The exception to the BBC rule on place names

A browse through the BBC News style guide reveals plenty of examples of the BBC’s policy of moving away from the use of place names introduced or preferred by foreign conquerors and past rulers.


formerly part of the Soviet Union as Byelorussia; now independent. Adjective, Belarusian.”


The BBC has been moving towards calling the country Myanmar. We should use Myanmar rather than Burma in headlines and summaries. Inside the body of our stories, preferably on first mention, we should include the wording “Myanmar, also known as Burma”. Further references should be to Myanmar. We should talk about the main commercial city as “Yangon, also known as Rangoon”, and thereafter Yangon.” 


As of early 2015, our style is to use Kolkata for the Indian city. It may be helpful for readers if we use this construction once high up in the story: People in the Indian city of Kolkata (Calcutta)…”


As of November 2011, our style is to use Chennai rather than Madras, but we should include the formulation Chennai (Madras) once high up in the body of the story.”


The country formerly known as Swaziland. Add “previously known as Swaziland”, high up. It’s Swati when describing its people.”

“Kyiv not Kiev”

One entry specifically instructs BBC journalists not to use the terminology favoured by an invading country.


The northern part, occupied by Turkey, is not internationally recognised, so do not refer to “North Cyprus” – the term the Turks have chosen. Instead, say northern Cyprus, describing it either as Turkish-occupied or Turkish-controlled. And we should speak of the Green Line – not “the so-called Green Line”.”

The exception to the rule in that BBC policy is of course its permanent employment of a term that the Jordanians invented some seventy years ago after they invaded, occupied and later annexed foreign territory – without recognition from the international community. The BBC refers to Judea & Samaria exclusively as “the West Bank” and its website even has a tag for that term.

So much for BBC consistency, impartiality and ‘progressiveness’. 

6 comments on “The exception to the BBC rule on place names

  1. Well spotted, BBC Watch. The BBC is simply following instructions from Iran on what terminology to use instead of the correct “Judea” and “Samaria” – or simply “Israel”.

  2. Also, N’djamena (first Fort Lamy), Kinshasa (first Leopoldville), Kisangani (first Stanleyville), and Lumbumbashi (first Elizabethville). Recognizing that those Congolese (not Zairian anymore) cities as African is commendable.

    However, as always, a different standard for Israel.

  3. Pingback: 02/14 Links Pt2: Put BDS to the Test; How a Former Non-Zionist Became a Supporter of Israel; Does the NY Times Have a Problem Recognizing Antisemitism? – 24/6 Magazine

  4. Actually, it was Great Britain that aided and abetted the Arab League invasion of Judea/Samaria and the Old City Jerusalem in 1948. GB’s Jew Hate stance had been liberally demonstrated during their tenure as Mandate Administrators, causing huge numbers of Jewish deaths due to their 1939 White Paper, and numerous abrogations and plain violations of their responsibilities as Mandate Administrators. This was obvous in their turning over of Arab Palestine, TransJordan to their favorite Arab Client Aristocrats, the Hashemites, as a Private Fiefdom, just as they had the Kingdom of Iraq to the same Family, and the supply, training and officering of the Arab Legion, TransJordan’s Military, commanded by a career British Army Officer, John Bagot Glubb, and his 350 British Military who trained, and were the backbone of Abdullah’s Arab Legion when they invaded the brand new Israel.
    And therefore, when the Armistice of 1948 was created after TransJordan broke it’s internationally legitimate border (the Jordan River), invaded, conquered, ethnically cleansed of Jews, from the Jewish Heartland of Judea/Samaria and the Old City of Jerusalem, the British recognized the Arab Legion’s illegal Conquest, Occupation and Jordan’s Annexation of Judea/Samaria and the Old City Jerusalem. Britain and Pakistan, GB’s other Islamist Client State. So, the BBC just echoes that same old Brit Jew Hate, transferring it to Israel, in defiance of International Law. Eg. the San Remo Accords, The Treaties of Sevres/Lausanne, and the TransJordan Memorandum.

  5. I’m glad you brought out the difference in the way other countries’ change of name or area are handled and the way – surprise! – Israel’s preferences are treated. Spread the word!

    • Spread what word? That the BBC is a Jew Haterz Organization? Pretty much everyone already knows that. As GB and Pakistan are the only countries to recognize Jordan’s illegal actions, and everybody pretty much ignored that fact, the actual acts of the BBC following GB’s biased laws is to be expected. Notice, that in 1970, when King Hussein and his Pakistani Mercenaries butchered nearly 30,000 Arab “palestinians”, not much to very little was made of it at the BBC. GB is always interesting in their perfidity.

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