Is the BBC censoring its sports blog?

Not everyone thinks that the BBC has had a “good Games”. But when SJA member RANDALL NORTHAM tried to share his views with Director of Sport Roger Mosey on a blog that actively invited such comments, his remarks were blocked.

Here, we publish in full the comments that the BBC banned and ask: Is the BBC censoring criticism of its Olympic coverage?

On Monday night, after reading Roger Mosey’s post-Olympics blog on the BBC Sport website, I was moved to comment about Jonathan Edwards’ “performance” when interviewed (if that’s the word?) by Gaby Logan.

Here’s what I posted:

“I hope against hope that the BBC will rediscover its old values and stop using ex-athletes merely because they are famous.

“Jonathan Edwards’ performance when interviewed by Gaby Logan about Phillips Idowu was nothing short of disgraceful. Did anyone censure him about the comment: ‘I’ve had many texts coming in saying pride goes before a fall’? Idowu won a silver medal, for heaven’s sake. He did not ‘fall’.

“And then came the remark that, ‘he showed me no respect. He spent years getting under my skin’. Please tell Mr Edwards he is there to present the triple jump to viewers, not warm up petty sleights from when he was a competitor.

“Having said that, Michael Johnson was superb, as always.”

I got a message back from an unnamed “moderator” saying that my comment was not to be posted because: “Comments posted to BBC blogs will be removed if they are considered likely to provoke, attack or offend others; are racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or otherwise objectionable; are considered to have been posted with an intention to disrupt; contain swear words (including abbreviations or alternative spellings) or other language likely to offend.”

Here’s a sample of the comments that have been allowed on Mosey’s latest post:

“What I would like to see is the media putting efforts in giving creative criticism to the UK Olympics, and not constantly belittling those who are doing the utmost to make it all happen. Support your Nation!”

“Fantastic coverage… with front-people like Adrian Chiles, Sue Barker and Hazel Irvine you could do nothing but succeed.”

“A tremendous success by competitors and BBC. I have seen numerous Olympics and this was the best presentation by the BBC that I can remember.”

“I thought the BBC Olympics coverage was FANTASTIC–I just had to be home for the round up each evening with Gabby–despite watching much of the coverage online during the day. The commentaries were BRILLIANT, Hugh Porter, Andy Jameson, Gary Herbert were OUTSTANDING and Hazel Irvine and Adrian Childs as an anchors in the mornings were compulsive viewing.” [the shouty capitals are on the BBC’s website]

Clearly, I had not been sufficiently sycophantic.

This is nothing short of censorship, and I’ve told them so.

I replied to the BBC’s moderator: “It was an attempt to point out that one of the commentator you pay with our money had behaved with a great lack of grace towards one of GB’s medallists.”

I’ll admit there was a touch of “grumpy old man” about my comment. I find, with the exception of Steve Cram and Johnson, that Mosey’s policy of using ex-athletes as summarisers and commentators (particularly Brendan Foster) makes my teeth itch.

And I feel much the same, I suspect, about Edwards as he does about Idowu, the reason being that he stuck with Andy Norman as his agent after the former British athletics promotions officer was implicated in the suicide of Cliff Temple and sacked.

But my journalistic training teaches me to be objective.

Edwards, too, if he is doing a broadcaster’s job, should remain objective. As should the moderator at the BBC Sports website.

After all, they let this comment go on Mihir Bose’s blog: “Pointless article frankly… Sometimes Mihir seems hell bent on demonstrating that he mingles with the aristocrats in the stratosphere of sport. How about explaining how this makes a difference Mihir? Doping? Corruption? Tell me. Please.”

What do you think of Randall Northam’s experience with the BBC’s blog? Is it censorship of any criticism of the BBC’s commentators? What do you think of the BBC’s commentators and punditry team? Do you agree with Matthew Norman’s view that the BBC did too much cheer-leading in Beijing and not enough objective reporting?

Post your comments here – even if you want to be rude about Randall. We’ll publish them as long as they are not obscene or illegal

Click here to read Giles Smith in The Times on the BBC’s reality TV

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