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« Orlowski at the IT | Main | Between the lines of the energy market »

Culture and Media Committee on 28gate

From 12:50.30

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Reader Comments (28)

So Tony Hall doesn't know anything about 28 gate- it seems surprising as Patten obviously knew it was coming, as he read out much of his preprared answer, after a long waffle to limit the time available.The sycophantic loud laughter from two or three of those present made my toes curl.

Perhaps someone should enlighten Tony Hall and the Bishop could send him a copy of The Propaganda Bureau.

May 8, 2013 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

The smugocracy at work - doing what it does best.

May 8, 2013 at 9:45 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

It just says: "Install Microsoft Silverlight"

May 8, 2013 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

The questions popped by Philip Davies MP (Con. Shipley, voted strongly against climate change legislation) may prove to be rather less anodyne than they seemed. He is apparently aware that more litigation about the seminar information is heading the BBC’s way. Hall will now find it hard to avoid any personal involvement in a decision to commit more resources to a damage limitation policy that has become toxic.

The present state of play is this. The Information Commissioner has provided me with a preliminary finding, which I have disputed, that the BBC was correct to refuse my new request for information about the seminar, . The next step will be a decision notice, which opens the way for another appeal to the Information Tribunal thereafter with a far better chance of success than last time.

May 8, 2013 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterTonyN

Tony, thank you for the update and for all you're doing in this corner. I agree that the questions of Philip Davies and his final comment to Tony Hall, that he assumed next time would be different, can only help.

Lord Patten's earlier answer, where he tried to summarise the overall challenge of impartiality in this area, wasn't too bad. Not that any of us really dispute that 'global warming in happening'. Few of us dispute that mankind is making some contribution to that. Even so, Patten's clear statement that dissenters should be given time to argue their case by the Beeb is welcome. The devil is in the detail as always. But Patten sounded to me as if he'd heard that the case for catastrophe - and all the related policy arguments - haven't been going as well as they might of late and he was indicating BBC coverage should reflect this. It should indeed.

May 8, 2013 at 12:43 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

John Silver, I was surprised to see Silverlight still being used by Hansard the other day and dug out this report from ComputerWeekly in November:

Parliament's ICT office is concluding a two-year review of whether its democratic responsibilities and technical ambitions will force it to purge Microsoft's Silverlight multimedia technology from its computer systems.

As part of a root and branch overhaul of parliamentary computing, the use of Silverlight will be an early test of the government's new open standards policy. The issue is to be settled in a matter of weeks.

It wasn't clear how the issue was settled, however.

May 8, 2013 at 1:23 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake


I tried to take some comfort from Patten’s words too, but then glib effusions must come easily to such an accomplished political operator. Nevertheless, it’s interesting that of the BBC news folk who were at the seminar, Boaden has been moved to radio, Mitchell has ‘left the Corporation’, Rippon has been put in charge of some god-forsaken archive, Entwistle is enjoying his severance pay after nearly bringing the whole edifice tumbling down, and Harrabin seems to have all but vanished into well deserved obscurity. And when the WMO put out a press release last week about 2012 being the ninth warmest year since we’re-not-sure-when, almost no one in BBC news seemed to want to get their hands dirty with the story.

Perhaps there are reasons for optimism.

Can anyone work out who Patten was talking about when he said ‘ … one or two individuals haven’t been treated well’ in BBC coverage of climate change.

May 8, 2013 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyN


David Bellamy?
Johnny Ball?

May 8, 2013 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB


Both those names seem possible, but would his Lordship care?

On the other hand Peter Lilley and Lord Lawson would bring the problem much closer to home.

May 8, 2013 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyN

TonyN: Very good summary of the knowns and unknowns. I was going to ask the same question about the individuals 'not treated well'. Cautious optimism seems reasonable.

May 8, 2013 at 3:08 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Help! I clicked on the "Get Silverlight" button and got the following:

One moment, please, while the current Silverlight installation status is determined...
Microsoft Silverlight may not be supported on your computer's hardware or operating system!

