If the BBC wants to win over the Jewish community, it’ll have a lot of work to do. An Institute for Jewish Policy Research survey (pdf format) found that a whopping 80 percent of UK Jews believe the Beeb is biased against Israel.
Because the BBC is significantly supported by households paying an annual £145.50 license fee (which is becoming irrelevant thanks to online catch-up), new BBC executives know they have to keep their customers happy.
Which brings us to James Harding, the BBC’s new director of news. Can he make a difference with the network’s institutional bias against Israel? He has four hopeful things going for him:
- He’s Jewish.
- He supports Israel.
- His former paper, the Times of London, had more balanced coverage of Israel than the BBC could ever imagine.
- Harding’s most important bona fide is that The Guardian (via The Commentator) is already worried about him. Lisa O’Carroll writes:
Harding, who is Jewish, will also have to leave behind the pro-Israeli line of the Times. In a debate at the Jewish Community Centre For London in 2011, Harding said “I am pro-Israel” and that in reporting on the Middle East, “I haven’t found it too hard” because “the Times has been pro-Israel for a long time”. However, he also stressed the need for balanced news reporting and said he was also in favour of a Palestinian state.
Perhaps The Guardian’s more concerned about its bottom line than its Israel line: Every day, UK taxpayers pay for 60,000 copies of The Guardian delivered to the Beeb.
Image: CC BY-SA HonestReporting, Flickr/Images_of_Money