BBC blasted after just 25 complaints of bias are upheld in five-year period

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A report has branded the BBC’s internal watchdog as “unfit for purpose” after it was revealed that just 25 complaints of bias at the national broadcaster were upheld over the last five years. A total of 1.7 million complaints were received during the period, of which more than 600,000 were likely to have been about bias.

Campaigners have said it “defies belief” that the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) believed that only five complaints of bias each year were of any substance.

The effectiveness of the complaints process is currently being examined by the Government as part of a mid-term review of the corporation’s 10-year Royal Charter, with some critics calling for a complete overhaul.

Director-general Tim Davie has vowed to enhance impartiality at the broadcaster, which has been surrounded by bias accusations over the past few years.

According to the new data a significant amount of progress needs to be made.

Read more: Dan Walker says ‘I don’t miss the BBC’ as he claims it ‘needs to change’

A 95-page report has been submitted to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which is leading the mid-term review, by the monitoring organisation set up by former BBC journalist David Keighley, News-watch.

It is one of the companies campaigning for the Government to reassess the whole complaints process, indicating the BBC should not be “its own judge and jury”, The Telegraph reports.

Since the renewal of the Charter in 2017, only 0.00015 per cent of bias complaints received by the BBC have been formally upheld by the ECU, according to the News-watch report.

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom’s research last year found that 39 per cent of viewer complaints were about bias, which would total 663,000 individual complaints out of the five-year total.

Keighley indicated it was unthinkable that only 25 of those complaints had the merit to be assessed.

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He said: “Despite huge public concern about BBC integrity and impartiality only a tiny fraction of complaints concerning the central Charter requirement of impartiality were upheld or partly upheld by the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit – just 25 cases.

“It defies belief that the BBC is so rarely found to be biased.”

This follows news that the BBC attended the Government’s Counter-Disinformation Policy Forum during the pandemic.

After large portions of the minutes of its meetings were redacted, the Government has been the subject of much criticism for a perceived lack of clarity.

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According to a BBC spokesman the company only attended the forum as an observer.

Months of research into the BBC had “highlighted glaring inadequacies” in the handling of complaints, and demonstrated that the process was “unfit for purpose”, the News-watch report said.

Only 125 of the 1.7 million complaints received, including 25 regarding bias, were upheld or partially upheld by the ECU.

The report said: “The ECU responses are almost risibly biased against the complainant’s points of view.”

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