Minotaur Media Tracking

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Minotaur Media Tracking was a right-wing media monitoring group run by the right-wing activists Kathy Gyngell and David Keighley. It published a number of reports alleging political bias in the UK media, especially the BBC.

Background

According to Companies House records, Minotaur Media Tracking Ltd was incorporated in July 1999. It does not appear to have operated out of an office since its registered addresses were both London accountants; first Sherman and Partners and then Gerald Edelman, both based in London’s West End.

The company was directed and co-owned by Kathy Gyngell and David Keighley, [1] the widow and close friend respectively of Thatcher’s favourite television executive, the late Bruce Gyngell. [2]

The company’s accounts suggest it remained dormant throughout its period of operation. It filed an application to strike-off on 26 June 2006 and was dissolved on 21 November 2006. The company was superseded by Newswatch (officially Newswatch UK Ltd), which was incorporated on 6 September 2007 and co-owned and directed by David Keighley and a managing consultant called Barclay Thompson. [3]

Reports

Minotaur Media Tracking produced a number of reports for the Eurosceptic think-tank Global Britain and the Centre for Policy Studies. The great majority of these reports alleged a bias in favour of EU integration in the UK media (particularly the BBC) and several alleged a broader bias against right-wing politics and the Conservative Party. The reports received favourable coverage in the right-wing press, [4] and the Global Britain reports were followed up with correspondence between the BBC and the Tory peers who founded the think-tank. [5]

Beebwatch

Minotaur Media Tracking conducted the research for Beebwatch, a column which ran in the Daily Telegraph three times a week for two months in late 2003. 26 articles were printed between early September and early November that year, each claiming to show evidence of a left-wing bias in the BBC’s output. Although the author of the articles was not declared at the time, they were subsequently revealed to have been written by Damian Thompson, [6] a conservative British journalist best known for being editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald.

The column was introduced in an article by the then editor of the Daily Telegraph, Charles Moore, on 9 September 2003. In this introductory piece, Moore conceded that the BBC was probably not biased against the Conservative Party, but argued that its ‘mental assumptions are those of the fairly soft Left.’ He continued:

They are that American power is a bad thing, whereas the UN is good, that the Palestinians are in the right and Israel isn't, that the war in Iraq was wrong, that the European Union is a good thing and that people who criticise it are "xenophobic", that racism is the worst of all sins, that abortion is good and capital punishment is bad, that too many people are in prison, that a preference for heterosexual marriage over other arrangements is "judgmental", that environmentalists are public-spirited and "big business" is not... [7]

Moore wrote that the Beebwatch column would ‘offer brief reports culled from the airwaves’ and would be ‘helped in gathering information by Minotaur, a media monitoring unit that will study all relevant bits of the BBC output, television, radio and electronic.’ [8]

Notes

  1. Minotaur Media Tracking Ltd, Annual Returns made up to 8 July 2005
  2. Former TV-am boss dies’, BBC News Online, 8 September, 2000
  3. Companies House, Newswatch UK Ltd Annual Returns, made up to 6 September 2008
  4. e.g. Edward Heathcoat Amory, 'How the BBC revealed its pro-Euro bias', Daily Mail, 7 December 2000; p. 7; Andrew Sparrow, 'BBC programmes `heavily biased in favour of EU', Daily Telegraph, 8 December 2000; p.2; Edward Heathcoat Amory, 'This is Europe calling...', The Spectator, 28 April 2001; p.20
  5. Copies of reports and correspondences relating to 'BBC Europhile Bias' are posted on Global Britain's website: http://www.globalbritain.org/BBC.asp
  6. Damian Thompson, ‘Beebwatch is closing down - but we are still watching you’, Daily Telegraph, 7 November 2003
  7. Charles Moore, ‘Time to watch the BBC bias that costs each of us £116 a year’, Daily Telegraph, 9 September 2003
  8. Charles Moore, ‘Time to watch the BBC bias that costs each of us £116 a year’, Daily Telegraph, 9 September 2003