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BBC impartiality and the problem of bias

Dr. Richard Norrie, August 2023

Dr. Richard Norrie (former director of the statistics and policy research programme at Civitas) examines bias and impartiality within BBC Bitesize and BBC Teach, the organisation’s educational output aimed at younger audiences.

In this Civitas publication, Dr. Norrie uncovers examples of articles on the BBC’s educational websites that have potentially breached the corporation’s own Editorial Guidelines. According to Dr. Norrie, this content tends to ‘escape scrutiny since all eyes tend to be trained on its flagship news productions.’

These articles cover sensitive and often controversial topics such as Britain’s role in the slave trade, as well as race and gender issues. Dr. Norrie criticises the BBC for providing a platform for ‘activists’ whose views are presented without challenge.

The author claims the educational ethos of the BBC appears to be ‘underwritten by an undue faith in the cult of the political activist, especially the radical, at the expense of extolling conventional democratic politics based on electoral consent and compromise.’
In evidence uncovered in this publication, BBC educational output seems to be pushing young people towards political activism and fails in its duty to present controversial topics with balance.

Dr. Norrie recommends that the BBC reverts to focusing on revision aides, which ‘are often of an excellent quality’, with the sole purpose of helping young people do well in their education. This publication concludes by calling on the BBC to go over its online content and ‘cull any biased or contentious material presented without ‘due impartiality’.’

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