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Last Updated: Monday, 31 January, 2005, 17:07 GMT
Should BBC improve EU coverage?
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The BBC must make its coverage of Europe "more demonstrably impartial", an independent inquiry has said.

The report which was commissioned by BBC governors, found no evidence of deliberate bias but said there was a "widespread perception" of "certain forms of cultural and unintentional bias" that needed to be corrected.

BBC News has set up a working group to examine the report in detail and respond to the findings.

Do you agree with the report's findings? What do you think of the BBC's news coverage of Europe? Send us your views.

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

There are two separate discussions going on here. On the question of the volume of programming that deals with Europe, I agree that it is too low. On the question of political bias I agree that the BBC is a little too obvious in its enthusiasm for EU integration. In summary, like many Britons, I love Europe and her various nations. I don't like the EU and the dead hand it lays upon them.
Neil, London

The problem seems be not so much one of bias, but of insufficient coverage of European issues. The BBC, and incidentally all the UK press, have a responsibility to keep the British public informed about matters which concern them. Please take Europe seriously, they make our laws these days!
Helen Homewood, Argentat, France

The BBC only seems to report on the EU when affairs involve the UK. There is no sense that we are part of the EU and that EU matters should be reported for their own sake. I hope the BBC will report on the EU more, and trust that when facts displace myths in the national consciousness, we'll be able to talk calmly about our place in Europe.
Anna, Cambridge, UK

For about a year now, the whole BBC programming boils down to "What's going on in the USA?" We see hours of Presidential elections, inaugurations etc. but nothing about urgent matters concerning the whole of the UK, which are being dealt with in Europe. I find it perplexing that I have to watch French and German Satellite stations to find out what is going on in the whole of Europe whereas my own paid for BBC brings me "Uncle Sam's Daily Blog"
Alex Fisher, London

On French TV, anything against the EU as a whole is simply banned. Anyone daring to criticize EU institutions is declared anti-European and thus a disreputable citizen, a narrow-minded character, etc... EU propaganda is ubiquitous in the media and it is simply not allowed to think differently. So be thankful, you lucky British people that a democratic debate does exist in your country. I, for my part, watch BBC World and find no real bias one way or the other, only perhaps a slight pro EU flavour by some.
Alain Hernu, Andresy France

As a UK citizen, who has lived outside the UK for some 5 years, I have become increasingly irritated by the BBC's ( and other UK media's) narrow and cynical bias in its European coverage. Coverage tends to the crowd pleasing stereotype of other European nations and concentrates on the differences only, not the similarities nor the common issues we face as Europeans. Looking from outside the UK , things are much better than they're reported. The BBC should tell it as it is - Britain has not been a world superpower for a long time and it's time to be proud to be part of Europe where we can make a difference.
Janet, Dublin

We get so much pointless news about America and nothing about the continent in which we actually reside.
Amanda, London
Never mind about being for or against, how about just showing something to do with Europe. We get so much pointless news about America and nothing about the continent in which we actually reside. This is what needs to be addressed.
Amanda, London

Whilst I don't believe there is any bias in the BBC's coverage of Europe, I do believe it is lacking in depth. The BBC has an important role in educating the British population, so that they make choices based on facts and knowledge, rather than suspicion and rumour.
Peter Ward, Edinburgh UK

As with the Hutton Report, BBC has received news it doesn't want to hear, will report matter of factly, and then go on by ignoring as if it never existed.
Mark, USA

More news about what is going on in Italy, France, Germany and Spain would be welcome.
Richard Lafferty, UK

There is simply no point in trying to explain the EU institutions to the average British voter because they know little and care even less about such things. That's why the British tabloids are treated as gospel every time a "new Euro scandal" which turns out to be nothing of the kind is mentioned
Garry Waddell, Ruislip, UK

The BBC's coverage of European events and news is to say the least very poor. Too much time is spent on dumbed down issues so as to please the government. Where is investigative journalism to hold apparatchiks to account? Where is detailed coverage in respect of the European constitution so that Mr and Mrs Average who are not computer literate can form a balanced opinion?
Helmut Koisser, Stourbridge England

I listen regularly to BBC World Service on short wave and Radio 4 on the net. BBC coverage is pro-EU biased. It is also anti-American and intolerant of anyone critical of their own EU bias. Try living here in Italy, see the corruption, the tax-dodging and cheating. The UK can work with Europe without funding it and integrating with it. Less pro-EU bias please.
Robin Springett, Naples Italy

I expect news and current affairs programmes to take a critical approach to subjects
Andrew Abaza, Brighton, UK
When I have listened to programmes such as Today, generally I find that anyone, whatever their position, gets a grilling from a critical journalist. That's as it should be. I expect news and current affairs programmes to take a critical approach to subjects; I don't expect to be educated on a university channel. Let politicians present their case on the EU - let journalists and others question them on our behalves to get at the facts and behind the spin.
Andrew Abaza, Brighton, UK

It would be nice to see the government explain its EU policies. Then perhaps the BBC would have some EU news that they could cover. The deafening silence from the Government about the EU constitution is telling.
Geoff Lane, Bury, Lancs

Yes. The BBC seems to have an automatic assumption that further integration with the EU is a natural and inevitable thing. Any idea that we should stop cuddling up to the EU or (heaven forbid!) withdraw is given the 'what-planet-are-these-people-on?' treatment. Now we have the report's findings and the BBC have been found wanting, let's see some more balanced reporting.
Andrew, Cheshire, England

I disagree totally. As a Frenchman I find the BBC's coverage of Europe often more objective than in France or in Germany, where I live now.
Xavier, France

Shouldn't the news be impartial by its very nature? Just give me the plain hard facts and I will make up my own opinions thank you very much. I don't need the BBC to tell me what I think.
Stephen, Cardiff

The real issues go largely unreported
Howard, Manchester, UK<

The report is right. In my view not just the BBC but most of the UK news media are guilty of reporting politics as a spectator sport in which we all tune in to see who's in trouble, who said the wrong thing, who should resign, who snubbed who, etc. Meanwhile, the real issues go largely unreported. How can I form an opinion about the European Constitution ahead of the referendum? - Certainly not by watching the BBC News
Howard, Manchester, UK

At the end of every EU summit there is a press conference. Isn't it time the BBC showed us more than just the British government's spin on what has taken place and been agreed? How nice it would be if for once we could see how other heads of state are reporting the same events. I think we would be in for a big shock. Wake up BBC and do your job properly!
David, Leeds UK

The Europe front page on the news web site has a whole column on EU matters every day
Eve Johansson, Hessle, Yorks
I do not have television but I listen to BBC Radio 4 and visit the website several times daily. I am probably better informed about EU matters than most people, through my work, and I find the BBC's coverage exemplary. It is balanced and thorough, and the writing is less superficial than some of the news reporting. The Europe front page on the news web site has a whole column on EU matters every day - probably more than most of your users look at.
Eve Johansson, Hessle, East Yorks

The international coverage we get seems to be heavily biased towards the USA. Even trivial news from the US gets into the news. The coverage of the Bush inauguration was just grotesque. Medium level news from Europe just doesn't get a mention.
Ian Barrett, Manchester

The BBC is a British company owned by the British people. It must retain the British bias, news from Europe should be secondary.
Brian M Keith, Ellesmere England

Yes, it should. One cannot forget EU is the future. If not given due importance, BBC would get reduced to a local media. We then also hope to see less of Prince Harry and his Nazi adventures and more of some constructive stuff.
Rajesh G. Kulkarni, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

All we seem to get in the international news is the Middle East and world disasters. If they don't make the news then we get the USA. br />Abid Bashir, Shipley, UK

The BBC does not give fair and proper coverage
Alan HL McAllister, Fife

For many years I've listened to the BBC radio (mostly World Service) and it is my impression that the BBC does not give fair and proper coverage of EU and world news items and issues, often it's biased towards mainly presenting USA news, etc. and often include very trivial matters.

Another indicator to USA biasness is the ridiculously high number of BBC reporters who went on a jolly to report the USA presidential election last year. BBC get a grip and learn how to organize and present a balanced reporting mechanism of EU and other world news affairs.
Alan HL McAllister, Dunfermline, Fife

I hate being a European and class myself as proudly British. The BBC doesn't need to broadcast any more about the EU, as no-one in this case could care less about it!
Bob Jones, Cambridgeshire, England

To argue that the BBC is not biased about the EU is ridiculous. Every time a pro-EU person is on Radio 4 or 5 they get a nice easy ride with simple questions to answer. Whenever someone who wishes to challenge the actions or policies of the EU they are treated with contempt and the interviewer acts as if the person is intellectually subnormal for daring to question the orthodoxy of the EU.
Stephen Drew, Cambridge, UK

I feel that the BBC could do better. You need to explain and examine more of what is going on in the European institutions. An example that is crying out for a thorough analysis is the European Constitution; what exactly will its impact be?
Richard Read, London, UK

Let's have compulsory slots in the news and make it the BBC's public duty to use some of the Digital TV time for European programming
Andy, Wokingham

More on Europe? - yes please! We are kept in ignorance by all the main media channels in the UK. All we hear about are problems and anti-Europe sound bites from our lowest common denominator will do politicians. All the TV channels feed us is American programmes.

Let's try to get some programmes (films, drama, news, documentaries, soaps even) from Europe - we might even start to gain some understanding of issues and ways of living beyond what the US and global business tell us. Let's have compulsory slots in the news and make it the BBC's public duty to use some of the Digital TV time for European programming.
Andy, Wokingham, UK

I have been reporting on Europe and the EU everyday for the past five years on my website using your excellent European news sources. However, I must say that as far as the EU itself was concerned, it always did seem to me to be an obvious BBC blind spot, which I have always put down to institutionalized euro scepticism. I am overjoyed that this will now be corrected. Do I already hear alarm bells ringing in Smith Square?
Raymond, Girona, Spain

The war on Saddam clearly demonstrated the BBC was not impartial, with an anti-American undertone in its reports. This is now added to its anti -Israeli stance. The BBC could well do with a clear out of its left orientated staff which obviously are in the majority and replace them with a centre and right leaning staff. This may then bring back the impartiality the BBC was once renowned for.
Steve, Gillingham, Kent

I have not read the report but over the years I have noted a subtle bias in favour of the EU on the Today programme. It is in the form of the assumptions made and the treatment of the interviewees. James especially can't hide his favour of the EU.
Gordon Cusick, Macclesfield, England

The only unbiased and impartial human is a dead one. Humans write the news, so no matter how impartial or unbiased you try to be or think you are, the bias always slips through. Instead of trying to correct the bias, just admit it. Most people already know what media sources most closely reflect their own personal world outlook, so you're not fooling anyone by trying to please everyone.
Ryan, New Orleans, USA

It's interesting - to me, it seems it's a case of whatever viewpoint you have, people argue the BBC is biased in the other direction. What this proves is that, in fact, the BBC is perfectly unbiased in virtually all issues.
Rikki, UK

When was the last time that contemporary Germany was the focus of a program as opposed to Nazi Germany?
Luis Coelho, Soham

I am a Portuguese journalist working in the UK. I wholly agree with the findings of the report. When was the last time that contemporary Germany was the focus of a program as opposed to Nazi Germany? When was the last time France or Spain were talked about other than in a travel or moving there TV series? What attention is paid to EU policies that have curbed pollution and regulated safe work practices? Ignorance breeds contempt. No wonder no-one here wants to be in the EU.
Luis Coelho, Soham, UK

When watching the BBC, you get really convinced that the UK is not part of the EU...
Florence, London

Interesting how many comments on this page are from non-UK residents. The BBC already gives too much credence to a rapidly-failing system, just as it manages to convey it's left-wing credentials and bias whenever politics is mentioned.
Andrew, Bedford, UK

