back to article Ministry of Fun launches news quiz - and the BBC is in its sights

The Ministry of Fun* wants to know if you're getting the news you need: and the role of social media, Google and the BBC are all up for grabs. The Department of Media, Culture and Sport has launched a consultation (PDF) into media ownership and plurality, defining the latter as "having a diversity of viewpoints available and …


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  1. g e

    Well if you discount 'The Truth'

    Then yeah, I'm getting too much news, in fact.

    I'd rather at least some was the truth instead of the Noam Chomsky-esque version, though.

  2. Rono666

    I never watch the BBC too much propaganda

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Waves of Guardian readers will turn up in a minute and tell you the BBC News is fair and completely unbiased.

      Looks like they're already here.

  3. codejunky Silver badge

    The news we need

    From the BBC it is often half arsed, heavily biased and without linking any sources. I read the BBC site to get a basic overview of what events are occurring and to read some of the blogs which are much better reported. Reporters are biased and thats not too bad as long as it is their bias and they are free to it. When its the company bias and a dictated view of the world we end up with lazy reporting and little fact.

    On here people cry out against lewis page and his anti MMCC, yet there are other writers on here who post the other side. Occasionally I see 2 climate articles, on in support and one against. At least that way you can see the argument on the whole to base a decision. The BBC does not and I have as much faith in the other news channels.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: The news we need

      >From the BBC it is often half arsed, heavily biased and without linking any sources

      Yes. But without it we would be looking at CNN or Faux news which is far far worse.

      I do have to scatter my reading about, particularly using Al Jazeerah and The Moscow news to get another viewpoint, and the Inde for a different view again. That doesn't mean there is anything uniquely wrong with the BEEB, I'd expect to do that anyway.

      Oh, and the daily mail web site has really impressive photo stories. Shame it is associated with the bile duct.

      1. Roger B
        Thumb Up

        Re: The news we need

        Al Jazeerah and RT are both excellent channels offering a lot more coverage and depth when compared with the BBC and Sky etc, although I still read the BBC site on a daily basis.

        Quite surprised to see Channel 4 news so low down on that list though, they always seem a lot more in depth than BBC and ITV.

      2. Ossi

        Re: The news we need

        No. Without the BBC you'd be looking at the Moscow Times, Al Jazeerah and the Indie - exactly as you are now.

        From the not-particularly-wide-and-likely-to-all-agree-with-each-other range of sources that you look at, it's quite easy to infer your world view. That's probably why you regard the BBC as unbiased - it just happens to agree with you.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: The news we need @ Ossi

          So, Ossi, tell us what we should be reading that would fit with your idea of the "right" sources.

  4. Steen Hive
    Thumb Up

    * DCMS, or the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (aka Fun)

    * DEMCUNST, or the DEpartMent of CUlture, media aNd SporT (aka Fun)

  5. Tom Wood

    Daily Mash --> Google News

    Read satirical article. Go "WTF is this parodying"? Google for the answer.

  6. MJI Silver badge

    Multiple view points

    Are essential when dealing with any new story beyond traffic news.

    I will admit my first source is BBC, after that I look through various links from Google news search.

    I do not check anythng News International nor gutter

    1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Multiple view points

      So you only read that tiny handful of sources which reinforce your prejudices. I don't think you've grasped what "multiple view points" really means.

      1. Gio Ciampa

        Re: Multiple view points

        Pot, kettle, black...

        You obviously don't understand the term "I look through various links from Google news search." - unless you know exactly which links are being accessed for any given news story?

        (For the record, my news comes from a range including the Mirror, the Telegraph, and points in between - including Auntie)

        1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: Multiple view points

          You say you read nothing trashy or Murdoch - that by definition rules out large chunks of the reputable news sources listed on Google News.

          I dunno - one's man trash is another man's treasure, and all that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Thumb Down

            Re: Multiple view points

            trashy or Murdoch

            You can't have the latter without the former.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Multiple view points

              "You can't have the latter without the former"

              ... writes the overgrown schoolboy.

          2. cyborg

            Re: Multiple view points

            > I dunno - one's man trash is another man's treasure, and all that.

            Given Murdoch's attitude towards news it is really hard to take any of his news output seriously. News International is not exactly a company that is shy about promoting an agenda if it wants to *cough* FoxNews *cough*.

            1. MJI Silver badge

              Re: Multiple view points - cyborg

              You have it right, this is why I ignore them - and they are going paywall mad.

