Monday, 20 June 2011

The Mail and the BBC (cont.)

The Mail's obsession with publishing articles critical of the BBC continues apace.

A few weeks ago, the Mail produced its annual article complaining about the BBC's Glastonbury coverage. This time, it elicited a response from the BBC as well as this blogpost from No Rock N Roll.

Then on 14 June, the paper reported:

Hundreds of fans of the Antiques Roadshow have complained after the BBC axed the show on Sunday to make way for the Canadian Grand Prix.

It is likely that fans of Formula One would have complained if the BBC had cut away from the live coverage to show a pre-recorded programme that could easily be shown at a later date, so it was a no-win situation. The Mail would have had an article either way.

The same day, the Mail's regular anti-BBC hack, Paul Revoir, was reporting on the 'uproar' and 'backlash' caused by a scene in EastEnders:

EastEnders sparks uproar with gay bedroom scene before the watershed

An EastEnders episode that showed a gay couple apparently naked in bed has sparked an audience backlash.

At least 125 viewers complained that a scene featuring the characters Christian Clarke and Syed Masood was inappropriate for the show’s pre-watershed slot.

Revoir then goes into detail:

The pair were lying in bed together, with no tops on, and bedclothes pulled up to their chests. The two characters, who are trying to adopt and are planning a civil ceremony, also shared a brief kiss.

They were seen joking about getting matching rings and not changing their names when they tie the knot. Syed was seen with his arm draped around his partner as they cuddled up in bed in the short scene.

So: fictional couple cuddle in bed and talk about the future. Shocking indeed.

The episode in question was actually broadcast on 31 May and watched, according to BARB, by 6.89m viewers. Such was the 'uproar' that the Mail didn't notice this 'backlash' until two weeks later. It didn't even notice when the BBC issued a statement on 7 June, which pointed out:

We approach our portrayal of homosexual relationships in exactly the same way as we do heterosexual relationships, ensuring depictions of affection or sexuality between couples are suitable for pre-watershed viewing.

We would also point out that same-sex civil partnerships became law in December 2005, giving equal rights to gay couples in the UK.

The BBC cannot discriminate by treating gay characters differently to heterosexual characters.

We have also received a lot of very positive feedback about the storyline regarding Christian and Syed's relationship.

125 complaints out of 6.89m viewers is a tiny percentage. Revoir has, of course, found a few critical comments on the Points of View messageboards to include, but fails to repeat any of the positive remarks. He does, however, note the 77 messages of support the BBC had received - but they would never be the basis for a Mail article.

Today, the paper has turned to Liz Thomas for the BBC-bashing article of the day:

The article explains:

It is supposed to be one of the BBC’s most hard-hitting consumer affairs programmes.

But listeners have accused Radio 4’s You and Yours of broadcasting a ‘six-minute advert’ for Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

The programme featured an interview with the company’s managing director Rob Hunt by journalist Julian Worricker.

Fans of the show complained that two thirds of the programme featured an ‘unchallenged promotion for the firm’s products’.

In the final third, the paper admits:

issues such as health and obesity were raised.

It is refreshing that the BBC deals openly with reader complaints in programmes such as Feedback, Points of View and Newswatch even if it gives the Mail continuous ammunition to attack the Corporation. The Mail does not have such methods of dealing with complaints - they have no corrections column and no readers' editor.

The edition of You and Yours was broadcast on 13 June. It was only when the BBC dealt with the complaints on BBC Radio 4's Feedback - broadcast on 17 June - that the Mail leapt into action.

So all the quotes from Hunt and from the complainants, and the defence from You and Yours editor Andrew Smith, are straight transcriptions from Feedback.

According the Media Blog, which spoke to the BBC Press Office, only 13 people actually complained.

But the Mail's attempt to take the high-ground on reporting Krispy Kreme doesn't entirely ring true anyway.

On 3 June, the Mail reported it was National Doughnut Day in the US. Daily Mail Reporter wrote:

Time to make the donuts! Today is National Doughnut Day across the U.S. and national chains such as Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme are doling out the sweet treat to help Americans celebrate.

It then added:

Krispy Kreme is giving away one free doughnut of any variety to anyone who walks in to one of their 646 locations while Dunkin' Donuts is requiring customers to purchase a drink before they hand over the free dough.

Back in April, when a Krispy Kreme outlet opened in Cardiff, the Mail reported:

More than 1,000 sweet-toothed shoppers queued outside a new Krispy Kreme doughnut store to get their hands on one of the free treats.

And it was only too happy to repeat the words of one 'satisfied customer':

Student Ceri Lewis, 20, said: 'It was a lovely doughnut, well worth the two-hour wait. 'It was really good fun waiting in line. It was the best queue I’ve ever been in for having a good laugh, much better than geeks waiting for an iPad.'

This article - essentially, 'food shop opens in Cardiff' - is nothing more than a puff piece for Krispy Kreme. And, unlike in the You and Yours piece, there's no raising of 'issues such as health and obesity'.

The message from the Mail on this - as with the X Factor/sexual content issue - seems to be: do as we say and not as we do.

(Thanks to Jem Stone)


  1. Crikey. Student Ceri Lewis, 20, really needs to sit down and have a word with herself.

  2. "the Mail's attempt to take the high-ground on reporting Krispy Kreme doesn't entirely ring true"

    I see what you did there.


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