BBC admit ‘mistakes’, but must learn from them - Campbell

30 September 2018

BBC Northern Ireland have issued what they term as “regret” for an “omission” in a Civil Rights Documentary during a live interview on a Good Morning Ulster radio programme.

Gregory Campbell MP

DUP Spokesman on International Development and Cabinet Office

Gregory Campbell

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell had written to the BBC on behalf of a constituent  who had made a complaint regarding comments made by reporter Lynette Fay on the Good Morning Ulster Show during August. When talking about an upcoming documentary she was presenting about the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march in Dungannon in August 1968, as part of BBC Radio Ulster’s Stories in Sound series.

Mr Campbell said “During the interview, the reporter was asked about the impact of the march. The constituent complained about Ms Fay’s version of the impact. She said “It provided a focus to provide better jobs, better housing and one man one vote – adding that these things didn’t exist back in 1968 for the nationalist community.” The constituent complained that Ms Fay as a BBC reporter had inferred that Nationalists didn’t have a vote, which was totally incorrect.”

The BBC, whose delay in answering caused the constituent to contact the MP, In their reply said “We accept that actual franchise arrangements were not as described and that it would have been helpful for these to have been explained in terms of the rate-based voting system that was in place in 1968 and its effect on people from different community backgrounds. We think that all of this was properly reflected within the documentary itself, but regret this omission and upset caused.”  

Mr Campbell said the BBC have regretted their omission and concluded in their reply that they “work hard to avoid mistakes and are committed to learning from them.”

The issue that arises from this admission is precisely that the BBC have NOT learnt from their numerous errors, misjudgements, bias and 'mistakes'.

It is important that listeners and viewers of BBC programmes make official complaints to the BBC no matter how numerous they may be. My constituent is to be commended for doing so. As a public organisation the BBC needs to be independent, transparent and accountable to its licence payers. Given the nature of the reply in this instance, it does show the value of making such complaints, but this can only be positive if the BBC begin to learn from them, so far they haven't."

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