Trial by BBC World Service interviewee

On January 13th the BBC World Service Twitter account promoted an interview broadcast on its radio station with Abdelkrim Branine of the French radio station Beur FM.WS war criminal

During the interview (available here) the BBC presenter asked Branine about the participation of France’s Muslim community in the January 11th march.

“How would you describe your listeners’ emotions? Are they being forced to agree with French republican values? Do they feel that that’s something they can easily do? Can you describe that for us?”

Among the various reservations about participation in the march cited by Branine in response to that question was the following:

“After that there is a problem with some guest at this march like the prime minister of Israel Binyamin Netanyahu who is considering by a group of the population – and the Muslim too – like a criminal war.”

In the version of this interview promoted by the BBC World Service on Twitter there is no sign of the programme’s presenters having made any effort to clarify to listeners that there is no factual basis for Branine’s branding of the Israeli prime minister as a war criminal.

The BBC’s editorial guidelines on live content include the following:

“If we broadcast anything that harms the reputation of an individual, a group, or an organisation we may be sued for defamation. The risk exists whether the defamatory statements are scripted or spoken off the cuff. Subject to the defence of innocent dissemination (the “live defence”), the BBC can be liable, as broadcaster, regardless of who makes the defamatory comments. Any potential defamation problem should be dealt with immediately by referring the matter to Programme Legal Advice. It may be appropriate for the presenter to attempt to defuse the situation and distance the programme from the defamatory remarks. Depending on the circumstances, an apology or correction may also be appropriate but when dealing with a potentially defamatory situation advice from PLA must be sought before any action is taken. An inappropriate apology or correction could exacerbate the defamation or create a new one.” [emphasis added]

Additional editorial guidelines expand on the issue.

And yet, not only was no effort made to distance the BBC from that defamatory statement during the broadcast itself, but the segment was subsequently further promoted on social media to additional audiences.


2 comments on “Trial by BBC World Service interviewee

  1. It should be remembered that the BBC World Service is, in part, funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), otherwise known as the camel corps because of its preponderance of Arabist personnel at all levels, including the 2010 acquitted-on-appeal Jew-hater Rowan Laxton.

    The FCO camel corps is, of course, paid for by the British taxpayer, while the remaining part of the BBC World Service is funded by the licence-fee-paying (£145.50 p.a.) TV-taxpayer. TV owners not paying their BBC TV licence fee TV tax are liable to imprisonment.

    It should also be remembered that ex-FCO camel corps personnel are variously employed in quangos (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations) and opaquely funded lobby groups.

    The FCO camel corps itself has just hired, in a secretive job, former Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism assistant commissioner Cressida Dick, well known for bungling command of the innocent Jean Charles de Menezes killing on the London Underground by armed police, while a police surveillance officer was urinating off the job.

    Publisher HarperCollins omits Israel from school atlas ‘to meet local preferences’
    by Abigail Frymann Rouch
    December 31 2014

    The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has accused the publisher HarperCollins of harming peace efforts in the Middle East through its production of atlases that omit Israel from their maps. Collins Middle East Atlases, which are sold to English-speaking schools in the Muslim-majority Gulf, depict Jordan and Syria extending all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

    Collins Bartholomew, the subsidiary of HarperCollins that specialises in maps, told The Tablet that including Israel would have been “unacceptable” to their customers in the Gulf and the amendment incorporated “local preferences”.

    Bishop Declan Lang, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs, told The Tablet: “The publication of this atlas will confirm Israel’s belief that there exists a hostility towards their country from parts of the Arab world. It will not help to build up a spirit of trust leading to peaceful co-existence.”

    The Tablet has also learned of customs officers in one Gulf nation allowing school atlases to reach their intended recipient only once Israel had been struck out by hand.

    Dr Jane Clements, director of the Council of Christians and Jews, told The Tablet that maps that excluded Israel risked causing confusion and de-legitimising the nation in the eyes of the students who used the atlases.

    She said: “Maps can be a very powerful tool in terms of de-legitimising ‘the other’ and can lead to confusion rather than clarity. We would be keen to see relevant bodies ensure that all atlases anywhere reflect the official UN position on nations, boundaries and all political features.”

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