2003 and relations between the BBC and the Israeli government had broken down, concurrently relations between the BBC and the British government of Tony Blair were also strained over the lies of the Iraq war. The Jewish Chronicle-
14/11/2003 THE BBC’s appointment this week of a top broadcasting figure to oversee its Mideast coverage was welcomed by Israeli and Jewish community leaders as a recognition of their protests over alleged anti-Israel bias.
In an unprecedented move, the corporation named Malcolm Balen, a former editor of the “Nine O’Clock News,” to monitor its coverage of the region.
A BBC spokesman said Mr Balen, appointed by head of news Richard Sambrook and World Service chief Mark Byford, would “build our relations with all people in the Middle East.” He would also be a “point of contact” for viewers and listeners.
The move came in the wake of a series of meetings in recent months, in both London and Jerusalem, involving Israeli officials, figures from the British Jewish community, and top BBC representatives.
Relations have been increasingly strained amid accusations that BBC coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the Iraq war, and other Middle East issues has been slanted against Israel.
Relations hit a low earlier this year when BBC representatives were barred from briefings during Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s London visit, and Israeli leaders refused to appear on BBC programmes.
The Chronicle are excited by the post Hutton tamed BBC and by the new Balen brand-
14/11/2003 WHAT exactly prodded the BBC’s extraordinary move to name Malcolm Balen, a respected broadcasting veteran, to oversee its Mideast coverage is impossible to say with certainty. Israeli and Jewish community spokesmen clearly see the appointment as a sign that their long campaign against “Beeb bias” has borne fruit — that the corporation recognises that its coverage has been slanted against Israel.
BBC officials, by contrast, seem at pains to portray the move as an effort to address concerns on all sides of the conflict. Unspoken, but not necessarily unimportant, is a third possible catalyst: complaints from the British government over BBC broadcasts on the war in Iraq, the debates that preceded it, and the controversies which have followed. Whatever the origin of the BBC decision, it is welcome.
How nice, the cowed BBC simultaneously less antagonistic towards Blair (now of course peace envoy to the region, a peace envoy who has yet to visit Gaza) and Israel. The BBC have fought long to keep the report Malcolm Balen wrote about BBC coverage of Israel & Palestine secret, the idea put about by Israel friendly/BBC antagonistic media is that it found the BBC biased against Israel, at least in Balen’s eyes. We don’t know though, some vague mentions of context being more important could point either way. Although his judgement when asked about an independent report –Bad News from Israel– that found BBC bias in favour of Israel was to dismiss it before even reading it. So that and subsequent BBC coverage suggest the rumoured appraisal is correct. Then there is the hush-hush trip BBC director general Mark Thompson made to Israel to hang with Ariel Sharon (in fairness he ‘held talks’ with Abbas, although should the BBC DG follow the US & UK lead at the time and not talk to Hamas? Now that’s an interesting understanding of independence and impartiality). It’s possible to see BBC management becoming too accommodating to Israel (and its US and UK elite allies) a blindness which is resulting in the shameful banning of the DEC appeal.
Alex Brummer in 2003, the city editor of the Daily Mail also earning a crust writing opinion in the Jewish Chronicle, displays the allegiances of those who have pushed the BBC to this shameful state of affairs-
Slowly but surely we are moving towards a new BBC. In the year or so since government scientist and Iraq-expert David Kelly took his own life, sparking an official inquiry, the corporation has been turned on its head.
Listeners and viewers may yet find it difficult to detect changes. It may also be that the politically correct views of BBC reporters take time to adjust. But, as a result of the changes to management and news leadership, there could be, over time, a return to the Reithian values of quality and fairness which many ob-servers feared had been abandoned.
Ooh, just feel the Daily Mailian pomposity and flowery prose (Reithian, give me strength) of pretending doing the warmongering governments of the world’s bidding is quality and fairness. He goes on (oh does he ever)-
But as head of the World Service, with its reach into the developing countries, Sambrook’s new role will be equally important. We know from the UN General Assembly vote on implementation of the International Court of Justice ruling on Israel’s security barrier how much work there is to be done if a more balanced interpretation of Israel’s objectives is to be achieved.
It is an uphill task. The disputed barrier is still routinely referred to on BBC news output as a security “wall,” even though only a few of the hundreds of kilometres are solid concrete. In a recent “World This Weekend” broadcast on Radio 4, the presenter referred to the barrier as “Ariel Sharon’s wall.” Yet the plans for the barrier were first drawn up by the IDF and the intelligence services when Labour was in power.
In the struggles which the BBC faces as the charter review looms in 2006, coverage of the broader Middle East is likely to play an important role. After all, it was Alastair Campbell’s war of attrition during the Iraq war, when he bombarded Dyke and the governors with a series of complaints about the failure of the Beeb to provide full-on support for the war effort, which triggered the events which eventually led to the Kelly tragedy and the shake-up at the top.
Oh and he, er, likes the Dubya-
21/11/2003 He [Roger Mosey] regards being “impartial about President George Bush,” this week’s state visitor to Britain, as something to crow about. The assumption in this is that it is having to bend over backwards to be fair to the American leader.
But why? Mr Bush is, after all, the elected leader of the free world, the protector of Britain’s security through NATO, and a vitally important economic partner. There is no need to work on impartiality — just report the US President as he is, unadorned.
It must be love! The Blair lies of Iraq and the pressure to acquiesce to the Israeli lobby and to the Bush cabal (counter)-revolutionised the BBC. Such that in 2009 management were able to convince themselves airing a charity appeal for the casualties of war is a bias against the poor beleaguered …aggressor.
PS. The ‘Kelly tragedy’ was found likely a homicide after an investigation by Norman Baker MP.