BBC Hides Report on Bias

The BBC is fighting a court order that would force it to reveal an internal report on anti-Israel bias in its coverage.

Maayana Miskin ,

file photo

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is fighting a court order that would force it to reveal an internal report on anti-Israel bias. The media giant has reportedly spent 200,000 British pounds (roughly $280,000) on the case.

The legal battle was started by attorney Steven Sugar of London, who contends that the report on bias in its coverage must be made public under the Freedom of Information Act. The 20,000-word report is rumored to have concluded that the BBC's coverage was biased against Israel, a conclusion that Sugar says is of public interest.

The BBC argues that the document is protected under a clause exempting information held for journalistic purposes from the Freedom of Information Act.

The case has been through Britain's Information Tribunal, High Court and Appeals Court, and will now return to the High Court. The most recent round, in the Appeals Court, ended in Sugar's favor.

The BBC has faced numerous charges of anti-Israel bias, including an official complaint from Israel in 2004 after correspondent Orla Guerin dismissed terrorists' use of a teenage would-be suicide bomber as “a picture that Israel wants the world to see.” In the complaint, Minister Natan Sharansky accused Guerin of anti-Semitism and “total identification with the goals and methods of Palestinian terrorist groups.”

In the previous year, Israel had temporarily boycotted the BBC over allegations made in a documentary on Israel's weapons arsenal.

"This is not an organization that is there to get the truth. It's there to level every real or imagined accusation against Israel,” Israeli press office director Danny Seaman said at the time.

The BBC recently aroused fury among pro-Gaza activists by announcing that it would not air an appeal for money for repairs following Israeli counterterrorism operations in the area because the appeal could undermine the station's objectivity. The decision was seen by some as a reaction to charges of anti-Israel bias during coverage of the Gaza fighting.