MORI's work for the BBC shows that - in a majority of cases - knowledge and understanding of the EU is very low. This severely limits people's ability to make a judgement on the impartiality of the BBC's coverage. Lack of understanding tends to translate into low interest and limited consumption. This in turn severely limits the majority's ability to compare the relative qualities of the BBC's EU coverage across its three platforms (television, radio and online), or to judge the BBC's coverage against that of other broadcasters.
MORI identified three main 'types' of BBC audience in relation to EU output. These are:
- the knowledgeable minority, who tend to be more aware and informed about the EU and information given about the EU. They also tend to be more critical of both the EU and the BBC's coverage of the EU
- the interested but uninformed majority, representing a large element of the population who absorb some information about EU policies through the media. However, they are also likely to be confused and hold misperceptions due to a lack of understanding of the fundamentals of the EU
- the uninformed are those who know very little, if anything, about the EU. Some of this group do not think it is worth knowing about the EU which they see as irrelevant to them and to the UK.
It is also worth highlighting that MORI assume that beyond the uninformed there is another large section of the British public who do not watch the news or take any interest in current affairs, and as such are even less informed and less interested in knowing about it.
Ten discussion groups were conducted with members of the general public in all four nations and regions of the UK in October to November 2004. Each discussion group lasted an hour and a half. Members of the public were recruited to represent different education levels, a range of engagement levels with current affairs and the EU in general, and their overall attitude towards the EU. It is important to note that all the people interviewed watch BBC news.
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