J4MB official complaint to the BBC – ‘Newsnight’ piece on domestic violence was in breach of 50+ BBC Guidelines

The BBC has a long track record of following feminist and other left-wing narratives, and a glaring example is their coverage of domestic abuse/violence (‘DA’). For many years the BBC’s narratives have been solely – or almost solely – about female victims and male perpetrators, despite an overwhelming body of evidence showing that women are often perpetrators of DA, and men often victims. There are occasional balancing pieces, including this one on (surprisingly) Woman’s Hour, on 10 October 2013:

While such pieces exist, they’re rare – Woman’s Hour generally follows feminist narratives, as we’d expect. Other high-audience BBC programmes which are even keener on following those narratives includes the flagship news programmes Today and Newsnight. A particularly bad example on the Newsnight episode of 5 April 2013:

Late in the evening of 7 January 2014 we received a large number of emails from supporters appalled at that evening’s episode of Newsnight. Not only was there a piece on the programme concerning menacing tweets sent to Caroline Criado-Perez – a subject the BBC has covered at inordinate length on many occasions – but more importantly to our supporters, a lengthy piece on DA failed to mention male victims and female perpetrators:

Our blog piece on the matter:


We decided it was time to send our first official complaint to the BBC, and to increase our chances of having an impact we decided to focus on the 7 January episode, and scrutinised the BBC Editorial Guidelines in detail. The BBC Editorial Guidelines page will take you through to those guidelines, which are viewable online and downloadable as a PDF (215 pages).

There are three documents associated with our complaint. The cover letter:

140120 letter to BBC re Newsnight 7 January 2014 – FINAL DRAFT

Our critique of BBC Editorial Guidelines in connection with the complaint, showing the Newsnight piece breached 50+ guidelines:

140120 Newsnight report’s breaches of BBC Editorial Guidelines – FINAL DRAFT

Dr Nicola Graham-Kevan’s slides from last year’s presentation to the National Conference for Male Victims of Domestic Violence:

140108 Nicola Graham-Kevan presentation, ‘Female perpetrators of intimate partner violence’

We’ll post the BBC’s response online as soon as we receive it. In the meantime we invite you to submit your own complaint about the Newsnight episode. First online page about making a complaint http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints. If you wish to make a complaint online start here http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/complain-online/. Key pieces of advice:

Try to restrict yourself to one complaint, this increases your chance of getting a substantive response

Clarify you’re making a complaint, as distinct from a comment, and you require a written response

Ensure the BBC receives your complaint (whether by mail or online) by 5 February

Feel free to email me mike@j4mb.org.uk if you receive an interesting response to your complaint.

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