23/02/2018 Newswatch


23/02/2018

Has the BBC News coverage of the Winter Olympics been too focused on poorly-performing Brits? Samira Ahmed speaks to the BBC's head of sports journalism.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 23/02/2018. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

post-Brexit position

with the EU "pure illusion".

0:00:000:00:03

Those are the headlines.

0:00:030:00:07

Now it's time for Newswatch

0:00:070:00:09

Hello and welcome to Newswatch

with me Samira Ahmed.

0:00:090:00:12

Coming up - has BBC News

coverage of the Winter

0:00:120:00:17

Olympics been too focused

on badly performing Brits?

0:00:170:00:21

We speak to the head

of BBC sports journalism.

0:00:210:00:23

Certain newspaper front

pages made a lot of

0:00:230:00:25

allegations about Jeremy

Corbyn and a Czech spy.

0:00:250:00:27

Did the BBC make too little?

0:00:270:00:30

And, as KFC stores across the UK

temporarily shut this week,

0:00:300:00:32

did BBC News get clucking

mad with its coverage?

0:00:320:00:39

First, for the past week

many of our national newspapers

0:00:430:00:53

have featured headlines

such as "Corbyn the

0:00:550:00:56

collaborator" and "Corbyn

0:00:560:00:58

urged to reveal his Stasi file."

0:00:580:00:59

Allegations that the Labour lady had

questionable contacts with a Czech

0:00:590:01:03

diplomat and agent in the 1980s

emerged from files held by the Czech

0:01:030:01:05

security service archive.

0:01:050:01:06

The Labour leader called

the story nonsense and

0:01:060:01:08

accused the newspapers of covering

it of lies and smears.

0:01:080:01:10

But not all Newswatch

viewers were so dismissive

0:01:100:01:12

of the claims.

0:01:120:01:13

This anonymous telephone

caller thought they were

0:01:130:01:16

at least worthy of

an airing on the BBC.

0:01:160:01:18

You've covered the story

regarding Donald Trump and the

0:01:180:01:20

Russia investigation ad nauseam

for months and months and months

0:01:200:01:23

on end but there's nothing on BBC

News even

0:01:230:01:26

though it's featured very

prominently in the newspapers and

0:01:260:01:28

I'm a bit staggered and a bit

flabbergasted by this.

0:01:280:01:32

Although there were

some mentions of the

0:01:320:01:36

story on BBC News it didn't feature

on the main television bulletins

0:01:360:01:39

until a brief mention on Tuesday,

and then gained more prominence

0:01:390:01:42

throughout the week.

0:01:420:01:43

By Wednesday on the Daily

Politics Andrew Neil

0:01:430:01:47

tackled the subject to much claim.

0:01:470:01:55

The Defence Secretary says Mr Corbyn

has "betrayed his country".

0:01:550:01:57

In what way?

0:01:570:01:58

Well, the Defence Secretary has

chosen his own words.

0:01:580:02:01

I mean, the point for me

about this debacle is

0:02:010:02:03

that...

0:02:030:02:04

How has he betrayed his country?

0:02:040:02:06

Jeremy Corbyn is a grave danger

to this country, I believe,

0:02:060:02:08

but that's because...

0:02:080:02:09

Has he betrayed his country?

0:02:090:02:10

But that's because of

the ideas in which he

0:02:100:02:12

believes and what that would mean

for our economy and our society if

0:02:120:02:16

he were elected.

0:02:160:02:17

People have all sorts of ideas.

0:02:170:02:18

But your Defence Secretary,

our Defence Secretary,

0:02:180:02:20

the Defence Secretary of this

Government, of our government, has

0:02:200:02:22

said the leader of Her Majesty's

opposition has betrayed his country.

0:02:220:02:25

In what way has he

betrayed his country?

0:02:250:02:27

Although the claims lacked evidence

and were firmly denied,

0:02:270:02:31

some Newswatch viewers thought

it was too little too late from

0:02:310:02:33

BBC News.

0:02:330:02:37

Lynette Smith asked on Monday: why

have you not even passed

0:02:430:02:45

comment?

0:02:450:02:46

Admittedly they are only allegations

but you are quick enough

0:02:460:02:49

to cover showbiz stars when years

old allegations of sexual abuse were

0:02:490:02:52

laid at their door.

0:02:520:02:53

And Barbara Stevens

had the same question.

0:02:530:02:54

"Why has there been

no headline coverage

0:02:540:02:56

based on the allegations?

0:02:560:02:57

Surely this is a matter

of public interest."

