Answer Time

So today, almost 2 weeks after submitting my complaint, and a week after BellgroveBelle & Go Lassie Go received their similar replies. Mine is slightly different but no less evasive.

Dear Mr Juq

Thanks for contacting us about ‘Question Time’ broadcast on 28th October.

I was sorry to read that you felt this programme was biased against The Scottish Nationalist Party and Nicola Sturgeon. I note that you felt David Dimbleby was negative towards Nicola and Scottish issues.

Impartiality is partly dependent on balance and it’s not possible to achieve that with every report. Programme makers aim to do justice to the full range of views and opinions in particular issues. We aim to report what’s actually happening over a period of time so the audience is in a better position to make up their own minds about what’s going on. I can assure you that we strive hard to be accurate, balanced and fair.

The audience for this edition was selected according to the same principles as are applied to other editions of ‘Question Time’, that is we are looking for a broad but balancing range of views from people who are interested in the topics likely to come up. Applicants are asked detailed questions before they are accepted to establish their views and background. The programme does not claim that in any one programme the audience is “representative” in any proportionate way of the views of the population as a whole. The overall aim is to achieve balance across the series as the audience mix will vary in different locations.

In a fast-moving programme it is extremely difficult for the viewer to make an accurate assessment, based on what they can see and hear of the studio audience, of the make-up of its members. ‘Question Time’ goes to considerable lengths to ensure the audience is appropriately balanced, but then once it’s assembled, the level of applause and audible support for one case or another, is a notoriously unreliable way of judging that overall balance. This is the nature of a live and dynamic debate with real people.
I appreciate the strength of your views on this matter therefore I’d like to assure you that I’ve registered your complaint on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s circulated to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, programme makers, 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.

Kind Regards

Christine Thompson
BBC Complaints

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