as it sees fit it does give more latitude to presenters to give their views so long as they now the BBC as a licence fee funded organisation takes a different approach because of the the BBC charter and agreement and because who is it is to impartiality.
Gives less licence as it were two presenters to voice their own opinion there are two ways or different ways of achieving during partiality and the BBC wants to achieve its impartiality in a certain way because of who it is that's why you're Ofcom overseeing the impartiality of the BBC in the BBC looking after it's only partially can sometimes create these rather odd outcomes very briefly at the BBC's holding some internal listening sessions at the moment.
What is it that they should be hearing? What should they actually do they need to change their the hiring and promotion and their attitude towards their staff they need to ask are they always giving the right jobs to the right people are they giving into their own personal are these white middle-aged management Around The Corporation just hiring people in their own image of winning the same thing.
Yeah, the fact is you can look across the output.
Just hold areas that asked for basically no go zones people of diverse backgrounds and it's just not good enough.
I mean that they need to have been talking about this and talking about this for years.
You need to take action Christening thank you both very much indeed going to move onto YouTube what do you watch on YouTube there's an awful lot more to it than music and cat videos Luke Hines is YouTube head of Originals for Europe the Middle East and Asia why do you commission this original content and on WhatsApp about it? What specifically original about it to YouTube what are you looking for in terms of why we actually commission content the feeling really? Is is that it is a really good idea in our position as YouTube to actually find ways to support the creative community here in the UK so to be able to offer the opportunity either to the YouTube create a community or two.
Those writers directors out there that they can come to us with an idea that they think would work for YouTube if something is definitely the right thing to do is to give some examples.
Tell me about the new shows that you've commission for the UK this autumn, we are really excited to launch three brand new shows one month October November and December 1st which starting next Tuesday at 6 p.m.
It will be uploaded and it's a show called the dot dot dot and it's an opportunity for us to collaborate with Alan the batons very successful philosophy channel the School Of Life to send a bunch of really interesting and diverse YouTube creators on various field trips to go and investigate some of the big philosophical questions that are actually really concerning millennials at the moment.
So you're taking the YouTube stars that have already been made and align them to progress their careers through the YouTube channel and through the program to air conditioning in a really interesting meeting of words to take this philosophy channel and his creators who have
Is there are really interested in these important questions but often do content may be a little bit more entertainment base actually put them together and see what kind of Alchemy we could create mean on motorway is here from unpair analysis and media consultancy.
What do you make of this strategy? I think it's really interesting one because you know you are Harnessing the power of you who have already got an audience behind them and you know this space with Originals and everything it's so cluttered already you have so many big players who are spending An insane amount of money on The Originals themselves, so if YouTuber able to harness this parent actually create quality content as a result it might not be as difficult to get people to watch the shows I think the one thing it will be the changing of brand perception for people to understand that YouTube is no longer paste just for short form content and they can watch long-form content on there and I think that would just be an education piece which you will have to go out and deliver now this is.
B32 where are surrounded by a vertice moment is that going to create competition that clearly it is but who's going to be most affected by it I think anybody within that like that within that environment you are fine for eyeballs.
You know I think with advertisers YouTube create a very unique environment and a very unique audience but he doesn't seem to think that YouTube is mostly younger children who were actually our research shows that it hits all demographics so advertisers are able to get a very wide reach in the competitors within the UK you know anybody who has advertised on their platform such as all for such as you know my five.
There is so many of them and yeah.
This is another one.
So you know where maybe splitting the again for money, but I think you know this is just the diversification of this Media landscape Lucas a couple of years ago.
YouTube was talking about original drama has been aware of driving subscribers to your
What is YouTube premium you've changed that strategy why I mean really thinking was that we were the commission stuff that felt a lot closer to the type of stuff that was really on YouTube so The Originals wouldn't feel like a massive layer of something completely different that actually feel like something that was actually much more part of the of the ecosystem, but taking it to another level is Bournville calculation loop that that's a lot of people.
I just want to turn on the TV and see something really easy.
I don't want to watch a massive series that they need to can a commit 3 months of their lives to just really it's about following the Curiosity you know we had commission 3 shows in the space of learning because we've seen that there is a massive hunger for shows that take education and tackle in a really under way and so really you know if people can follow their passion points into YouTube look at this kind of stuff.
They want to watch normally and finally shows and enjoy it at the same time and that's really exciting for us a Disney is launching a new.
Service in the US next month as it apple their spending billions and trying to compete with Netflix is not focus on big-budget original drama.
Do you think that YouTubers basically admitted defeat in that space and completely different? I don't think it's necessary but you know when you look at the amount.
That's been spent on the original dramas.
It is as I said like I've seen amounts of money.
I think I saw the other day that Amazon for the Lord of the Rings TV show was spending billions on it and you know it's unsustainable if you don't think you're going to make that money back through advertising or through subscriptions to go down a route that isn't sustainable so actually YouTube strategy of going down the creative using their own created using their influences.
It's not been done by anybody else.
So why not give it a go and see where it goes look at 6 p.m.
Are you thinking that you were actually have appointment to view that seems to me and million miles away from YouTube but I think one of the functionalities.
We have on YouTube is a single premieres at Cannes set a reminder on your phone can get.
Watching at the same time and allow everybody to have that kind of water cooler moment the majority of people going to find it when they find it but I think it's important to put a time out there because it is really fun to watch a show to show me a speech at those programs being watched are they designed to work visually on on a phone screen? Are you actually anticipating anybody watching them on a much larger screen for your absolutely.
I'm in living room usage is way up and with the shuttle launch.
November we actually a really excited because you've been enjoying two ways.
It's a show about the fall of the Berlin Wall and we recreated many key moments of that story through ACG nvr.
Which will allow the people who the contributors in the show to experience it you can watch that for you can actually put on YouTube VR or your Google cardboard and experience what they experienced in the show these moments from Berlin in the past yourself so can two ways and a way to make it only on YouTube I think thank you very much indeed and me.
Read out from under analysis.
Thank you very much Krishnan guru-murthy Channel 4 news.
Thanks so much for being with us and a Chris Bennett father.
Thank you very much indeed for listening and we'll see you next week.
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