UK Media: The Israel Line or The Bottom Line?

BBC license feeIf 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:

  1. He’s Jewish.
  2. He supports Israel.
  3. His former paper, the Times of London, had more balanced coverage of Israel than the BBC could ever imagine.
  4. 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