THE BBC has been hit with a double whammy over its use of misleading graphics and statistics, The National can reveal.

After the corporation responded in unsatisfactory fashion to a complaint by the SNP over its use of an infographic, which suggested the SNP’s European Election victory was smaller than it was, the SNP has now escalated the complaint and is demanding a much fuller explanation as to how the graphic could be so misleading.

It was also revealed yesterday that the BBC’s own internal complaints system had found against Reporting Scotland over a viewer’s complaint that the programme’s quoted statistics about the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measure of economic health were wrong.


BBC issues bizarre response over its dodgy SNP infographic

On the question of the graphic, the SNP’s complaint was that the bar chart was not in proportion to the actual scale of the party’s victory – the party took 37.7% of the vote, the largest share for any party in Western Europe.

At the time the graphic was shown the SNP’s share of the vote stood at 37.9%, and the graphic suggested that the Brexit Party and the others were closer behind.

The BBC then claimed that the graphic was only intended to be a “rough” guide, despite not indicating this anywhere on screen, and refused to delete a Tweet with the graphic.

This is despite the BBC’s own editorial guidelines on “misleading graphs” which state: “Take care when interpreting graphs and charts. They are helpful tools for visually

displaying large amounts of data quickly, but can be used deliberately to mislead or shock by distorting the data.”

Keith Brown, the SNP’s depute leader, said: “The BBC are hoping we just let this slip, but we’re not going to. The public have a right to know why the BBC has graphics software which produces inaccurate and misleading bar charts. Either sufficient care was not taken in the making of this bar chart – which reduces the SNP’s lead and boosts support for the LibDems, Conservatives and Greens – or it was manipulated to deliberately mislead.

“The sooner the BBC fess up and fixes this the better. Trying to circle the wagons over inaccurate and misleading graphics only draws more attention to this bizarre situation which will further erode audience trust.”

The second issue which emerged yesterday concerns a report on the economy on Reporting Scotland, shown on BBC One Scotland on August 15 last year.

The Executive Complaints Unit’s finding was as follows: “A viewer complained that a statement that GDP growth in Scotland in the first quarter of 2018 ‘roughly matched’ that of the UK as a whole was inaccurate.”

The statement had been intended to refer to the calendar year 2017, but it appeared from the context to refer to the first quarter of 2018, when the figure for Scottish GDP growth considerably exceeded that for the UK (though largely for technical reasons).

The outcome of the investigation was reported as “complaint upheld” on the BBC’s website.

Hannah Bardell, SNP MP for Livingston, said: “Reporting Scotland getting their knuckles rapped like this will be a major embarrassment for BBC bosses at Pacific Quay.

“More importantly BBC Scotland’s main news programme needs to be a reliable news bulletin – not misleading audiences on Scotland’s economy – and this shows it has got some work to do to regain the trust that it lost in 2014.”

A spokesperson for BBC Scotland said: “On Reporting Scotland, the programme team has been reminded of the importance of accurately contextualising statistics.

“As for the election graphic, we have pointed out that the bars were intended to give a rough visual representation as results came in – but the correct percentages for each party were also very clear for all to see.

“Once all the results were declared in Scotland, we produced a full graphic with a clear scale and updated the story. We also shared the full graphic on social media and removed the interim graphic from the archived version of our story.”