          3. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Multiple view points

            Are they reputable?

            The Sun lies, Mirror is crap, Mail is fascist.

            Leaves the TV sites, lots of international sites, a few half decent newspapers, local papers, the news agencies, news blogs.

            Nothing wrong with some prefiltering.

            As to bias somewhere between them all you can find the truth.

            OK I would be too embarrased about being on the Sun site, more embarrassing than porn.

            Mirror - all celeb stories no news

            Mail - just a bunch of fascists, see their recent campaign to restrict our internet.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Multiple view points

        See my other posts, removing the crap gives you a lot more sensible sites to view, foreign sites are pretty good and blogs reveal more about politics than any paper.

        Anyway compare Guardian and Telegraph, different view points but not junk papers.

      3. Pat Att

        Re: Multiple view points

        "So you only read that tiny handful of sources which reinforce your prejudices. I don't think you've grasped what "multiple view points" really means."

        Come on Gaz, he never said that at all, or anything like it. That's a slightly odd thing for a quality journalist such as yourself to say. I think there are plenty of reputable sources that aren't owned by Murdoch, and which can be found from Google news.

  7. Tom Wood

    Unbiased != giving equal weight to all viewpoints

    Sometimes things are unequivocally true, but too often media outlets seem to give equal amounts of airtime to bonkers people trying to claim the world is flat or homeopathy works as they do to scientists with hard evidence stating the opposite viewpoint. It is not "biased" to report in favour of the truth.

    1. Don Dumb
      Thumb Up

      Re: Unbiased != giving equal weight to all viewpoints

      Very true. This explains the problems of insisting the Beeb (in particular) have to show 'balance' because everyone thinks the Beeb is biased*. When they need someone to show the insane point of view of the murderers of Lee Rigby, out comes Anam Choudry presenting a point of view that he states is the position of Muslms, when in fact he speaks for almost no one. (An even worse problem of this is that this presents an idea to insulated people watching the news that 'this is what all *Muslims* think', a false impression causing extremist views, editorial 'balance' creating extremism, or unbalanced views)

      * In my view the BBC is as about as unbiased a news source as they can be, in that everyone on either side of the spectrum of viewpoints think they are biased against them, that's pretty good evidence that they are balanced politically. The right hate the BBC for giving time to the Left's view of the story, the left hate the BBC for showing the Right's view. However when stories don't fall somewhere in the middle of political viewpoints (say for horrific events) then false balance suggests that half of the reasonable viewpoint exists against almost everyone's viewpoint.

      1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Unbiased != giving equal weight to all viewpoints

        Getting everyone from all siodes of the spectrum to say they hate you is NOT evidence of neutrality, it's evidence of pisspoor editing.

      2. Dr Stephen Jones

        Re: Unbiased != giving equal weight to all viewpoints

        "In my view the BBC is as about as unbiased a news source as they can be"

        Which makes you a Guardian reader who loves the fact that the BBC's prejudices match your own.

        "The BBC is not impartial or neutral ... It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias" - Andrew Marr.

        We have it from the horse's mouth that it struggles to reflect a range of opinion on Europe, immigration, business, etc. Check out this week's fracking coverage.

        The unbiased BBC you thought you grew up does not exist any more.

        1. cyborg

          Re: Unbiased != giving equal weight to all viewpoints

          "Reality has a well known liberal bias." - Stephen Colbert.

        2. Don Dumb

          Re: Unbiased != giving equal weight to all viewpoints

          Well done for not reading the whole the sentence I had written. I notice that you came to the (incorrect) conclusion that I'm a predjudiced Guardian reader without bothering to even read the whole paragraph. Therefore I'm going to assume you're a Daily Mail reader.

  8. Gio Ciampa

    First salvo in the smear campaign?

    Got to get the plebs onside so that they won't complain when they sell off the BBC to Murdoch et al...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC bias

    The BBC is undoubtedly a propaganda outfit, but not for the government specifically - it is a tool of the establishment of which the government is just one part.

    Hence coverage of the royal family, for example, will be universally unchallenging and uncritical, and presented by gushing, fawning sycophants, while political issues may have opposing viewpoints presented. Similarly, the BBC will tend to portray foreign countries in accordance with the will of the UK establishment. So they send in journos to Syria and Libya to report on the atrocities committed by those regimes, but have no ongoing undercover reporting from Bahrain or Saudi on brutal oppression going on there (because these murderous dictators are on our side).

