Sunday, January 17, 2016

There were two interesting LGBT-related items on Channel 4 News last week. On Thursday evening there was a debate about the newly-published transgender equality report(pdf) by the HOC Women and Equalities Committee.

And the following evening a news item about the Anglican meeting in which the Primates decided to rebuke the Episcopal Church in the USA for its support of same-sex marriage.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Recently we've seen several controversial incidents involving accusations of homophobia and the broadcast media -

- In November Iain Lee was told to leave the BBC after an interview in which he described his guest as a bigot.

- In December the BBC was criticised for including someone who had made homophobic and misogynist remarks in their Sports Personality of the Year shortlist. The situation was exacerbated when a member of staff, Andy West, was suspended pending an investigation.

- In January, Cartoon Network was pulled up for editing out a same-sex kiss in an episode of Steven Universe. The kiss was shown in the US.

- Also this month, the BBC defended Barry Humphries' remarks about transgendered people. A spokesperson said "Barry Humphries is a freelance presenter for BBC Radio 2 and these are his personal views, which are not reflected in his radio programme."

- Channel 5's latest series of Celebrity Big Brother kicked off on Tuesday evening. The Channel 5 broadcast included a pre-recorded remark by guest Winston McKenzie about how he would cope if there was a "homosexual" in the Big Brother house.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The first of the BBC's six values states "Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest."

Last year, the BBC and its bosses failed to live up to that promise. Hopefully things will be improve in 2016. Also it would be nice to see BBC Pride do more than just remain silent when gay staff and their rights are put at risk.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

How the BBC misled the public about its Sports Personality of the Year shortlist

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 shortlist was released on 30th November, with this video explaining how the contenders were chosen. You'll see some members of the Panel talk about their experiences:

Dame Mary Peters: That was hard work - it was so difficult to shortlist down because there was so much, so much talent and there were so many to chose from. But I think we got it right in the end.

Jermaine Jenas: It was the first time I've been involved in it, and it was nice to see how the process happens and how in-depth and how much thought goes into it ....

Although the Panel meeting and those interviews took place on Wednesday 18th November, the BBC's shortlist was not actually published until Monday 30th November 2015.

Hazel Irvine on 18th November 2015

Following publication of the shortlist the wording on some BBC web pages was amended to include the following "[Note: On 30 November 2015, the Panel decided to expand the shortlist from 10 to 12 sportspeople]."

BBC Director General, Lord Tony Hall, was asked about the controversial shortlist when he appeared before a Parliamentary Committee on Wednesday 16th December. (video excerpt)

According to Lord Hall, the SPOTY Panel drew up the shortlist and then added two names "after the remarkable weekend" of the Davis Cup and the Tyson Fury victory. When questioned further, he said "the Panel added those two names, the BBC did not." Hall reiterated his position with "Let me assure you that those two names were a decision made by the entire panel." When pressed, and asked about a report in the Belfast Telegraph, he stated that the Belfast Telegraph report was wrong.

Tony Hall: "The Panel decided - and I wasn't present in the Panel discussions - to name him [Tyson Fury] for his extraordinary achievement .. he's been put on that list because of his sporting prowess ."

Since the start of this month Newsround Blog has made its own separate investigation into the circumstances behind the addition of Tyson Fury and Andy Murray.

Contrary to the Note on this web page, there was no Panel meeting on 30th November 2015, or indeed any other meeting of the Panel subsequent to the one on 18th November 2015.

So did Lord Hall set out to consciously mislead the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, or was it simply that he wasn't in possession of the full facts? Unfortunately Tony Hall has form when it comes to telling untruths to Parliament, as is clear from what happened two years ago.

Another serious problem with BBC's Director-General is that, when it comes to diversity, he never seems to show any interest in LGBT equality.

Newsround Blog has been unable to track down any speech by Tony Hall in which he seeks to promote, or even mentions, LGBT inclusion. In contrast he's put considerable effort into helping out black, ethnic minority and disabled people. One of the BBC SPOTY panelists, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, also participates in an Independent Diversity Action Group, chaired by Lord Hall, himself.

The Director-General made clear the importance he gives to free speech. He told the Committee that the BBC "should be a place where people's views can be heard across a range of opinion in all things." However, Andy West, telling the world that he was "ashamed to work for the BBC when it lacks bravery to admit it is making a mistake," soon resulted in him being silenced, silenced and told that he'd be suspended pending an investigation.

