Note: AllSides rates online, written content only, NOT television, radio, or broadcast content. This rating is for BBC’s online, written content only.
- August 2020 Blind Bias Survey and Editorial Review
- BBC’s Bias is Center — But Displays a Slight Lean Left Bias
- About a Center Bias Rating
- July 2020 Independent Review
- BBC’s Response to Bias Claims
- Previous AllSides Media Bias Ratings for BBC
- Political Leanings of BBC’s Audience
August 2020 Blind Bias Survey and Editorial Review
In 2020, AllSides received significant community feedback from those who said they believe BBC’s media bias is Lean Left. To analyze more closely and review BBC’s latest work — the bias of news organizations can change over time — we conducted a Blind Bias Survey of readers across the political spectrum in August 2020 and then conducted an Editorial Review of BBC on August 20, 2020. AllSides concluded BBC’s Media Bias Rating remains Center — but the team unanimously agreed that BBC has some Lean Left bias, mostly shown via story choice.
The results of our August 2020 blind bias survey, indicated people from across the political spectrum on average view BBC’s content as on the borderline of a Lean Left and Center bias.
Still, bias is in the eye of the beholder: Pluralities across 3 groups of respondents — people who identified themselves as Lean Left, Lean Right, or Right — thought BBC was Lean Left. However, the average bias rating of all political groups for BBC was right between Center and Lean Left.
In sum: BBC’s bias is still largely Center, though close to Lean Left.
BBC’s Bias is Center — But Displays a Slight Lean Left Bias
During our August 2020 Editorial Review of BBC, all but one AllSides team member found BBC’s online content to be Center. There was agreement on the team that BBC displays some Lean Left bias, mostly via story choice. The person in disagreement with what overall rating BBC deserves is a conservative who said BBC is Lean Left, which tracks with our blind bias survey data that found the majority of conservatives see BBC as Lean Left.
All team members noted that BBC doesn’t typically display common types of media bias such as spin, slant, sensationalism, or opinion statements presented as fact. It does, however, display some bias by omission and bias by placement, omitting some stories that conservatives may deem important and more prominently placing stories generally considered to be important to liberals on its homepage. The team noted BBC does a good job separating news and analysis/opinion content.
All team members noted that BBC is diligent in generously using quotes, not partial quotes nor quotes taken out of context. The team found balanced articles that displayed a range of opinions from everyday people about their beliefs on U.S. presidential candidates.
One team member with a Lean Left bias said they sometimes noted sensationalism in BBC’s writing, but “it is not used in a highly partisan context — for example, ‘Obama and Trump rip into each other’s record.’
The team member with a Lean Right bias who said BBC is Lean Left said BBC’s story choice around summer 2020 protests and riots in major U.S. cities largely highlighted attacks on reporters, but did not highlight widespread arson, looting, violence, or destruction of buildings and property.
They also noted an anti-Trump bias in the publication, pointing to an example where BBC ran the headline: “QAnon: Trump lauds bizarre conspiracy theory.” They noted: “‘Laud’ means “to celebrate,” yet in the very first sentence of the piece, BBC contradicts this claim, stating, “The president said he did not know much about the bizarre conspiracy theory, except that its adherents like him.”
About a Center Bias Rating
A Center media bias rating from AllSides does not necessarily mean a source is totally unbiased, neutral, perfectly reasonable, or credible. It simply means the source or writer rated does not predictably publish perspectives favoring either end of the political spectrum — conservative or liberal.
A Center outlet may not show much predictable bias, or its bias may lean to the left and right equally at different times. A media outlet with a Center rating may omit important perspectives, or run individual articles that display bias, while not displaying a lot of predictable bias in its content overall. Center doesn't mean better! AllSides encourages people to read outlets across the political spectrum.
July 2020 Independent ReviewAllSides found BBC displayed a left media bias in its reporting of summer 2020 protests in London, which BBC described as "largely peaceful." AllSides uncovered evidence that there was a significant amount of violence at the event.
A July 2020 independent review by an AllSides staffer found BBC does not display many of the common types of media bias, though it sometimes presents subjective statements as fact and employs slant, which is when reporters only tell part of a story and omit other perspectives.
BBC’s Response to Bias ClaimsIn May 2020, BBC announced it had hired a bias-checker for its social media accounts to ensure the taxpayer-funded outlet remained neutral, following a controversy that reportedly led to tens of thousands of complaints, according to The Guardian.
In the incident, BBC Newsnight‘s Emily Maitlis reportedly declared as fact that the prime minister’s senior aid Dominic Cummings “broke the rules” and Boris Johnson’s “blind loyalty” to Cummings allegedly led to “fury, contempt and anguish” from the public. BBC reportedly deleted the viral clip of the comments from Twitter, and issued a statement that it “did not meet our standards of due impartiality" and stated “staff have been reminded of the guidelines" of impartiality. BBC also set up a dedicated page for complaints.
Previous AllSides Media Bias Ratings for BBC
On Dec 27, 2013, the AllSides Bias Rating™ for BBC wasCenter. This rating represented the bias for the news pages published online, but did not reflect opinion or editorial content. As of July 2016, a small majority of nearly 800 AllSides users who voted on The BBC's bias rating disagreed with our rating of Center, but those who disagreed are split on whether it is left or right, so the BBC bias rating remained Center.
Political Leanings of BBC’s Audience
According to the 2014 Pew Research Study, Where News Audiences Fit On the Political Spectrum, 26% of BBC readers hold political values to the political center or with mixed values. Roughly 60% of BBC’s audience holds left or left-of-center political values (compared with 38% of all respondents to the survey). About 13% of BBC’s audience holds right or right-of-center political values (compared with 26% of all respondents to the survey).