The BBC responds to a Sunday Morning Live complaint letter- updated with latest reponses- plus some Questions

****** LATEST RESPONSE*********25th October- The BBC has responded further to complaints with this same letter being forwarded to me by several people. (scroll down to see initial response from 19th Oct). Interesting they only responded to complaints once the show was no longer available on iPlayer. A tactic to try reduce any further complaints?

Thanks for contacting us regarding ‘Sunday Morning Live’ broadcast on BBC One on 16 October.

I understand that you were unhappy with the comments made about teachers and sex education during the introduction to this edition of the programme by Lynette Burrows, which you found offensive and inaccurate. I note that you feel these comments do not reflect the broad range of opinion of parents or students, and felt the assertions were not challenged sufficiently enough.

Whilst I appreciate your concerns, ‘Sunday Morning Live’ is a topical, religious and ethical debate show which often provides a space for debates on controversial topics. In particular our ‘Sunday Stand’ gives an opportunity for people with a non-mainstream viewpoint to set out their case, as was the case with Lynette Burrows. Lynette’s outspoken personal view was a preface to the subsequent debate during which the studio panellists, Rabbi Romain and other guests appearing via webcam robustly challenged Lynnette’s views. Studio guests are chosen for their ability to contribute on a variety of subjects, and expert comment is always provided via web cam – as it was in this case by Alice Hoyle.

We’d also like to point out that Alice was told precisely what Lynette was going to say on the programme and therefore she had ample time to prepare her own response to it.

Nevertheless, we’re guided by the feedback we receive and I can assure you I’ve registered your complaint on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to all BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board and other senior managers.

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

Thanks for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

Mark Roberts

BBC Complaints

I have written a response to this but firstly I have some questions I’d appreciate readers thoughts on:

1) The letter clearly shows that if the guests were expected to challenge Burrows on this then they (The BBC) had no intention of doing so!? They knew full well what she was going to say but instead of actually taking the time to formulate an effective response to her polemic (which they obviously had a lot more time to do) they decide instead to leave it up to guests to do who they have never met or spoken to for longer than 20minutes in advance of the show! I find that seriously scary- that the BBC were willing to let such vile notions be made public without actually having any intention of properly refuting them.

2) They were actually relying on guests to challenge Burrows horrific viewpoint on the show without actually informing them properly of this?! -For the record I had been read a brief extract of her polemic transcript in advance but had been very clear with them that while I was more than happy to be on the show to discuss sex education from my position as a professional, I was not interested in getting into any ad hominem attacks as that is just something I won’t respond to, or felt I was there to do. This was made extremely clear to them from the outset and the researcher had reassured me that I would not be put in that position, and that I didn’t have to respond directly to her polemic.

3) Don’t the BBC have a duty of care towards people it invites onto its shows? The BBC know I am heavily pregnant, they also knew I that I was not going to be good at aggressively arguing debates because quite simply I don’t have the personality for it (too polite for my own good!)- I honestly couldn’t have been more clear with them about that. Yet they still put me onto the show (and now lucky me is dealing with all the horrible fallout from it- not a position I ever expected to find myself in). I wish I had withdrawn when I had wanted to but the BBC researcher persuaded me to stay on the show with lots of false reassurances. 😦 This whole situation is actually causing me a lot of stress and I am finding it a very upsetting position to be in, especially now the BBC appear to be trying to shift the blame for its own failings onto me! Thanks.

First reply: 19th October:

A science teacher colleague of mine sent in a complaint letter (unfortunately has no copy of the letter she sent otherwise I would blog it too). She has received this in response:

So any comments? Where do we take this from here? Personally I don’t think that’s good enough.

Thank you for your comments with regard to ‘Sunday Morning Live’ broadcast on BBC One on 16 October.

I understand you felt a guest’s opinions were appalling and she should not have been given so much airtime.

We make no editorial comment or judgement on the views expressed by contributors to our programmes, and our aim is simply to provide enough information for viewers to make up their own minds.

This may include hearing opinions which some people may personally disagree with but which individuals may be fully entitled to hold in the context of legitimate debate.

It is also not always possible or practical to reflect all the different opinions on this subject within individual programmes. Editors are charged to ensure that over a reasonable period they reflect the range of significant views, opinions and trends in their subject area. We don’t seek to denigrate any view, or to promote any view. We seek rather to identify all significant views, and to test them rigorously and fairly on behalf of the audience.

I do understand you feel very strongly about this, so I’d like to assure you that I’ve registered your concerns on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, programme makers, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions on future BBC programmes and content.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

Mark Madden

BBC Complaints

10 thoughts on “The BBC responds to a Sunday Morning Live complaint letter- updated with latest reponses- plus some Questions

  1. Pingback: Why did the BBC show a clip comparing sex education teachers to paedophiles? | Martin Robbins | Live The Good Life

  2. I think there’s a huge question about whether Lynette was an appropriate guest in the first place – it would seem that the researchers went out of their way to find someone with utterly extreme views, which are probably not even representative of those who oppose sex education. This is the equivalent of asking the BNP to comment on immigration issues, surely? They’re not seeking out a representative of mainstream disagreement, they’re seeking out an extremist whose presence can only be intended to be incendiary and cause offence.
    How horrible for you.

  3. The BBC is great news, and it is called a debate/opinion show for a reason. If I am hearing your case right… you are saying you hold a certain view on peanut M&M’s, and because of that the rest of the world (BBC) should not allow skittles to enter their mouth… ever… Get informed.

    • You are not reading my case right. Issue is BBC was allowing comments which effectively defamed thousands of science and PSHE teachers on national television without any challenge. That is unacceptable. I was not invited onto the show to challenge this notion. Appreciate everyone holds different views but allowing an extreme minority opinion that could potentially affect careers to be spouted without properly exploring the issues at all is wrong.

  4. Would anyone but idle morons actually take this angry witches views seriously?? I doubt it very much. The facts are, proved by the Netherlands who were as bad as us for teenage pregnancies, the earlier you begin SE the better the effect. The Dutch have virtually no problem now with teenage pregnancies ‘cos they took the bull by the horns and EDUCATED…

    • I would hope unlikely to be taken seriously but unfortunately I think BBC failed in its editorial duty to challenge such vile notions. That wasn’t my job and wasn’t why I was asked on there!

  5. Pingback: For the record #BBCSML | sexedukation

  6. Pingback: Latest responses to Sunday Morning Live- Updated | sexedukation

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