A week after Tommy Robinson released the Panodrama documentary online, regulators have launched an inquiry into the impartiality and ‘depth’ of the BBC’s news and current affairs coverage.
An Ofcom statement claims they “are conducting a review of the BBC’s news and current affairs output across television, radio and online”.
This comes as the regulator received thousands of complaints about the Panorama program and John Sweeney who was exposed for racism, homophobia and creating fake news stories.
On the 23rd of February, ten thousand people rallied outside BBC offices, in Salford, to protest their bias reporting.
It also comes amid growing fears that serious news coverage is ‘in retreat’ and allegations from rival news providers that the BBC uses too much ‘clickbait’ – celebrity or frivolous stories with little public service value – to lure online readers.
In the last year, articles published on the publicly-funded broadcaster’s website included ‘images released of Tommy Robinson ‘violent disorder’ protestors.
Launching its investigation yesterday, Ofcom warned: ‘We will look at the range and depth of analysis in… news and current affairs, across all platforms’
It said the BBC has a ‘central role to play in providing trusted, impartial news’.
Insiders have also raised fears that the BBC’s news coverage is weakening.
The former head of TV news Roger Mosey said the decision to cut the running time of the Ten O’Clock News has prompted ‘seething resentment’ from producers.
Writing in the Spectator, he added that a senior editor had said they ‘can’t disagree’ that news at the BBC is ‘in retreat’.
Ofcom will also test whether the BBC is serving all licence fee payers, especially those that ‘typically engage with it less’.
The watchdog has criticised the BBC for appealing to London-based viewers at the expense of those elsewhere, and of older women.
The BBC said it takes ‘providing impartial and accurate news… seriously’. Referring to clickbait, a spokesman said ‘entertainment and showbiz news is of great interest to our audiences’.
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