‘Hardtalk’: a test case for BBC claims of ‘equal coverage’

As has been noted here previously, on July 5th – three days before Operation Protective Edge commenced – the BBC’s World Editor Andrew Roy appeared on the World Service’s ‘Outside Source’ programme to explain how the BBC ensures equal coverage of what the programme termed “Israel-Palestine”.Hardtalk Osama Hamdan

Andrew Roy: “Well we try to look at the entirety of our coverage. We’re not minute counting. We are ensuring that across the whole thing we can look back on our coverage of this and say we did give fair balance to each side. So it’s not a minute by minute thing, no.” […]

Presenter: “When you get people complaining that they feel one side has been given more air-time or more favour than the other, what do you do?”

Andrew Roy: “We answer them by giving them the evidence that we’ve tried to put the other side as often as we can.”

Since the beginning of this year the BBC World News programme ‘Hardtalk’ has conducted interviews with numerous people in connection with the Palestinian – Israeli conflict or touching on that issue as part of the conversation.

The year kicked off with a repeat of an interview with anti-Israel activist Roger Waters on January 1st.  

The following month the programme hosted the PLO’s Saeb Erekat on February 18th and Israel’s Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett on February 24th.

On April 28th the programme’s guest was Ahmed Kathrada and part of that interview was devoted to the topic of his anti-Israel activism.Hardtalk Yasser Abed Rabbo

June 30th saw an interview with the anti-Zionist campaigner and academic Ilan Pappe.  

The next month saw interviews with former Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold on July 8th, Hamas’ spokesman Osama Hamdan on July 10th, Israel’s former deputy Defence Minister Danny Danon on July 24th and Hamas political bureau leader Khaled Masha’al on July 25th.

On August 18th ‘Hardtalk’ interviewed anti-Israel activist Mads Gilbert and on August 28th Israel’s Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz appeared on the programme.

September 1st saw Stephen Sackur interviewing the Secretary General of the PLO’s Executive Committee Yasser Abed Rabbo and on the next day, September 2nd, Sackur’s guest was journalist Gideon Levy.

Since the beginning of the year, therefore, regular viewers of ‘Hardtalk’ have seen interviews with four guests presenting a mainstream Israeli point of view – three politicians and a former Ambassador. They have also heard from two members of Hamas and two representatives of the PLO. In addition, they have viewed interviews with three foreign anti-Israel campaigners and two Israelis: one of whom is also an anti-Israel campaigner and neither of whom can be said to represent the mainstream Israeli viewpoint. 

Can ‘Hardtalk’ producers look back at that content and honestly say – as Andrew Roy claims – “we did give fair balance to each side”?

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‘From Our Own Correspondent’: a test case for BBC claims of ‘equal coverage’



9 comments on “‘Hardtalk’: a test case for BBC claims of ‘equal coverage’

  1. Abbas, not Netanyahu, killed peace negotiations when he announced that he would never recognize Israel as the Jewish State. That recognition is essential if there is to be real peace.

  2. Perhaps you can suggest three ‘Moderate Muslims’ who promote an anti Arab side as Ilan Pappe, Giedeon Levy and Roger Walters all promote an anti Zionist viewpoint and suggest them to Sackur.

    If no anti Muslim practising Muslims can be found, perhaps Ayaan Hershi would be a good choice. A very good choice in fact.

    Or Denis MacEoin. Now there’s a Goy with an overwhelming positive view of the (evil, evil) Zionist Entity.

  3. Meanwhile, a trio of beeboids, including director-general Lord Tony Hall and head of news James Harding appeared before the Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday to explain the BBC’s helicopter news coverage of the police raid on the home of pop singer Sir Cliff Richard over allegations of child rape. Advance notice of the raid had been given by South Yorkshire police to the BBC in what the committee described as a “sweetheart” deal.


    The whole process casts the BBC in a ghastly light, although, to the prophet Duvidl, it seemed (to paraphrase Oscar Wilde on Foxhunting’s “the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable”) to be the impotent in pursuit of the incompetent.

    Morever, this is the first time Duvid has seen James on camera since his appointment as head of news in August 2013. Clearly James, who is Jewish and a declared Zionist, has changed the BBC’s anti-Zionist news coverage of Israel not one iota in his first year at the helm.

  4. Please, Duvidl, Oscar Wilde didn’t mince words so. The news coverage is as antisemitic – not ‘anti-Zionist’ – as can be without actually saying ‘Jews kill babies and bake their blood in matzoh for Pessach’.

    I would have said it was the corrupt in pursuit of the cowardly and corrupt.

  5. It’s amazing really. You have cherry picked the data that best suits your agenda. I understand that and well, good for you. The reality is however completely different. For weeks there have been protests through London and most major cities in England. For weeks they weren’t reported despite them being outside the BBC headquarters. Over 100 thousand outside demonstrating and nothing. In the Houses of Parliament there are plenty of (credible) MP’s that have condemned the actions of Israel before and after operation “protective edge” that never appear on the BBC. What does however is David Cameron stating his unquestionable support for Israel’s right to defend itself and continuous military support. In Britain, of the people that care about this conflict the vast (vast) majority are sympathetic to Palestine and yet the BBC and the MP’s (that are in each others pockets) report that we as a country support Israel’s barbaric acts of war crimes. The British population are sick of the falsely reported news in Palestine that is so blatantly pro Israel. Yet, you have managed to find (let’s be honest, probably made up, who’s going to check, right?) some suggestion of the complete opposite. Laughable really

  6. None of which even begins to address the issue of whether the BBC even ought to aim for balanced coverage between a legitimate democratic state fighting a defensive war and a murderous terrorist organisation committing war crimes by the basketful.

    To be even-handed in such a context is a bias in itself

  7. Pingback: BBC WS ‘Newshour': a test case for BBC claims of ‘equal coverage’ | BBC Watch

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