    The BBC cannot really be relied on to report news, especially when it relates to interests of the British establishment in the same way Al Jazeera likes to pretend it is promoting Arab democracy and openness even though any criticism or coverage of negative aspects of Qatar is strictly off limits (democracy for Qatar is something to foment in your enemies, not at home).

    Difficult to know who to rely on for news, but at least the UK broadsheets seem to be willing to challenge the establishment at times, especially the Guardian.

  10. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Probably nothing more than politics

    The Ministry of Culture is still smarting from not being able to implement the media barons' agenda - first the BSkyB deal fell through and now it looks like the Levenson recommendations are going to be enforced by a statutory body rather than the newspapers. So what better than to start a 'consultation' (everyone do the air quotes) to see if the BBC is too dominant. Next stage, unattributable briefings about changing the BBC's charter, directing the licence fee elsewhere...

  11. strum Silver badge

    Several viewpoints of the same thing

    The idea that one can get a rounded view of an issue, by reading several viewpoints, is something of a myth.

    What also matters is the judgment of what constitutes 'news' in the first place - and there's usually very strong agreement across all news media outlets about that.

    Then there's the selection of the underlying issue, behind this morsel of news. Again, there's often a great deal of agreement - even if different organs propose different solutions to the issue - the agenda is the same.

  12. Don Dumb

    'Mulitple' news sources? Unfair comparison

    So let me get this right, News International and Sky News are considered separate? while their ownership is barely separate. I know the merger was blocked but there still is a significant proportion of ownership of both companies by Murdoch.

    A quick check of Private Eye's "I-Sky" column shows how much the Digger uses both outlets to mutual benefit (often to promote each other for instance). Still makes the BBC look so much bigger than The Sun and Sky that I'm sure Murdock won't be upset.

    1. Malcolm 1

      Re: 'Mulitple' news sources? Unfair comparison

      This is why blocking the merger always seemed a bit barmy. Given that almost everyone thinks that Murdoch runs BSkyB, what's the problem with him actually doing so? It would seem far more transparent than the current illusion of separation.

  13. Jim 59


    Last month Ian Katz left his job as Guardian deputy editor to become editor of BBC Newsnight, a programme already employing other ex-Guardianistas.

    BBC buys more copies of the Grauniad than any other Newspaper, despite it being only the UK's 9th best selling daily.

    Even BBC anchorman Peter Sissons on record saying BBC routinely takes its new line from the Guardian and Independent

    So much for political balance

  14. Ossi

    Unbiased = Impossible

    What the comments on here show already is that it's impossible to be unbiased - even if every story is told in a 'balanced' way, there are questions of whether 'balance' itself introduces biases. News also necessarily has to simplify complex issues, if only for time reasons. How do you do that without introducing bias? Then there is the biggest problem - the simple selection of which stories to tell, and which to ignore; which to put first and which to put last. The second any human judgement is involved you introduce bias. It's a fantasy to think that you can be unbiased.

    This begs for a plurality of sources, and makes the BBC's dominance unhealthy. The strength of the BBC (and state sponsored sources like Al Jazeerah and Russia Today) makes it difficult for commercial organisations to compete. The web has changed things as well - before that at least printed news was not from the BBC, helping plurality. Now the BBC competes against newspapers as well, and it's an unequal struggle.

  15. Colin Millar

    Political balance is overrated

    Journalists should use judgement not some set of rules made up by a beancounter and a lawyer. There is also a difference between impartiality which is needed in reporting facts and considered assessment of the underlying meanings of those facts by someone with experience in the field (aka journalism). Most people have the sense to know if they are being spoonfed a party line.

    Balance is not giving some raving loony the same amount of news time.

    Newsnight the other week on the NHS and CQC was a good case in point. They actually had some people in there who were at the core of the problem and its solution and capable of having a proper discussion. They also had a couple of party hacks (Hunt and some Burnham apologist) who were there to defend their parties (not their party's policies - just their parties). The political hacks just looked stupid and showed just how much they don't give a shit who dies as long as they don't get the blame. And Wark was more interested in playing mouse trap semantics with Hunt than anything else.

    BBC should get some more good journos and let them run with stuff rather than having faceless crats determine most of what we are allowed to see.

  16. Maharg

    I have no problems with the BBC, considering they are probably one of the most regulated and scrutinised news suppliers on the planet, I feel that I can trust them to deliver as closed to ‘balanced’ news as I am ever going to get.

