I’m not sure if my last blog had anything to do with it, but BBC1 Watchdog (TX 21/10/10) is back up on iPlayer- it’s a cracking programme. Hurry you only have a couple of days left to watch it. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00vjbwp/Watchdog_21_10_2010/
I hooted at the bogus £50 ‘food intolerance’ test kits. Shocking that sensible people still fall for snake-oil hocus pocus like that. The story about the time-share victims being re-conned made my blood boil – brilliant doorstep! I made programmes about time-share scams in the 80′s and 90′s. Finally the law was changed, about 10 years too late for many people.
But, someone at the Beeb needs to speak to the Editor of Watchdog Jeff Anderson. Thirty three minutes in, at the end of the filmed report on shoddy workmanship by Techguys (a company owned by Dixons, Curry’s & PCWorld), http://bbc.in/bzwYwr they come back to the studio with Anne R wearing protective glasses (why?). The reporter – not Matt, the other one says:
Chris Hollins: “…first, they (Techguys) tell us that 96% of deliveries and 93% of repairs are carried out successfully first time.”
Anne R: “Did you tell them we are not interested in things that go right?” (see YouTube)*
Well perhaps Anne Robinson isn’t, but context is a relevant defence and not to be rubbished by her. Otherwise the audience is being misled, as it can’t know how ‘serious’ a problem is without context.
I suspect this institutional arrogance comes about because Watchdog has never got past the double glazing scam mentality of its roots. It was easy to scoff back then, when everything their targets did was fraudulent. But Watchdog should resist treating household-name companies with the same sneering contempt.
We all know how AR likes to talk tough. This is what she says on the Watchdog website. ”My mission statement is to have all customers treated like royalty. Any chairman of a public company providing less-than-perfect service needs to fasten his or her seat belt and adopt the brace position.”
That’s fine and fun but like them or not, tax paying, economy driving major retailers like Curry’s etc, employ many thousands of hard working people striving to provide value for money for customers - Its not in their interest or their company’s to do it badly. They wouldn’t survive long. So telling the Watchdog audience (who are their customers after all) ) that over 90% of the time, things go right, is both important and valid and the programme has a duty to report it. To use a popular term – it’s about fairness.
Adopting Anne R’s dismissive approach, would also put the programme in breach of the new BBC Editorial Guidelines, re-published just last week. I promise not to be a Code War Warrior for long (there’s no bore like a Code bore), but under Section 6 Right of Reply, those criticised should be given a fair opportunity to respond, and, any part of the response relevant to the allegations broadcast should be reflected fairly and accurately. And that is the point, those two statistics were relevent to the allegations broadcast. Incidentally neither Techguys nor Dixons, Curry’s & PCWorld is/are my client.
* Note the edit/shot change mid statement. Why?