In just the last 12 months, the BBC has received nearly 500,000 viewer complaints about "perceived bias."
According to the broadcaster's own annual report released this week, it received 462,255 complaints from 2020 to 2021, an increase of 93,878 from the previous year. Public anger over perceived bias has been driving up the numbers, which are up from 218,253 in 2018/19.
"The volume of complaints to the BBC remains a concern. This financial year has seen another sharp increase in the number of complaints received," said Ian Hargreaves, chair of the BBC's Editorial Guidelines and Standards Committee, quoted in the report. "The committee has explored the reasons behind this increase in volume year-on-year and asked the executive to review the operational handling of complaints."
The figures and the consequences were echoed by the UK watchdog Ofcom, which announced on Friday that it had received a record number of complaints in the previous year: 142,660, up from 35,545 the year before.
“Our research shows too many people perceive the BBC to be shaped by a particular perspective. This is not simply about the politics of Left and Right. We recognise that many feel the BBC does not get the world from their point of view," the BBC annual report stated.
According to the Telegraph's analysis of the data provided in the report, BBC host Emily Maitlis' monologue on Newsnight on then-chief advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson Dominic Cummings in May 2020 topped the tally of complaints.
During a talk concerning Cummings' trip from London to Durham during the UK's first national lockdown, Maitlis said that Boris Johnson's former adviser "broke the rules," adding that the whole country "can see that, and it's shocked the Government can't."
After receiving 23,674 complaints, broadcasting watchdog Ofcom reportedly advised the BBC that hosts should not "inadvertently give the impression of setting out personal opinions."
BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty, along with co-host Charlie Stayt, received 6,498 complaints earlier this year when the two appeared to criticize Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick over the size of the Union flag in his office. Moreover, after liking social media posts in favor of her on-air statements, Munchetty was forced to apologize.
I 'liked' tweets today that were offensive in nature about the use of the British flag as a backdrop in a government interview this morning.— Naga Munchetty (@TVNaga01) March 18, 2021
I have since removed these 'likes'.
This do not represent the views of me or the BBC.
I apologise for any offence taken.
Apart from that, Andrew Marr's interview with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which got 1,712 complaints, was also besieged by claims of prejudice.
According to the BBC, organized web campaigns can result in significant amounts of complaints. People were also encouraged to report their negative views because the broadcaster's complaints mechanism was easily accessible online, The Telegraph suggested.
Ofcom's complaints list was dominated by the UK channel ITV, with TV host Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain topping the list, receiving such a dubious honor by voicing his reservations about assertions made by the Duchess of Sussex in her interview with Oprah Winfrey in early March and afterwards.