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07/01/2011 - BBC should apologise to MPs and to Parliament

We claim that the BBC acted in a most inappropriate and rude manner by posting on-screen comments during Mr Tom Watson's Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons on 20th December 2010. These comments, some of which were factually incorrect, contradicted the valid concerns being expressed on behalf of the public by the two MPs. The adversarial comments were displayed to the nation while the MPs were actually speaking. We see this as blatant lobbying by a news organisation. The MPs would not have been aware of the comments. The comments have been quietly removed by the BBC from the version that is on the BBC i-player.

We noticed the rather empty chamber and are disappointed by the apparent lack of interest in this important topic by other MPs.

Congratulations to Tom Watson, MP, and Bill Esterson, MP, for raising these matters.

The two MPs expressed concerns about possible long-term adverse health consequences of mobile phone use, especially by children and young people.

While the MPs were speaking, the BBC were displaying misleading on-screen text comments about this topic. We reproduce the comments below, most of which were used repeatedly. Click on the images below to expand them and see our responses.

If the BBC wants to challenge the views of MPs then it should do so a current affairs programme such as Newsnight. It is completely out of order for them to act as judge and jury and write on-screen comments during MP speeches.

You may download a Tom Watson HoC PDF file (40KB) of the debate.
Alternatively you may download from Hansard.

You may also watch the debate, now without the adversarial comments. (about 45 minutes)

Powerwatch has filed a formal complaint with the BBC about this incident and other people may also wish to do so, given the evidence we show above.

You may also wish to complain to the BBC about this.

  • Complaint type: BBC News
  • What is your complaint about: TV News
  • Programme title: BBC Parliament - House of Commons - Adjournment debate
  • Transmission date: 20/12/2010
  • Complaint category: Bias
  • Complaint summary: Completely inappropriate and factually incorrect on-screen text comments while the MPs were expressing their very different views in the debate.

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