The BBC has refused to provide details of audience complaints regarding last week’s Panorama.
The programme, called ‘The Farage Factor’ was regarded by many to be half an hour of airtime for people who had either been fired or lost leadership contests to the high profile politician.
Many took to twitter to air their views, including non-UKIP supporters who said they thought the programme was partisan.
As a public body the BBC is required to disclose this information. But following our polite request for the number, if any, of complaints and what they were specifically regarding, we received the following reply:
Your query has been passed on to me. Because of evidence of lobbying we can’t provide the figures as they are not a genuine reflection of how the audience feels.
However a section on the BBC’s Points of View said that there had been over 800 complaints; a huge number, particularly for a story which hasn’t had any follow up coverage of the type generated by the ‘#Sachsgate’ story. In fact, there were only two complaints in the week after that show was broadcast, but after the Mail on Sunday led on the story the following weekend and media coverage exploded, this number rocketed to a total of 44,790.
Breitbart London knows of at least three people who were interviewed by Panorama for the programme but who were not critical of Mr Farage – even if they may have been critical of other party officials. These include former MEP Godfrey Bloom and Mr Farage’s former office manager, now MEP, Ray Finch.
None of these interviews were used, with the BBC instead choosing to use two former leadership candidates Richard Suchorzewski and David Bannerman (who both then defected to the Conservatives after they lost to Farage) as well as a former member of staff who fell out with Farage and subsequently sold stories to the Mail on Sunday in 2004.
When asked for further information from the BBC including details of the ‘lobbying’ and who specifically makes the decision that this has occurred, we received the following reply:
“When there is evidence of coordinated lobbying, as there has been in this case, we do not release the complaints figures publicly.
For further information about the programme, you can obviously refer to the Points of View programme broadcast yesterday, including Ceri Thomas’ response to some of the complaints we have received.
We don’t have anything further to add at this point.”
This is not the first time the BBC has tried to hide facts and figures.
The BBC receives funding from the European Union: Figures obtained by the Spectator showed it had applied and been granted £3 million of EU funds between April 2011 and November 2013.
That information was obtained by a Freedom of Information request after the state broadcaster refused initially to provide the information and included the numbers in ‘other grants’ in its annual report.
The BBC is funded by license fee as a way of ensuring is to protect its impartiality. However, its Chairman of the BBC Trust was Chris Patten, who spent eight years in Brussels as a European Commissioner and is in receipt of a very generous EU pension – for as long as he promotes his previous employers.