Dear Nicola and others following this issue,
I received the same worded message this morning regarding the complaint I put to them.
Below is my reply. It was returned, so I printed two copies and posted them separately to Michelle McGahan and Adrian Wishbourne at the address on the complaints page, PO Box 1922, Darlington, DL3 0UR.
To say I was mortified at BBCâ€™s response is an understatement.
From: Barbara Scrivens [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 23 April 2013 7:13 a.m.
Subject: RE: BBC Complaints - Case number CAS-2059681-D32RXL
Thank you for your reply, to which I see by the
PS, I may not respond to.
However, just in case this does get to be read by Adrian Washbourne, please will you let him know:
1) â€œMr Seldonâ€™s comment referring to countries and nations involved in the Holocaust was made in passing in relation to a much wider point about ways of reacting to authority.â€
â€œin passingâ€? I do not agree. One of the things which chilled me was the slow and completely deliberate way Mr Seldon made his comment.
2) â€œIt wasnâ€™t in any way meant to dispute the facts that Poland was a victim during the Second World War and that the Holocaust was created and engineered by Nazi Germany.â€
â€œIt wasnâ€™t in any way meant to dispute the factsâ€ I do not agree. Mr Seldon specifically attached Poles to the Germans. His exact words were: â€œHad the Germans, the Poles, those many Europeans who were involved in the execution of the Holocaust asked why they were doing this...â€ If I were someone not acquainted with the history of World War II, I would have assumed the Poles were the executioners. After all, Auschwitz is on Polish soil.
3) It was not the editorial intention to raise this topic in the programme, and as youâ€™ll no doubt be aware, we cannot control what interviewees choose to reference.
â€œcannot control what interviewees choose to referenceâ€? I absolutely do not agree. One of the tenets of good journalism is the ability to listen to the interviewee and be flexible, challenge such gross discrepancies. May I suggest your radio interviewers listen to Radio New Zealand National on any morning show. Saturdays and Sundays have in depth-interviews and on Sunday mornings 9.05 (NZ time) there is a regular Media Watch show. Kim Hill, on Saturday mornings won the 2012 International Radio Personality of the
Year from the Association for International Broadcasting, so I donâ€™t think you will be bored.
4) â€œGiven the passing nature of the comment...â€
â€œpassing natureâ€? You are repeating your assumption, with which I do not agree. There was nothing â€œpassingâ€ about this comment.
5) ..and the fact that it was unanticipated within an interview on a wholly different issue it was not
unreasonable for the presenter Philip Dodd to move on.â€
â€œunanticipatedâ€? Isnâ€™t the unanticipated nature of human beings the joy and challenge of interviewing? Isnâ€™t that why radio interviews are so revealing and interesting?
â€œa wholly different issueâ€? The programme was apparently meant to be examining authority. Why didnâ€™t Phillip Dodd do that if Anthony Seldon was at that time the â€œauthorityâ€?
â€œnot unreasonableâ€? I do not agree. There was a gross mistake in what the interviewee said. By allowing him to move on and not bring him back to rectify the mistake, if not immediately then soon after, shows agreement with the interviewee.
6) If he had challenged this - when he had not been briefed on this area â€“ it would substantially have changed the theme of the discussion.
â€œchanged the themeâ€? I do not agree. Challenging authority was the theme. The Poles left in Poland during the war challenged authority at every turn. Have you heard about the Polish Å»egota?
Michelle, my concerns have not been allayed. Mr Washborneâ€™s response has made me uneasy and fearful about the content the BBC is â€˜educatingâ€™ the British public with. Iâ€™m also uneasy about the fact that the BBC described Mr Seldon as â€œan educationalist and head of a major institutionâ€. He has an influence on young minds. He teaches. If he canâ€™t be challenged by an institution such as the BBC, who will challenge him? Who will put him right?
Perhaps Iâ€™m sensitive, but I had hoped that by now, at least the icon of the BBC would accept that Poland was an ally without whom World War II would have turned out very differently.
The word â€œforeignerâ€ was one of the first English words I learned. I thought I was being called that because we moved from St Albans to Dunstable. It was only years later that I realised it was because of my foreign-sounding name.
I left the UK in 1967. I truly hoped that you lot had grown up by now. It saddens me that you havenâ€™t.
From: bbc_complaints_website@... [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, 23 April 2013 2:42 a.m.
To: Barbara Scrivens
Subject: BBC Complaints - Case number CAS-2059681-D32RXL
Dear Mrs Scrivens
Thank you for contacting us regarding the Radio 3 programme 'Nightwaves' broadcast 19 March.
We understand you found comments made on the programme offensive.
We forwarded your concerns to the programme production team. The programme Editor Adrian Washbourne responded as follows:
â€œThe interview with Anthony Seldon was part of a programme that examined the nature of authority, the extent to which it can be a force for good and how its abuse be can be prevented.
Mr Seldonâ€™s comment referring to countries and nations involved in the Holocaust was made in passing in relation to a much wider point about ways of reacting to authority. It wasnâ€™t in any way meant to dispute the facts that Poland was a victim during the Second World War and that the Holocaust was created and engineered by Nazi Germany.
It was not the editorial intention to raise this topic in the
programme, and as youâ€™ll no doubt be aware, we cannot control what interviewees choose to reference. Given the passing nature of the comment and the fact that it was unanticipated within an interview on a wholly different issue it was not unreasonable for the presenter Philip Dodd to move on. If he had challenged this - when he had not been briefed on this area â€“ it would substantially have changed the theme of the discussion.
We recognise that this is an important issue. Were we to deal with it on a future occasion, we would naturally wish to reflect the range of historical opinion which would be our normal aim and practise.â€
We hope this response allays your concerns. Nevertheless, we do appreciate you feel strongly regarding this, and as weâ€™re guided by feedback such as yours, Iâ€™d like to assure you that Iâ€™ve registered your comments on our audience log. This is a report of audience
feedback thatâ€™s compiled daily and made available to staff across the BBC, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.
Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.
NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.
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