Well, Lord Hall, it turns out that you - not Andy West - are the person who, with your falsehoods, has brought discredit upon our national broadcaster. The BBC's plight will be much worse in the event of a Tyson Fury win. But whatever the outcome tonight, Andy West should receive an apology, and be reinstated without further delay.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Lord Tony Hall answers questions from John Nicolson MP on Wednesday 16th December 2015

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

It now seems certain that Tyson Fury will not be removed from the shortlist for this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year. BBC Complaints replied to an enquiry on Saturday 12th December:-
Your complaint has been passed to us by Barbara Slater for us to respond. This is because it should be handled in accordance with the BBC Complaints procedure as defined in the BBC Trust Complaints framework (

We acknowledge your views on the shortlisting of boxer Tyson Fury for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 in light of comments reportedly made in a recent newspaper interview.

To explain, an independent expert panel decided on the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015. You can find full details of the panel on our website at The winner will be decided by a public vote during the live programme which will be broadcast on Sunday 20th December.

Whilst we appreciate that you feel he should not have been shortlisted, the panel included Tyson Fury on the 2015 shortlist on the basis of his sporting achievements, as he became the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. The inclusion of sportspeople on the shortlist does not constitute an endorsement by the BBC of any personally-held views.

Thanks again for getting in touch with us. Please be assured that your views have been registered, and we’ll also make sure all feedback is passed on to the BBC Sports Personality team for their information

My response to Ms Slater on Sunday 13th December:-
a) I am not clear whether or not the Panel were aware of the controversy surrounding comments made by Tyson Fury.

b) The BBC has not denied the veracity of the Belfast Telegraph report, so I assume that his name was indeed added without any deliberations, contrary to the claim by Hazel Irvine that there was a well-agreed consensus.

c) The BBC has now argued in its defence that Tyson Fury was shortlisted "on the basis of his sporting achievements." However according to this SPOTY web page, consideration should be given to the 'impact' over and beyond the sport or sporting achievement in question.

d) Your inclusion of Tyson Fury on the shortlist diminishes the status of the Title. Recently, BBC children's TV has only reported on the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, and has steered clear of news about the main award and its negative associations.

It appears the BBC broke its own rules by shortlisting Tyson Fury. Therefore Belfast journalist Andy West was fully justified in making clear he was ashamed to work for the Corporation. He should be reinstated immediately, and receive an apology for the egregious way he has been treated.

I do not vote in competitions, and don't intend to make an exception merely in the hope that someone other than Tyson Fury will win. To be frank, I believe - and suspect you appreciate - that a win for Mr Fury will be a huge embarrassment for the BBC.

BBC Director General, Lord Tony Hall is due to appear before the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sports Committee tomorrow afternoon, and it's possible he'll be asked more questions about the SPOTY shortlist.

It seems there's a climate of fear at the BBC, exacerbated by the suspension of Andy West. To date BBC journalists appear reluctant to even report news about the treatment of their colleague.

Happier times: Andy reports on the outcome of the gay marriage referendum in Ireland

Andy's mum told MK News that she's proud of him for standing his ground. She said that he's feeling quite stressed and doesn't want to lose his job. BBC Pride has yet to issue a statement.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 takes place in Belfast on Sunday 20th December. Hazel Irvine has provided this helpful video guide explaining how the contenders were shortlisted. Ms Irvine says that being crowned Sports Personality of the Year is potentially the pinnacle of a British sportsman or woman's career.

Hazel Irvine: Not only does it affirm and underline your achievements, it also embeds you, if you like, in the public consciousness.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomson tells viewers about the diverse sporting backgrounds of the SPOTY selection panel.

Dame Mary Peters: It's been an amazing year and there's been a really strong list of contenders ...

And after the Panel's deliberations --

Dame Mary Peters: .... that was hard work. It was so difficult to shortlist down because there was so much, so much talent, and there were so many to choose from. But I think we got it right in the end.

Jermaine Jenas: It's the first time I've been involved in it, and it was nice to see how the process happens and how in-depth and how much thought goes into these people being nominated ...

Hazel Irvine: Well the panel has met, and there's been a lot of lively discussion about who should, and perhaps should not be on that list. But I think we've come to a consensus - a well agreed consensus ...

About a week later it emerged that there had, in fact, been no discussion of the inclusion of Andy Murray and Tyson Fury on the shortlist. Ms Irvine should have made that clear in her explanation, especially in view of these Terms and conditions which required the Panel to take account of the 'impact' over and beyond the sport or sporting achievement in question.

Many fair-minded people do not think that someone who repeatedly makes homophobic and sexist comments, and who suggested he would murder his sister if she was promiscuous, is the sort of person who deserves to be on the shortlist for an award to embed their 'personality' in the public consciousness.

