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BBC ‘may face sanctions’ after gay execution debate

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  1. “undermine media freedom”

    Other news media outlets have media freedom, but not the BBC, because the public pay for them and therefore expect standards. The BBC is not an independent company that needs sensationalist stories to make the public watch or read them.

    We the license fee payers expect standards or we mite start refusing to pay it!

  2. Good move Equality Commission!

    I don’t agree, Cleggy (1) that the BBC don’t enjoy press freedom: it is imperative that they do. But this isn’t a freedom issue.

    Press freedom is the freedom to write the truth, the freedom to express editorial opinion. There’s no freedom issue in inciting hate comments: that serves no public interest at all. But it *is* true that the BBC have extra responsibilities to fairness and equality, “because of the unique way they’re funded” (!)

  3. While I don’t think media should censor comments just because they’re from idiots – most people can see that and it helps make the bigots look even more foolish – the BBC totally ignored their own policy for publishing comments.

    If the question was posed about a country implementing ethnic cleansing (“Should [people x] be exterminated?”), there would be no arguing about the morality.

  4. “Other news media outlets have media freedom, but not the BBC, because the public pay for them and therefore expect standards.”

    This is an extraordiary statement. As far as I’m concerned, the BBC should have as much freedom as speech as any other corporate or individual body. The public pay for Sky too, so by the same logic you’d expect ‘standards’ from them too.

    “…this isn’t a freedom issue.Press freedom is the freedom to write the truth, the freedom to express editorial opinion. There’s no freedom issue in inciting hate comments: that serves no public interest at all. But it *is* true that the BBC have extra responsibilities to fairness and equality, “because of the unique way they’re funded” (!) ”

    Speech which does not serve the public and is hateful should surely be permitted. I don’t think speech should be restricted just because it offends people, for the notion of ‘offense’ is subjective, and could lead to punishing all sorts of behaviour. In fact, the concept of ‘offense’ was used to deny the right to sodomy in the states, according to some scholars.
    So long as a comment does not directly interfere with someone’s rights, I can’t see the case for censoring it. In fact, I think Mill’s harm principle is a good principle to adopt in these sorts of cases. Debating whether gays should be executed does not actually lead directly to the infringement of anyone’s rights. If we censored speech which indirectly lead to rights violations we could end up censoring any number of things (e.g, imagine the queen’s speech indirectly lead to someone being killed)

    You use the word “responsibilities”. Someone can have a responsibility to do something but not be legally obliged to do so. In that sense, the BBC might be responsible. But if you’re saying they’re legally obliged to do x or y, I would be interested in knowing the legal obligation in question, preferably in the form of a citation so that I can actually read the relevant document(s).

  5. The BBC Trust is consulting on a revision of current Editorial Guidelines. The consultation period ends this Thursday. The new Draft Guidelines have nothing to say about the fair treatment of LGBT people.

    In contrast, earlier guidance, in force from February 2000 – July 2005, stated that “Gay and lesbian people, and those who are bi-sexual, make up a significant minority entitled to be served and treated fairly by the BBC.”

  6. The BBC needs to understand that if they don’t start supporting the gay community then they will be “broken up” and sold off. Why should the public be forced to pay for a homophobic TV channel that dose nothing apart from encourage far right homophobic attitudes!

  7. Ah yes, Trevor Phillips. He who employs homophobic religious nuts and expects us to think what a wonderful man he is. This is probably no more than a diversion from his own seedy goings own at the commission. Until Phillips and his cronies depart the Commission it is no more than empty words.

  8. Can we pause a minute and consider that the BBC is not JUST what Dave describes it at in post 6. The BBC does a lot more than that. It provides a wide range of programmes that most people enjoy. It provides jobs for tens of thousands of people, many of whom ARE gay, and I don’t just mean the Four Poofs and Graham Norton. Breaking up the BBC would mean huge layoffs and a massive drop in quality programme making. Bear in mind, BBC programmes are the backbone of British imports to other parts of the world. That includes programmes like Eastenders which is fronting an interesting gay relationship storyline at the moment, Doctor Who, which is such a gay icon it gets broadcast on big screens at London Pride and its younger sibling, Torchwood, with one of the few portrayals of a gay action hero on tv ANYWHERE. That’s just three reasons for gay people to pay their licence. (well apart from RobN who doesn’t like Torchwood.) The BBC is way bigger than this stupid, tactless incident on its website. By all means somebody should be disciplined for their stupidity. But to penalise everyone in the organisation is a bit much.

