Sunday, April 29, 2007

Lost Case - BBC Hides From the Public

The BBC has won a high court battle to prevent the publication of an internal report into allegations of bias in its news coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Today a judge overturned an earlier ruling under the Freedom of Information Act that it should publish the report, written by its Middle East news coverage "tsar", Malcolm Balen.

Mr Justice Davis, sitting at the high court in London, said today that the decision taken by the Information Tribunal in August last year was flawed.

"I conclude that the BBC's submissions are well founded," the judge said. "The tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain any appeal."

London solicitor Steven Sugar, who brought the case to court, described today's ruling as "a technical win by the BBC ... weighting the Freedom of Information Act in its favour".

The BBC welcomed today's ruling, arguing that because the Balen report was conducted for purposes of journalism [???], it fell outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act.

"We believe that programme makers must have the space to be able to freely discuss and reflect on editorial issues in support of independent journalism," the corporation said in a statement...

...Last year, an independent review commissioned by the corporation's board of governors found that BBC coverage of the conflict was "incomplete" and "misleading", but not biased one way or the other.

Chaired by the British Board of Film Classification president, Sir Quentin Thomas, the governors' review said BBC output failed to consistently "constitute a full and fair account of the conflict but rather, in important respects, presents an incomplete and, in that sense, misleading picture"...

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