We’ve mon­i­tored the BBC — now we want to in­flu­ence its fu­ture

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY HADAR SELA

STUD­IES BY groups such as the Com­mu­nity Se­cu­rity Trust and the All-Party Par­lia­men­tary Group against An­tisemitism fol­low­ing last year’s Gaza con­flict high­lighted the in­escapable con­nec­tion be­tween me­dia cov­er­age of a war thou­sands of miles away and an­ti­semitic in­ci­dents in Bri­tain.

In July this year, Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron made a speech out­lin­ing the gov­ern­ment’s five-year strat­egy for deal­ing with ex­trem­ism. In it he raised is­sues in­clud­ing the pro­mo­tion of con­spir­acy the­o­ries re­lat­ing to Is­rael and Jews, and the dis­sem­i­na­tion of an­ti­semitic tropes.

With its un­par­al­leled out­reach and world­wide in­flu­ence, the BBC has an ob­vi­ous obli­ga­tion to ex­er­cise re­spon­si­bil­ity re­gard­ing th­ese is­sues.

The up­com­ing re­view of the BBC’s char­ter presents a once-in-a-decade op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress the ques­tion of whether that obli­ga­tion is be­ing met, and to ex­am­ine the wider ef­fects of BBC cov­er­age of Is­rael, Jews and an­tisemitism on com­mu­nity co­he­sion in Bri­tain.

BBC Watch — an af­fil­i­ate of the Com­mit­tee for Ac­cu­racy in Mid­dle East Re­port­ing in Amer­ica (Cam­era) — is ded­i­cated to the pro­mo­tion of ac­cu­racy and im­par­tial­ity in the BBC’s cov­er­age of Is­rael.

Three years of daily mon­i­tor­ing of BBC con­tent has pro­duced a wealth of doc­u­men­ta­tion that is rel­e­vant to the char­ter re­view process.

Anal­y­sis of BBC con­tent has raised con­cerns, in­clud­ing one about the ac­cu­racy of re­port­ing. One re­cent ex­am­ple was the pro­mo­tion of the false no­tion that the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment in­tended to change the sta­tus quo on Tem­ple Mount, broad­cast on BBC World Ser­vice ra­dio on Septem­ber 13 by BBC Ara­bic’s Nawal As­sad.

He told mil­lions of lis­ten­ers: “The Is­raeli gov­ern­ment seems like it’s go­ing to­wards a sit­u­a­tion where there would be shared times of prayers in that area which Mus­lims con­sider to be their third holi­est mosque.”

BBC Watch’s pro­pos­als have been sub­mit­ted to the Com­mons Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport Com­mit­tee BBC Char­ter Re­view In­quiry and will be pre­sented at an event in Par­lia­ment next week. Mem­bers of the pub­lic will have the chance to hear about th­ese pro­pos­als at a panel dis­cus­sion in north Lon­don on Novem­ber 10 (de­tails at http://bit. ly/1KVJbuY).

Char­ter re­view presents a once-ina-decade op­por­tu­nity

Hadar Sela is BBC Watch man­ag­ing editor

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