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Sunday, 28 October 2012

The forum responds, in a fashion....

I have received the following response to my post below, titled 'Threats,' from the BBC Radio Forum. My comments are attached.

Dear 'Meer Kat',

To be clear, unsuccessful attempts have been made in the past to compromise accounts on the forum.

Well not by me. And that was my point.

We do not ban people simply for disagreeing with anything anyone says. If you take the time to look you, would see there have been occasions when we have entertained persons with extreme views which other members entirely disagree with. Indeed, issuing a ban against anyone is the last thing we wish to do as we believe it is only through communicating honestly and openly that we grow as human beings. In your own case, you have had two memberships to the forum, using different email addresses and numerous IP addresses.

You banned me, I seem to recall, when I started asking questions about the forum administrator. And then deleted my posts.

We have not tried to stop you from viewing the site, as I say we have numerous IP addresses for you logged and if we wished could do so. I will point out for clarity, the forum software logs all this information, it is not just picking certain individuals.

The simple fact is that when I log on to the site from one of the IP addresses logged, I cannot view the site. It comes up with a message that states: you are banned from using this forum! unacceptable conduct This ban is not set to expire. 

We refute that we bullied a presenter on Twitter. The presenter took issue with a tweet that wasn't addressed directly at him. 140 characters is not a lot so perhaps the intonation was misinterpreted. We simply reported what was said. We did not encourage people not to save his Saturday night programme. If you look you will see another thread posted long previous promoting the campaign to save his show. The presenter himself said he was grown up enough to accept the change and thought other presenters in the same position should stop 'whining'.

I am not sure what posting a thread entitled "Don't save the Jim Hawkins Saturday show on BBC Shropshire" is, if it is not encouraging people not to save his programme? Perhaps you ought to remind yourself by having a read:

Any remarks about a BBC journalist are made in self defence, he may complain about 'little digs' we make, but seems unable to recognise his own about us. We have always been of the live-and-let-live view but if someone is going to post on other forums and blogs defamatory comments about us, we reserve the right not to be doormats.

I have already noted in previous postings that the forum has a problem understanding the meaning of the word defamatory. Journalists tend to have a better understanding of the law around this than forum members, and, in your case, the forum administrator.

As for the 'cloak of anonimity', perhaps you should have a look in the mirror 'Meer Kat'. 

The correct spelling is actually anonymity.  More importantly, I am not the person running a forum in which the administrator and key posters appear to share administrator rights - a clear conflict of interest. A forum which calls for openness and accountability from the BBC, yet the identity of those behind it remains hidden. Not for much longer though...

Saturday, 27 October 2012


They love making threats at

In my one of my recent posts, I questioned who exactly is behind the forum and who the main contributors are, and said that they will be 'outed' soon.

I can only assume that this is what prompted the following 'announcement' on the forum:

This forum will not hesitate to act when there has been a breach of internet security. If that breach includes personal accounts of its administrators and their families that would be very serious indeed. And action is being taken.

It is not clear who they have reported it to. The police? MI5? Or perhaps even 007?

More seriously, I do find it quite offensive that they think that I must have broken the law to work out who is behind the forum. Because I haven't. And wouldn't. How stupid do they think I am?

But the double standards which are at work here defy belief.

This is the forum that banned me for trying to do no more than play devil's advocate and have a reasonable debate.

They tried to prevent me from even viewing the site.

They do not deny that key contributors also have administration rights, in effect enabling them to ban people whose views they do not like.

They allow defamatory remarks to be posted about people.

They have bullied a BBC local radio presenter for disagreeing with them on Twitter.

They make frequent and repeated remarks about a BBC local radio journalist who has disagreed with them.

And they have done all of this behind the cloak of anonymity.

Well, not for much longer....

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Be careful using the 'L' word

Probably the worst thing that anyone can be accused of is lying.

But, they don't pull any punches at

Even when it involves the former Director General of the BBC. 

The man under scrutiny by Tiger and Darcysarto is Mark Thompson. 

Tiger writes: 

Sorry to use the L word but I am sick and tired of words like misleading, inaccuracy, incomplete etc. Mark Thompson has lied. He said 4 weeks ago that he absolutely knew nothing about Savile at all.

She then quotes, I think, from a Daily Mail story from October 7:

"Mr Thompson, who stood down last month, yesterday broke his silence on the row to insist he had not even heard ‘rumours’ about the former DJ.
He also insisted he did not have any role in the decision to drop a BBC Newsnight investigation into claims Savile sexually assaulted girls as young as 14.
Mr Thompson said: ‘I had no involvement whatsoever not to pursue the Newsnight investigation. I understood that was a decision taken by the Newsnight editor.
‘I never heard of any rumours nor received any complaints or allegations (about Jimmy Savile) while I was Director General at the BBC.’ 
But his comments contradict the BBC’s own press office which said yesterday that Mr Thompson was told about the Newsnight investigation into Savile early last December."

