31/03/2017 Newswatch


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At ten o'clock will have a full round-up of today's news. In a


moment the last film review from my colleague Gavin Esler. First, time


for Newswatch. Brexit is officially under we but is


the BBC playing down the views of unhappy Remainers like the tens of


thousands who marched in London last weekend? Complaints as well that BBC


News is much too negative about leaving. So how do you cover this in


century subject impartially? 60 years ago last Saturday the Treaty


of Rome, the funding agreement of what became the European Union, was


signed. The anniversary was marked across Europe but march in London


that day was not so much a celebration as a protest against the


decision of Britain to leave the EU. After the violence a few short days


ago a protest with peace and love at its heart. Thousands made their way


to Parliament Square, many like pensioner Jacqueline Skelton had


never protested before, many of her generation voted to leave in the


referendum but she sees that as a disaster for her home City of


London. That report which went on to hear from a number of people from


the demonstration ran on BBC London is but the BBC One national network


bulletins only mentioned the march in passing with ten seconds of


footage showing. Many people complained to the BBC about what


they saw as insufficient coverage, two of those viewers recorded their


thoughts on Camara for us. As Article 50 was triggered on March 29


would have thought that much more credence would have been given to


the march taking place. The early evening news put the numbers


attending and 20,000. I consider that there were a great deal more


than this. As leaving the EU is such a momentous decision in this country


and for some of us, a disaster, we should have had a lot more coverage


than we actually got. We deserve better. It was disappointing to find


an organisation of the BBC's reputation, supportively impartial


reporting body, had neglected to give appropriate cover to this huge


event. I would like to know whether BBC did not deem it sufficiently


newsworthy. Thank you. Would put the points to BBC News. A spokesperson


said, there was significant coverage of the marches on the main


bulletins, on the BBC News Channel and online and we also covered other


political developments including the resignation of Douglas Carswell from


Ukip. Impartiality is our cornerstone and we go to great


lengths to ensure that we balance news and will continue to discover


developments in fair and impartial manner. The start of the week of


news which has been dominated by the triggering of Article 50 on


Wednesday. It kick-starts officially the process of leaving the European


Union. The subject was extensively covered on the BBC with input from


members of the public giving their views on the UK's decision to depart


and what they expect from the next two years of talks. It was all too


much were David Roberson, who wrote this. There is no way that the BBC


has any idea of the final outcome of the Brexit negotiations so I spent


time interviewing people on the street who have even less


information about what the future holds. This is another viewers said


we have constant streams of ministers, ex-ministers, actors,


singers, etc, saying that they don't know what the outcome of the


negotiations will be. You are quoting. Card we leave it alone


until there is some news to report? Not much chance of the BBC or any of


the media leaving it alone, certainly not on Wednesday when in a


special programme on BBC One and renewal interviewed the Prime


Minister followed by a number of other party leaders. The presenter


got praise for the way that he conducted piece interviews including


this telephone message. Thank goodness for Andrew Neill. One of


the very few in the BBC to stick to strictly accurate quotation. In


general there is far too much sloppiness and buyers but bravo


Andrew Neill. That allegations of bias in relation to Brexit is one we


have heard since before the referendum in June and politicians


have joined in the argument with 70 MPs writing to newspapers last week


that the BBC had fallen far short of its obligation to provide balanced


coverage and had skewed good economic news since the referendum.


On Thursday a rival group of politicians wrote another letter


calling on the BBC to resist attempts at political interference


and report fearlessly and impartially on the Brexit


negotiations. That divided reaction was also evident among Newswatch


viewers. Most people sided with this anonymous caller. Might I suggest


that just for once the BBC could be more upbeat about our leaving the


European Union? It has been so depressing, having to listen to all


your presenters and God knows how many political editors you have


talking about Brexit. Always, always in a negative fashion. Please try


and be a little more positive. Thank you. Weather Brexit is a cause for


celebration and a great opportunity for the UK to take back control or a


process which has already had negative consequences and faces


substantial difficulties depends on your point of view. Yet others


agreed that the BBC has emphasised the latter at the cost of the


former. Danny Gothard. I really am getting tired of the BBC's biased


reporting of anything to do with Brexit. Country file giving nothing


but negative opinions on what could happen to farmers. BBC world News


this morning, global sales could drop 30% if we lose access to the


single EU market. This Morning saying 70,000 banking jobs could be


lost if no deal is struck. For heavens sake stop speculating.


