'BBC Brexit bias isn't just a case of Remain vs Leave'


21 March 2017

  • Author of The BBC: Myth of a public service Dr Tom Mills comments on MPs’ letter accusing the BBC of skewed coverage on Brexit 

Dr Tom Mills, author of The BBC: Myth of a public service and lecturer in sociology and policy at Aston University said: “Politicians seeking political advantage have always sought to pressurise the BBC, and the right of the Conservative Party has for years emphatically claimed that it is biased on the European Union and on immigration.

“In the years preceding the referendum, a number of reports were produced by right-wing think tanks claiming to show evidence of BBC bias on the EU, and similar allegations were repeatedly made in the conservative press. This led the Board of Governors to set up an independent panel to examine BBC reporting, and the corporation subsequently introduced greater monitoring of its output on the EU.

“Questions of bias and impartiality are of course complex and difficult to definitively resolve. But in the case of reporting on the EU we do have good scholarly evidence. It suggests that in the years preceding the referendum, the Eurosceptics in fact had the edge over those supportive of EU membership in BBC news.  Then, during the referendum campaign itself, BBC reporting achieved a good balance in terms of the time given to the 'yes' and 'no' camps, but the right dominated its coverage overall on both sides of the campaign.

“In other words, insofar as the BBC appears to have displayed any 'bias' on this issue, it is precisely in favour of the political positions held by the signatories to this letter.”


Notes to the editor

About Dr Tom Mills

  • Before joining Aston in 2016, Dr Mills completed a PhD examining how the ‘collapse’ of social democracy and the rise of neoliberalism impacted on the BBC’s organisational structure and culture. This formed the basis of his book The BBC: Myth of a public service. His work is mainly concerned with ideas and practices of powerful groups and actors, and the social networks which influence policy making.
  • Dr Mills is available for media interviews on this subject. Please contact the press office for more information.
  • You can follow Dr Mills on Twitter: @ta_mills

About Aston University

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