BBC Watch complaint on ‘banned’ book upheld

As readers may recall, since late last year various BBC radio programmes have misled their audiences by promoting assorted versions of the inaccurate claim that Dorit Rabinyan’s book ‘Gader Haya’ (‘Borderlife’) has been banned in Israel.

December 2015, BBC World Service: BBC World Service ‘Newshour’ reports a ‘book ban’ that does not exist.

January 2016, BBC World Service: BBC World Service continues to promote the fiction of an Israeli ‘book ban’.

February 2016, BBC Radio 4: How an uncorrected inaccuracy became BBC conventional wisdom.

March 2016, BBC World Service: BBC WS yet again promotes inaccurate claim of Israeli book ‘ban’.

With previous efforts to alert BBC World Service programme makers to the inaccuracy having proved fruitless, after the February 22nd broadcast of ‘Front Row’ on Radio 4, BBC Watch submitted a complaint concerning the following inaccurate claims made in that programme:

“…recently the [Israeli] culture minister banned a novel about a mixed Israeli-Palestinian relationship…ahm…Dorit Rabinyan’s ‘Border Life’.”

As readers may recall, the complaint was twice rejected by the BBC Complaints department, with the second response including the programme production team’s claim that:

“This was a discussion that wasn’t specifically about the Rabinyan case – it was about another author’s work and the discussion strayed into political interference in Israeli culture. As such, Samira used the shorthand “banned” in reference to the book. The book was removed from the school syllabus, but in a discussion as wide ranging as this, the point about political involvement in arts and culture still stands whether the book has been banned from society at large, or removed from the school syllabusThe decision to interfere in the distribution of this book was made by, or under pressure from, politicians. That was the point the interviewee was making and to which the presenter responded.” [emphasis added]

As we noted at the time:

“The book ‘Borderlife’ was not “banned” in Israel and is freely available to all would-be purchasers in book shops. Neither was it “removed from the school syllabus” – because it was never on it. The decision not to include the book in the curriculum was made by a professional pedagogic body – not “by, or under pressure from, politicians”.”

BBC Watch pursued the matter further and the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit upheld our complaint, as is now noted on the BBC website’s ‘corrections and clarifications’ page.

Borderlife correction

The ECU’s reporting of its findings includes a section titled ‘Further action’.

Borderlife ECUGiven the production team’s above response to the second stage complaint, one must obviously question whether in fact it is in a position to “ensure that presenters are appropriately briefed”.Front Row 22 2

During our correspondence with the ECU, we raised the question of how the listeners who were misled by the inaccurate broadcast would be made aware of that fact and suggested that an on-air correction in the same programme would be the most efficient way of ensuring that a correction reached the original audience.

We learned from the ECU that the practical steps to be taken after a complaint has been upheld are left to the discretion of the division of the BBC concerned.

“At this stage, it’s for the management of the Division responsible for the programme (BBC Radio in this case) to notify me of the action they propose to take as a result of the finding, so any decision about broadcasting a correction will be theirs in the first instance (though it’s also open to me to say whether I consider the action adequate).”

As we have previously noted here in connection to the absence of a dedicated corrections page on the BBC News website, the whole point of making corrections is to ensure that audiences receive the corrected information.

One cannot but question the efficacy – and commitment to transparency – of a publicly funded complaints system which apparently does not include a mechanism to ensure that audiences are automatically informed in the most efficient manner possible of the fact that they were given misleading information, rather than the outcome being dependent upon decisions made by individual departments. 


10 comments on “BBC Watch complaint on ‘banned’ book upheld

  1. Intelligent people are fervently hoping that PM May will enforce a complaints procedure onto the BBC that is handled by a new external body – not the self-indulgent anti-Semitic organisation that (mis-)handles its complaints internally as now.

  2. Intelligent people are fervently hoping that PM May will enforce a complaints procedure onto the BBC that is handled by a new external body

    I liked David Cameron. Pity he didn’t revamp the complaints procedure for the BBC.

    • Cameron is a disgusting, spineless, stupid, integrity-free POS. He is incapable of getting anything right, and certainly never had the balls or brains to confront the corrupt BBC.

  3. Well done Hadar!

    Meanwhile the BBC continues to omit half the story:

    Brazil Olympics: Ten arrested for ‘plotting ‘terror’

    They were not members of so-called Islamic State but had tried to make contact with the group, officials said.

    The justice minister said the group was in the planning stage of an attack and police acted as a preventative measure.

    Alexandre Moraes described the cell as “absolute amateurs” and “ill-prepared” to launch an attack.

    Here’s the other half:

    Jihadis call on ‘lone wolf’ terrorists to attack Israeli athletes at Rio Olympics

    Al-Qaida-influenced terrorists have issued directives to “lone wolf” attackers to carry out attacks against the Israeli Olympic delegation at the upcoming Rio Olympics, The Foreign Desk reported Thursday.

    The jihadis reportedly published a list of athletes to be targeted on social media, including the US, French and British delegations in addition to the Israelis.

    “One small knife attack against Americans/Israelis in these places will have bigger media effect than any other attacks anywhere else in sha Allah,” the social media call read, according to The Foreign Desk.

    “Your chance to take part in the global Jihad is here! Your chance to be a martyr is here!” the jihadis said, citing the easy process of obtaining visas for travel to Brazil as well as the wide availability of guns in “crime-ridden slums.”

    The post specifically mentioned the Israelis: “From amongst the worst enemies, the most famous enemies for general Muslims is to attack Israelis. As general Muslims all agree to it and it causes more popularity for the Mujahideen amongst the Muslims.”

    The post also called to kidnap Israelis to serve as bargaining chips to free Muslim prisoners.

    Meanwhile, Brazil’s federal police arrested 10 people on Thursday on suspicion of belonging to a group backing ISIS and preparing acts of terrorism during next month’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Justice Minister Alexandre Moraes said.

    News site Globonews reported that the members of the group were linked to ISIS. It was not possible to immediately confirm this.

  4. If you make an error that is heard/watched by millions of people, surely the error should be pointed out to the self same audience. If it’s not, those people will not necessarily know that an error has been made.

    Perhaps that’s the idea, to admit, to all intents and purposes, only to the complainant, that an error has been made. The general public will remain unaware that the error was made, if the admission is not broadcast.

    Disingenuous? Deceitful? Probably. Transparent? Honest? No. A publicly funded Public Service Broadcaster knowingly and wilfully misleads its audience.

    • The BBC is utterly corrupt, and institutionally antisemitic. Once you grasp that, you have no illusions that it can ever be reformed.

  5. Pingback: 07/22 Links: Phillips: The invisible Jewish victims; Netanyahu: LGBTs an integral part of Israeli society – 24/6 Magazine

  6. the purpose of the ecu is not (god forbid!) to correct editorial mistakes or to issue retractions or corrections. its primary function is to deflect criticisms, in such a way as to avoid any dialogue that might reflect badly on the corporation. the pretense of objectivity is just protective camouflage, whereas its primary purpose is to wear down the complainant with “procedure” and doubletalk.

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