Another viewers said this. I realise the BBC is not want Brexit as is


evident from the scaremongering and biased interviews. However democracy


has spoken and it is time that everyone in the country backed it.


The deal we get from the EU would be far better if we did not constantly


report on the fears of what lies ahead. Lets take a step back and


examine the BBC's approach to reporting our forthcoming departure


from the EU. Strong feelings on all sides. Is there something different


about Brexit which makes the BBC's commitment to impartiality any


challenge? I think whenever you have a referendum in particular, opinion


becomes polarised and fees become entrenched and it is very difficult


often to appreciate all value impartiality in those circumstances.


That vote is now done. Leave have won and our job now is to scrutinise


carefully the execution of Brexit. And how the government carries out


Brexit, how it carries out its negotiations but to scrutinise not


just the government but all politicians and that is why Andrew


Neill did the interviews this week with party leaders across the UK.


And also to scrutinise European Union officials. The job is now much


more intricate and complicated than a simple mathematical balance


between people who were Remain or Leave. So that journalistic


challenge is strong but the audience trusts the BBC to do it more than


anyone else. But we did get a lot of complaints, particularly from people


who fear the BBC is always wearing and what might go wrong. There will


be parts of the community who will have concerns about it and we should


report that. I don't think every time we find someone who is


optimistic or pessimistic we should suddenly have to find the opposite


view every time. We are no longer in that situation of mathematical


balance. What we have to do is reported properly so that the


audience understands what the challenges are. That stomach that


must be a broad range. Not just those people who are worried, those


people who think their opportunities. The references to


that March, the BBC goes to great lengths to ensure impartial


coverage. How do you do that? We put a lot of obligation on individual


editors of programmes to do that. Part of what I do is help make those


judgments. But across time it may not be in one individual programme,


it may be a series of programmes, people have to think about making


sure they are getting bad range of view. Is that about a headcount or


measuring air time? It is important we don't pretend that you can get


impartiality by a stopwatch or an abacus or a calculator. You don't


measure it by maths. You get impartiality by really good


judgment. That is what our editors are trying to do all the time.


People also wonder how they could report a story like Lloyds bank of


moving jobs to Brussels, for some viewers it is about emphasising the


negative whereas that is only part of a changing picture. I think you


have to make judgments on developing stories, and take advice from the


business community itself. Editors are making judgments about those


things. I agree it is important that when you hear those stories you also


hear others that might reflected from a different perspective. After


all this is going to go on for long time. In the coming years there will


be many examples of this. I think it's quite right that editors should


be challenged to think about a wide range of views, not just those


stories that have been talked about. On the other hand many viewers have


got in touch with Newswatch to say, any critics of the Brexit strategy


are labelled Remoaners and they feel that some editors are code by


viewers and complain to the Director General. Are you coward? One MP said


this week that relying on MPs to be arbiters of impartiality is like


asking Sir Alex Ferguson to referee at home match at Old Trafford! We


should listen to criticism, act on it and it is also important that we


are robust in defending the BBC's editorial decisions and journalism


when we get political pressure. Sometimes they will be genuine


issues and sometimes political pressure, so it is important for the


independence of the BBC that they withstand about. Thank you very


much. Thank you all for your comments. If you want to share your


views on current affairs get in touch by calling us or by sending an


e-mail. We are on Twitter. Also do look at our website. That's all from


us. We will be back to view your thoughts on BBC news coverage again


next week. Goodbye. Coming up in a few moments a


detailed forecast of the weather for the week ahead followed by the day's




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