Some dependancy problem I suppose. Google "says" I need something called Microsoft Windows!
Does anyone know which repository has the required packages?


p.s. I am willing to compile from source if necessary! :>)

May 8, 2013 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterdadgervais

May 8, 2013 at 10:37 AM John Silver

Right on.

Eschew the Evil Empire!

May 8, 2013 at 3:45 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I always had the impression that once the names came out, this would have been a case of sitting by the riverside watching all the corpses float by, slowly but steadily. Seems it still is the right impression.

May 8, 2013 at 3:45 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Interesting that when Philip Davies asked them to confirm that they wouldn't fight future such FOI requests and Lord Hall surprisingly said he knew nothing about it (ie TonyN's FOI case), Lord Patten made no effort to help out. My MP, Francis Maude, has actually managed to squeeze two letters out of Lord Patten on the subject of 28Gate. In each of them he has refused to give any opinion on 28Gate because he has "no role in day to day operational or editorial matters" and that the seminar took place before the Trust came into existence. Imagine the fuss if the present Chairman of RBS refused to comment on the operational decisions taken by management under Fred Goodwin which led to the government bail-out! In each letter Lord Patten also suggests that if I'm still not satisfied I should use the BBC's standard complaints process. Duh!

May 8, 2013 at 4:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJockdownsouth


Just a log jam upstream perhaps?


Wasn't Lord Hall's studied expression of ignorance rather surprising in view of last four paragraphs of this letter?

I wonder if the signatories of that letter ever got a response? Or perhaps Lord Hall felt a bit dozy and didn't read all the way to the end?

May 8, 2013 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyN

Forgotten all about that letter Tony. A great pity no MP on the select committee brought it up.

May 8, 2013 at 5:03 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

TonyN - As Steve McIntyre says, "look for the pea under the walnut shell". The letter from the GWPF to Lord Hall states that the BBC has fought tooth & nail at great expense to keep secret the identities of their "experts". There is no specific mention of obstruction of FOI requests. Lord Hall could therefore argue quite reasonably that he had no idea that FOI requests were involved. (sarc). On the other hand I'd like to see him recalled so that Philip Davies could ask him if, in the light of his expression of ignorance, he'd bothered to read the letter from the GWPF.

May 8, 2013 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJockdownsouth

Perhaps the certain individuals are Tony Newbery and Andrew Montford.

May 8, 2013 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Goodness. I could watch Patten all day. Such wonderful condescension, such supreme smugness, such effortless superiority, such dismissiveness, such de haut en bas superiority.

Imagine his magnificence had he been allowed to exercise his wonderfully snooty gifts in pre-Revolutionary France.

Surely he must now be elevated from the dreary confines of the House of Lords and the BBC to become a new sort of God?

May 8, 2013 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered Commenteragouts

Thank goodness there's no inverted snobbery on BH.

May 8, 2013 at 5:42 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake


What a lovely idea!

May 8, 2013 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyN

Richard Drake:

You are surely not suggesting that I have an unhealthy reverence for those natural aristocrats, His Eminence Patten prime among them, when they deign to descend among us and dispense their wisdom on us, the unworthy?

As must be obvious, my reverence for Patten stems exclusively from his immense talents.

May 8, 2013 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

As far as talent goes Patten was for me one of many ambitious men of his generation outclassed and outsmarted by the daughter of a lower middle-class grocer. Having said that I don't have the problem with him some obviously do. Perhaps that makes me a bad person.

I do care about the BBC though and about a much higher quality debate of climate and energy issues in the UK. If Patten's the guy in charge of the BBC Trust I listen carefully to try and assess which way the wind is currently blowing. His manner is irrelevant to me. I would consider it a sign of immaturity if I allowed it to get in the way of assessing whether there were signs of improvement.

I think there are some small signs of improvement. One interesting question is whether the BBC admitting how out of balance the 28gate meeting was, and the campaign to keep it secret, is a necessary condition of significant improvement. It would certainly be nice if change did come about that way. But I would value the efforts of Tony and Andrew in this area even if that never happened.

May 8, 2013 at 6:30 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

I thought the 28gate issue discussion was waffle, a lost opportunity.

Patten's comments were bland and generalised. Hall didn't have a clue about what it was about and viewers wouldn't have a clue either.

Why didn't the questioner nail them?

The BBC lied about their advice from top scientists. They consulted with a bunch of biased activists, then they spent a fortune of public money trying to prevent disclosure.

Patten and Hall should have been asked to explain why the BBC did that.

May 8, 2013 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Whilst it is an impossible task to be truly impartial....... Patten and Hall are clearly of an identical mindset as the "old broken BBC" that they swear blind they are fixing.

Their whole performance, especially Patten, was a master-class in deflating justified criticism. The trouble is that they genuinely think the BBC has broadly done a good job all these years. Like hell it has.

May 8, 2013 at 11:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Blofeld

Shame this guy had to leave the organisation to vent his true feelings.Perhaps there is integrity at the BBC afterall and its not just full of cowering corporate yes men towing the company line.

May 9, 2013 at 5:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

A bit OT but I have been watching a recording of Robert Francis QC who wrote the report on Staffs hospital appearing before the Commons Health Committee shown on the Parliament channel. At one point the sub heading appeared: "David Cameron has apologised on behalf of the government". That was rather odd. The events at Staffs took place between 2005 and 2009. Why should Cameron apologise for them? Unless in the BBC mindset everything that goes wrong with the NHS is the Tories' fault?

May 9, 2013 at 8:20 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Speaking personally, it is a little disappointing that even now Lord Patten does not understand that sceptics do not dispute the science but dispute the exaggeration of the science and the speculation on impacts.

So when Lord Patten describes two opposing groups, he is still - however unintended - being economical with the truth.

The first group is not opposed by sceptics, because from those sceptics I know, it is a group to which not only most scientists but most sceptics belong. It is the view based on the science that understands the global warming effects of CO2 and recognise that the temperature warmed last century (although it is false to say it is currently warming in the last decade).

He then describes a second group which I take to be sceptics. This falsely portrays sceptics as being against the science. In my experience, both groups start from the science. The difference is that predominantly sceptics want to stick to the confirmed science, whereas the other group look for problems and use unsubstantiated feedback mechanisms to suggest a much larger problem than sceptics think is reasonable from the evidence available.

However, although he has not been well briefed, I note the tone was much more contrite. I am particularly pleased to hear that he recognises that the BBC have not dealt with the issue as well as it should and that it recognises that some individuals have been badly treated.

But the BBC need to do more than this. After a number of years of imbalance, balance cannot be restored by just being impartial from now on. The BBC have conducted what I feel is a propaganda campaign pushing a particular point of view. As such the BBC needs to be proactive in restoring the balance. There has to be a concerted effort to explain the sceptic viewpoint not only to the public but apparently to top BBC executives. They must explain the different between the greenhouse warming that most experts and sceptics agree is likely to produce about a 1C if CO2 levels and the exaggeration of this figure by feedback mechanisms which is the very contentious area which is at the heart of this dispute.

Also, given the repeated and high profile coverage given to many contentious predictions of the impacts of any change, it is now time the BBC told the public in an impartial way, how well these predictions have turned out.

However, there is another important area where the BBC must redress past wrongs. The biggest eye-opener for me when I became a sceptic, was one of perception. I felt very let down when I realised that these "sceptics" who I had been led to believe were all lobbyists paid for by big oil were for the most well meaning individuals.

The BBC have traditionally had a soft spot for the small guy. It is time they told the public the true story about the huge contribution from all the various hard-working and inspiring individuals who at times were thoroughly vilified by the BBC.

May 10, 2013 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeHaseler

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