BBC Reporting Irresponsibly Negligent

2005 June 27
by Chris Vernon

BBC NewsWhilst in Dublin at the Feasta Conference I was able to keep up with news over the Internet. The BBC News front page had a three interesting stories on Friday 24th June 2005.

Firstly Oil price hits $60 for second day which reported on the second consecutive day of >$60 oil. The reasons were given as: demand not slackening off despite an almost 40% increase in the price of crude oil since the start of 2005, OPEC already saying it’s doing all it can to meet demand and cool price growth, China importing 8.2% more oil than last year, threats of disruption in Nigeria, and the spectre of a looming strike by oil workers in Norway. Whilst all these points are probably true and the article probably had a world limit, the lack of asking why supply was having difficulty meeting demand or mentioning the rapid decline in some provinces is disappointing.

The second front page story of the day was BA ups fuel surcharge on tickets reporting that from 27 June, BA will increase the fuel surcharge on each long-haul return ticket to £48 ($87) from £32. The short haul surcharge will go up to £16 from £10. The increase was explained by continuing rise in global oil prices… but no mention or questioning as to why global oil prices were rising.

The third story and the one that made me write this article was titled British Gas mulls 15% price rise. It is the news that British Gas are warning of a 15% increase in gas prices this year (on top of the 5.9% in January and 12.4% in September rises last year). I’m sure you’ll agree these are significant rises so one would expect a crack team of BBC investigative journalists would find out what’s behind these incredible rises. It turns out that our gas bills are rising since “wholesale gas prices were now expected to be 51% higher than a year ago.” That’s it. Case closed. I say the BBC are being negligent in not finding out and reporting why wholesale prices are rising 51%. I think it has something to do with UK North Sea gas extraction rates falling 13.5% in a year but what do I know?

One other point I’d like to make is that the BBC carried Adam Porter’s excellent report ‘Peak oil’ enters mainstream debate a couple of weeks ago. None of the three BBC articles on Friday even had a sidebar link to the report, they all deserved one.

I believe the BBC are making positive editorial decisions not to mention peak oil in regular news stories. Why, I do not know. Until we have a media that is at least willing to ask why what we are seeing is actually happening we can not hope for any proactive action to be taken.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS