Overview of Five Semi-Legal Studies about BBC News malpractices by Take-A-Pen to the Impartiality Review on BBC's Israeli-Palestinian coverage.
In media-watch circles, worried and upset about the BBC News' reporting being so heavily biased against Israel, it used to be well-known that the BBC News operating management routinely ignored, if not arrogantly rejected, any complaint, be it as scholarly researched as the world-famous Bbcwatch Reports. The BBC's new Board of Directors in 2004 attempted to improve the situation by appointing a Readers' Editor to follow the complaints, but the new post remained under the operating management and short of anything of an independent ombudsman.
In 2005 Take-A-Pen decided on a non-compromising line of criticism of the BBC News's policy regarding the Middle East; their politicized reporting and pro-terrorism bias. We completed and published a few semi-legal inquiries, based on British Law, one of them into a most sensitive and painful question: "Whether heavy bias and other malpractices of the BBC News in their coverage and political commentaries of the Arab-Israeli conflict may, in the most severe cases, constitute Complicity with Terrorism?"
In April 2005 I sent this to the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the BBC, and in my letter I suggested co-operation in finding a true answer (my letter attached here). From the BBC organization I received several legal threats. But the Chairman of the Board Mr Michael Grade responded positively (also attached) promising to launch an independent Impartiality Review of the BBC's Israeli-Palestinian coverage, in the second half of 2005. He also sent me his speech given a day before on "The Future of Impartiality" - a sincerely devoted document to the principle of impartiality. Mr Grade kept his word, appointed an independent Review Panel which launched the BBC News Impartiality Review in Sept. 2005.
By the deadline in November Take-A-Pen sent five submissions to the BBC News Impartiality Review Panel. The first one was about this piercing question: 'Can the absolutely false statements about the 'Jenin massacre by Israel' what the BBC News repeated hundreds of times to hundreds of million people, for six months after the truth was known, constitute a 'blood libel'?
All of Take-A-Pen's five Submissions are until now on our website http://www.take-a-pen.org/ :
Submission IV is on our website also in other languages, from Finnish ( BBC - osallinen terrorismiin?) through Spanish (Es la BBC complice del terrorismo? ) and Russian ( БиБиСи - соучастница террористов?) to Dutch (BBC - medeplichtig aan terreur?)
Take-A-Pen might have contributed to the BBC Board's decision to start the whole Impartiality Review, and probably also to its results. The BBC Board's Report (May 2006) contains limited and understated self-criticism only. We hope, however, that it is a modest start of a positive process in the BBC News - from bias to balance. (E.M. -15/5/2006)