The BBC has 26,000 employees, a budget of $7.9 billion (slightly less than half from British TV license fees), and broadcasts by domestic radio and television, shortwave, satellite and Internet. It has a huge audience, in the hundreds of millions of listeners, viewer, and readers (the World Service alone had 150 million listeners in 2001). It’s probably safe to say that the BBC is the world’s most influential news medium.
It has been consistently anti-Israel, in some cases subtly and in some cases not so subtly. A search of the HonestReporting site (a pro-Israel media watchdog) turns up no less than 85 entries for the BBC, including several annual “dishonest reporting” awards.
The “Beeb” has just won a lawsuit to keep secret an internal report which examined its Middle East reporting for bias. One assumes that they wouldn’t have spent a huge amount in legal fees to hide it if it made them look good!
Now Robin Aitken, a well-known journalist who worked for the organization for more than 25 years has written a book called “Can we trust the BBC?” What he wrote about the BBC and the Palestinians seemed particularly apt:
My view is that the Palestinians and the Palestinian leadership is the architect of its own misfortune in many ways. Whereas, what comes across from the BBC’s presentation of events in Palestine and the Middle East generally, is that in some ways, the Palestinians are a put-upon victim minority, and it’s the beastly Israelis who are doing the dirty to them.
And you know, that is not a fair presentation of the position. Because the Israelis are militarily strong and successful, and the Palestinians aren’t, I think the BBC allows that too much to play at its judgment, so that what comes across is too much sympathy, if you will, for the Palestinians, too little appreciation of the rights of Israel, and also too little recognition of the fact that Israel is a functioning democracy in a way that Palestine isn’t, and nor is any Arab-dominated Middle Eastern state, and not enough credit is given for that in my view.