BBC: AIDS ribbon not allowed, PSC t-shirt fine

Courtesy of the Telegraph comes the curious news that chat show host Graham Norton was reprimanded by the BBC for wearing a World AIDS Day ribbon on his show. 

“Mark Linsey, the controller of Entertainment Commissioning, said although it was aware World Aids Day was something “Graham cared passionately about” he should not have worn the ribbon.

He said: “World Aids Day is an issue which Graham cares passionately about and he did wear a World Aids Day insignia on his programme. However, this is in breach of BBC Guidelines.

“The production company has been contacted and reminded that he cannot do this and Graham has accepted he was wrong to do so.

“The BBC has been assured it will not occur again.” “

A BBC article on the same subject cites the following clause from the editorial guidelines as the rationale for the decision to reprimand Graham Norton:

“Editorial guidelines state: “The BBC must remain independent and distanced from government initiatives, campaigners, charities and their agendas, no matter how apparently worthy the cause or how much their message appears to be accepted or uncontroversial.” “

The article also states that:

“Wearing poppies in support of the Royal British Legion is the one exception.”

Readers may remember that last February the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Tony Greenstein appeared on the BBC programme ‘The Big Questions’ wearing a PSC t-shirt and badge. A member of the public who complained was told by the BBC that:

“Tony Greenstein was expressing his views on Israel and the Palestinians, as were other contributors, so his clothing was another form of expression in this regard.”

So to sum up, a ribbon in support of a disease-battling campaign which has a worldwide consensus and is promoted by the UN cannot be worn by a BBC presenter, but a t-shirt and badge promoting a terrorist supporting, opaquely-funded political campaign can be worn by an invited guest on a BBC programme.

Those are very bizarre interpretations of the BBC’s guidelines.  

9 comments on “BBC: AIDS ribbon not allowed, PSC t-shirt fine

  1. Pingback: BBC News at 10 advertises Israel hate organisation from Mandela memorial event in Johannesburg. | RichardMillett's Blog

  2. I don’t see a contradiction here. The BBC guidelines have to do with neutrality on the part of the BBC and so are only applicable to their own staff. Tony Greenstein was a guest, not an employee of the BBC, so what wore could not be construed as reflecting the position of the BBC (which is, regrettably, disturbingly close to his.)

  3. Pingback: BBC News at 10 advertises Israel hate organisation from Mandela memorial event in Johannesburg | BBC Watch

  4. Mr Sela said:

    “So to sum up, a ribbon in support of a disease-battling campaign which has a worldwide consensus and is promoted by the UN cannot be worn by a BBC presenter, but a t-shirt and badge promoting a terrorist supporting, opaquely-funded political campaign can be worn by an invited guest on a BBC programme. Those are very bizarre interpretations of the BBC’s guidelines.”

    Actually, it makes perfect sense to interpret the BBC guidelines in such a way.

    The BBC presenter might be construed by the public as representing the BBC as a whole. Therefore,it is natural for the BBC to not want its presenters to seem partisan to anything, as the BBC guidelines that you quoted inform us.

    On the other hand, the invited guest to a BBC program won’t be construed by the public as a representative of the BBC, so she might be allowed signs of partisanship – within the limits of the Law and common decency, of course.

    So the distinction between presenter and guest is very relevant, the BBC has to be far more cautious with signs of partisanship on the part of its presenters than with signs of partisanship on the part of its invited guests.

    I think your present criticism of the BBC is wholly undue – one could call it “curious” or “bizarre” (or just plain “biased”).

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