The BBC is often accused here in the UK of having a pro-European Union bias, but it has just been rapped by its governing body for going too far the other way.
The BBC Trust, which handles complaints about the broadcaster’s editorial output, ruled that on 22 January, a Radio 4 Today programme presenter gave an “inaccurate impression” of the number of immigrants arriving at Europe’s borders.
The presenter, who is not named in the BBC Trust’s ruling, was introducing an interview with French prime minister Manuel Valls when they said that “many thousands” of immigrants try to secure access to the EU everyday.
The actual figure was 3,797 and the BBC Trust decided that to say “many thousands” was “inaccurate in a strict sense” and misled listeners.
The BBC Trust said in its ruling:
“Given immigration was among the most emotive subjects in British politics, that this was a year in which a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union was due to take place, and that immigration would form part of people’s considerations in that matter, listeners would expect Today to meet the very highest expectations of due accuracy.”
The BBC Trust stressed, however, that there was “no suggestion” that the Radio 4 programme sought to “knowingly and materially mislead” its audience.