The following e-mail is the response (or lack of it) that we received today from the Nolan Show regarding our complaint about their pro-abortion bias. We wish to draw attention to one sentence in particular from the e-mail, and it is as follows.
“The BBC does not have a position on the abortion issue and we are satisfied that our presenter’s handling of this, and related, discussions on 09 October, 2013 and subsequently across succeeding days on BBC radio, was fair and balanced.”
Fair and balanced ?!! Are we talking about the same presenter? To say that Stephen Nolan was “fair and balanced” on the abortion issue is patent nonsense, as is the claim that “The BBC does not have a position on the abortion issue”.
We (the Whites) intend to take this matter further with the BBC.
29 October, 2013
Dear Mr & Mrs White
Editorial Complaint – The Nolan Show
I’m replying to your recent complaint about coverage of abortion on The Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster, and wider issues (legislative, moral and medical) relating to abortion in Northern Ireland. Your complaint has been logged and managed in accordance with the BBC’s complaints framework.
We recognise that abortion, and the basis on which it is available in Northern Ireland, is a complex and sensitive matter. A range of views exist about its appropriateness and effects – some of them strongly felt. Our role is to reflect the diversity of people’s views and experiences – describing and explaining the issues involved and providing a managed forum for debate. Fairness and due impartiality are fundamental considerations in everything that we do. Where divergent opinions exist, we are committed to exploring these in a robust way, taking account of all of the facts and the existence of alternative viewpoints. The BBC does not have a position on the abortion issue and we are satisfied that our presenter’s handling of this, and related, discussions on 09 October, 2013 and subsequently across succeeding days on BBC radio, was fair and balanced. These programmes included contributors with different views, experiences, backgrounds and expertise and were complemented by coverage on BBC News. Our television programme also included a cross-section of viewer reaction (via text and email) to what was being discussed, and reflecting every side of the argument.
We understand the strength of feeling about abortion in Northern Ireland and seek to deal with programming about this issue in ways which take careful account of the individual stories involved. In our view, the specifics of Sarah Ewart’s experience (she approached us with her story, as many other people do) raised some wider considerations, all of them in the public interest. The treatment of her story, and that of Laura, and the debate which their stories prompted were carefully considered by us, and within the context of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines.
We very much welcome audience feedback on our work. Your concerns have been noted and shared with relevant editorial staff.
Editor, The Nolan Show – BBCNI