    Al Jazeera I use for Middle Eastern news, but as I don’t live in the Middle East how can I tell they are not biased? I can’t.

    However both the aforementioned news sources I can watch and at least feel that I have been presented with at least two sides of a story, compare them to the content available to our cousins on the other side of the pond and you will appreciate the BBC, I would recommend watching Fox News, MSNBC or even CNN for a week and notice how many times you see a ‘discussion’ where the host ends up shouting down one of their guests, or that tactic of having 4 people as guests, 3 who agree with each other and the 4th some completely off the wall loon that everyone can make fun of. You can then make a tally of how many times they report ‘opinion’ instead of news.

    If the BBC get something wrong, there is an inquiry, the BBC even report it, last year I was getting sick of all the BBC reporting on BBC reporting ethics, while on the other side Fox news didn’t even mention the News Corp scandal and phone hacking story, they just ignored it, even though it was picked up around the world.

    There are many BBC bias websites and stories, what I notice is that the accusations of bias come from everyone, apparently the BBC are too left wing, right wing, they hate Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, as well as pandering to much to Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, in Northern Ireland they are much too pro Nationalist, while being firmly on the side of the Unionists, they lick the boots of the Tories, while toeing the Labour party line, they are in the pockets of both the Unions and the City, they focus on being too inclusive of ethnic minorities and not representing the actual racial makeup of the UK, while at the same time portraying the East End of London as full of white people, the BBC is pushing the Green Agenda, while one of its biggest programs is Top Gear and they don’t provide enough of a niche public service while making too many specialist TV shows and Radio programs that nobody wants.

    In other words, if they are pissing everyone off equally, they must be getting something right.

    1. Ossi

      "we were not just anti-Macmillan; we were anti-industry, anti-capitalism, anti-advertising, anti-selling, anti-profit, anti-patriotism, anti-monarchy, anti-Empire, anti-police, anti-armed forces, anti-bomb, anti-authority. Almost anything that made the world a freer, safer and more prosperous place, you name it, we were anti it."

      -Antony Jay talking about his time at the BBC

      Now find me an equivalent quote from a BBC insider about right wing bias.

      1. Maharg

        Young people in 1960s were more liberal than previous generation shock horror!

        "Now find me an equivalent quote from a BBC insider about right wing bias"


        Greg Dyke, described the BBC as part of a conspiracy preventing the radical changes needed to UK democracy

        "I tried and failed to get the problem properly discussed when I was at the BBC and I was stopped, interestingly, by a combination of the politicos on the board of governors, one of whom [Baroness Sarah Hogg] was married to the man who claimed for cleaning his moat…

        Why? Because, collectively, they are all part of the problem. They are part of one Westminster conspiracy. They dont want anything to change. It’s not in their interests.

        (I would like to draw your attention to the fact both the Antony Jay, and the Greg Dyke story have ran on the BBC

    2. Jim 59


      Because opposing opinions exist does not prove the BBC is unbiased, or that the opinions are 50-50 split. The large preponderance of opinion has it that the BBC pushes a consistent political agenda, and that the agenda is set by a small number of people living in the wealthy areas around Hampstead.

      Listen to News Quiz on Radio 4. How many Tory voters do you think work on that programme ?

      1. Maharg

        Re: @Jim 59

        Because opposing opinions exist does not prove the BBC is unbiased, or that the opinions are 50-50 split. “

        I never said it was, you asked me for a quote, I got you one.

        However I would not expect a 50-50 split because last time we had an election only 36% of the population (including me) voted conservative (small c), so even if 85% of the BBC are leftwing, it would still be closer to a representation of the UK then a 50-50 split

        “Listen to News Quiz on Radio 4. How many Tory voters do you think work on that programme (sic)?”

        Last time I checked that was a comedy show, of course it has a left wing bias, not just because of the fact that inclusive comedy is inherently left wing and anti-authoritarian (otherwise most people would not find it funny, just uncomfortable) not just because most people that go into comedy lean to the left, but because we have a Tory government in power, and Labour is not really worth mentioning.

        Pretty sure if you watch re-runs from mock the week you could find the same amount of jokes about Gordon Brown being useless as David Cameron being out of touch now.

        My point was compared to other news outlets, while the BBC has a left wing bias, they are kept in check and held more accountable, the BBC fired two comedians after they made a prank phone call and said some pretty nasty things, while Daily Mail bullied a teacher into killing themselves for having a sex change last year, yet Little John still works for them.

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