BBC ad­mits Ra­dio 4 er­ror over Is­rael

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THE BBC Trust has up­held a com­plaint of inac­cu­racy against Ra­dio 4’s To­day pro­gramme over Is­raeli set­tle­ments.

Zion­ist Fed­er­a­tion mem­ber Stephen Franklin took is­sue with an item broad­cast on the pro­gramme on Septem­ber 27 last year.

Pre­sen­ter John Humphrys had stated: “At mid­night last night, the mora­to­rium on Is­raelis build­ing new set­tle­ments in the West Bank came to an end. It had lasted for ten months. What hap­pens now? The ques­tion mat­ters enor­mously be­cause the Pales­tini­ans have al­ways said there can be no real peace agree­ment while the Is­raelis are, as they see it, seiz­ing their land.”

But Mr Franklin com­plained that this was in­ac­cu­rate and mis­lead­ing be­cause the mora­to­rium had been lifted only on build­ing within ex­ist­ing set­tle­ments, while re­main­ing in force for new set­tle­ments.

His com­plaint was orig­i­nally re­jected by the BBC Au­di­ence Ser­vices and then by Editorial Com­plaints Unit. But it was partly up­held on grounds of ac­cu­racy by the Trust’s Editorial Stan­dards Com­mit­tee.

In its rul­ing, the com­mit­tee said: “This was a topic which par­tic­u­larly de­mands ac­cu­racy and pre­ci­sion in or­der for the au­di­ence to be wellinformed. The com­mit­tee con­cluded that, given the au­thor­ity and re­sources of the To­day pro­gramme on Ra­dio 4, it was rea­son­able to ex­pect that its out­put would be couched in clear and pre­cise lan­guage and that the pro­gramme had not been in this in­stance.”

But it found that there was no ev­i­dence that the pro­gramme had know­ingly mis­led its au­di­ence.

How­ever, Mr Franklin is not sat­is­fied. He said that it was “ab­surd that the BBC Trust con­sider the fault in ac­cu­racy to be one of fail­ure to present out­put in clear, pre­cise lan­guage. The lan­guage was clear and pre­cise and un­true.”

He added: “Is­rael is blamed by both gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion MPs and by much of the pub­lic for the stale­mate in the peace process and they are par­tic­u­larly an­gry that, as the To­day pro­gramme led them to mis­guid­edly be­lieve, Is­rael has re­sumed build­ing new set­tle­ments.”

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