In Depth

BBC immigration coverage affected by 'liberal bias'

Report claims that corporation was 'slow' to react to public concern on key issues

THE BBC has failed to highlight public concerns about issues like immigration and the EU because it had a "deep liberal bias", a new report claims.

The review, commissioned by the BBC Trust and led by former ITV boss Stuart Prebble, studied the corporation's impartiality when covering certain subjects. Although it offered a "broad and impressive" range of views, "the BBC was slow to reflect the weight of concern in the wider community about issues arising from immigration".

And it was a comment from Helen Boaden (above), the BBC's former director of news, that has dominated the headlines. The report reveals that Boaden, who took up her role in 2004, believed "there had been a problem in the BBC's coverage of immigration".

The report adds: "She was aware, she told us, of a 'deep liberal bias' in the way that the BBC approached the topic."

According to The Guardian: "Boaden is the latest BBC executive to state publicly that the corporation had a liberal bias on controversial topics such as immigration – an accusation it routinely faces from rightwing sections of the media."

The corporation's attitude "prevented it from accurately reflecting public views on immigration", claims the Daily Mail. The paper also flags up a comment from former Today programme reporter Robin Aitken, who said the BBC suffered from a "fundamental niceness".

The Times reports that Prebble said the BBC should "make concerted efforts to monitor currents of opinion among the wider community".

The newspaper added: "His report was based partly on research commissioned from Cardiff University, which found that the number of stories on immigration did not appear to reflect the level of public concern on the issue."

The Evening Standard notes that the BBC was "too reliant on interviews with mainstream Westminster politicians".

The paper explained: "The over-dependence on the 'Westminster Village' meant that important but 'uncomfortable' topics, particularly the impact of immigration, did not receive the coverage that they merit."

The Daily Express called it a "damning report" and said it showed the BBC had "failed to spot the rise of support for the UK leaving the European Union and had too closely followed the agenda set by politicians".

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