Now Thompson has admitted that he was told about Newsnight and he then discussed it with senior BBC staff."

And then adds: 

Surely the fact that he lied is critical to what has happened?

Later in the thread, Darcysarto (never one to be outdone), chips in that "his pants are on fire".

So, this is strong stuff. 

Let's examine exactly what Tiger is alleging, and whether it stands up to close scrutiny.

Firstly, she is quoting a Daily Mail story and their interpretation of events. This is important as what matters are the quotes from Mark Thompson, not the angle the newspaper has taken. 

Tiger writes that Mark Thompson stated four weeks ago that "he knew nothing about Savile at all". In actual fact, this is her interpretation, rather than what he actually said. Which was: 

"‘I had no involvement whatsoever not to pursue the Newsnight investigation. I understood that was a decision taken by the Newsnight editor. I never heard of any rumours nor received any complaints or allegations (about Jimmy Savile) while I was Director General at the BBC. "

Now, my interpretation of this quote is that he is referring to two things. Firstly, he had never heard any rumours, complaints or allegations about Savile while Director General. Entirely separate to that, he was made aware of a Newsnight investigation into Savile, but had no involvement in it being dropped.

The Daily Mail claims "his comments contradict the BBC’s own press office which said yesterday that Mr Thompson was told about the Newsnight investigation into Savile early last December." But this is their interpretation, rather than what he said. Remember, he stated:  ‘I had no involvement whatsoever not to pursue the Newsnight investigation. I understood that was a decision taken by the Newsnight editor.' Surely this is him confirming he was aware?

Further, the BBC itself states in a story on October 23rd: "A spokesman for former BBC director general Mark Thompson, commenting on questions put to him by the Times, said Mr Thompson was asked by a journalist at a party late last year about a Newsnight investigation into Savile - which he had until then been unaware of, he said. He later mentioned the conversation "to senior colleagues in BBC News and asked if there was a problem with the investigation" but was told it had been dropped by Newsnight for journalistic reasons.The first time he became aware of the allegations that Jimmy Savile had committed serious crimes and that some of these crimes had taken place in the course of his employment at the BBC was when he heard the pre-publicity for the ITV investigation. This was after he had stepped down as director-general."

Given this clarification, it is not, in my view, possible to conclude that Mr Thompson lied. 

And that is exactly why media organisations are using words such as "misleading" and "contradictory" and "doubt". Because they have to abide by laws of defamation- a fact sadly lost on Tiger, Darcysarto and the forum administrator. 

And had better hope that Mr Thompson's lawyers don't stumble across their thread and decide to take action. Otherwise, it could prove quite costly. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The cyber bully

The cuts to BBC local radio have generated much debate on

Like all parts of the BBC, it is facing a reduction in its funding due to the new licence fee settlement.

There was a nuclear option which was looked at of sharing a lot of programming with BBC Five Live, but since a vocal campaign by loyal listeners, the cuts have been scaled back. The most audible impact is a new networked evening programme, and a reduction in specialist programmes.

Many within BBC local radio are breathing a sigh of relief that the cuts are not as bad as first mooted, and also recognise that all bits of the BBC have to take their share of funding reductions.

But when Jim Hawkins from BBC Radio Shropshire decided to defend the new shared evening programme, after the BBC Local Radio forum administrator said on Twitter that no-one wanted the new show, he was leapt upon in an aggressive manner and warned that his own mid morning show could be at risk next. This despite the fact that he has lost one of his specialist programmes has been hit!

In response, Jim argued that was an "underpopulated forum". With most posts made by just two people, this is not unreasonable..

This did not go down well with the BBC Local Radio Forum.

The cyber bully administrator got to work, launching his/her own thread at urging people not to campaign to save his specialist show! Not surprisingly, Jim Hawkins noted on Twitter that this was "ignorant and cowardly pillorying". This prompted the BBC Local Radio Forum to respond that they would be issuing a "press release" because he had "attacked" the forum. They have not yet said which media they will be targeting, or what the press release will say.

What I find most outrageous  is that the administrator and the main contributors to the forum hide behind a cloak of anonymity - dishing out their views on named individuals within the BBC and generally calling for a inquiry here and a resignation there.

So, who are the shadowy figures who believe they have the right to abuse and pillory people within an organisation that they - bizarrely - claim to seek to defend?

They will soon be outed....

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Savile story....according to the BBC Local Radio Forum

Jimmy Savile was guilty. And the BBC is guilty over an almighty cover up.

Well, the evidence seems to be pretty overwhelming on the first point (and you can't defame the dead). But on the second point, well the jury should surely be out until the many investigations are complete. But not on the BBC Local Radio Forum - where there is no smoke without fire.

The Newsnight investigation? A definite cover up to protect the subsequent tribute programme.

George Entwistle? He knew about the probe but didn't ask questions, so is equally culpable.

The BBC corporately? It was brushed under the carpet for decades.