0:02:570:02:59

Well, we put that to BBC News

and they told us:

0:02:590:03:02

"BBC News has covered this

story and Jeremy Corbyn's

0:03:020:03:04

response in a range of our output.

0:03:040:03:05

The BBC correspondent

in Prague interviewed

0:03:050:03:07

both the director of

the

0:03:070:03:09

Czech Secret Service archive

and the former agent who made

0:03:090:03:13

the original allegations."

0:03:130:03:18

Every now and again,

we are posed a question put here a

0:03:180:03:21

couple of weeks ago

by Pascal Freeman

0:03:210:03:23

who describes himself

as an

0:03:230:03:24

incredulous licence fee payer.

0:03:240:03:25

Can you please tell

me why regional news

0:03:250:03:28

is not broadcast in high definition

in this day and age?

0:03:280:03:30

My mobile phone can record

video in 4K resolution.

0:03:300:03:33

It seems very antiquated

that the BBC cannot

0:03:330:03:36

afford the technology

so

0:03:360:03:39

that broadcasts are not interrupted

with the message BBC One HD cannot

0:03:390:03:42

yet show programmes from your area.

0:03:420:03:45

As a middle-aged person I thought

test card interruptions were

0:03:450:03:48

consigned to history.

0:03:480:03:54

We tried to find out an answer

for Mr Freeman and BBC

0:03:540:03:57

News told us:

0:03:570:04:00

"Upgrading the 15

0:04:000:04:01

regional versions of BBC One across

0:04:010:04:03

England and the Channel Islands

to full HD is a priority.

0:04:030:04:05

However, this would cost

the equivalent of a third

0:04:050:04:07

of the annual editorial

budget for regional TV

0:04:070:04:09

bulletins, so we have

to

0:04:090:04:10

balance our plans with the best

interests of the licence fee payer."

0:04:100:04:14

Now, the Winter Olympics come

to an end this weekend

0:04:180:04:20

and for the next four years most

of us will probably

0:04:200:04:23

forget what the difference

is between the skeleton and the luge

0:04:230:04:27

and exactly how Russian competitors

there are not competing for Russia.

0:04:270:04:31

But for the past fortnight the Games

have occupied a lot of airtime on

0:04:310:04:35

BBC One and Two, online

and also on BBC News

0:04:350:04:39

with much focused on British

0:04:390:04:40

performance, some of

which was pretty poor.

0:04:400:04:43

Let's look at examples from the News

at Ten and Breakfast.

0:04:430:04:46

It's heartbreak for

Elise Christie yet again.

0:04:460:04:52

After failing to win a medal

at the last Olympics four

0:04:520:04:55

years ago, history has repeated

itself here in Pyeongchang.

0:04:550:05:00

Morning from Pendle

Ski Club in Lancashire

0:05:000:05:03

where we have been up all night

cheering on the local hero Dave

0:05:030:05:06

Ryding who started on the dry slopes

here, and as you can tell they

0:05:060:05:10

are so proud he came

in the top ten in ninth,

0:05:100:05:12

so well done to Dave.

0:05:130:05:19

Clarke goes fourth!

0:05:190:05:20

Yarnold wins gold again!

0:05:200:05:21

Laura Deas has won bronze as well!

0:05:210:05:24

The BBC's commentary team seen

celebrating Lizzy Yarnold's skeleton

0:05:240:05:26

gold, about which more very shortly.

0:05:260:05:29

But it was the extent

of the coverage on BBC News that

0:05:290:05:33

exercised a number of viewers

like Tim Elliott.

0:05:330:05:36

"Why is the BBC so interested

in the Winter Olympics?

0:05:360:05:38

It is getting an inordinate amount

of coverage following the fortunes

0:05:380:05:42

of privileged people

taking part in sports

0:05:420:05:44

that have not been heard

of

0:05:440:05:45

in the UK."

0:05:450:05:48

Clive Wilce had this to say.

0:05:550:05:56

"I have enjoyed the Winter Olympics

but I cannot believe the

0:05:560:05:59

amount of coverage that has been

given to Elise Christie's speed

0:05:590:06:02

skating races.

0:06:020:06:04

I lost count of the number of times

I heard the story of

0:06:040:06:06

her disqualification,

over and over again."

0:06:060:06:07

For others, it was not the quantity

of the coverage but its

0:06:070:06:10

focus on British

competitors which rankled.

0:06:100:06:15

Brian Bollen and tweeted

about the BBC's chauvinistic

0:06:220:06:24

coverage of the Winter Olympics.

