Thursday, 21 June 2012

Challenging the BBC on coverage of NHS Bill

BFTF sent the following complaint to the BBC, it is pretty self explanatory.

I have been very disturbed by the lack of coverage of the recent NHS Bill and feel the BBC has failed in its duty to inform and explain this key part of current affairs to its listenership. In particular :

i) The coverage during early March - when the Bill was being debated in Parliament and when the need for public awareness was at its height, was almost zero. To take one example, the BBC Radio 4 flagship Today programme covered it only once, for 2 minutes on 10th March in the weeks preceeding its passing in Parliament. Other items the Today programme covered on that day included 4 mins on a theme park, 6 mins on bagpipe day and 8 mins on Jubilee celebrations.

ii) The coverage gave no context to the issues. At no point did I hear any consideration given to the concern that the Bill would remove responsibility from the Secretary of State. Nor was there any mention of the increase in the amount of private work allowed in the NHS to 49%. Nor was there any consideration of whether competition and privatisation actually deliver any benefits to the NHS.

I can recall watching in utter disbelief as the BBC, and other major news providers, essentially “blacked out” concerns and protests in the days when they most needed to be covered .

This experience has left my trust in the news output of the BBC utterly shattered and left me wondering what else you are failing to inform me about.

I expect better of the BBC. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

UPDATE : 01 Jul 2012
The key parts of the, very polite and quick, response are shown below:

I understand you're unhappy as you feel there has been a lack of BBC coverage regarding the recent NHS Bill.As your complaint relates to coverage in March, I must inform you that our timeframe for complaints and appeals has been reduced to thirty working days after broadcast to make the process more efficient... As your complaint was registered more than 30 days after the coverage you refer to in March, I’m unable to comment.

That said, I appreciate your concerns and I would like to assure you that I've registered your complaint onto our audience log.This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.The audience logs are important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content. . .


Other relevant NHS Bill posts on BFTF are :
Interview with Prof Ian Shaw on the Bill and its implications for the NHS
Some examples of what is wrong with the NHS Bill (and responses from the local Conservative Party)

Other than BFTF's own experience, the following were also of use in drafting the complaint to the BBC :
Details of BBC coverage, esp on Today programme
MediaLens article about BBC coverage

Related content : Great comedy on RAdio 4 at 6.30pm weekdays

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