BBC “failed to live up to its editorial standards” in a report on anti-Semitic attacks.

BBC “failed to live up to its editorial standards” in a report on anti-Semitic attacks.
BBC “failed to live up to its editorial standards” in a report on anti-Semitic attacks.

BBC “failed to live up to its editorial standards” in a report on anti-Semitic attacks.

BBC “failed to live up to its editorial standards” in a report on anti-Semitic attacks.

An investigation by British communications regulator Ofcom found that the BBC’s report of an anti-Semitic attack on Jewish students in London contained “significant editorial errors”.

The authority, the media regulator, found the BBC had failed to meet its editorial standards for due impartiality and accuracy in an article published online in 2021.

Other BBC London news programs on the same subject did not breach the rules of impartiality or accuracy.

Despite this, Ofcom said the BBC grossly misjudged its coverage of the incident.

The incident occurred on November 29, 2021, when a group of Jewish students were attacked by anti-Semites on a private bus on Oxford Street in the capital London while celebrating the Jewish festival of Hanukkah (Festival of Lights).

A controversial phrase

The BBC had mentioned in its coverage that an offensive term for Muslims had been heard from the bus, but after the BBC’s coverage, on December 2 British Jewish MPs, the Chief Rabbi and a large number of groups and individuals lodged a complaint with the BBC on the accuracy and impartiality of their report.

The Council of British Jewish Delegates said: “Ofcom’s decision on the BBC’s conduct in relation to the anti-Semitic attack on Oxford Street made it clear that the BBC had failed in its editorial guidelines of due impartiality and due accuracy,” it called a “Gross editorial misjudgment” on the part of the corpus.

They added: “This decision, in response to a written complaint from the Council, underscores our grave concern at the BBC’s conduct in this case. We will now consider whether to submit the case to a judicial review.”

Ofcom said in a statement: “Our investigation revealed a serious editorial error in the BBC’s report of an anti-Semitic attack on a number of Jewish students on a bus in London.”

The authority added: “The BBC report claimed that an audio recording made during the incident contained anti-Muslim abuse and the formula was later changed to singular (abuse), which came from inside the bus. Shortly thereafter, she received evidence that disproved this interpretation. Audio”.

Ofcom noted the BBC had received evidence to support an alternative explanation that the words they heard were in fact a Hebrew phrase meaning “Call someone, this is urgent”.

image shared, PA medium

Does not react

The statement added: “The BBC did not immediately acknowledge that the audio was controversial and did not update its online news article to reflect this over a period of approximately eight weeks. During this time, the BBC was aware that the content of the article was causing significant inconvenience and concern to the victims of the attack and the wider Jewish community.

“This has been, in our view, a major failure to observe editorial standards in writing news reports with due accuracy and impartiality,” Ofcom’s statement said.

A BBC spokesman said: “Although Ofcom concluded that our coverage was not in breach of the Broadcasting Act, the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit ruled in January this year that additional steps could have been taken at an early stage to recognize the views. The BBC apologized at the time for taking urgent action to highlight the objection to the content of the recording.”

Under the BBC Charter and Convention established by the government, the body is responsible for editorial standards for its online material.

Ofcom may consider and make any opinion, including any recommendation, it deems appropriate in relation to material published on the internet, but it has found no breach of the BBC Broadcasting Act.

Referring to the broadcast, Ofcom said that although the report did not break the rules, “the BBC made a grave error in an editorial decision not to publish on the air that its allegation of anti-Muslim abuse was disputed when new evidence emerged.”

Ofcom said the BBC’s failure to respond quickly and transparently created a perception among the Jewish community that the BBC was on the defensive.

She added that the BBC should “take additional steps to figure out how to respond when its reporting is controversial”.

A spokesman for the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism said: “Almost a year after the BBC abusively reported the anti-Semitic incident on Oxford Street, Ofcom saw that every viewer and reader of the BBC’s coverage refused to accept the coverage, with the exception of the BBC himself. His report offends the harm inflicted on the victims and the Jewish community, as well as a grave failure to meet the most basic standards of liberation.”

He added: “Today’s decision by Ofcom is a step towards reversing this abuse.”

“Unfortunately, the delaying of the BBC is exactly what British Jews want from our public broadcaster,” the spokesman said.


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