On Sunday I complained about the `Westminster Hour` and its final feature on `Dave’s friends in the North` which featured the Lib Dems and their bid for seats in the North. You would have thought that a BBC programme of this niche listening would have known that both Newcastle and Sheffield Councils had Lib Dem administrations.
Not a bit of it, according to the BBC the Lib Dems `held the balance of power` on these Councils. It’s a bit like saying the Lib Dems `hold the balance of power` on Richmond Council.
So I fire off a complaint asking why they did it, how come such basic facts weren’t known to researchers etc.
The following is the inadequate reply:
Thanks for your e-mail regarding ‘Westminster Hour’ broadcast 28 June 2009.
I understand you’re concerned we made a factual inaccuracy regarding the Liberal Democrat Party during this particular broadcast and you feel a programme of this calibre should be more accurate.
Having looked at your previous correspondence, all I can do is reiterate what my colleagues have stated, that it’s not always possible or practical to reflect all the different opinions on a subject within individual programmes and we feel that over a reasonable period our coverage, regardless of the political Party, will reflect a diverse range of views and opinions.
I can assure you we don’t seek to denigrate any view, nor to promote any view. We seek rather to identify all significant views, and to test them rigorously and fairly on behalf of the audience.
However I fully acknowledge your concerns and have registered your complaint regarding ‘Westminster Hour’ on our audience log. This is the internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily for all programme makers and commissioning executives within the BBC, and also the production team responsible for ‘Westminster Hour’. It ensures that your points, and all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.
Thanks you again for taking the time to contact us.
Erm, what has my history of complaining got to do with whether or not one of the key politics shows called `The Westminster Hour` gets basic facts right that sixth-form Politics students would be aware of?
The problem with the BBC is that it never answers complaints DIRECTLY. All it would have took is an apology `oops, must do better – we will endeavour to ensure that we get the compositional status of each Council correct before commenting on it`.
One wonders whether there really IS an agenda.