Television

BBC upholds programme complaint against 'Top Gear'

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MUMBAI: BBC D-G Mark Thompson has expressed confidence about the corporation being on track as far as improving the way complaints are handled is concerned.

The Beeb has published findings of the Programme Complaints Unit (PCU) for the period 1 July to 30 September 2004.

A new complaints procedure, announced earlier this year, will come into operation by early next year. In this quarter the PCU dealt with 284 complaints concerning 191 items.

49 complaints were upheld (seven of them partly). This amounts to 17.5 per cent of the total number of complaints received.

One complaint that was upheld concerned the episode of the car show Top Gear which aired on BBC Two on 25 July 2004.

Three viewers complained of one-sided treatment of the Government's recent transport policy document and related issues. The BBC found that the treatment was largely in the style of humorous hyperbole which is the hallmark of the host Jeremy Clarkson and his co-presenters, and which is part of the programme's appeal to its audience.

Established audience expectations of the programme are such that it has some scope to apply its particular brand of humour to topics of interest to motorists, even when those topics relate to matters of public controversy. However the BBC noted that the exchanges in question continued for long enough for it to become clear that, beneath the humour, a case in favour of one side of some controversial issues was being set out, and there should have been an element of balance.

As a result of the complaint The Top Gear production team is working on ways to provide an element of balance (where necessary) in future series, without compromising the programme's appeal.

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