Executives at the British Broadcasting Corporation have finally been forced to admit what most of us have known for years - that the BBC's coverage of religious and political issues is inherently biased. A memo leaked to the media has revealed the details of a recent "impartiality" summit attended by senior figures at the BBC. Executives admitted that the BBC is responsible for promoting left-wing ideals and an anti-Christian sentiment.
The BBC is not impartial or neutral. According to news reports, "Most executives admitted that the corporation's representation of homosexuals and ethnic minorities was unbalanced and disproportionate, and that it leaned too strongly towards political correctness, the overt promotion of multiculturalism and anti-Americanism." BBC executives also admitted that they would be willing to broadcast images of a Bible being thrown away, but they would not do so for the Koran. This is due to the "fear of offending the British Muslim community."
The BBC is the largest broadcasting corporation in the world. It is also publicly funded - nearly 80 percent of the BBC's funding comes from television license fees. In the UK, the cost of a TV license is 131.50 per household per year (that is approximately $240.00 in US funds). That money goes directly to the BBC, enabling it to provide public service broadcasting that (according to its website) is "independent, impartial and honest."
Impartial and Honest?
The BBC often broadcasts a distorted view of the war against terrorism. The BBCs coverage of the terrorist attacks on London is a good (although not the only) example. In the hours and days after their initial publication, the BBC removed the words "terrorist" and "terrorism" from several articles on its website, opting instead for more politically correct terminology.
Perhaps the BBC's most conspicuous shortcoming has been its biased reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2002, the BBC aired a now-infamous profile of Yasser Arafat which called him a "hero" and "an icon" and concluded that the corrupt Palestinian leader was "the stuff of legends." Israel has often complained about the BBC's frequently one-sided reporting. For a period of seven months in 2003, Israeli officials boycotted BBC news programs, declining interviews and excluding BBC reporters from briefings. The boycott was ended after the BBC appointed a panel to oversee its Middle East coverage and to ensure it would be unbiased. However in recent months there have been calls for the government to reinstitute the boycott, in large part due to the BBC's coverage of the recent war in Lebanon.
In April 2006 a report was released on the impartiality of the BBC's coverage of the conflict. The report was commissioned by the BBC board of governors and, not surprisingly, it concluded that there "was little to suggest systematic or deliberate bias." However the period of time analyzed went from August 2005, the time of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, to January 2006, when Ariel Sharon had his stroke. During this period of time circumstances dictated that Israel should receive more sympathetic coverage. Moreover, the report excluded both the BBC World Service and the international TV channel BBC World.
Despite these factors, the report still found that there were "identifiable shortcomings" in the BBC's reporting. Furthermore, it concluded that the BBC "does not consistently give a full and fair account of the conflict. In some ways the picture is incomplete and, in that sense, misleading." Yet the average viewer is unlikely to notice, unless of course they have done their homework and are familiar with the various geopolitical aspects of the conflict. According to the report, "The evidence shows that most viewers and listeners, at least within the UK, regard the BBC as unbiased. But they say they do not understand 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 their bewilderment..."
What Are They Hiding?
Several other reports have been assembled in past years on the subject of the BBC's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However the BBC has refused to release the findings of those reports to the public. Last year a request was made under Britain's Freedom of Information Act to release the findings of those reports, but the BBC denied the request. A lawsuit was then filed against the BBC. It argued that since the BBC is publicly funded, taxpayers have the right to know if the BBC is being fair in its reporting. The courts have since ruled that the BBC should make the report available to the public, but the BBC has yet to comply and has decided to appeal the decision at Britain's High Court.
Discerning the Truth
As we are faced with an ever-increasing barrage information it is important to keep in mind that the media has its own agenda and takes pride in its ability to shape public opinion rather than to inform it. So what can we do about it? How do we find the truth?
Always keep in mind the underlying principle found in Acts 17:11. Don't believe everything you hear, do your own homework. Read and listen carefully, seeking to differentiate facts from opinions. There is no such thing as a truly unbiased source of information. Therefore it is important to pay attention to details, check facts, and rely on the Holy Spirit for discernment.
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