Sunday 21 April 2013

"Is the BBC biased against Israel?"

As per an article in the Jewish Chronicle, a survey by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) has found that an overwhelming majority of Jews in the United Kingdom believe that the BBC is biased against Israel in its news coverage.

You can read the full report here

JPR's summary of this part of the report runs as follows:
The vast majority of respondents (four out of five) considered BBC News’s coverage to be biased against Israel. Respondents who supported the Conservative Party were twice as likely to perceive the BBC as being ‘heavily biased’ against Israel as Labour Party supporters. Further, self-defined ‘Religious’ respondents were more likely than ‘Secular’ respondents to consider the BBC to be biased. On the other hand, respondents with higher levels of educational attainment were less likely to consider the BBC’s news coverage to be biased than those with lower level or no qualifications.
The figures as regards BBC bias break down in this way:

36% believe the BBC is heavily biased against Israel
43% believe the BBC is somewhat biased against Israel
14% believe the BBC's coverage is balanced
3% believe the BBC's coverage favours Israel

Despite this, the BBC continues to be the go-to source for news for British Jews:
The BBC was by far the most important provider of terrestrial and online news among respondents to the survey. BBC TV news was viewed by nine out of ten people in the week prior to the survey and the BBC’s online news service was viewed by one out of two — no other online news source was nearly as popular.
88% viewed BBC News, compared to only 49% for ITN and 44% for both Channel 4 and Sky News, according to JPR's survey.

The figures for newspaper readership are just as interesting. The question posed was, “In the last 7 days, which newspapers, if any, have you read?”:

The Times/Sunday Times - 46%
The Evening Standard - 26%
The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday - 24%
The Guardian/Observer - 22%
The Daily Telegraph/Sunday Telegraph - 21%
Metro - 19%
The Independent/Independent on Sunday - 7%
The Sun - 6%

The report's author, David Graham, notes a couples of caveats. The first is that the survey was conducted in 2010, and that things may have changed since. The second is that as the original survey was specifically about attitudes towards Israel, the "data may over-represent individuals with an interest in politics and international affairs."


  1. This is a no-win situation as far as 'relevance to public opinion' is concerned.

    The British Jews who see the BBC as biased against Israel will fall into the ‘they would say that wouldn’t they” category, (and on the Richard Ingrams principle their views would be disregarded.)
    On the other hand, Jews who think the BBC is balanced or pro Israel must be pretty uninterested in this topic, in exactly the same way as your average uninterested, perhaps complacent, non-Jew who thinks the BBC is balanced or pro Israel. Then there are your active pro-Palestinian sympathisers (some of whom are Jews) who perceive anything less than outright condemnation of Israel as ‘pro Israel.’

    Since pro-Israel views (critical of the BBC) held by non-Jews are ‘worth more’ than similar views held by Jews, this survey would have been more significant if it had questioned the man on the Clapham omnibus.
    Then there would probably be a different outcome, which would still prove nothing very much.

  2. Perhaps the BBC journalists get their biases straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

    BBC Country profile on the Palestinian territories.

    I don't know how but this has slipped under radar. In 2005 I submitted a point-by-point fisking of the then current Israel and the Palestinian territories Country profile to the BBC Israeli-Palestinian Impartiality Review. The profile improved considerably (not necessarily due to me) but the new Palestine territories profile is every bit as bad as the 2005 profile was.

    Five Minutes for Israel has a line-by-line, picture-by-picture fisking of the profiles corresponding to the categories the BBC gives:
    Comes with the territory - Overview
    Facts with the territory - Facts
    The One-eyed is King - Leaders
    Massaging the media - Media

    It makes very involved reading and possibly a bit dry but more than any single article that eventually disappears the country profiles are presented as neutral, factual and basic information for understanding. They remain essentially for ever and who knows how many politicians, students, educators and even BBC journalists rely on them?


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