How to complain to the BBC

By Naomi Foyle

I am currently at the fourth stage of a complaint to the BBC about the outrageously imbalanced Jan Newsnight report by Col Tim Collins, described as the ‘Celebrated Iraq war veteran’s view of the Gaza conflict’. I have so far been met with only doublespeak and the most stunning manipulation of both my own language and Collins’. I will post separately about the progress of this complaint, but for now I would like to give this advice to any one complaining to the BBC.

1) Numbers count. Apparently if more than 20 people complain about a programme, they have to take it seriously. I know several other people who complained about the Collins’ report, and that has undoubtedly helped me. In cases of Offense, numbers in particular count, so joint-signatories to a complaint of being offended by a programme would be useful.

2) Don’t give up. It was only after contacting the BBC twice – one phone call and one letter – that I was invited to complain directly to the Editorial Complaints Unit. I won’t post the address, as the BBC has a clear three stage complaints process, but if you persist they will invite you to complain to the ECU as well.

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Panorama – Gaza: Out of the Ruins

[see the rest of the clips after the jump]

The BBC’s Panorama program is typically loaded with Israeli Government propaganda such as saying Hamas provoked Israel, rather than Israel provoking Hamas; it also fails to provide adequate context about who broke the ceasefire and the illegal military occupation and blockading of Gaza, hardly an ‘impartial’ way to frame events.
Continue reading “Panorama – Gaza: Out of the Ruins”

Sanctions on Al Jazeera’s Israel Operations

According to Haaretz:

The government will impose sanctions on Israel-based employees of the Al Jazeera network in response to the closure last month of the Israeli trade office in Qatar, which hosts and funds the network. Qatar had closed the office in opposition to Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Following the closure, the Foreign Ministry, in conjunction with the newly-formed national information directorate in the Prime Minister’s Office, considered declaring the station a hostile entity and closing its offices in Israel. After submitting the idea to legal review, however, concerns emerged it would not be permitted by the High Court of Justice.

Instead, it chose to limit the network’s activity in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. First, Israel will not renew the visas of Al Jazeera’s non-Israeli employees or grant visas to new employees. Second, station representatives will have reduced accessibility to government and military bodies, and will not be allowed into briefings or press conferences.

Israeli officials have recently criticized Qatar’s warming relations with Hamas and Iran. Foreign Ministry director-general Aharon Abramowitz told attendees at the Herzliya Conference on Monday that Qatar is moving toward a “radical axis.”

The supposed “democratic” Israeli government has little care for democratic principles, here trying to reduce press freedom. Clearly banning Western journalists from Gaza wasn’t enough to prevent images of Israeli acts of massacre being transmitted globally.  This is a problem for the Foreign Ministry and the propaganda outfit the national [dis-] information directorate and their solution is further unfreedom: try and ban those responsible, namely Al Jazeera.

Fear not as the BBC explains all:

Continue reading “Sanctions on Al Jazeera’s Israel Operations”

BBC’s Mark Thompson Soft on Israel?

In 2005 the Independent reported speculation in the Israeli press that BBC director general Mark Thompson intended to build bridges with the Israeli political class.  This could help to explain Thompsons position on aid to Gaza, after all, they’ve broadcast appeals for victims of other conflicts without worry about impartiality.  Could Marks personal interest be what makes this one special?

BBC chief defends Gaza decision (11:59) | MP3

The BBC is often accused of an anti-Israeli bias in its coverage of the Middle East, and recently censured reporter Barbara Plett for saying she “started to cry” when Yasser Arafat left Palestine shortly before his death.

Fascinating, then, to learn that its director general, Mark Thompson, has recently returned from Jerusalem, where he held a face-to-face meeting with the hardine Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Although the diplomatic visit was not publicised on these shores, it has been seized upon in Israel as evidence that Thompson, who took office in 2004, intends to build bridges with the country’s political class.

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Al Jazeera: Robert Fisk on Gaza

Robert Fisk on Al Jazeera maintaining that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 is central to the issue of justice and therefore peace in the region.  Could you imagine such frankness on the BBC?  They’d probably call it the disputed dispossession if they ever mentioned it.

Just as an example lets look at the main article, by Jeremy Bowen, in a section on the BBC website titled Israel at 60.  Discussing 1948, Bowen states:

The reasons why the refugees left their homes are still bitterly contested, by historians as well as by leaders and activists.

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Another Chorister for Israel

Electronic Intifada, 6 January 2009; Counterpunch, 7 January 2009; Adbusters, January 2009; Arab Media Watch, 6 January 2009

Nidal El-Khairy

On February 29 last year the BBC’s website reported that Israel’s deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai had threated a ‘holocaust’ on Gaza.  The story would undergo nine revisions in the next twelve hours with the original headline —  “Israel warns of Gaza ‘holocaust'”– replaced by “Gaza militants ‘risking disaster’“. (The story has been revised again since then with an exculpatory note added to soft-pedal Vilnai’s comments). One can see why an Israeli threatening a ‘holocaust’ might be unpalatable to those who routinely invoke its spectre to deflect criticism from the Jewish state’s criminal behaviour. In a deft move, not only had the BBC redacted the reference to a ‘holocaust’, it also shifted culpability into the hands of the ‘Gaza militants’.

One could argue that the BBC’s radical alteration of the story reflects its susceptibility to the kind of inordinate pressure routinely brought to bear by the Israel Lobby. But, as subsequent examples reveal, this story is exceptional only for its initial candor. The norm is reflexive self-censorship. Continue reading “Another Chorister for Israel”