Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Giving a platform to a bigot

It's a while since I've complained to the BBC, but the Pope's Easter message being broadcast was enough to get me riled. "Giving a platform to a bigot" is how I summarized it in under 20 words. This is the extended special edition:

The views of the Pope are homophobic, sexist, possibly anti-semitic and extremely dangerous when it comes to the spreading of HIV. Why is someone who would be marginalized if he was a political leader, or condemned if he was a Muslim cleric, given 34 minutes to air his views at the expense of the license payer, with no-one given a right to reply? You decided to let Nick Griffin on Question Time as an elected MEP, but the Pope has no right to a platform on similar grounds so how can this be justified?

I got a reply from the BBC. This is their justification:
Dear Mr Chafey

Reference **************

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the BBC One programme ‘Urbi et Orbi’.

I understand you’re unhappy because you believe the Pope’s views are homophobic and that the BBC shouldn’t broadcast him on its network.

Given that the occasion was Easter, this was a live broadcast from St Peter's Square in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI gives his Easter message and blessing "to the city and to the world".

We would also check our broadcasts, in that they don’t breach editorial our guidelines, however it would be more difficult in a live rolling environment. Yet the Pope represents hundreds of millions of Catholics across the planet and as Catholics make up a big percentage of the UK population, we need to reflect the interests of our audience while also trying to offer various other interests across our network, for viewers who may not prefer to watch the programme.

I appreciate that you may continue to hold a different view and I'd like to assure you that I've registered your complaint on our Audience Log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to all BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The Audience Logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions on future BBC programmes and content.

Once again, thank you for contacting us.

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints

Is this adequate justification? Your views please...

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