  9. Rose . . . thanks for the breath of fresh air on this issue.

  10. Jean-Paul Bentham 20 Dec 2009, 10:03pm

    And to think the BBC is so highly respected here in Canada, especially for World News.

    Luke (4): What are your thoughts on “verbal diarrhea”?

    Now please don’t take that the wrong way!

  11. Hi Luke (4)… I wasn’t talking in a particularly legal sense, but about your request for a citation, there are really too many relevant elements to list: it would be an essay!

    Anyway, one of the key starting points is the BBC’s “Agreement” (a document accompanying the BBC charter), so I’ll mention a couple of points in there:

    Section 46 (Programme Code Standards) 2)ii) referring to the Communications Act 2003 “omission of material likely to encourage or incite any crime or disorder” is the root of the BBC’s specific rule. You’ll probably guess that the specific crime I have in mind is “Incitement to homophobic hatred” as defined in the Criminal Justice & Immigration Act 2008. I said in an earlier thread that the BBC was on the borderline of this law, and it shouldn’t have been anywhere close to it. We really don’t know whether providing a forum which specifically invites people to call for execution of gay people and subsequently publishes such contributions violates this law, because it hasn’t been tested in court. (It was for an investigation of that possibility, however, that I submitted a police complaint.) In any case, this clause is the basis for the BBC’s self-imposed code of conduct banning homophobic messages, to which The Equality Commission refers in the news article.

    And secondly, Section 64 is specifically about the World Service provision (in this case we’re talking about BBC Africa), para 6)c) about providing a balanced, British view of news. This is quite interesting to me, because in his “apology”, the BBC’s Peter Horrocks says “an important issue where the BBC can provide a platform for debate that otherwise would not exist across the continent”: I think there can be a conflict between British values (which in law and consensus definitely excludes executing gay people) can sometimes be in conflict with values and jurisprudence of other countries; and that this shows the BBC’s responsibility is not so much to provide unique debating platforms for Africa so much as to represent British values.

    Anyway, like I said… your request covers too many elements to cite – my brief notes on this couple of thoughts is probably already too much.

  12. BrazilBoysBlog 20 Dec 2009, 11:20pm

    Despite all the debate and fancy ‘fine points’ on here, this whole BBC online debate was not right, not right at all.

    Think guys, if the question had been ‘Were the Nazis right to exterminate the Jews?’ there would have been hell to pay. If the question had been ;Should we bring back slavery for black people?’ there would have been hell to pay… (and rightly)

    …and there SHOULD be hell to pay NOW!

  13. Yes, and they’re getting it. But you can’t tar every individual who works for an organisation as vast as the BBC as homophobic because of one idiot who didn’t think before engaging his or her typing fingers and opening the discussion in such a dangerous way. That is my point.

    Sadly, I’ve noticed frequently that people on Pink News jump into generalisations like that. There is the insistance that all Catholic priests are paedos and that people from Liverpool are all homophobic thugs and other chestnuts that come up again and again. This is another one. These same people destest generalisations about gays, and know perfectly well that LGBT people are individuals, good bad and indifferent, with all sorts of opinons and habits. But they don’t mind making generalisations about other groups. Just get some perspective on this issue, that’s all.

  14. Rose – Every organisation has its own ethos, and unfortunately in the case of the BBC its corporate ethos has led to numerous incidents of wrongdoing, some of which have been punished by Ofcom, and others of which have been brushed aside by Ofcom.

    In this particular case the people involved claim to have carefully considered the issues before the ‘Have Your Say’ debate went live. There was certainly more than one person involved. As the scandal developed on Wednesday, the BBC maintained it was perfetly correct to act the way it did. The people involved seemed to have little understanding of the degree of upset they had caused, and presumably higher management felt the same at the time. Disquiet grew and eventually, the following day, an ‘apology’ was issued. Judge for yourself what to make of the ‘apology’ by Peter Horrocks. In my view it compounds the offence.

  15. Ok, have it your way, Dave! The BBC is there for no other reason than to bash gays. I’ll resign tomorrow. Pity, I kind of liked my job. I didn’t think I was doing anyone any harm making television drama. But like my religion it seems I can’t keep it and be taken seriously on Pink News. But I’ll conform to the expectations of the majority. Happy now?

  16. Hi again, a note that there’s more than one dave on this forum. I’m the one who earlier put a link to the BBC Trust Editorial Guidelines consultation.

    BBC Pride and thoughtful individuals need to find a voice, and not be afraid to make their anger known to BBC management. Unfortunately it’s known that those who speak out of turn often tend to regret it. You’re probably aware, but take a look at this article.

  17. Jean-Paul Bentham 21 Dec 2009, 2:47am

    Two Dave’s on here!!

    Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell scum… MC, is that you, Lukey?

  18. I think Rose (13) and Dave (14) both have a point.

    I credit the BBC (along with Channel 4, in fact) with making the biggest contribution to diversity. I feel more respected, more respectable, even with the potential to be “cool” while being myself, because of the BBC’s and Channel 4’s portrayal of being gay in society.

    But Rose, it’s not legitimate to defend the BBC Africa fiasco as “one idiot who didn’t think” – the BBC’s defence said that the topic had been widely discussed, so it wasn’t one idiot, and s/he clearly did think, and BBC editors clearly did think and discuss before defending it.

    And Dave, “numerous incidents of wrongdoing” is your personal judgement – not all the things you consider wrongdoing are considered wrong by every gay person who is passionately against homophobia.

  19. dave Thanks for the article about the BBC (called ‘Fear and Loathing inside the BBC’) and things do look pretty bad. just to take one example — Senior managers routinely claiming petty expenses of a few pounds when they are paid literally hundreds of thousands of pounds guaranteed salary is an absolute disgrace, and shows a culture of avarice even worse than that existing in Parliament. They seem to regard their main responsibility as milking the license-fee-payers of Britain for as much money as they can grab.

    Regarding this particular incident, the BBC comes out of it seeming way out of touch with modern democratic values to put it mildly. Whats more, the apology proffered by Horocks seemed more a justification of what happened than anything else. These people need to get their thinking caps on, and pretty damn quick if you as me.

    There are some remarkably talented people who work for the BBC, but – to coin a phrase – they are lions lead by donkeys.

  20. I’m just tired of feeling that everything that matters to me is under attack in these pages. I’ve about had enough of it. I’ve had personal attacks for my religious beliefs and now my work is being criticised. I think I’ll just let you all argue among yourselves and find something else to do with my spare time.

  21. Simon Murphy 21 Dec 2009, 11:12am

    The BBC has NOT apoloogised for allowing a debate on the mass murder of innocent people.

    It apologised a ‘stark’ headline but not the decision to frame the debate in the revolting, offensive, homophobic manner in which they did.

    And Luke – your comment “Speech which does not serve the public and is hateful should surely be permitted” again avoids the reality.
    Again I will point out that neo-Nazi speech is NOT permitted on the BBC. Why do wilfully ignore the BBC’s blatant double standards?

  22. Brian Burton 21 Dec 2009, 11:23am

    Trevor Phillips is a waste of space, he should resinge!

  23. Simon Murphy: “The BBC has NOT apologised for allowing a debate on the mass murder of innocent people.”

    Why should they!? It is an important matter that needs discussion. You can’t just adopt an ostrich pose, stick your head in the sand and pretend that the Ugandans won’t do this.

    I agree, the title / motion was rather poorly worded and insensitive, but the end of the day it demonstrated that most people are against it, and those that are pro made fools of themselves and were very much in the minority.

    The BBC has a duty to represent everyone and remain impartial and unbiased at all times, which is more than can be said for that hypocritical sycophant Trevor Phillips. Impose sanctions? What are they going to do? Stop lorries delivering in Shepherds Bush?
    The man’s a f_ckwit.

  24. I don’t think the debate is wrong, obviously if there are strong opinions about this topic then they should be discussed and put forth. That being said, how they [BBC] asked the question, was definitely tasteless.

