The BBC, while wonderful in many ways, cannot always be perfect. I sometimes ring and leave a complaint if I think that they have got something wrong; if I spot what I consider to be a factual inaccuracy in a BBC News story online, then I fill in the box to report it. I do this as an individual, usually anonymously, as is my right as someone who pays the licence fee. One reason that I bother to make these complaints and comments is that I used to have a job that involved reading Channel 4's Viewer Inquiry Report, so I know that viewers' remarks really are logged and passed on as appropriate. If you've got something to say and you say it constructively and crisply, it really will be read by the relevant person and so it is worth doing. So I do sometimes complain, as an individual, and usually an anonymous individual, to the BBC. However, it is one thing for me to complain as an individual; it is another thing for corporate bodies to run campaigns trying to get the BBC to alter an editorial decision on a news issue. The independence of the BBC is sacrosanct, meaning that it must be allowed to make editiorial decisions without fear or favour. So as a supporter of the campaign for a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum on AV, I was not pleased to receive the email below from Yes to Fairer Votes. They are complaining about the BBC's apparent decision not to refer to "electoral reform" in news coverage of the referendum campaign. If the BBC has made such a decision, then that is the BBC's decision, and the BBC's decision alone - there is never an excuse for a political group to campaign for the BBC to alter an editorial decision. This petition is not the best way to win support for the Yes campaign; it just sounds like sour grapes about how the BBC has decided to report the news. It is a bit rich that the Yes campaign's email (in which they seek to influence BBC editorial policy) complains that supporters of the No campaign have been seeking to influence BBC editorial policy...Here is the email in question:
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck - it's a duck.
I can't believe that I actually have to send you this email - but we've been sent an internal document from the BBC's top brass that demands that their staff stop describing "electoral reform" as "electoral reform".
Essentially - they're saying that a duck is a cabbage.
The BBC was bullied into this position by the old guard rallying behind the old politics - a deliberate attempt by a cynical elite to confuse the voters with misleading and inappropriate language.
We've written a letter to the BBC demanding that they reverse this ridiculous decision - and as you are the heart of our campaign, Matthew, I want your name to be one of the first on that letter.
Sign now - and join the campaign for a fair fight on 5 May.
All we're asking for is a fair debate - the status quo vs reform. That doesn't seem like too much to ask does it?
But we're not surprised - this is exactly the sort of thing we expected from the No Campaign. They know they don't have a serious argument for opposing change - so all they're left with is the same old dirty tricks and the
But right now, we need to make sure that we can have a fair fight. This is a people powered campaign and we need you to come to our aid. Over the next few months, the BBC will have untold influence on the millions of swing voters who will decide if we win or lose. We need to make sure that they hear fair, understandable and appropriate language.
And we need your support to make that happen. Sign our letter and stand up for Yes:
Thank you. I never said that this would be easy, but change never is.
Yes to Fairer Votes Council