Wednesday, May 03, 2006

BBC and Objectivity

This has just come in from Chris Doyle about the BBC:

CAABU Press Release:

CAABU response to the report from the independent panel for the BBC Governors on impartiality of BBC Coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

2 May 2006

The Council for Arab-British Understanding welcomes the findings of the independent panel looking into the BBC's coverage of theIsraeli-Palestinian issue. It endorses many of CAABU's long term concerns over BBC coverage, especially the greater coverage given to Israeli fatalities and Israeli spokesmen. Whilst rightly commending the BBC for much of its excellent coverage, the panel and the Loughborough University content analysis confirms many of the serious concerns that CAABU raised about BBC coverage, both written and orally, to the panel and to BBC Management.

CAABU Director, Chris Doyle commented on this said that "Much of what the panel has concluded is reasonable and fair and reflects many of the points that CAABU has consistently been making to highest levels of BBC News Management. We hope that the BBC will try to rectify many of the points raised. Only by doing that will concerns about the partiality of their coverage be erased. When research consistently shows that fatalities from one side of a conflict, the party that has by far the least number, are more frequently covered, then this must raise alarm bells."

The panel quite correctly highlighted that there was little reporting of the difficulties faced by Palestinians in their daily lives. It noted that there was a "failure to convey adequately the disparity in theIsraeli and Palestinian experience, reflecting the fact that one side is in control and the other lives under occupation." The frequent absence of this key term, occupation, has also been a continuing and serious concern of CAABU's.

The panel also pointed to the need for more historical context and background, a point backed up by Loughborough University's content analysis. The content analysis also backed the claims that 1) Israeli fatalities were given more coverage than Palestinian ones. 2) Israeli spokesmen were given more talk time than Palestinians 3) Many stories were treated as internal Israeli stories such as the Gaza Disengagement. 4) BBC Journalists generally did not provide historical context in their reporting of the conflict.

These were points that CAABU has been making continually to BBC Management and indeed to this panel. We hope that the BBC will take careful note of these as issues that need to be addressed urgently. Moreover given the seriousness of the findings, they should have been given more prominence in the Independent Panel's report.

There was also the issue of the use of the term "terrorism". If the BBC decides to use this term more frequently, then CAABU hopes that it will remember that there have been acts of Israeli terrorism and that these should also be labelled as such. CAABU will be preparing its own response to the panel's findings.


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