  25. We cannot get BBC in Poland so I cannot really comment but I do follow BBC World News – I have been told that BBC employees have embarrasingly high salaries – so reduce the salaires of all personnel who go against whatever rules ands reglations they infringe. Money talks the loudest. Hit them where it hurts the most – in their pay packets.

  26. Simon Murphy 21 Dec 2009, 11:55am

    No 23: RobN: “The BBC has a duty to represent everyone and remain impartial and unbiased at all times, which is more than can be said for that hypocritical sycophant Trevor Phillips.”

    I agree – Trevor Phillips is a moron.

    But that does not alter the fact that the BBC messed up enormously with their ‘Should gays get killed?’ debate.

    What annoys me is how they are unwilling to ‘fess up and apologise for the dreadful editorial decision to hold the ‘debate’ in the 1st place.

  27. Robert, ex pat Brit 21 Dec 2009, 2:39pm

    Why don’t we petition the BBC to post similar topics such as…”was the holocaust necessary”; should religious extremists be jailed for hate speech or deported if they’re not citizens, or in some cases, put to death”? Lets hear it from the BBC to see how impartial it is. If this were straight, white foreign nationals working in Uganda were facing the same fate, I doubt if the BBC would say “should this happen”. This is nothing more than stoking the fire of homophobia because we are the last group of people that its okay to hate and in some instances, kill, aided and abetted by the silence of some of the religious cults. Islam of course openly condones it since they have the same disgusting laws in their own countries and Williams has barely said a word condemning it either for fear of offending the conservatives in his own cult, Akinola being one of them.

  28. This is how in denial the BBC is of it homophobia.

    Dear Abi

    Thanks for your e-mail.

    I understand you feel that the BBC ignores the LGBT community and even insults them.

    I can assure you that this is not the case as we would never deliberately set out to upset or offend any individual or group of people. With the amount of programmes on offer we are confident that there will be at least one programme that everyone enjoys. It’s also worth noting that we raise awareness of issues in relation to the LGBT, such as condemning and taking action against homophobia.

    Nevertheless, with your complaint in mind I can assure you that I’ve registered your comments on our audience log. This is the internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily for all programme makers and commissioning executives within the BBC, and also their senior management. It ensures that your points, and all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.

    Thanks again for taking the time to e-mail us.


    Ross Montgomery
    BBC Complaints

    —–Original Message—–

    10% of the UK’s population are lesbian, gay, bisexual and
    transgendered yet we get 0% of the BBC’s programming. In light of this how
    can the BBC justify charging LGBT people the licence fee when it ignores
    and even insults them.

    I call on the BBC to make programming that represents the LGBT or stop
    taxing us.

    No taxation without representation.

  29. Oh, come on Abi1975 (28), now you’re being silly. How can you say we get 0% of the programming? I’ve only just finished watching the “Beautiful People” series, which is the most inspiring TV series I’ve ever watched. 100% of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transexual people are also human, and 100% of the programming is for us!

  30. ” It’s also worth noting that we raise awareness of issues in relation to the LGBT, such as condemning and taking action against homophobia.”

    I wonder what Ross Montgomery has in mind, especially regarding the word “condemning” homophobia? Perhaps something on Radio 1 and online, but BBC factual and children’s TV programmes rarely, if ever, discuss homophobia.

  31. Abi: There is also a high proportion of black, asian and Eastern European people in the UK, yet I see virtually no programming for them either.

    Tsucahn has it in a nutshell: We are all people. Why is it that people complain that they want to be treated as equals, yet as soon as they do, they berate the fact that nobody takes any notice of their “special needs”.

    It reminds me of all the feminist types that storm around complaining they don’t get the breaks men get, and then give you a dirty look and march into the front of the queue shouting “Ladies First!”

  32. Rose comment 13 and 15, your comments are vey valid and i agree with you that sometimes people here seem to be very negative and over opinionated!! i guess the very nature of this open forum rather encourages it. But generally it makes interesting reading and there are some very contraversial regular contributors who are very knowlegable. Don’t dessert us, your comments are always well said and sensative to others views.

  33. I go with Brian. The man should get a new hairdo, and resinge!

  34. There are also some very amusing contributors too!!!! “resinge” indeed!!

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