What a joke. If there is no evidence of deliberate bias, then what is there to be corrected? Are the BBC higher-ups supposed to hire an all new staff of journalists and quiz them on their thoughts about Europe or command writers to reflect on the EU in a more positive light? News is supposed to be objective. If people think the BBC is not impartial, they may receive their information from a multitude of other media sources.
Adam, United States

The BBC does need to make more information available about the EU
Philip Marshall, Bury St Edmunds

Currently, any regular information from the Beeb about the EU is The Record Brussels/Strasbourg, on a minor channel (BBC Parliament) at a graveyard slot (Sundays, 1630). So yes the BBC does need to make more information available about the EU.
Philip Marshall, Bury St Edmunds, UK

We seem to hear endless reports about every American who stubs his toe, but almost nothing about what's happening in our neighbouring countries. I love being a European, even though I'm Canadian by birth. I'd like more European news.
Susan, Wokingham, UK

Unsurprising - this BBC bias pervades many aspects of its reporting and the comments about the EU could easily be repeated about your attitude towards Israel, the US and the western world in general. Perhaps you should open up your recruitment policy to people other than the Guardian-reading liberal media elite?
Anonymous

I regularly follow Deutsche Welle, CNN, a couple of Finnish broadcasters and of course BBC from net and TV plus some radio stations. If I wish to get an impartial (or shall I say the most objective) news content I find that from BBC. In my opinion the others are either locally limited in their perspective and coverage or simply making sensations, not news. Some broadcasters are simply too patriotic. I have not seen the report but without seeing it I can see no reason for BBC to change its ways.
Mikko Toivonen, Helsinki, Finland

Living in a country where our news is so completely biased, I feel privileged to have BBC as my alternative source for true news, and I think they are doing just fine with their coverage of Europe and the rest of the world.
Chris, Florida, USA

They could do worse than investigate the BBC attitude towards modern day USA
Paul B, Oxford, UK

Phrases like "widespread perception" and "certain forms of cultural and unintentional bias"; I think come under the collective description of weasel words. In other words somebody has been paid a fortune to study something, discovered nothing and seeks to justify their fee by carefully planted phrases that don't actually mean anything. Indeed, the phrase "certain forms of cultural and unintentional bias", sounds awfully like the notion of "institutional racism", one of the most absurd and meaningless concepts in recent years, designed to make us all wear a hair shirt for the wrongdoings of a few.

If the BBC governors want to spend money on a study of bias within their organisation they could do worse than investigate the BBC attitude towards modern day USA. This is not bias, it is out and out bigotry and is so obvious that it shouldn't cost more than a fiver or so to draw and report conclusions!
Paul B, Oxford, UK

I don't think I've noticed this. However, I think that the coverage could be a little more in-depth. Also, I'd like to see an EU news page, with a Hyperlink to it on the left menu bar, I suppose between World and UK would be good.
Peter, Cheshire

The BBC already act in a very biased way in favour of the EU, so does this mean that we are in for even more Euro trash from Auntie? Since the David Kelly bust up with New Labour, it seems that the BBC are going all out, once again, to serve their masters well and to make amends for any past embarrassment that they may have caused Tony Blair. Personally I would prefer to see them as they were when they were telling it like it is!
Peter, London

That a panel would find fault with your European coverage is not totally surprising. You definitely show a cultural bias against Japan - highlighting "wacky" inventions and trends, for example.
Matt, San Francisco, USA

Why should you worry about or correct any perceived bias. Are you not The British Broadcasting Company which serves the interests of the British?
Dwayne Chastain, West Jefferson, Ohio USA

I think the BBC should have more coverage on Europe
J. Werner, KÝbenhavn, Denmark
I think the BBC should have more coverage on Europe. I watch BBC all the time and there's hardly anything worthwhile about other European countries on there.
J. Werner, KÝbenhavn, Denmark

We regularly watch both German and BBC news programs, one after the other. The quality of the BBC reporting is good but the selection of stories covered shows a UK/US bias. The main German news programs (on ARD/ZDF) do a better job of coving news in the EU and globally, which over a period of time provides a more comprehensive picture of EU and world developments.
Chris Dodge, Saffron Walden, UK

