Daily Mail accuses BBC of left-wing bias…because the Guardian is more expensive

If the Mail's number crunching was honest, it would suggest the BBC is right-wing


The Daily Mail has accused the BBC of ‘following a left-wing agenda’ based on which newspapers it purchases for staff.

The story notes that in 2014 the BBC spend £127,643 on copies of the liberal Guardian, versus only £40,482 for the Daily Mail itself: “The startling figure is nearly 45 per cent higher than its bill for any other title, despite the Guardian accounting for a tiny fraction of Britain’s newspaper sales.”

What the Mail doesn’t tell readers is the number of copies purchased by the BBC for the two papers is almost identical.

The Beeb bought 80,679 copies of the Guardian compared to 78,463 copies of the Mail. That’s a difference of a mere 2216 over the year.

Across a year, that amounts to 221 copies of the Guardian a day, (not many for an organisation the size of the BBC) versus about 214 for the Mail – in other words, very close, and not anything like a big enough difference to justify the charge of bias.

The basis of the disparity in expenditure appears to be due to the Guardian, er, being more expensive than the Mail (£1.80 versus 60p weekdays). So the paper’s use of these numbers is extremely misleading.

But what about the other papers?

While the Mail’s print edition only runs the story, it’s website has the stats: (click to enlarge)

Mail BBC paper purchases 2014

If you just take the explicitly conservative papers – the Mail, Express, Telegraph and the Sun – the BBC spent a whopping £201,684 on right-wing papers last year, or 262,236 copies. If you throw in the Times it’s £280,509, or 339,403 copies.

If you add up all the papers that backed the Tories in the general election (and exclude the Star), the Beeb spent £436,745 on pro-Tory papers in 2014. That’s 440,995 copies.

On the liberal papers – the Mirror, Guardian and Independent – the BBC spent £229,087 or 202,546 copies.

So if newspaper purchases are evidence of bias or a political agenda at the BBC, they demonstrably point Right . It’s good of the Mail to flag this up.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

Read more: 

The Sun wants to scrap the Human Rights Act…after using it to defend its reporters

Murdoch-owned Times attacks BBC for ‘media empire’ monopoly

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