BBC admits Radio 4 error over Israel
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.”