Reply from BBC Audience Services re: lack of Reformation 500th anniversary coverage

BBC responds to accusation that it deliberately ignored the Reformation

Thomas Cranmer (1489—1556) died for the cause of the Reformation
Thomas Cranmer (1489—1556) died for the cause of the Reformation

I recently sent a letter of complaint to the BBC regarding the lack of content on the BBC website about the important 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The letter I sent to them was as follows:—

Mr. Graham Harter
[address supplied]

BBC Complaints
PO Box 1922
Darlington
DL3 0UR

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would like to begin by saying how much I appreciated the content on the BBC last month which commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on 31st October, the importance of which event I highlighted in my previous correspondence, ref. CAS-4531218-******.

“I find it incomprehensible that on 31st October the BBC website did its utmost to pay no attention whatsoever to the 500th anniversary. I can’t remember ever seeing such a momentous anniversary so obviously and blatantly ignored on the BBC website.”

I enjoyed watching Reformation: Europe’s Holy War, screened on BBC Two on 3rd October, and England’s Reformation: Three Books That Changed a Nation on BBC Four on 19th October; also some of the coverage which I managed to catch on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on 31st October itself.

However, I find it incomprehensible that on 31st October the BBC website did its utmost to pay no attention whatsoever to the 500th anniversary. I can’t remember ever seeing such a momentous anniversary so obviously and blatantly ignored on the BBC website.

I checked the BBC home page (logged out) frequently throughout the day, and the most I saw was one solitary article about Martin Luther. Even to see this I had to scroll down your home page for miles (as the screen capture below shows), and by evening even this token offering had disappeared from the home page.

It would appear from this that the content editors of the BBC website were determined to reduce one of the most important events in European history to a mere ‘discussion about faith and ethics.’

“It is extremely important that the selection of editorial content which is presented, not only on the BBC generally, but also on its website, is fair and balanced and not ideologically leaning, because I reckon that a large tranche of the UK population has its principal interaction with the BBC via its website.”

Once again may I contrast this with the weeks of coverage which the BBC website recently gave, on its home page, to the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act.

It is extremely important that the selection of editorial content which is presented, not only on the BBC generally, but also on its website, is fair and balanced and not ideologically leaning, because I reckon that a large tranche of the UK population has its principal interaction with the BBC via its website.

As I stated in my previous letter, the only conclusion I am able to draw from this, is that the content editors of the BBC website, far from being ideologically neutral, are in fact deliberately promoting a left-wing agenda.

Yours sincerely,
Mr. Graham Harter

On Friday I received a very nice (if again non-committal) reply letter which ran:—

15 November 2017

Dear Mr Harter,

Reference CAS-4644706-******

Thank you for contacting us regarding the BBC News website.

“Choosing the stories to include on our site, the order in which they appear and the space devoted to them is a subjective matter and one which we know not every reader will feel we get right every time.”

BBC Audience Services

Whilst I was pleased to read that you enjoyed our recent broadcasts of ‘Reformation: Europe’s Holy War’ and ‘England’s Reformation: Three Book [sic] That Changed a Nation’, I understand you felt that our site provided insufficient coverage to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on 31 October.

Choosing the stories to include on our site, the order in which they appear and the space devoted to them is a subjective matter and one which we know not every reader will feel we get right every time.

Factors such as whether it is news that has just come in and needs immediate coverage, how unusual the story is and how much national interest there is in the subject matter will all play a part in deciding the level of coverage and where it falls on the site. This is often a very difficult decision for our editors. Our audiences do not look at events in the same way and there is no one universal news agenda that applies to all.

Reply letter from BBC Audience Services to my question about their selection of online coverage of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation (Page 1)
Reply letter from BBC Audience Services to my question about their selection of online coverage of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation (Page 1)
Page 2 of the same
Page 2 of the same

We have, of course, devoted extensive coverage to the anniversary of the Reformation across our TV, radio and online services in recent weeks and on 31 October featured the following two reports on our site:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-41817418

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-41815271/rowan-williams-anti-semitism-an-urgent-issue

Nevertheless, I recognise your disappointment and would like to assure you that we value your feedback on the matter.

Please know that all complaints are sent to senior management and news teams every morning and we have included your points in our overnight reports. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensure that your complaint has been seen quickly, by the right people. This helps inform their decisions about current and future reporting.

Thank you once again for getting in touch.

Kind regards,

[Name]
BBC Complaints Team
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

What do you think? Is their response fair or foul? Are they a genuinely representative voice of, and into, the UK populace; or are they pushing a left-wing agenda?

Your comments welcome…

 

 

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