The information you have requested is excluded from the [Freedom of Information] Act because it is held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature.’ The BBC is therefore not obliged to provide this information to you and will not be doing so on this occasion. Part VI of Schedule 1 to FOIA provides that information held by the BBC and the other public service broadcasters is only covered by the Act if it is held for “purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature”. The BBC is not required to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities.
Put simply, the BBC is able to hide behind a shield if it can loosely claim that the information requested is covered by journalistic license.
As a public service broadcaster funded by UK license fee payers, the BBC should be held accountable. Certainly when it comes to the BBC’s institutional bias towards Israel, this media behemoth has managed to evade attempts to bring it to book.
Will the latest dramatic developments at the BBC force the winds of change to come sweeping through the BBC’s news and current affairs operation?
Or is it more likely that the BBC’s poisonous drip feed of anti-Israel reporting has ensured that the UK public no longer cares if Israel is the wronged party?
While “Auntie Beeb”, as the BBC is affectionately referred to, attempts to rebuild trust with its viewers and listeners, it’s sadly unlikely that reporting on Israel will be a significant factor in any reforms.
That shouldn’t stop us from imagining though.
Lord Patten has called for a “thorough, radical, structural overhaul” of the BBC. Coverage of Israel isn’t the only part of the BBC that needs reforming and transparency. But it is symptomatic of some of the worst institutional biases at the heart of the organization.
BBC, it’s time to come clean – release the Balen Report and start to fix the problems that have been so evident for so long.