Wednesday, August 27, 2008

BBC Switch announces activity for Autumn 2008

Last Thursday a press release announced some details about the BBC's multi-platform teen brand, BBC Switch. According to the announcement, BBC Switch will be returning to TV screens after the summer holidays. In effect an admission that over the summer holidays the BBC provided no TV content aimed at 12-17 year olds. And yet CBBC, which is aimed at 6-12 year olds, was screening more stuff in the holiday period than it normally does. So why are teens treated worse than younger kids?

Monday, August 25, 2008

From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel (continued)

Some people watching BBC News this morning will have seen more proof that the BBC's impartiality report is untrustworthy. Just as with Newsround's George Sampson interview (blog 16 August 2008), this time it was Michael Phelps who was asked if he had a girlfriend.

Any suggestion that the BBC institutionally supports equality for gay people looks just as incorrect as it would have done in 2003 when Andrew Hayden-Smith was asked loads of questions about girlfriends and romance, but openly lesbian Alex Parks wasn't asked any questions of that sort (see blog 30 Sept 2006).

As expected from a less than supportive broadcaster, the IGLFA championships weren't mentioned at all on Saturday's Football Focus.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Newsround special earlier this year was all about knife crime, so it was surprising to see that the programme on Monday didn't report the launch, that afternoon, of a campaign called It doesn't have to happen. There was a football story though - Hull City's success story, with Ore reporting from the KC stadium about how well the Tigers are doing in the top flight of English football.

Last year Newsround and Sportsround did a great job reporting the Women's World Cup from China, with Jake even providing some live reports. Now let's see how well Newsround covers the IGLFA World Championships from London, which begin this weekend, then we'll know if there's any truth at all in the impartiality report (From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel) suggestion that the BBC supports equality for gay people.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel (continued from 29 July 2008)

My blog on 28 March 2008 was about labels. Some people think they're a bad idea, but I thought that in some cases labels can be useful.

Yesterday I got an email from someone at the BBC Future Media & Technology department, claiming that the Feelings 4 grls message (blog 28 March 2008) wasn't originally taken down on account of being suggestive of same sex affections.

BBC management "have concluded that this wasn't the case." They say that the hosts needed to be reassured about the provenance of the user posting the comment. So I have asked why the hosts sought reassurance in that specific case, and am awaiting a reply.

The BBC email yesterday said that they have also found no evidence that comments from children are filtered out for using words such as "lesbian" or "gay". However my blog on 29 July 2008 detailed evidence that messages with those words are suppressed on the Bullying message board - and I am confident that my evidence is correct. In fact on 31 July 2008 I contacted Richard Tait and suggested that the BBC impartiality report intimation of institutional support for equality for women and gay people, on page 72, is misleading. I cited CBBC's Bullying message board as a case in point. A copy of the email was included in my submission to the BBC Trust consultation on children's services.

Instead of intimating that it's a haven for political correctness, as the BBC does in From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel, truth is that the BBC should be worried that it is a haven for heterosexism and discrimination.

Heteronormativity is espoused unthinkingly on CBBC programmes. In a recent example Newsround put selected viewers' questions to Britain's Got Talent winner George Sampson. He was interviewed by Ore Oduba.

Ore: George, I have to get this out in the open now, because it's a question that a lot of people wanna know.
George: Okay
Ore: Right I hope you don't mind, but I want to know - have you got a girlfriend?
George: I've not.
Ore: You heard it first from George Sampson - hasn't got a girlfriend.
George: I've not, no.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What's the BBC got against teenagers?

It's not just that the 'teen brand' BBC Switch hasn't been seen on TV since the start of Wimbledon. Now it seems that if you're a teen you're not entitled to comment on CBBC programmes - unless, that is, you call yourself an adult.

The BBC Trust is carrying out a consultation on children's services, and between kids' programmes they've been asking for feedback from those aged "12 and under." So if you're 13 or more, like the participants in CBBC's Serious Ocean, it looks like they don't want to hear from you. The Trust consultation ends next week.

Kids' consultation site (referred to on CBBC)- the 'How old are you' drop-down menu allows for a maximum age of 12.

Screen capture JPEG of above site.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

This year the UK Youth Parliament debated which three main issues it would campaign about (see blog 1 May 2008). The winning campaign, about the environment, received 490 votes and is called "Your Future, Your World, Your Fight". Perhaps dropping the 3 Y's might have made the title more meaningful. Newsround didn't report the debate on 2 May 2008 in which 11 year old Chandler Burns said "... The decisions we made yesterday are the reasons we are where we are today. But even more importantly the decision we make today will determine where we are tomorrow. .."

Newsround does regularly report on environmental issues, and today Laura explained how rubbish can be turned into fuel. It seems that the rubbish is heated to a really high temperature and the gas given off is then mixed in with bacteria which turn the gas into a fuel called bioethanol. John McNally from INEOS said that the bioethanol made by this process gives off 90% less greenhouse gas emissions than petrol. A million tonnes of rubbish can produce enough bioethanol for more than a million cars. Newsround displayed a caption which read "It's good for the environment" but is that really true?

Laura explained that countries like Brazil already use ethanol, but it's made using plants grown in places where food could be grown instead, so lots of people think using rubbish makes more sense than using plants. Another important issue with plant ethanol, not mentioned in the Newsround report, is the harmful effect on the environment caused by destruction of rain forests to provide land for fuel production.

Lastly, going back to bioethanol from rubbish and the claim that it gives off 90% less greenhouse gas emissions. Surely loads of energy is needed to heat the rubbish in the first place, so there could be additional greenhouse gasses given off unless the energy to heat it comes from renewable sources such as wind, wave or solar power.