Sunday, 26 August 2012

Complaint to BBC News for its coverage of the marriage equality debate

As the Catholic Church produces yet another letter try and bolster support among its flock for its opposition marriage equality, the BBC (Radio 4 in any case) is giving the "news", once again, much prominence in its news bulletin. This has prompted me to make the following complaint.

I am very disappointed by the way the marriage equality debate is covered across the BBC news channels. It seems that the subject only makes it to your headlines when a religious body (usually the Catholic Church) somehow acts to oppose the proposals.

Certainly no similar coverage, if at all, is given to positive news from supporters of the proposition. I am not simply talking here of having someone criticising the actions of said religious body when the news is reported.

In any case, the propositions only concern civil marriage, the views of religious bodies are therefore not directly relevant to the whole debate and should certainly not be given such prominence as you deem fit to give them.

Finally, please note that you should be talking about "marriage equality", "equal marriage" or "extending marriage to same-sex couples". "Gay marriage" implies something separate and different to the current institution, which is not what is proposed. Also this extension of marriage touches people who are not or do not identify as gay (lesbians, bisexual people).

I trust this will help the BBC, which has often come under criticism both for its deficiant coverage of LGBT people and the emphasis it puts on religion, towards a less biased reporting of the issue.

Update: I have now received a cut and paste response that doesn't really answer my points. Thanks for nothing.

Thanks for contacting us regarding BBC News.

We understand you felt our coverage of the marriage equality debate has been biased.

Impartiality is the cornerstone of all our news and current affairs output and we ensure all our correspondents and production teams are aware of this to help us deliver fair and balanced coverage for all the stories we report.

It is not always possible or practical to reflect all the different opinions on a subject within individual programmes. Editors are charged to ensure that over a reasonable period they reflect the range of significant views, opinions and trends in their subject area. The BBC does not seek to denigrate any view, or to promote any view. It seeks rather to identify all significant views, and to test them rigorously and fairly on behalf of the audience. Among other evidence, audience research indicates widespread confidence in the impartiality of the BBC's reporting.

Please be assured we'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 about future programming and content.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us with your concerns.

Kind Regards

R. R.

BBC Complaints

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