August 28 2018, 12:01am,
The Times (£)
Since its first broadcast almost 90 years ago the BBC has become a significant player on the global media stage. Funded mostly by the UK taxpayer, it generated about £5 billion in income from licence fees and BBC products last year. More than £300 million of that is from Scottish viewers, entitling us to expect impartiality and accuracy.
The BBC’s unique mandate means that it is supposed to operate according to strict editorial rules, including five public purposes, the first “to provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them”. When it comes to the BBC’s coverage of Israel, this purpose is clearly not being met: coverage is neither impartial nor informative.
Today the Confederation of Friends of Israel in Scotland (Cofis) will back a UK campaign to raise awareness of BBC bias against Israel. There are numerous examples of the BBC’s editorial rules being breached but let’s focus on one: the frequent rocket attacks that Israel faces on its southern border.
In the two years to August 2018 the BBC reported on eight occasions that rockets had been fired into Israel. Seven reports led with Israel’s military response to the attack rather than the original attack on Israel, which could give the impression that Israel instigated the attacks. On only one occasion did the BBC correctly reference the chronology.
During that same period, there were 19 other rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza by Hamas and other terrorist factions, and four attacks on Israel by Isis from the Sinai. The BBC did not report any of them, denying context on who is provoking the violence. There is strong concern that the BBC’s misreporting generates hostility towards UK Jewish communities.
There is no mechanism to contact the BBC board to complain, despite the fact that it is accountable for all of the BBC’s activities. With this in mind, we would urge licence fee payers across Scotland to contact their MPs and MSPs and press them to relay their concerns to the chairman of the BBC board.
In a world increasingly concerned at the rise of “fake news” we should be able to expect that the public news service that we pay for is scrupulously impartial and accurate. Only then will it be fit for service.