The double standards employed by the BBC in its reporting on disputed territories have been noted here before in relation to Cyprus and Western Sahara. The latter region was recently in the news again and on March 17th the BBC News website produced an article titled “Western Sahara: Morocco threat over UN peacekeepers” which displays an interesting choice of language.
“Morocco has threatened to pull its soldiers out of UN global peacekeeping missions in a row over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
It is furious with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after he used the term “occupation” about the territory, which was annexed by Morocco in 1975.” [emphasis added]
Later on in the article readers were told that:
“Morocco annexed most of the disputed former Spanish colony in 1976.” [emphasis added]
In contrast to its reporting on Israel which – in line with the directives of the BBC’s dedicated style guide – is inevitably peppered with phrases such as ‘occupied’ or ‘illegal under international law’, this article uses the much more politically neutral term “disputed” which is also how the region is described in the corporation’s general style guide.
The BBC is far from the only media organization to use differing terminology depending on who is contesting a region, as our colleagues at CAMERA have documented. Nevertheless, as long as the BBC continues to employ such blatant double standards, it should not be surprised that its supposed impartiality is called into question.