The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

The BBC's coverage of Israel

Beyond Northern Iraq compares views on the BBC. I definitely agree with his contention that "if both sides are accusing the BBC of bias then maybe someone's doing something right."

I present two contrasting viewpoints on the BBC's coverage of the Middle East with little comment -- as anything I say will be construed as proof either of vested interests or sour grapes.

Suffice to say that if both sides are accusing the BBC of bias then maybe someone's doing something right.

The italics are mine.

1) "The — in blatant breach of its own charter — virtually conducting its own anti-American and anti-Israeli foreign policy. Anyone who doesn't agree with its policies (Tony Blair, for example) finds himself at the mercy of BBC news coverage....

"...The culture that permeates the BBC, a habit of thought that has become engrained throughout the network, allows only one worldview, in which the U.S. and Israel are vilified well beyond any reasoned or justified criticism of anything these states have actually done.
(Tom Gross, National Review Online)

2) "...a research study by the Glasgow University media group entitled Bad News From Israel...confirm(s) what so many impartial observers already know.

"The main overall conclusion is that there is a clear bias in television news bulletins in favour of the Israelis. The researchers discovered that there is a "preponderance of official Israeli perspectives", particularly on BBC1, where Israelis were interviewed or reported more than twice as often as Palestinians.

"American politicians who support Israel appeared more often than politicians from any other country, and twice as often as those from Britain."
(Roy Greenslade, The Guardian)

I should add that in my experience, informed people in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world seem to trust BBC World -- especially programs that skewer guests like HardTalk -- more than any other TV network, including Al Jazeera amd Al Arabiya. It seems to have taken the place once held by Radio Montecarlo in the 1970s and 1980s, when it was the key source of information on the Lebanese civil war and much else in the region. It's a credit to the BBC that its reputation remains so solid (despite what right-wing commentators like Andrew Sullivan might say) when it is owned by a government that has an obvious stake in the region's affairs.