If the BBC does not remove Tyson Fury from its list of contenders they will be making the biggest mistake since they asked the public to have their say on whether homosexuals should face execution. And now they have the temerity to suspend a member of staff, Andy West, for feeling aggrieved at the way the BBC still treats the concerns of its gay staff and journalists.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

The Next Step being nominated for a BAFTA award, and the shortlist for a BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 award, probably says more about the awarding organisations than it does about the award winners themselves.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The so-called "Family Channel" is a Canadian broadcaster responsible for several children's programmes including The Next Step - a mainstay of current CBBC schedules.

Family has been celebrating its 13th Annual Bullying Awareness Week, which coincided with Anti-Bullying week in Britain. Their website (not normally viewable outside Canada) tells people to "tune in all week starting November 16 for bullying-themed episodes and clips of Family stars talking about their experiences with bullying." And amongst the resources on the Family Channel website is a fact sheet to help parents and teachers reduce bullying against LGBTQ kids. The fact sheet is part of what the channel calls its StandUP! campaign.

The interesting thing about this Family Channel anti-bullying campaign resource is that it stresses the importance of 'inclusion' as a main factor in tackling homophobic bullying.

However, as Newsround Blog discovered some time ago, it appears that no shows made by the Family Channel actually portray gay or LGBT characters - Hypocrisy much? I've asked them about LGBT inclusion on Twitter several times, but have yet to receive a reply.

The Next Step is laced with racism and homophobia. And recent episodes (s3 eps25 & 26) have, once again, brought its xenophobic credentials to the fore. In an early episode we saw the characters making fun of British accents, but now we get to see more of the real contempt they have for British people ....

British exchange student Ella had become the best friend of Riley from The Next Step dance studio. Nevertheless Ella is shown in an extremely bad light when she totally betrays her friend in an attempt to win the Internationals trophy for Britain. Riley responds to the betrayal by telling Ella: "Not only is my team going to win, but we're going to do it without stooping to your level."

Notice, above, that Riley's team do not have a national flag on their outfits - they only have the TNS logo. Whereas British dancer Ella sports a large Union Jack on her outfit.

As if the racism, homophobia, xenophobia and other bigotry is not enough reason for CBBC to cancel this appalling children's show, at the end of a dance routine in series 3 episode 4 "Let the Games Begin" we see Eldon make an obscene gesture towards opponents in the 'Elite' dance team.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

For many years topics relating to homophobia, homophobic bullying and sexual orientation were virtually off CBBC's agenda.

There wasn't even an acknowledgement of Alan Turing's centenary in 2012.

However eventually in 2014 Joe Godwin, Director of BBC Children's decided these subjects could be covered. But this year, with a new person in charge, it seems we might almost back to square one as regards LGBT inclusion.

Below is the substantive part of an email sent to Alice Webb on 9th November 2015. -

FAO: Alice Webb - Director, BBC Children's

Dear Alice,

Further to my enquiry on 29th October, as I've not heard back I assume you are unable to divulge the detailed statistics. Please may I therefore merely ask instead about inclusion in forthcoming CBBC shows?

In September you spoke about BBC Children’s vision for the future. You mentioned giving children a beautiful array of distinctive content - and cited CBBC's I Am Leo, which was the first children's documentary dealing with trans issues.

However - and correct me if I'm mistaken - no new BBC children's TV content which included LGBT characters or themes has been broadcast in 2015. Please could you therefore let me know if there are any new relevant programmes I should look out for in the next few months? Many thanks.

Kind regards,

Friday, November 13, 2015

Anti-Bullying Week starts on Monday.

One way the BBC can help reduce bullying is to make programmes which represent all viewers, and, to some extent children's TV has succeeded in that aim. Last year, for example, CBBC tackled homophobia and homophobic bullying on Newsround for the first time. And CBBC's 'Our School' documentary series, included a deputy headteacher from London, Shaun Dellenty, giving a school assembly about the harm caused by homophobic bullying.

However, the Corporation still seems to have an issue with allowing young people to self-identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, though the same is not true of those who identify as transgender. The 'My Life' documentary I Am Leo, about trans boy Leo Waddell is due to be repeated this Sunday.

Regrettably, no new children's drama portraying LGB young people was broadcast on CBBC in 2015. Rarely a day goes by without children's dramas portraying 'straight' romantic relationships.

A question about the lack of representation of children with disabilities was asked at this year's Children's Media Conference. The questioner, Camilla Arnold, explained that while growing up she saw little, if any, representation of deaf people on television, unless they were elderly - and only a handful of characters had any other form of disability. Camilla asked if more should be done to ensure children's programmes reflect real life.

