BBC 'focusing far too much on Team GB' - Press Gazette

BBC 'focusing far too much on Team GB'

BBC top brass have reportedly ordered their news teams to stop focusing so much on Team GB’s stunning Olympics success.

The Daily Mail reports that BBC director general Mark Thompson is ‘increasingly unhappy’with the patriotic tone of the news coverage of the Games.

The Mail claims that ‘TV and radio newsroom staff were astonished by an email sent yesterday, which told them to focus on the achievements of other nations as well as our own”. It quotes an email, titled ‘An order from the DG”, from director of news Helen Boaden saying: ‘Mark Thompson is increasingly unhappy that we are focusing far too much on Team GB’s performance to the exclusion of all else.

‘This is also becoming a theme within the Press. As editor in chief, he has issued a directive that this needs to change from today. So you need to get cracking on making that shift.”

BBC news editors were said to be annoyed at the tone of Boaden’s email, with one insider telling the Mail: ‘We never get direct orders like this. It is only natural that our viewers and listeners want to hear about Team GB’s successes. All the other countries celebrate their own medal winners.

‘It would be a shame if we had to water down our coverage to satisfy an abstract notion of fairness.”

Another source said ‘this is most definitely not about the sports coverage – it has been flawless – and it is certainly not meant to denigrate the sterling work of the presenters.

‘This is about our Six O’Clock and Ten O’Clock news. We want to make sure the entire games is covered.”

The Olympics coverage has come as a welcome success for the BBC after its Diamond Jubilee presentation in June was attacked for being inaccurate and banal, and attracted almost 5000 complaints.

Thompson was quoted saying: ‘I am as delighted as our audiences and the whole BBC team about the brilliant performance of Team GB, and it is quite wrong to suggest otherwise.

‘The BBC has been right to focus on sporting achievements which the whole country has been celebrating, and we will continue to do so with pride.

‘We can do that while at the same time making sure that our news programmes fully reflect some of the other great sporting achievements and human stories of the London Games.”