BBC bias: you’ve won significant victories
Palestinians have been living under brutal occupation for decades.
But the BBC’s reporting continues to present Palestinians as the aggressors.
With your help we’ve been challenging that reporting.
These are your most recent successes:
- In December you forced the BBC to admit that it broadcast misleading information about recent fatalities in the West Bank
- In January your emails forced the BBC to admit that its Director of Television was wrong to sign a pro-Israel letter published in the Guardian
Both victories – which were covered in the Guardian – have exposed the BBC’s bias towards Israel to a wider audience.
PSC asked you to complain to the BBC in October when its senior presenter, John Humphrys, and its Middle East correspondent, Kevin Connolly, gave the impression that all those who had been killed in the West Bank that month were Israeli. The item – a conversation between the presenter and the correspondent – was broadcast on Radio 4’s Today programme. In fact the majority of those killed were Palestinian.
In December, after we escalated our complaints through the BBC’s system, the BBC’s Head of Editorial Complaints ruled that “the report did not meet the BBC’s editorial standards regarding accuracy”, and was a breach of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines.
The ruling was published on the BBC’s website. In accordance with BBC policy senior editors at the Today programme will have been given guidance on ensuring that similar breaches don’t occur again.
The Guardian: BBC Radio 4 report on Israel breached accuracy guidelines
Electronic Intifada: BBC forced to admit it misled over Palestine
We asked you to write to the BBC when the organisation’s serving Director of Television, Danny Cohen, added his name to a Guardian letter which argued that Israel should be shielded from cultural boycotts.
You wrote to Rona Fairhead, Chair of the BBC Trust, and asked that action be taken against Mr Cohen – who has since left the BBC – for breaching rules on impartiality. You reminded Ms Fairhead that all staff at the BBC, especially those in such a senior position as Mr Cohen, should be impartial and should be seen to be impartial on the issue of Palestine and Israel.
In January, after an exchange of correspondence, the BBC sent an email saying: “We’d like to make absolutely clear that we accept that BBC Executives should avoid making their views known on issues of current political controversy. We regret that this letter gave that impression. Danny Cohen was made aware of the BBC’s view on this matter before he left the organisation last month.”
A second email added: “The BBC agrees that it was inadvisable for him to add his signature given his then seniority within the BBC as director of television”.
The Guardian: BBC says it was ‘inadvisable’ for BBC chief to sign letter opposing Israel boycott
PSC: BBC admits its top executive shouldn’t have signed pro-Israel letter
Exposing the BBC’s bias is a vital part of our campaign to achieve change in the organisation. The more people who are aware of the ways in which BBC reporting favours Israel, the more people will join our campaign to bring about change.
You can be part of the campaign
These are some things to look out for when listening to or reading a BBC report:
- Is the report accurate, balanced and unbiased?
- Is it impartial, or does it give only partial coverage of the facts?
- Has a full and fair account been given? Or have key facts been omitted?
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, make an official complaint to the BBC.
Make your complaint via the BBC website and ask for a response.
You will receive a reply via email. If you’re not happy with the reply, complain again – via the website – and explain why the BBC’s response to you isn’t satisfactory.
For more information on navigating the BBC’s complaints system, read PSC’s guide: How to complain to the BBC