Anna Home, who worked on BBC children's TV many years ago, agreed, and said there was a need to avoid ghettoisation but that drama is a very good way of bringing in new characters.

Alice Webb, said she was very proud of what BBC Children's is doing in terms of diversity - 26% of representation on CBBC and CBeebies. Alice couldn't remember the individual diversity figures, but said she'd be happy to get them out. However, the BBC has not since responded favourably to requests for the information.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

The theme of this year's Anti-Bullying Week is Make A Noise About Bullying

CBBC Newsround reported, on 23rd October, that a new app is being launched to make it easier for kids to report bullying and receive advice from their teachers. The tootoot app, which will reportedly be available in app stores on 18th November 2015, allows pupils to remain anonymous should they wish to do so.

Anti-Bullying Week starts on 16th November 2015.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The theme of this year's Dyslexia Awareness Week (Oct 5-11) was 'Making Sense of Dyslexia'

To mark the event CBBC published a YouTube video with answers to common questions about the condition. Henry Winkler, author of the Hank Zipzer books, stresses that if you have a learning challenge, it's nothing to do with intelligence. He says just because we are not good in school does not mean that we are not smart human beings.

Henry Winkler talks about dyslexia - CBBC Hank Zipzer

Monday, October 12, 2015

Why did Rocket turn down the chance of dating Bethany Summer in series 2 of Rocket's Island. I speculated the reason might not be solely out of loyalty to his best friend Daniel (Dibber) Sparks. There might be some other reason, but time would tell.

Rocket wants to ask Bethany on a date

Now, in series 3, it seems Rocket does fancy Bethany, and wants to go out with her ....

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The final of this year's Great British Bake Off is only hours away, and loads of people are speculating who will win.

Newsround at 7.40am this morning -

Ricky: First today, Bake Off fans will know that tonight is the all-important final. Who will be the winner of 2015? It's not just the contestants' baking skills that have got people talking, Ayshah met some Bake Off fans to find out a bit more.

Ayshah: For the past two months we've seen beautiful creations, mouth-watering cakes, and also some baking disasters. And tonight we'll find out whether Nadiya, Ian, or Tamal will be crowned this year's Bake Off champion. The contestants have all got us talking, and for these girls in Manchester it's Nadiya who's become a bit of a role model.

Ayshah's report went on to consider what having Nadiya in the final means to a group of hijab-wearing Muslim girls in a Manchester school.

Ayshah: Nadiya is one of the few hijab-wearing women on TV - what do you think about that?

Girl: It takes a lot of courage, and I think that, to us hijab-wearers, I think it's very inspirational.

Another girl: We get scared wearing a hijab outside that people are going to make fun of us. But when we see somebody on the TV wearing a hijab we feel confident and OK with wearing hijab outside.

Ayshah's full report

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My blog on 5th September remarked that Daniel is depicted as selfish and a bit of a snake in the grass. A few recent comments on CBBC's website suggest the hatred and negativity that can be engendered by such a portrayal -

Screencapture of comments on CBBC webpage

Monday, September 21, 2015

Newsround Blog is hoping to soon find out more about diversity on BBC children's TV. We understand that 26% of portrayal on CBBC & CBeebies are of diverse characters, but that doesn't help with questions like how many are, for example, black or gay.

Diversity was central to one of CBBC Newsround's reports this morning. A leading African-American ballet dancer, Misty Copeland, says she's worried there aren't more black dancers around the world. Ayshah visited the Royal Ballet in London to talk to Eric Underwood, one of their few black dancers. The programme's researchers contacted some of Britain's top ballet schools. It seems that only about 18 out of 332 dancers are black.

Another excellent Newsround diversity-related report was based on the efforts of a 14-year-old boy called Frankie, who has a disability -

Frankie: I think if we involve disabled people with books, we can raise awareness and it will become the norm to people, and they won't stare, they won't make comments and life would get better - society would get better.

Martin Dougan: What would you want to see in future, in terms of what you've done and what you want to achieve?

Frankie: That the world's a better place, and there's equal rights between people ... yeah.

Martin: Frankie is extremely passionate about this. He really wants to make changes.

Frankie and Martin Dougan visited book publishing company, Bloomsbury, to talk their head of children’s and educational publishing, Emma Hopkin. Ms Hopkin said the publishing industry is working very hard to ensure that everybody is represented in some way in some books.

The Guardian - Schoolboy calls for more disabled characters in children's books