The BBC ignored its commitment to due impartiality in its Ten O’Clock News interview this week with Google CEO, Sundar Pichai. BBC Media Editor, Amol Rajan, did not challenge the claim by Pichai that Google was intent on protecting the ‘Open Web’.
“Rajan’s interview was misleading and inaccurate. Google claimed to be a champion of the Open Web when it is building a ‘walled garden’, trying to enclose the web to make even bigger profits,” said Tim Cowen of Preiskel & Co, legal advisor to Marketers for an Open Web, or MOW.
“Pichai’s statements were not tested. It was a piece of corporate advertising, contrary to the BBC’s principles. Why did it appear on the BBC Ten O’Clock News, when it contained no news? It was an unbalanced piece of reporting.”
On the BBC Ten O’Clock News, Rajan did not raise with Pichai the numerous anti-trust actions taken by multiple US states against Google for breaching US laws. Nor did any of the Digital Markets legislation being proposed in the UK, EU and USA get a mention. Nor were the moves by numerous regulators worldwide to push back against Google’s creation of its ‘walled garden’ of software and technology to enclose the web for its own ends and greater profits referred to.
Pichai, said Cowen, “was allowed to state that Google was protecting the Open Web when that is the exact opposite.” Cowen called on the BBC to report the other side of the argument, to counter Google’s claims.
MOW, which comprises digital publishing, tech and date businesses campaigning against Google’s increasing industry grip, is considering making a formal complaint to the BBC.
Full transcript of BBC News At Ten broadcast
BBC News at Ten – July 12, 2021
Sophie Raworth: ‘The boss of the search engine Google says the model of a free and open internet is under attack. Sundar Pichai says many countries are restricting the flow of information and the western model free from political censorship is often taken for granted. Google is under huge pressure from regulators around the world for its approach to privacy, data and tax. Our media editor Amol Rajan reports from Silicon Valley in California.’
Amol Rajan (voiceover): ‘For the past two decades one Californian company more than any other has designed and built the internet with a dominance in digital advertising. Now Google is journeying into the unknown with two big bets. Unimaginably powerful quantum computers – and, above all, artificial intelligence.’
Sundar Pichai: ‘I viewed it as the most profound technology that humanity will ever develop and work on. And we have to make sure we do it in a way that we can harness it to society’s benefit.’
AR: ‘Sundar Pichai is the man leading Google into this new era.’
SP: ‘Be it healthcare, be it education, be it how we manufacture things and how we consume information. If we think about fire or electricity or the internet – it’s like that, but I think even more profound.’
AR (voiceover): ‘Born of humble roots in Tamal Nardu in South East India, Sundar Pichai trained as an engineer. He moved to the US to pursue his dream and joined Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin when the company was just six years old in 2004. Now he’s the boss of both Google and its parent company Alphabet, which includes YouTube. And he faces unrelenting scrutiny – from US lawmakers to most recently at the G7 and G20 summits where tax was in focus.’
AM: ‘Historically, has Google paid enough tax in the right places?’
SP: ‘We’re one of the world’s largest taxpayers. If you look at on an average over the past decade we have paid over 20 per cent in taxes. We do pay the majority of our share of taxes in the US, where we originate and where our products are developed. I think there are good conversations and we support the global OECD conversations figuring out what is the right way to allocate taxes, and this is beyond a single company to solve.’
AR: ‘You’ve two teenagers, I understand. What’s your policy on screen time for kids?’
SP: ‘I think this generation needs to learn to adapt to technology. It’s going to be a big part of their lives. So I’ve encouraged them to develop boundaries on their own. But I’ve approached it as a journey of personal responsibility.’
AR: ‘How worried are you that today the internet seems to be splitting into different domains, where we have a kind of Californian internet, and increasingly a Chinese one – and the Chinese one might be in the ascendant.’
SP: ‘The free and open internet has been a tremendous force for good and I think we take it for granted a bit. But I do think the model is being attacked and so I think it is something we take for granted. But I hope we can stand up, particularly in countries with strong democratic traditions and values.’
AR (voiceover): ‘Sundar Pichai is clear. It is up to democracies as much as any tech giant to shape our digital futures. Amol Rajan, BBC News, in Silicon Valley.’