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Report of the Independent Panel for the BBC Governors on Impartiality of BBC Coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Report of the Independent Panel for the BBC Governors on Impartiality of BBC Coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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Published by: Hawk Eye on Jun 03, 2012
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11/17/2012

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REPORT OF THE INDEPENDENT PANELFOR THE BBC GOVERNORSON IMPARTIALITY OF BBC COVERAGEOF THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT
April 2006
 
 
2
CONTENTS
NOTE BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PANEL…………………………………………….3
 
1. INTRODUCTION AND PRINCIPAL CONCLUSIONS…………………………………52. THE CONFLICT AND THE MEDIA……………………………………………………113. THE PANEL'S APPROACH TO ITS TASK………………………………………….....164. ASSESSING THE EVIDENCE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS……………………………205. THE MAIN ISSUES……………………………………………………………………...29
APPENDICES:
A. AcknowledgementsB. Terms of Reference, Methodology, Panel and Organisations submitting evidenceC. Opinion Leader Research Audience Research ReportD. Loughborough University Content Analysis ReportE. Noam Lubell International Law ReportF. BBC Management Papers on:i.
 
Strategyii.
 
Editorial Processesiii.
 
Complaints HandlingG. Panel Complaints NoteH. Panel Impartiality Note
 
3IMPARTIALITY REVIEW: NOTE BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PANELWe were appointed by the Governors to assess whether the BBC's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict meets the required standards of impartiality. All the members of the Panel,Lord Eames, Professor Stewart Purvis, Philip Stephens, and Dr Elizabeth Vallance, worked asa team. I am very grateful to them for the enthusiastic commitment each gave to what provedno small task.I should also like to thank the many people, named in the Report, who helped us in carryingout the Review.We considered a large number of programmes, examined a great deal of evidence, talked tomany people inside the BBC and outside and visited the Middle East, mainly to meet BBCcorrespondents working there. The details of all this are set out in our Report.As every viewer and listener knows, the BBC has an impressive record, produces a great rangeof output and has much of which it can be proud. This goes for news and current affairs, onradio and TV, and for its online content, which is widely regarded as leading the field.The BBC's coverage of the conflict also attracts a good many complaints, each of which mustbe considered carefully on its merits. Many of them come, like much of the evidence put to us,from people taking sides in the conflict, suggesting that the BBC is biased against them.Interestingly, the evidence shows that most viewers and listeners, at least within the UK,present a different challenge. They regard the BBC as unbiased. But they say they do notunderstand the conflict and, perhaps for that reason, do not see it as important or interesting.Given how little history or context is routinely offered, it is easy to understand theirbewilderment.We believe that the impartiality requirements - for accuracy, fairness, context, balance and lack of bias - are best taken together as a package.First, was there identifiable bias or lack of balance? This is the way most people complainingabout the BBC approach the issue.Second, did the BBC's coverage give a full and fair account of the conflict?This meant we also needed to consider the quality of the programmes: the extent to which theywere comprehensive, penetrating and illuminating. We asked ourselves whether a reasonableand attentive viewer or listener could, on the basis of the BBC's coverage of the conflict, cometo an informed and independent judgement of the issues and of the respective merits of eachside's story.Our assessment is that, apart from individual lapses, there was little to suggest deliberate orsystematic bias. On the contrary, there was evidence of a commitment to be fair, accurate andimpartial. There is high quality reporting from location, some outstanding current affairsprogrammes and the website provides much valuable historical and other context.Management's commitment is clear and has led to several recent changes to strengthen

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