We recently raised questions about the role of the ‘Audience Producer’ for BBC Question Time and her role in manipulating and manufacturing audiences (‘BBC Question Time – Fake Audiences?’). We suggested that Alison Fuller Pedley (see ‘My Highlander’ – right) was using her personal political beliefs to influence her professional life, and in doing so greatly distorting the whole experience and tone of the BBC’s ‘flagship’ current affairs programme. The self-perception of who and what the ‘nation’ is – is reflected back to us through the prism of the television news.
All of this is in the context of the debate about ‘fake news’.
We expected denial from the BBC and Mentorn Media, the Scottish-based programme who make Question Time.
Instead we were given the following statement by a BBC spokesperson:
“The Question Time audience is always chosen by a team to ensure broad political balance and each application goes through the same rigorous background checks. Any suggestion to the contrary is misleading. The BBC has clear impartiality guidelines covering the use of personal social media – this freelance producer and the rest of the programme team have been reminded of their responsibilities.”
We first of all note the shift to emphasis on a ‘team’. You’ll note that the credit is for the Producer and no other team are listed.
The following additional information was also provided:
“Alison is not BBC staff, she is a freelancer for the independent production company Mentorn who make Question Time.”
Which is interesting, but completely irrelevant. The idea that the further you outsource production somehow ringfences you from responsibility is daft.
“She has no involvement in picking the panelists.”
No-one ever suggested she did.
“There is nothing to suggest any particular group or affiliation has influenced the audience.”
We never suggested they did, rather we suggested the Audience Producer influenced the audience, because, er, that’s her job.
“Alison has reassured her managers that the posts were shared unwittingly and she was unaware of their wider context.”
This answer would have you believe that the Audience Producer for Question Time doesn’t know who Britain First are. You, like me, may find this a little difficult to believe. But if it is true then the accusation would switch from overt political bias to gross incompetence.
This isn’t just a case of distortion from right to left or from No to Yes.
Even if you’re a pro-Union conservative, or a middle of the road liberal, you might reflect that we are all done a disservice by this kind of manipulation and the resulting programme it creates. In an era when the commentariat are endlessly bemoaning the ‘quality of debate’ in political life, this is the reality of the production behind our state broadcaster’s flagship show.
Here’s ‘My Highlander’ once again, In the Name of Jesus: