Having sent the BBC our latest in-depth analysis of its Israel coverage, we have yet to receive a direct response. However, this didn’t stop the BBC from making the following statement to the UK’s Jewish Chronicle:
It’s not uncommon to hear these sorts of findings from pressure groups but our role is to provide independent reporting and analysis of all perspectives of a story, so our audiences can make sense of what’s going on themselves.
The independent panel set up by our board of governors found no deliberate or systematic bias in the BBC coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Our study showed that the BBC certainly does not “provide independent reporting and analysis of all perspectives of a story” as its spokeswoman claims. We also take issue with the BBC’s instant dismissal of HonestReporting, which is viewed by the BBC as a “pressure group”. Once again the BBC’s standard response to criticism is to shoot the messenger rather than address the message.
It is disingenuous and hypocritical to dismiss HonestReporting’s study of BBC bias on the grounds that we are a “pressure group”. How many times does the BBC rely upon non-governmental organizations and other politicized groups for stories and statistics on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Why are groups that are portrayed as “pro-Israel” not deemed credible by the BBC while Arab-Israeli organizations and human rights groups with an anti-Israel agenda are constantly quoted in BBC reports, as we have shown in our own studies?
Many of you also put in your own complaints to the BBC using our material. One such response from the BBC contained the following:
We’re committed to honest, unbiased reporting and are determined to remain free from influence by outside parties, whether political or lobbyists. Our Corporation’s Charter and Agreement allows us independence from political pressure and the licence fee gives us independence from advertising, shareholder or other commercial interests. Impartiality forms the cornerstone of BBC News and Current Affairs and we’ve nothing to gain by weighting our coverage in political terms or by allowing influence from any other outside body.
However, it isn’t always possible or practical to reflect all the different opinions on a subject within individual programmes. Editors are charged to ensure that over a reasonable period they reflect the range of significant views, opinions and trends in their subject area. The BBC doesn’t seek to denigrate any view or to promote any view. It seeks rather to identify all significant views, and to test them rigorously and fairly on behalf of the audience. Among other evidence, audience research indicates widespread confidence in the impartiality of the BBC’s reporting.
If, indeed, “editors are charged to ensure that over a reasonable period they reflect the range of significant views, opinions and trends in their subject area”, why then have HonestReporting’s studies consistently found this not to be the case? Why can the BBC not refute our latest analysis? And if the BBC is interested in reporting on significant trends, why, as our study reveals, does it fail to report on continuing Palestinian incitement and glorification of terror?