CLAIMS that the BBC lacks impartiality are nothing new.

Allegations of biased journalism within the publicly funded broadcaster have been historically made on both the left and right of the political spectrum.

But on Thursday a new social media campaign fuelled by a body of Scottish nationalists to boycott the BBC went viral, prompting a fresh discussion over whether the state broadcaster is biased.

The #BBCSwitchOff campaign is being supported by those who believe that the broadcaster is biased.

A fresh wave of protests began at 6pm on Thursday when it was suggested people switch off the BBC.

It was the number one trended hashtag on Twitter on Thursday across the UK with BBCBias also in the top ten. It was a similar story in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

HeraldScotland: Potential Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks to crowds during the annual Durham Miners Gala on July 11, 2015 in Durham, England

One of the reasons for the campaign was the belief in some quarters that Jeremy Corbyn and left-of-centre politics is not getting a fair hearing on the Beeb.

Many Corbyn supporters were up in arms over an image of the Labour leader on Newsnight in March which they felt had been altered to look ‘more Russian’.


It came hot on the heels of Labour moving to defend Jeremy Corbyn's comments claiming the BBC is biased towards 'Israel's right to exist'.

The Labour leader made the comments to Iranian state TV channel Press TV in 2011, when he was a backbencher.

On Thursday it appeared the BBC changed a headline on its story about Wednesday night’s attacks on Israel after the Board of Deputies angrily complained about its “appalling” stance on the issue.


The BBC’s original headline was “Israeli air strikes ‘kill woman and toddler’”, with no mention of the rocket attacks which came before the strikes.

On Thursday morning, the Board of Deputies tweeted: “Appalling @BBCNews headline after Israel responded to *150* rockets fired at its towns by terrorists while families were asleep. We have complained and you should too”, including a link to the BBC complaints page.

The BBC subsequently changed its headline to “Gaza airstrikes ‘kill woman and child’ after rockets hit Israel”.

The Board subsequently said this headline was "better... but it’s still an inversion".

"Israel’s cities were struck by 150 rockets, sending tens of thousands in to shelters. Surely the headline should reflect this,” it said.


A BBC spokesperson said: "“Although the original headline was not factually incorrect, we updated it to add more context to the story.”

The Twitter campaign has been adopted by people outwith Labour activists, including a body of Scottish independence supporters.

Famously hundreds of Yes supporters held a demonstration outside BBC Scotland's headquarters over alleged bias in the network's coverage of the independence referendum in September, 2014.


And last week, the BBC moved to deny political bias after a pro-independence blogger criticised the public broadcaster after his YouTube channel was shut down in a copyright row.

Stuart Campbell, who runs the Wings Over Scotland channel, claimed his channel was closed without warning after the publicly funded BBC complained about 13 videos that had been uploaded to it.

The channel of another prominent independence campaigner, Peter Curran, was also shut down after BBC copyright complaints.

Meanwhile it was demonstrated that the BBC had not taken similar action with other political sites that used its material.


The BBC halted its action while it reviewed its copyright enforcement responses and the channel was reinstated.

It was reinstated by YouTube while the BBC said it will review its actions.

While the organisation is required to provide impartial coverage, 40 per cent of people feel this isn’t the case – according to a poll in May by BMG Research.

BMG asked 1,005 British adults if they consider the BBC to be politically neutral, and just 37 per cent of them said they did.

But nobody can quite make up their mind why.

A combined 22 per cent of respondents felt it was either somewhat or strongly biased towards left-wing views, while 18 per cent felt it was somewhat or strongly biased towards the right. Nearly a quarter of people said they just didn’t know.


Last week the BBC withdrew an educational film about immigration following complaints that it was biased.

The film, aimed at GCSE pupils, contained claims that Britain was 'multicultural long before curry and carnival' and that debate over immigration had fuelled a 'huge rise' in support for far-Right politics.

It was pulled from circulation and removed from YouTube after complaints that it broke impartiality rules.

Last week it emerged BBC Radio 4’s flagship news and current affairs programme, Today, which for decades has set the agenda for the media-political elite, has been haemorrhaging listeners.

HeraldScotland: BBC Radio 4 Today programme presenter John Humphrys

According to figures released by RAJAR, the official body for the monitoring of radio audiences, the programme has lost more than 800,000 listeners over the past year.

The BBC noted that audiences for news and current affairs programmes fluctuate over time, and suggested a “quieter news agenda” partly explained the drop-off.

But Tom Mills, a lecturer in sociology at Aston University and the author of The BBC: Myth of a Public Service says it may be because "liberals and leftists have finally given up on the programme".

Accusations of a left-wing bias were often made against the BBC by members of Margaret Thatcher's 1980s Conservative government.

HeraldScotland: Lord Tebbit attacks bid to scrap MPs' oath to Queen

Norman Tebbit called the BBC the Stateless Person's Broadcasting Corporation because of what he regarded as its unpatriotic and neutral coverage of the Falklands War, and Conservative MP Peter Bruinvels called it the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation.

Nine years ago, BBC director general, Greg Dyke, criticised the BBC as part of a "Westminster conspiracy" to maintain the British political system.

Nigel Farage has previously attacked the organisation for being too left-wing, and Leave voters accused Question Time of deliberately picking ‘less intelligent Leavers’ for a TV audience last year.

The BBC last month defended its Brexit coverage after being accused the corporation of "journalistic cowardice" in its reporting of the EU Referendum and its aftermath.

In response, James Stephenson, news editor at BBC News, said it had “reported on every aspect of the [Brexit] story over the past two years.”

He added: “There can be few times in the BBC’s history when its journalism has mattered more. This is not an organisation frightened of journalism, but committed to it.”

BBC's Europe editor last year hit out at claims the broadcaster is biased against Brexit - claiming they have been blocked from holding European officials to the same standard they hold British officials to.


Speaking to BBC's News Watch programme, which monitors complaints about the broadcaster, Katja Adler, the BBC's Europe editor, addressed claims of spreading "doom and gloom".

Ms Adler, who is based in Brussels, said she understands viewers who see this perceived bias and complain the BBC unfairly portrays the British side of the talks.

She explained: "It is a fair comment to make.

"It is my job to put across the European perspective, which may come across anti-Brexit.

"But this is all because, since the Brexit talks started, there has been silence enforced inside the EU Commission and among EU leaders, in order to only let Michel Barnier speak about Brexit.

"We do not have the same access to talk to the same players as we do on the British side to put the difficult questions to them.

"That can be very frustrating for our viewers, and it can seem like we are not doing our job, but the players just do not let us interview them on the record, so they end up being sources or insiders."

She said this led to the EU officials not being held to the same level of scrutiny as those in Britain, but insisted reporters in Brussels were trying their best to hold them to account.

The BBC were approached for comment on the Twitter campaign.