The turnout at the last European election was very poor, and many people still have no idea about what the EU is or why it's important, so yes, it definitely needs to be given more coverage.
Matt, Loughborough, UK

The BBC should introduce additional coverage of EU, NATO and the United Nations on all of its news outlets. They should also work towards helping "Europe By Satellite" and "UNTV" channels to be shown on Freeview. We have a right to see them, as we pay for them, and their parent institutions.
Joseph, Hereford, England

I don't know about "bias", but I do know that the BBC provides much less coverage of EU issues than it should. The BBC is my main source of news - and frequently my girlfriend, who lives in Denmark, asks my opinion on something major happening in Europe. I am embarrassed when I have to admit that I haven't even heard about it - even though I have browsed through the new website on that day!
Chris, London, UK

Half the time EU news is so boring that I'm glad they don't bore me with it
Marc Wickens, Reading, UK
The BBC like any media organisation has to judge its audience and ask itself weather a story is relevant. Half the time EU news is so boring that I'm glad they don't bore me with it.
Marc Wickens, Reading, UK

I would say that it depends on the purpose of the news coverage. If it is a typical news broadcast then more impartiality is a must. But if it is on a programme that is meant to inform and provoke wider debate, then impartiality may not be such a relevant attribute. For example on programmes such as Newsnight, The Politics Show and Dateline London. Impartiality has its place in journalism, but not in every programme that is produced. I think the news coverage from the corporation is second to none on all issues including Europe and as I see it there isn't a great deal if anything that can be corrected in this area.
Daniel Curwood, Annesley Woodhouse, UK

The BBC is very biased on many issues. It's especially biased against the US and its current leadership so I would not expect anything different toward the EU. It's time for the BBC to learn to ride the fence and stop pushing its own agenda. If you even post this message I would be very impressed.
James, Atlanta, USA

I would like to see more of the news that is of interest in other European countries
Peter Jamieson, Manchester, UK
How it it possible to agree or disagree with a few quotes that say nothing about anything? If you think the BBC is too pro-EU, you might imagine that this report suggests it should be less so, and vice versa. I read a lot of the news items via "the red button" on terrestrial digital and the most noticeable thing is that there is so much overlap between the "Main Headlines", "UK News" and "World News".

Arguably this is because the items reflect what people in the UK are likely to be interested in. As far as Europe is concerned, I would like to see more of the news that is of interest in other European countries (e.g. things that would be headline news in France but not in the UK). But there's really little reason to restrict that to other European countries and European bodies.
Peter Jamieson, Manchester, UK

It's political pressure - pure and simple.
Robin, London

Living in both the UK and mainland Europe, I am horrified by the ignorance and deliberate apathy of most people I meet concerning the EU, they have been fed dis- and misinformation. In Devon and Cornwall we receive much EU funding money, which is paid for by the taxpayer, and in which we need to continue to share. The BBC can help to inform, but not propagandise either way. Good on the governors!
Jack Hughes, Brixham UK

As an ardent BBC listener from early childhood, I am deeply impressed by the coverage of programmes. The coverage of European Affairs has all along been highly accurate, in-depth and totally scintillating with the characteristic British sense of humour.The BBC is constantly striving for excellence on all fronts.

The BBC news coverage is so refreshingly superior to other major broadcasters with much bigger budgets! Healthy criticism is the best way to evolve to outstanding standards and the BBC seems to be well on track to balanced reporting. Congratulations for the sterling service the world over, a broadcasting service with the highest ethical standards: other stations will be well advised to take a leaf out of the BBC's commitment to creative, well researched excellence.
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium

Don't forget that the culture is which the news is reported will heavily influence its format and perspective. For example in the US even the more sober newscasts seem to demand a hint of patriotism, whereas the Canadian equivalent is more toward objective. As for Europe, who cares? If something noteworthy happens, it'll be picked up. If it isn't - well, there wasn't anything to report. And if you want virtually no European coverage, try watching North American news. The BBC will seem a positive europaphile in comparison.
John, Toronto, Canada





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