The BBC is twice as likely to cover left-wing policy proposals than those that are right-wing.
The BBC are more likely to cover left-wing think tank reports and to hail them as “independent” while giving right-wing research a “health warning” by pointing out its ideological position, the Centre for Policy Studies found.
Results suggest the BBC exhibits a left-of-centre bias in both the amount of coverage it gives to different opinions and the way in which these voices are represented.
The CPS compared the coverage given to think tanks on the BBC website with that given by the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph.
The BBC covered seven out of ten of the stories on the Guardian, but only mentioned three out of ten reports which had been covered the Daily Telegraph over the set period.
Of reports on four left-of-centre think tanks only one received a health warning – defined as statement of a think tank’s views, ideological position, or connection to a political figure – more than 10 per cent of the time, and one never received a warning.
In comparison, the warning appeared on between 25 and 60 per cent of reports on five right-of-centre organisations.
In other words, the BBC seems to treat right-of-centre views as being more “extreme” and in need of caveats than roughly equivalent left-of-centre views.
A similar trend was the corporation’s tendency to reinforce the views of an organisation by describing them as “independent”.
Three of the left-of-centre organisations were described as independent, compared with just one of the right-wing think tanks.
The implication seems to be that the BBC sees left-of-centre views as being more reliable than right-of-centre ones. Overall, the picture is that the existing accusations of bias at the BBC are supported by a more dispassionate, quantitative analysis.
The results are consistent with both subconscious “group think” among BBC journalists or a more deliberate left-of-centre bias.
There are calls for the corporation to be more open to criticism and to respond to it, that it was in their best interest because of its commitment to impartiality and because if a media organisation loses its reputation for balanced reporting is also likely to lose its ability to influence and persuade the public.
Previous research has also found evidence of a bias, for example on the Today programme roughly twice as much coverage was given to pro-EU voices as anti-EU.