I would hate to be a defendant in a case where Tiger or Darcysarto were members of the jury. They'd judge you on your appearance, rather than waiting to see/hear the evidence.

Let me give you just one example. The BBC Newsnight investigation that was dropped

The editor, Peter Rippon, took to his blog to explain why they did not run the story in the end. You can read it here. To summarise, Newsnight don't normally do celebrity exposes but in this case were looking at institutional failure as the victim alleged she was told they didn't proceed because Savile was too old and frail. She also said she was certain the BBC hadn't a clue what was allegedly going on. The CPS contradicted this, and the victim was unable to provide any evidence of what she said. So it was classic "she says, he says" and, given that the BBC doesn't run stories based on rumour and speculation, that was the end of the investigation .

But hindsight is a wonderful thing, and, oh boy, do they love it at the BBC Local Radio Forum! They are convinced that there must have been pressure from above within the BBC.

Darcysarto states:  Mr. Rippon may like to reflect that he was so busy looking for the angle that he lost sight of the real story. He goes on: He didn't need an angle or hindsight to know this was one of the biggest scandals of the last half century.

Tiger sticks the knife in as well: "Perhaps the question should be how Peter Rippon as a human being acted? or failed to act.." 

Next, they turn their guns on Kevin Marsh, Editor of the BBC's College of Journalism, when he dares to suggest there is no way there will have been any pressure to drop the piece, as commentators and the Daily Mail have suggested. You can read it here. He also points out a few myths that are doing the rounds, such as the fact that there was no 12 minute film ready to run , nor a script. He also has a bit of a pop at the tabloids for double standards, pointing out they didn't carry out their own investigations. Now, seeing as he has worked at a senior level at the BBC, and Tiger and Darcysarto have not, you'd think his views would carry some weight? Oh no! They take to his blog, with Darcysarto claiming that because he had revealed in a book that he was once briefly pressured over a story, it could well have happened in this case as well. Tiger accuses him of discrediting one of the witnesses, when in fact all he has done has point out that she failed to produce the letter from the police to corroborate her version of events.

What is even worse is that both Tiger and Darcysarto don't let readers of BBC Local Radio Forum reach their own judgement about all of this. Instead, they only post the points they made to him, rather than including his responses! How one sided can you get?

The fact is that, in journalism, all sorts of investigations happen all the time but many of them never see the light of day because they can't be stood or up or proven.

Because of editorial independence, news programmes within the BBC don't choose to share information with each other, and jealously guard stories. This is why the information was not shared with other areas.

And I have no doubt the reason George Entwistle wasn't given the detail about the Newsnight investigation is to make sure he didn't prejudice himself, should he have to carry out a subsequent investigation.

It is not the duty of BBC journalists to worry about the reputation of the BBC corporately.This is to protect their editorial independence. And they don't. Many of them are the BBC's biggest critics. Sadly this is lost on Darcysarto and Tiger - two people who claim to be the voice of BBC listeners/viewers yet have no understanding - at all - of how it works.

The bizarre thing about all of this is that both Darcysarto and Tiger choose to praise particular programmes that have been questioning the BBC about this issue. And that is exactly why it is so ludicrous to suggest there was any type of Newsnight cover up. As Kevin Marsh states, the BBC does not operate in this way. Unlike other media organisations, which rarely run critical stories about their parent companies.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Forums are popular, right? Er....

Most forums have people that post who are more prolific than others.

But at the BBC local radio forum, three quarters of the posts have been made by just four people!

Indeed, 1,700 of the 2,700 posts have been made by just two people. Yes, you read that right. Just TWO people.Yet it still claims to be representative of the views of listeners.

This pair of serial posters go under the pseudonyms 'Darcysarto' and 'Tiger'. They frequently agree. In fact, they usually agree. Now, it would be an absolute outrage if one or other of them also masqueraded as the administrator as well, wouldn't it? This would give them the power to ban people from the forum if something is posted that they did not agree with. It would be a complete conflict of interest, and be totally against the spirit of a forum for debate. Surely that would not happen, would it? Shame on anyone who would ever suggest that....

This underpopulated forum likes to think it has a bit of a power and influence. Darcy and Tiger are regularly bothering the Director General and other senior people within the BBC, giving their views on anything that takes their fancy. Often with little evidence to back up their view. As I shall demonstrate....

Sunday, 14 October 2012

About me...

I've been using media forums for a long time - pretty much since they rose to prominence in the late 1990s.

But I have never, ever come across a radio forum site like

This is a site supposedly for open discussion and debate about the BBC. Except....

  • The administrator, instead of being impartial, regularly expresses views about topics, and deletes posts that he or she does not like.
  • He/she bans people who have the temerity to challenge why their posts have been deleted.
  • There is a severe lack of balance in the debate on the forums, because the vast majority of postings are made by just two people

So, I have decided to set up this blog site to keep an eye on the behaviour of those on the site, and offer a bit of balance. Feel free to join in...