September 2021. My original email.
Woman's Hour on Friday 3 September 2021 carried a segment on the new Texas abortion law. It was one of the most biased pieces of broadcasting I have heard for a long, long time.
For a start, both invited contributors were, perhaps naturally American, but also robustly pro-abortion and fiercely opposed to the new law, as indeed was the BBC presenter. Her role should have been neutral and inquisitorial. Instead the discussion became a partisan threesome.
Of course, abortion is an emotive issue, so all the more need for a balance of views. So where was it? Was anyone even invited to present the pro-life perspective, which, after all, had been democratically voted for by Texans? Where was such a US spokesperson? There is a strong pro-life constituency in the UK and some of its members would gladly have spoken in favour of the Texas law.
This one-sided, 20+ minute segment was the BBC at its worst - wholly biased and wholly pro-abortion. The listening public deserve better than this. How do you propose to set about achieving this? I have asked several questions.
Fulsome answers would be
John R. Ling.
11 September 2021. Interim reply from the
BBC. Your Reference CAS-6901896-T7T1W1
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This is an update to apologise to you that although we normally aim to reply to most complaints within 2 weeks, we are currently dealing with a higher than normal volume of cases. This means it will take a little longer to reply to you at present. We hope you understand that this is why we are unable to respond within our normal service times.
We will of course respond as soon as we can, but in the meantime ask you not to contact us further and apologise if you do experience further delay. For full details of our complaints process please visit: https://www.bbc.co.uk/contact/how-we-handle-your-complaint.
Thank you for contacting us - we appreciate your patience in waiting for our response.
BBC Complaints Team
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15 September 2021. Reply from the BBC. Reference CAS-6901896-T7T1W1
20 September 2021. Part Two of my Skirmish with the BBC.
Thank you for responding to my complaint about the Woman's Hour, broadcast 3 September, Case Number CAS-6901896-T7T1W1.
However, I consider your response woefully inadequate.
Of course, I understand that, ‘When it comes to due impartiality, our approach is not about a mathematical balance across the board.’ Nevertheless, on such a controversial issue as abortion, you invited two American pundits who were, by both conviction and profession, robustly pro-abortion. In addition, the Woman’s Hour presenter was, by any measure, also pro-abortion and disapproving of the Texas law. OK, so your remit might not be ‘a mathematical balance’, but 3 – 0 is indisputably one sided. And you could so easily have made it 2 – 1, or even 2 – 2, by inviting pro-life commentators from the USA or UK. But you purposefully decided not to. I cannot comprehend how your approach on this broadcast satisfied the BBC policy that, ‘We must be inclusive, considering the broad perspective and ensuring that the existence of a range of views is appropriately reflected.’ ‘Inclusive’, ‘perspective’, ‘range’ and ‘reflected’ were nowhere to be heard.
In other words, it is beyond cavil that the BBC took a strongly biased view of this controversial topic. If, for example, you were to produce a program on Covid-19 and anti-vaxxers, would you seriously not invite a medical or scientific spokesperson to counter the misinformation and myths of the anti-vaxxers? Would you allow anti-vaxxers to go unchallenged? Of course not. Or is the BBC riddled with conspiracy theorists and their like?
And finally, for my own interest, just how many other complaints did the BBC receive about this 3 September broadcast on the Texas law?
John R. Ling.
28 September 2021. Another interim reply from the BBC. Your Reference CAS-6901896-T7T1W1
Thank you for taking time to contact us again recently. Please do not reply to this automated email: it is from an outgoing address which cannot handle replies.
This is to inform you that although we normally aim to investigate and reply at this next stage of the complaints service within 20 working days (around four weeks), we are currently dealing with a higher than normal volume of cases. This means it will take a little longer to reply to you at present. We hope you understand that this is why we are unable to respond within our normal service times. We will of course do so as soon as we can, but in the meantime ask you not to contact us further and apologise if you experience further delay.
For full details of our complaints process please visit: https://www.bbc.co.uk/contact/how-we-handle-your-complaint.
In the meantime thank you again for contacting us and we appreciate your patience.
BBC Complaints Team