What newspaper do you think the BBC mostly procures?
The BBC procures more copies of the Guardian than any other national newspaper, despite its small market share and continued decline. Quelle surprise!
For many years those on the right of British politics have suspected that the BBC has an inherent bias in favour of the left. Perceived editorial lines on the EU, the NHS, Israel, and other issues aside, there is the classic stereotype of young BBC executives sitting around on the sofas of Broadcasting House, sipping chai tea lattes and peeping at The Guardian’s latest 'politically correct' offerings over the top of their designer frames.
Well perhaps some stereotypes are deserved after all.
After responding to a Freedom of Information response seen by The Commentator, we’re able to determine the papers of choice amongst the fair and balanced staff at the BBC.
Not surprisingly The Guardian tops the list with 59,829 bought between April 1st, 2010 and February 28th, 2011. In addition to this, “Auntie” bought 43,709 copies of the struggling Independent. This compares to 48,968 copies of the Telegraph and 45,553 copies of the Daily Mail.
It’s worth noting that not only did The Guardian emerge comfortably out on top with over 10,000 copies difference between itself and the Daily Mail, but, considering the national circulation of these newspapers (right), the BBC has a heavily disproportionate number of Guardian readers among its rank and file.
The Guardian has a circulation of 230,541 per day compared to the Daily Telegraph’s 634,113 and the Daily Mail with 1.7 million. Meanwhile, the Independent is lagging on a rather sorry-looking 90,001.
If you’re too lazy to do the basic mathematics, allow us: that means that two of Britain’s most popular right of centre newspapers combined have a circulation of some 2.3 million compared to The Indie and The Guardian which weigh in at just over 320,000.
Odd then, that despite besting their axis of left-wing rivals by seven times in the national market, the BBC procures almost 10,000 less copies of the Mail and Telegraph in the period displayed.
If nothing else, that ought to at least put to rest the clichéd argument that those on the right of centre concerned with Guardian influence are paranoid simply because the Guardian’s readership is shrinking. In this case, size doesn’t matter; it’s not how many read you, it’s who reads you; et cetera, et cetera.
Of course, it should come as no real surprise that BBC staff prefer to take their socio-political commentary from the likes of Polly Toynbee, to digest the foreign affairs analysis of Seumas Milne, and to take stock of the economic evaluation of Paul Krugman.
After all, the Beeb may not pin its partisan colours to the mast in the party political sense (though it comes close at times), but it is the culture of the institution which gives it a distinctively left wing flavour.
Take the the Newsnight team, for example. There is the new political editor, Allegra Stratton, formerly of The Guardian; Paul Mason, the economics editor, a Marxist sympathiser; and Stephanie Flanders whose disdain for anyone of a free market position is expressed so freely that the BBC charter may as well be a beer coaster for all the good it does in terms of bias.
In response to Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan as his VP Flanders tweeted the following:
Ryan is risky VP choice for Romney. Republicans now so extreme, his main appeal 4 swing voters was record as a moderate. Ryan anything but.
In Flanders’s eyes someone who wants to balance the US budget by 2040 is somehow a crazed, budget-hacking extremist.
When noble prize winner and Keynesian economist Paul Krugman came to the UK to proselytise his borrow and spend solution to UK’s economic situation, he had a virtual love-in on Newsnight. He was put up, not against a trained economist of the Austrian or Chicago school, but a Tory MP, Andrea Leadsom, and businessman John Moulton.
As Andrew Marr observed:
"The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It's a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities, and gay people. It has a liberal bias, not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias."
The BBC has a disproportionate influence on national debate in a whole range of areas. With such influence – not to mention the coerced funding of anybody with a television and a fear of the law – the BBC must always be reminded that it does not have carte blanche to express the opinions of the people who work for it as the impartial truth.
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