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Monday, 23 January 2012

Complaint response 17/01/12

Reference CAS-1254113-H3ZJT9

Thanks for contacting us about ‘Jeremy Vine’ on BBC Radio 2.

I understand you objected to an item about a cyclist with a helmet camera being cautioned by a police officer being one of the discussion topics on 17 January as you felt it to have been too old a story to be seen as news. I note you also believe it to have been poorly researched.

Jeremy described the video as a “the latest Youtube sensation”, and it certainly has been picked up by many newspapers and media outlets in the last week or so, despite the video having been available on Youtube for a number of months, it has only recently gone “viral” and been covered by the media. Therefore we feel it entirely justified to cover it and use it as a discussion topic to look at police cautions and whether or not it’s appropriate to argue the law with officers, as this cyclist did in the video.

We’re sorry if you felt the item was misleading by not mentioning the date of the video; this wasn’t our intention but we don’t believe the date of the video is particularly relevant to the discussion that followed – the talking points under discussion were not time sensitive. We’d also disagree with your view that the item was poorly researched

We appreciate that not every listener will agree with the choices we make as regards what to talk about in any broadcast of ‘Jeremy Vine’; in the end it’s selective and subjective, but we do thank you for your feedback.

Please be assured your complaint will be added to our audience log, a daily report of audience feedback that's made available to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

Axxxxx Hxxxxx
BBC Complaints

Response sent 23/01/12:

Many thanks for your response.

You state that the video had "been picked up by many newspapers and media outlets in the last week or so" and "it has only recently gone “viral” and been covered by the media". I understand this to mean that the video's belated surge in popularity following coverage on a media bandwagon including the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and others was the sole reason for it to become "news", rather than its content. Is that correct?

If my understanding is correct, I am left puzzled. In other correspondence with yourselves (ref. CAS-1254170-QBRMQX) I was told "Factors such as how much national interest there is in the subject matter, whether it is news that has just come in and needs immediate coverage, and how unusual the story is will all play a part in deciding the level of coverage in programmes like Jeremy Vine.". I take this to mean that these factors are applied to ALL stories featured on Mr Vine's programme.
A search for "PC Stout" on the internet reveals many written discussions on this subject on forums associated with both cyclists (example: dated 6th April 2011) and policing (example: dated 2nd April 2011) so I consider it safe to assume that those people who live in this nation with an interest in such matters were probably already aware of this incident many months ago. The news had only "just come in" because the newspapers had finally discovered this story, even though it was several months old. I note that the Daily Mail as part of a quote mentions a date of June 2011 in their article ( so they at least saw fit to make the story's age clear.

I note your disagreement with my assertion that the item was poorly researched. I have just listened to the item again in which Mr Vine was joined by expert commentators Julian Young and Graham Taylor. Both of these experts had to advise Mr Vine on the legalities of being stopped in this kind of situation. Example: Mr Vine said, "You don't caution somebody when you are having a chat with them". Whether there is an implied question mark on the end of this statement or not, it shows that Mr Vine had not researched what should have happened. Mr Young explained the procedure, but Mr Vine chose not to believe him and asked "Is that right Graham Taylor?", suggesting that he disbelieved Mr Young's explanation. I consider that Mr Vine should have researched before the broadcast the procedure that PC Stout should have used, instead of which he chose to question the knowledge of (and potentially embarrass) an invited expert.
I would appreciate your further comments and clarifications.


Stonyground said...

I get the impression that it is in their job description never to concede a single point in responding to complaints.

Steve Wright had a presenter from Newsnight on his show this afternoon. She said that it was very important to do your homework before every show and that it was insulting to the audience to just go on and wing it.

Radio2LunchtimeLoather said...

I heard that too. It was Kirsty Wark, who said that she arrived at the studio around 2pm for Newsnight which is broadcast 8 hours later.