0:06:240:06:25

"I've heard at least one

reporter refer to GB as we.

0:06:250:06:27

In the Falklands War the BBC

referred to the British."

0:06:270:06:30

Richard Brown thought:

"The BBC coverage of

0:06:300:06:32

the Winter Olympics

is

0:06:320:06:33

pretty poor.

0:06:330:06:34

They are far more interested

in the British athletes

0:06:340:06:36

rather than the world's best."

0:06:360:06:37

And Alan Dawson agreed.

0:06:370:06:38

"The Winter Olympics just

shows British media,

0:06:380:06:40

the BBC particularly,

just cheer leads losers.

0:06:400:06:41

We love somebody who tries.

0:06:410:06:43

Oh, but isn't he or she brave?

0:06:430:06:44

Oh, but isn't he or she brave?"

0:06:440:06:46

Well, let's discuss those issues

with Stephen Mawhinney, the BBC's

0:06:460:06:49

head of sports journalism.

0:06:490:06:50

He joins us from Salford.

0:06:500:06:51

Thank you for coming on Newswatch.

0:06:510:06:52

We know that some audiences

don't care about sport.

0:06:520:06:56

But was there too much on BBC News

particularly on Breakfast?

0:06:560:07:03

Samira, perhaps you won't be

surprised to hear me

0:07:030:07:05

say I don't think so.

0:07:050:07:07

Obviously it was up to every

programme editor of each news

0:07:070:07:09

programme to decide

whether they covered

0:07:090:07:11

the Winter Olympics and how

much they gave to it.

0:07:110:07:13

But I'm not surprised that

many of them chose to

0:07:130:07:16

give it extensive coverage because

there was some spectacular sport,

0:07:160:07:18

there has been some really

compelling human stories, some wider

0:07:180:07:21

issues at stake as well in terms of

some of the politics and diplomacy

0:07:210:07:24

that was going on around the Games.

0:07:240:07:25

And, of course, we know

that there is huge audience

0:07:250:07:28

interest in this.

0:07:280:07:29

In fact, on the television

coverage alone more than

0:07:290:07:34

30 million people have tuned in

through the Games, that's more than

0:07:340:07:38

many of the other major sporting

events that we cover, for instance,

0:07:380:07:41

Wimbledon or the Six Nations.

0:07:410:07:45

So there is no doubt

there has been a

0:07:450:07:47

wide audience interest,

although of course I

0:07:470:07:49

appreciate some viewers

and

0:07:490:07:50

listeners are not going to be

as engaged in sporting stories.

0:07:500:07:53

This story of building

up the athletes'

0:07:530:07:54

journey is another issue more

generally that viewers raised.

0:07:540:07:56

A lot of focus on British

competitors who

0:07:560:07:58

ended up crashing out,

like Elise Christie,

0:07:580:08:00

wouldn't it have been better sports

journalism to focus on

0:08:000:08:02

the events themselves

and the winners?

0:08:020:08:04

So, we absolutely did focus

on the events and the winners and I

0:08:040:08:07

can come onto that.

0:08:070:08:08

But just to deal

with Elise Christie.

0:08:080:08:09

Hers was an absolutely

compelling human drama,

0:08:090:08:11

there's no question about it.

0:08:110:08:12

She went into the

Sochi Olympics as the

0:08:120:08:15

favourite in the short track speed

skating and ended up having a really

0:08:150:08:23

dramatic but disastrous

time and she ended up

0:08:230:08:25

being disqualified,

or

0:08:250:08:26

crashing out of each of those.

0:08:260:08:27

And then had to deal

with a huge amount

0:08:270:08:30

of abuse including death threats,

and thought about walking away from

0:08:300:08:32

the sport.

0:08:320:08:33

But she decided to continue,

became a multiple world

0:08:330:08:35

champion, came again into these

Olympics as the favourite, and yet

0:08:350:08:38

unbelievably again went

through a series in each of her

0:08:380:08:40

three events where she was either

pushed out,

0:08:400:08:42

disqualified, or injured

before her final race

0:08:420:08:44

where she attempted

to

0:08:440:08:47

compete, fell over again, seemed

to have qualified, but then got

0:08:470:08:50

disqualified again.

0:08:500:08:51

By any standards, it

was an extraordinary

0:08:510:08:53

human drama and kind of news story

around Britain's favourite athlete

0:08:530:08:55

going into the Games.

0:08:550:08:57

We had specific complaints

about seeing the

0:08:570:09:01

BBC commentary team celebrating

British skeleton medal success, also

0:09:010:09:04

using the word 'we'.

0:09:040:09:05

Isn't the BBC supposed

to be impartial?

0:09:050:09:09

Obviously we do understand

the importance of

0:09:090:09:13

being impartial and across our news

coverage you would have seen that.

0:09:130:09:17

Of course, in our live sporting

coverage, there is no question these

0:09:170:09:20

are moments of huge

drama, huge passion,

0:09:200:09:21

many of our pundits

are

0:09:210:09:24

obviously former Olympians

themselves and they have close

0:09:240:09:34

relationships and understandably

have a real engagement and personal

0:09:340:09:37

closeness to all of the athletes

0:09:370:09:39

that are out there and their

performances, and sport is partly

0:09:390:09:42

about passion, is partly about that

kind of excitement that we get

0:09:420:09:45

wrapped up in and we want

to share that, encompass

0:09:450:09:47

it and embrace that

with

0:09:470:09:49

our audience.

0:09:490:09:50

Many of our audience really

appreciate that from us.

0:09:500:09:52

It's certainly true

to say that with the

0:09:520:09:54

Summer Olympics too Newswatch

viewers have said they feel BBC News

0:09:540:09:56

coverage of these events is too much

about British competitors regardless

0:09:560:10:00

of outcome, when it should be

about the top stories of who won.

0:10:000:10:02

Do you accept that BBC

news coverage needs

0:10:020:10:04

to be rethought about whether you

have got that balance right?

0:10:040:10:07

As I say, it is

absolutely a balance and

0:10:070:10:10

always done on a case-by-case basis

for every single programme, every

0:10:100:10:13

news programme, and you know, I make

no apology for the fact that there

0:10:130:10:17

has been a focus on Team GB.

0:10:170:10:18

There is no doubt

there is huge audience

0:10:180:10:20

interest for that, all

of the evidence suggests that.

0:10:200:10:22

Don't forget that Team GB

are funded by public

0:10:220:10:25

money through UK Sport,

so we literally have a stake in both

0:10:250:10:28

seeing that as well as holding them

to account in terms of their

0:10:280:10:31

performance.

0:10:310:10:32

Stephen Mawhinney,

thank you so much.

0:10:320:10:33

No problem.

0:10:330:10:34

Finally, Monday brought the bizarre

news that the fast-food outlet KFC,

0:10:340:10:37

which used to be known as Kentucky

Fried Chicken, had run out of

0:10:370:10:43

John Kay reported on the

story the News at Six.

0:10:430:10:45

Oh!

0:10:450:10:46

No!

0:10:460:10:50

When you've been promised KFC

as a half-term treat but there is no

0:10:500:10:53

chicken.

0:10:530:10:54

The company says it is working flat

out to rectify the problem.

0:10:540:10:57

Oh!

0:10:570:10:59

But for some that is

little consolation.

0:10:590:11:02

So, was there something

of an overreaction, not just from

0:11:030:11:05

customers, but from the BBC too?

0:11:050:11:10

A Twitter user describing himself

as Giacomo G Casanova, thought so.

0:11:130:11:16

"Let me get this straight, you're

endlessly histrionic re UK's child

0:11:160:11:21

obesity problem, then

devote a lengthy slot

0:11:210:11:23

to a supply issue that

shuts KFC stores.

0:11:230:11:25

Who cares?

0:11:250:11:29

Featuring unhappy kids

and closing with one

0:11:290:11:34

wailing as though it

were

0:11:340:11:36

some national tragedy."

0:11:360:11:37

And that's all from us.

0:11:370:11:38

Thank you for all of your

comments this week.

0:11:380:11:40

If you want to share your

opinions on BBC News

0:11:400:11:42

and current affairs,

or even appear on the

0:11:420:11:44

programme, you can call

on

0:11:440:11:46

0370 010 6676, or e-mail

[email protected]

0:11:460:11:47

You can find us on

Twitter @NewswatchBBC.

0:11:470:11:49

Do have a look at our website.

0:11:490:11:50

The address for that is

bbc.co.uk/newswatch.

0:11:500:11:52

That's all from us,

I will be back to hear

0:11:520:11:55

your thoughts about BBC News

coverage again next week.

0:11:550:11:57

Goodbye.

0:11:570:11:58

Viewers' comments about BBC News coverage. Has the BBC News coverage of the Winter Olympics been too focused on poorly-performing Brits? Samira Ahmed speaks to the BBC's head of sports journalism.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS