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BBC News, formerly BBC News and Current Affairs, is the department within the British Broadcasting Corporation responsible for the corporation's news-gathering and production of news programmes on BBC television, radio and online.

Producing 120 hours of output daily, it is the largest broadcasting news gatherer in the world. It maintains its key objective of the BBC's Royal Charter to "collect news and information in any part of the world and in any manner that may be thought fit".

Political coverage is based at the Millbank Studios in 4 Millbankmarker in Westminstermarker. With an annual budget of £350 million, BBC News consists of 3,500 staff, 2,000 of which are journalists. The core BBC News department is based at the News Centre within BBC Television Centremarker in West London, W12, and is also represented by regional centres across the United Kingdom. The service's global reach is the largest and deepest of any of its kind in the world: there are correspondents in almost all 240 countries worldwide, with 44 news-gathering bureaus based around the world. There are also three BBC News bureaus based within the UK.

Unlike almost all other countries' news organs, the BBC is a quasi-autonomous organisation and does not ally itself politically with the Government of the United Kingdom, though it does pay occasional respects to its Queen. It has however been accused of left-wing bias by right-wingers and right-wing bias by left-wingers, and has sometimes opposed UK Government policy, such as its accusation in 2005 that the administration was "sexing up" the war in Iraqmarker.

Competition within the UK comes from rolling news channel Sky News as well as the independent ITN, a major independent provider of news services to ITV and Channel 4. Around the world the BBC complements other news providers' services, as well as has its own.

Some countries have restricted or banned BBC broadcasts and journalists' movements for internal political reasons, forcing correspondents to report on events in those countries from neighbouring countries.

BBC News is currently headed by Helen Boaden.


The early years

A BBC produced newsreel.
The British Broadcasting Company broadcast its first radio bulletin from 2LOmarker on 14 November 1922. Televised bulletins came later on 5 July 1954, broadcast from leased studios within Alexandra Palacemarker in London. However Gaumont British and Movietone cinema newsreels had been broadcast on the TV service since 1936 -with the BBC producing its own filmed equivalent Television Newsreel programme from January 1948. A weekly Children's Newsreel was inaugurated on 23 April 1950, broadcasting to around 350,000 receivers.

The public's interest in television and live events was stimulated by Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953. It is estimated that up to 27 million people viewed the programme in the UK - overtaking radio's audience of 12 million for the first time - and those live pictures were fed from 21 cameras in central London to Alexandra Palace for transmission, and then on to other UK transmitters opened in time for the event. In coronation year there were around two million TV Licences held in the UK, rising to over three million the following year and four and a half million by 1955.


Television news, although physically separate from its radio counterpart, was still firmly under its control - with correspondents providing reports for both outlets - and that first bulletin, shown in 1954 on the then BBC television service and presented by Richard Baker, involved his providing narration off-screen while stills were shown - and this was then followed by the customary Television Newsreel with a recorded commentary by John Snagge (and on other occasions by Andrew Timothy).

It was revealed that this had been due to producers fearing a newsreader with their facial movements could distract the viewer from the story in question. On-screen newsreaders were finally introduced a year later, in 1955 - Kenneth Kendall (the first to appear in vision), Robert Dougall and Richard Baker - just three weeks before ITN's launch date of 21 September 1955.

Mainstream television production had started to move out of Alexandra Palace in 1950 to larger premises - mainly at Lime Grove Studiosmarker in Shepherd's Bushmarker, west London - taking Current Affairs (then known as Talks Department) with it, and it was from here that the first Panorama was transmitted on 11 November 1953, with Richard Dimbleby taking over as anchor in 1955. On 18 February 1957 the topical early-evening programme Tonight hosted by Cliff Michelmore and designed to fill the airtime provided by the abolition of the Toddlers' Truce, was broadcast from Marconi's Viking Studio in St Mary Abbott's Place, Kensingtonmarker - with the programme moving into a Lime Grove studio in 1960 where it already maintained its production office.

Later in 1957, on 28 October in central London, radio launched its morning programme Today on the Home Service.

In 1958 Hugh Carleton Greene became head of News and Current Affairs, and set up a BBC study group whose findings, published in 1959, were critical of what the television news operation had become under Greene's predecessor Tahu Hole. The solution proposed was that the head of television news should take control (away from radio), and that the television service should have a proper newsroom of its own, with an editor-of-the-day.


On 1 January 1960, Greene became Director General and under him big changes were afoot not only for BBC Television, but also for BBC Television News - a separate news department, formed in 1955 as a response to the founding of ITN - the aim was to make BBC reporting a little more like ITN, which had been praised by Greene's study group.

A newsroom was created at Alexandra Palacemarker, television reporters recruited, and given the opportunity to write and voice their own scripts - without the "impossible burden" of having to cover stories for radio too.

In 1987, almost thirty years later, John Birt resurrected the practice of correspondents working for both TV and radio with the introduction of bi-media journalism, and 2008 saw tri-media introduced across TV, radio and online.

Also in 1960, Nan Winton, the first female BBC network newsreader, appeared in vision on 20 June, and 19 September saw the start of the radio news and current affairs programme The Ten O'clock News.

Greene was a great innovator and (on a lighter note) asked Ned Sherrin, the then producer of Tonight to "prick the pomposity of public figures" with a weekly television show. So on 24 November 1962 That Was The Week That Was, hosted by David Frost, was born at Lime Grove Studios and is mentioned here because (of Greene's actions) it was a product of Current Affairs department rather than Light Entertainment.

BBC 2 started transmission on 20 April 1964, and with it came a new news programme for that channel - Newsroom.
Newsroom launched in 1964 - in 1968 it became the UK's first colour television news programme.
The World at One (WATO) began on 4 October 1965 on the then, Home Service, and the year before News Review had started on television.

News Review was a roundup of the weeks news, first broadcast on Sunday 26 April 1964 on BBC 2 and harking back to the weekly Newsreel Review of the Week (produced from 1951) to open programming on Sunday evenings - the difference being that this incarnation had subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. As this was the decade before electronic caption generation, each "super" (superimposition) had to be produced on paper or card, synchronised manually to studio and news footage, committed to tape during the afternoon and broadcast early evening - thus Sundays were no longer a quiet day for news at Alexandra Palace. The programme ran until the 1980s - by then using electronic captions, known as Anchor - to be superseded by Ceefax subtitling (a similar format), and the signing of such programmes as See Hear (from 1981).

On Sunday 17 September 1967 The World This Weekend launched on the then, Home Service, but soon-to-be Radio 4.

Preparations for colour began in the autumn of 1967 and on Thursday 7 March 1968 Newsroom on BBC 2, moved to an early evening slot, became the first UK news programme to be transmitted in colour - from Studio A at Alexandra Palace - News Review and Westminster (the latter a weekly review of Parliamentarymarker happenings) were "colourised" shortly after.

Much of the insert material was still in black and white however, as initially only a part of the film coverage shot in and around London was on colour reversal film stock, and all regional and many international contributions were still in black and white too. Colour facilities were also technically very limited for the next eighteen months at Alexandra Palace, as it had only one RCA colour videotape machine and, eventually two, Pye colour telecines - although the news colour service started with just one.

Black and white national bulletins on BBC 1 continued to originate from Studio B on weekdays, along with Town and Around - the London regional "opt out" programme broadcast throughout the 1960s (and the BBC's first regional news programme for the South East) - until it started to be replaced by Nationwide on Tuesday to Thursday from Lime Grove Studiosmarker early in September 1969. Town and Around was never to make the move to Television Centre - instead it became London This Week which transmitted on Mondays and Fridays only from the new TVC studios.

Television News moves to Television Centre

The final news programme to come from Alexandra Palace was a late night news on BBC 2 on Friday 19 September 1969 in colour. It was said that over this September weekend, sixty-five removal vans were needed to transfer the contents of Alexandra Palace across London. BBC Television News resumed operations the next day with a lunchtime bulletin on BBC 1 - in black and white - from Television Centre, where it has remained ever since.

This move to better technical facilities, but much smaller studios, allowed Newsroom and News Review to replace back projection with CSO.

And it also allowed all news output to be produced in PAL colour, in preparation for the "colourisation" of BBC 1 from 15 November 1969 - the studios were capable of operating in NTSC too for the US, Canada and Japan as the BBC occasionally provided facilities for overseas broadcasters. During the 1960s satellite communication had become not only possible, but popular, however colour field-store standards converters were still in their infancy in 1968 and we would have to wait until the 1970s for digital line-store conversion to do the job seamlessly.


On 14 September 1970 the first Nine O'Clock News was broadcast on television with Robert Dougall presenting the first week from studio N1 - described by The Guardian as "a sort of polystyrene padded cell" - the bulletin having been moved from the earlier time of 20:45 as a response to the ratings achieved by ITNs News at Ten introduced three years earlier. Richard Baker and Kenneth Kendall presented subsequent weeks, thus echoing those first television bulletins of the mid 1950s.

The Nine made history again in 1975 with the appointment of Angela Rippon as the first female news presenter. Her work outside the news was controversial for the time, appearing on the Morecambe and Wise show singing and dancing.

The early evening news on BBC 1 remained at its regular time of 17:50 - there would be another fourteen years before it got a similar makeover to become the Six O'Clock News.

The first edition of John Craven's Newsround - initially intended only as a short series and later renamed just Newsround - came from studio N3 on 4 April 1972.

Afternoon television news bulletins during the mid to late 1970s were broadcast from the BBC newsroom itself, rather than one of the three news studios. The newsreader would present to camera while sitting on the edge of a desk; behind him staff would be seen working busily at their desks. This period corresponded with when the Nine O'Clock News got its next makeover, and would use a CSO background of the newsroom from that very same camera each weekday evening.
.... and went through several changes in its 30 year run.
Also in the mid seventies, the late night news on BBC 2 was briefly renamed Newsnight, but this wasn't to last, or be the same programme as we know today - that would be launched in 1980 - and it soon reverted to being just a news summary with the early evening BBC 2 news expanded to become Newsday.

News on radio was to change in the 1970s, and on Radio 4 in particular, brought about by the arrival of new editor Peter Woon from television news and the implementation of the Broadcasting in the Seventies report. These included the introduction of correspondents into news bulletins where previously only a newsreader would present, as well as the inclusion of content gathered in the preparation process. New programmes were also added to the daily schedule, PM and The World Tonight as part of the plan for the station to become a "wholly speech network". Newsbeat launched as the news service on Radio 1 on 10 September 1973.

The 23 September 1974 saw the launch of the Ceefax teletext system, developed to bring news content on television screens using text only. Engineers originally began developing such a system as a form of communicating news for deaf viewers but the system was expanded. The service is now much more diverse, listing details such as weather, flight times and film reviews.

The decline in shooting film for news broadcasts became more prevalent, as ENG equipment became less cumbersome - the BBC's first attempts had been using a Philips colour camera with backpack base station and separate portable Sony U-matic recorder in the latter half of the decade.


1980s computer generated titles.
By 1982 ENG technology had become so stable that an Ikegami camera was used by Bernard Hesketh to cover the Falklands War - winning him the RTS TV Cameraman of the Year award and a BAFTA nomination for his "footage" - the first time that the electronic camera had been relied upon in a conflict zone by BBC News, rather than film. BBC News won the BAFTA for its actuality coverage, however the event has become remembered in television terms for Brian Hanrahan's reporting where he coined the phrase "I counted them all out and I counted them all back" to circumvent restrictions, and which has become cited as an example of good reporting under pressure.

Two years prior to this the Iranian Embassy Siegemarker had been shot electronically by the BBC Television News OB team with Kate Adie reporting live from Prince's Gate, again nominated for BAFTA actuality coverage, but this time beaten by ITN for the 1980 award.

Newsnight, the news and current affairs programme still running to this day, was due to go on air on 23 January 1980, although trade union disagreements meant that its launch from Lime Grove was postponed by a week".

On 27 August 1981 Moira Stuart became the first Afro-Caribbean female newsreader to appear on British television.

The first BBC breakfast television programme, Breakfast Time also launched during the 1980s, on 17 January 1983 from Lime Grove Studio E and two weeks before its ITV rival TV-am. Presenters including Frank Bough, Selina Scott and Nick Ross helped to wake viewers with a relaxed style of presenting.

The Six O'Clock News first aired on 3 September 1984, eventually becoming the most watched news programme in the UK (however, since 2006 it has been overtaken by the BBC News at Ten).

Starting in 1981, the BBC gave a common theme to its main news bulletins with new electronic titles - a set of animated computerised "stripes" forming a circle on a red background with a "BBC News" typescript appearing below the circle graphics, and a theme tune consisting of brass and keyboards. The Nine used a similar (stripey) number 9. The red background was replaced by a blue from 1985 until 1987.

By 1987, the BBC had decided to re-brand its bulletins and established individual styles again for each one with differing titles and music, the weekend and holiday bulletins branded in a similar style to the Nine, although the "stripes" introduction continued to be used until 1989 on occasions where a news bulletin was screened out of the running order of the schedule.


The Nine O'Clock News moved to 22:00 in 2000.
During the 1990s, a wider range of services began to be offered by BBC News, with the split of BBC World Service Television to become BBC World (news and current affairs), and BBC Prime (light entertainment). Content for a 24 hour news channel was thus required, followed in 1997 with the launch of domestic equivalent BBC News 24. Rather than set bulletins, ongoing reports and coverage was needed to keep both channels functioning and meant a greater emphasis in budgeting for both was necessary.

In 1998 after 66 years at Broadcasting House, the BBC Radio News operation moved to BBC Television Centremarker.

New 'Silicon Graphics' technology came into use in 1993 for a relaunch of the main BBC One bulletins, creating a virtual set which appeared to be much larger than it was physically. The relaunch also brought all bulletins into the same style of set with only small changes in colouring, titles and music to differentiate each. A computer generated glass sculpture of the BBC coat of arms was the centrepiece of the programme titles until the largescale corporation rebranding of news services in 1999.

In 1999, the biggest relaunch occurred, with BBC One bulletins, BBC World, BBC News 24 and BBC News Online all adopting a common style. One of the most significant changes was the gradual adoption of the corporate image by the BBC regional news programmes, giving a common style across local, national and international BBC television news. This also included Newyddion, the main news programme of Welsh language channel S4C, produced by BBC News Wales. The introduction of regional headlines at the start of bulletins followed in 2000 though the English regions lost five minutes at the end of bulletins, due to a new headline round-up at 18:55.

It was also in 2000 that the Nine O'Clock News moved to the later time of 22:00. This was in response to ITN who had just moved their popular News at Ten programme to 23:00. ITN briefly returned News at Ten but following poor ratings when head to head against the BBC's Ten O'Clock News, the ITN bulletin was moved to 22.30, where it remained until 14 January 2008.


BBC News is set to move to the newly refurbished Broadcasting House by 2011.
The retirement of Michael Buerk and departure of Peter Sissons from the Ten O'Clock News led to changes in the BBC One bulletin presenting team on 20 January 2003. The Six O'Clock News became double headed with George Alagiah and Sophie Raworth after Huw Edwards and Fiona Bruce moving to present the Ten. At the time of the changes, a new set design featuring a projected background image of a fictional newsroom was introduced, with new programme titles were introduced on 16 February 2004 to match those of BBC News 24.

BBC News 24 and BBC World introduced a brand new style of presentation in December 2003, that was slightly altered on 5 July 2004 to mark 50 years of BBC Television News.

The BBC announced editorial changes for the main news bulletins on 8 November 2005, that the roles of individual editors of the One and Six O'Clock News would be replaced by one single daytime position. Kevin Bakhurst was introduced as the new Controller of BBC News 24, replacing the position of editor. Amanda Farnsworth became daytime editor and Craig Oliver was later named editor of the Ten O'Clock News. The bulletins were also to be simulcast with News 24, explained by Head of Television News Peter Horrocks as allowing for the pooling of resources.

Bulletins received new titles and a new set design in May 2006, to allow for Breakfast to move into the main studio for the first time since 1997. The new set featured Barco videowall screens with a background of the London skyline used for main bulletins and originally an image of cirrus clouds against a blue sky for Breakfast. This was later replaced following viewer criticism. The studio bears similarities to changes made at ITV News in 2004, though ITN uses a CSO Virtual studio rather than the actual screens at BBC News.

A new graphics and video playout system was introduced for production of television bulletins in January 2007. This coincided with a new structure to BBC World News bulletins, editors favouring a section devoted to analysing the news stories reported on.

The first new BBC News bulletin since the Six O'Clock News was announced in July 2007 following a successful trial in the Midlands. The summary, lasting 90 seconds, has been broadcast at 20:00 on weekdays since December 2007 and bears similarities with 60 Seconds on BBC Three, but also includes headlines from the various BBC regions.

BBC News television bulletins underwent their largest change since 1999 on 21 April 2008, with new identities created by the branding agency Lambie-Nairn. The programme was part of a long-term cost cutting plan at the BBC. BBC News 24 was renamed the BBC News Channel and moved into the same studio, N6, as the BBC One bulletins at BBC Television Centre. BBC World was renamed BBC World News and the BBC One bulletins renamed BBC News at One, Six and Ten respectively. All the changes followed the redesign of the BBC News website earlier in the year. Regional news programmes were also relaunched following the new style.

The studio moves also meant that Studio N9, previously used for BBC World, was closed, and operations moved to the previous studio of BBC News 24. Studio N9 was later refitted to match the new branding, and was used for the BBC's UK Local Elections and European Elections coverage in early June 2009.

Organisational changes

BBC News became part of the new BBC Journalism group in November 2006 as part of a major restructuring of the BBC. Helen Boaden remains Director of BBC News, reporting to Mark Byford, head of the new group and Deputy Director-General.

It was announced on 18 October 2007 as part of Mark Thompson's new six year plan, Delivering Creative Future, that there would no longer be a television Current Affairs department in its own right - it would become a unit within the new News Programmes department. The Director General's announcement, in response to a £2billion shortfall in funding, would deliver "a smaller, but fitter, BBC" in the digital age - along with imminent job cuts and the sale of Television Centre in 2013.

The various newsrooms of the BBC: television, radio and online, were merged together to create a multimedia newsroom - programme making within the newsrooms was brought together to form the multimedia programme making departments. Peter Horrocks, referring to the changes, stated that the move would bring about a greater efficiency - particularly at a time of cost-cutting at the BBC. He highlighted the dilemma faced with such a change in his blog: that by using the same resources across the various broadcasting mediums means fewer stories can be covered - or by following more stories, there would be fewer ways to broadcast them.

The entire News Operation is due to move from Television Centre to new facilities at Broadcasting Housemarker at Portland Place, Central London. Refurbishment and extension work was scheduled for completion in 2008 though delays have seen the deadline extended until 2010, with news expecting to move in in 2012. The new building will also become home to the BBC World Service once the lease on Bush House expires.

Broadcasting media


News operations have been based at the News Centre in Television Centre since 1997.
BBC News is responsible for the main news bulletins on BBC One as well as other programmes on BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, and the provision of 22 hours of programming for BBC World News. Coverage for BBC Parliament is carried out on behalf on the BBC at Millbank Studios though BBC News provides editorial and journalistic content.

BBC News content is also output onto the BBC's digital interactive television services under the BBC Red Button brand, and the legacy analogue Ceefax teletext system.

The distinctive music on all BBC television news programmes was introduced in 1999 and composed by David Lowe. It was part of the extensive re-branding which commenced in 1999 and features the classic 'BBC Pips' The general theme was used not only on bulletins on BBC One but News 24, BBC World and local news programmes in the BBC's Nations and Regions. Lowe was also responsible for the music on Radio One's Newsbeat. The theme has had several changes since 1999.

The BBC Arabic Television news channel launched on 11 March 2008 - with a Persian language channel following on 14 January 2009, broadcasting from the Egton wing of Broadcasting House; both include news, analysis, interviews, sports and highly cultural programmes and are run by the BBC World Service and funded from a grant-in-aid from the British Foreign Officemarker (and not the television licence).


BBC Radio News produces bulletins for the BBC's national radio stations and provides content for local BBC radio stations via the General News Service (GNS). BBC News does not produce the BBC's regional news bulletins, which are produced individually by the BBC nations and regions themselves. The BBC World Service broadcasts to some 150 million people in English as well as 32 languages across the globe.


BBC News Online is the BBC's news website. Launched in November 1997, it is one of the most popular news websites in the UK reaching over a quarter of the UK's internet users, and worldwide, with around 14 million global readers every month. The website contains exhaustive international news coverage as well as entertainment, sport, science, and political news. Many reports are accompanied by audio and video from the BBC's television and radio news services within the BBC News player.

Television and radio bulletins are also available to view on the site, together with current affairs programmes including Newsnight and Question Time are available to view on the site after they have been broadcast, while the BBC News channel is available to view 24 hours a day. Certain radio and television broadcasts are available for download as podcasts as part of the BBC's download trial.


Political and commercial independence

The BBC is required by its charter to be free from both political and commercial influence and answers only to its viewers and listeners. Nevertheless, the BBC's political objectivity is sometimes questioned. For instance, The Daily Telegraph (3 August 2005) carried a letter from the KGBmarker defector Oleg Gordievsky, referring to it as "The Red Service". Books have been written on the subject, although rarely from people writing neutrally themselves , including anti-BBC works like Truth Betrayed by W J West and The Truth Twisters by Richard Deacon.

The BBC is regularly accused by the government of the day of bias in favour of the opposition and, by the opposition, of bias in favour of the government. Similarly, during times of war, the BBC is often accused by the UK government, or by strong supporters of British military campaigns, of being overly sympathetic to the view of the enemy. An edition of Newsnight at the start of the Falklands War in 1982 was described as "almost treasonable" by Conservative MP John Page, who objected to the presenter Peter Snow talking of "if we believe the British".

During the first Gulf War, critics of the BBC took to using the satirical name "Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation". During the Kosovo War, the BBC were labeled the "Belgrade Broadcasting Corporation" by British ministers, although Slobodan Milosevic later complained that the BBC's coverage had been biased against the Serbs.

Conversely, some of those who style themselves anti-establishment in the United Kingdom or who oppose foreign wars have accused the BBC of pro-establishment bias or of refusing to give an outlet to "anti-war" voices. Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq a study, by the Cardiff University School of Journalism, of the reporting of the war, found that nine out of 10 references to weapons of mass destruction during the war assumed that Iraq possessed them, and only one in 10 questioned this assumption. It also found that out of the main British broadcasters covering the war the BBC was the most likely to use the British government and military as its source. It was also the least likely to use independent sources, like the Red Cross, who were more critical of the war. When it came to reporting Iraqi casualties the study found fewer reports on the BBC than on the other three main channels. The report's author, Justin Lewis, wrote of his findings: "Far from revealing an anti-war BBC, our findings tend to give credence to those who criticised the BBC for being too sympathetic to the government in its war coverage. Either way, it is clear that the accusation of BBC anti-war bias fails to stand up to any serious or sustained analysis."

Prominent BBC appointments are constantly assessed by the British media and political establishment for signs of political bias. The appointment of Greg Dyke as Director-General was highlighted by press sources because Dyke was a Labour Party member and former activist, as well as a friend of Tony Blair. The BBC's current Political Editor, Nick Robinson, was some years ago a chairman of the Young Conservatives and has, as a result, attracted informal criticism from the current Labour government, but his predecessor Andrew Marr faced similar claims from the right because he was editor of the liberal leaning Independent newspaper before his own appointment in 2000.

Hutton Inquiry

BBC News was at the centre of one the largest political controversies in recent years. Three BBC News reports (Andrew Gilligan's on Today, Gavin Hewitt's on The Ten O'Clock News and another on Newsnight) quoted an anonymous source that stated the British government (particularly the Prime Minister's office) had embellished the September Dossier with misleading exaggerations of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities. The government denounced the reports and accused the corporation of poor journalism.

In subsequent weeks the corporation stood by the report, saying that it had a reliable source. Following intense media speculation, David Kelly was named in the press as the source for Gilligan's story on 9 July 2003. Kelly was found dead, by suicide, in a field close to his home early on 18 July. An inquiry led by Lord Hutton was announced by the British government the following day to investigate the circumstances leading to Kelly's death, concluding that "Dr. Kelly took his own life."

In his report on 28 January 2004, Lord Hutton concluded that Gilligan's original accusation was "unfounded" and the BBC's editorial and management processes were "defective". In particular, it specifically criticised the chain of management that caused the BBC to defend its story. The BBC Director of News, Richard Sambrook, the report said, had accepted Gilligan's word that his story was accurate in spite of his notes being incomplete. Davies had then told the BBC Board of Governors that he was happy with the story and told the Prime Minister that a satisfactory internal inquiry had taken place. The Board of Governors, under BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies' guidance, accepted that further investigation of the Government's complaints were unnecessary.

Because of the criticism in the Hutton report, Davies resigned on the day of publication. BBC News faced an important test, reporting on itself with the publication of the report, but by common consent (of the Board of Governors) managed this "independently, impartially and honestly". Davies' resignation was followed by the resignation of Director General Greg Dyke the following day, and the resignation of Gilligan on 30 January. While doubtless a traumatic experience for the corporation, an ICM poll in April 2003 indicated that it had sustained its position as the best and most trusted provider of news.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The BBC has faced accusations of holding both anti-Arab and anti-Israelmarker biases, and being anti-semitic.

For example, Douglas Davis, the London correspondent of The Jerusalem Post, has described the BBC's coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict as "a relentless, one-dimensional portrayal of Israel as a demonic, criminal state and Israelis as brutal oppressors [which] bears all the hallmarks of a concerted campaign of vilification that, wittingly or not, has the effect of delegitimizing the Jewish state and pumping oxygen into a dark old European hatred that dared not speak its name for the past half-century.". Yet the two large independent studies, one conducted by Loughborough University and the other by Glasgow University's Media Group (published in Bad News from Israel) showed strong bias towards Israel, emanating largely the historical narrative selected by journalists and the better PR employed by the Israeli government

Noam Chomsky, and David Edwards of tend to criticize the BBC through differences in terminology sometimes used to describe Israeli and Palestinian actions. Israeli shootings are usually described as "security sweeps" or "incursions", while Palestinian shootings are described as "terrorist killings" committed by "gunmen".

An independent panel was set up in 2006 to review the impartiality of the BBC's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The panel's assessment was that "apart from individual lapses, there was little to suggest deliberate or systematic bias." While noting a "commitment to be fair accurate and impartial" and praising much of the BBC's coverage the independent panel concluded "that BBC output does not consistently give a full and fair account of the conflict. In some ways the picture is incomplete and, in that sense, misleading." The main biases observed can be found bullet-pointed at the end of the study's conclusion. It reports that there was disparity in favour or Israelis in the amount of talk time given to non-party actors, to civilians, in the appearance of non-party actors and civilians, that Israeli casualties received more attention, that US/UK sources dominated as "foreign" sources, that important actions such as land-annexations by Israel were overlooked, and that there was a lack of historical context.

Writing in the FT, Philip Stephens, one of the panelists, later accused the BBC's director-general, Mark Thompson, of misrepresenting the panel's conclusions. He further opined "My sense is that BBC news reporting has also lost a once iron-clad commitment to objectivity and a necessary respect for the democratic process. If I am right, the BBC, too, is lost". Mark Thompson published a rebuttal in the FT the next day.

The report listed examples of how the BBC could be said to be misleading by failing to describe hardships of the Palestinians in section 4.7. The Guardian too has noted that "The BBC has had a difficult time over its coverage of Israel, with regular accusations of bias coming from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides".

The description by one BBC correspondent reporting on the funeral of Yassir Arafat that she had been left with tears in her eyes led to other questions of impartiality, particularly from Martin Walker'" in a guest opinion piece in The Times, who picked out the apparent case of Fayad Abu Shamala, the BBC Arabic Service correspondent, who told a Hamas rally on 6 May 2001, that journalists in Gaza were "waging the campaign shoulder to shoulder together with the Palestinian people."

Walker argues that the independent inquiry was flawed for two reasons. Firstly, because the time period over which it was conducted (August 2005 to January 2006) surrounded the Israeli withdrawal from Gazamarker and Ariel Sharon's stroke, which produced more positive coverage than usual. Furthermore, he wrote, the inquiry only looked at the BBC's domestic coverage, and excluded output on the BBC World Service and BBC World.

The BBC also faced criticism for not airing a Disasters Emergency Committee aid appeal for Palestinians who suffered in Gaza during 22-day war there in late 2008/early 2009. Most other major UK broadcasters did air this appeal, but rival Sky News did not.

The view of foreign governments

BBC News reporters and broadcasts are now and have in the past been banned in several countries primarily for reporting which has been unfavourable to the ruling government. For example, correspondents were banned by the former apartheid régime of South Africa. The BBC was banned in Zimbabwemarker under Mugabe's government for eight years as a terrorist organisation until being allowed to operate again over a year after the 2008 elections. The BBC has been banned in Burma (officially Myanmar) since the anti-government protests there in September 2007. Other cases have included Uzbekistanmarker,China, and Pakistanmarker. The BBC online news site's Persian version was recently blocked from the Iranian internet. The BBC News website was made available in China again in March 2008

See also


  1. The BBC's Millbank Studios are also a fall-back for news operations in the event of TVC failure, and are continually recording the last hour of the BBC News Channel output (less in-vision clock) for this purpose.
  2. Media resources Longsands College - [1]
  3. History of the BBC - key dates page 4 BBC Heritage 1960s
  4. BBC Guide to Comedy TW3
  5. History of the BBC - key dates page 5 BBC Heritage 1960s
  6. London This Week had started in early 1969 as a once per week "opt out" replacing the Friday edition of Town and Around
  7. [2]
  8. Early Satellite Broadcasts 1960s & 70s, British TV History
  9. 1968 - A new field store converter for Mexico City Olympic Games 1960s Milestones, BBC Research Department
  10. 1970 - Digital line-store standards converter work commences 1970s Milestones, BBC Research Department
  11. - Robert Dougall was even less flattering about the first set, and is quoted as saying that the tiling was "grey and lavatorial" [3] together with "a huge round thing" in the background - referring to the new rotating clockface logo and CSO screen.
  12. History of the BBC - key dates page 4 BBC Heritage 1970s
  13. (PDF)
  14. BAFTA 1982 - page 12 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (PDF) [4]
  15. BAFTA 1982 - page 10 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (PDF)
  16. The worst reported war since the Crimean - Julian Barnes 25 February 2002, Guardian Unlimited
  17. Media & War - The Falklands Conflict Imperial War Museum
  18. BAFTA 1980 - page 2 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (PDF)
  19. The circle had been a recurring theme of the BBC1 news logo since the start of the Nine in 1970, as it was thought to fit in nicely with the BBC1 idents of the globe logo and clock which quite often preceded it - and this logo, representing a clockface, indicated the time of the news. It came from a box similar to the one which generated the BBC2 network logo used from 1979 until 1986, the news version being known as ANT (Animated News Titles) [5] and this new logo was drawn live - triggered by an audio tone on track 2 of the 2-track mono quarter inch audio tape of opening title music to ensure sychronisation - and also produced the "venetian blind" wipe to the opening story.
  20. >
  21. Denis Taylor, "BBC broadcasts jammed", The Times, 4 May 1982, p. 2.
  22. Davis, Douglas. "Hatred in the air: the BBC, Israel and Antisemitism" in Iganski, Paul & Kosmin, Barry. (eds) A New Anti-Semitism? Debating Judeophobia in 21st century Britain. Profile Books, 2003, p. 130.
  23. Philip Stephens: BBC is losing public service plot, FT 20 Jun 2006
  24. The BBC's success story has a public service plot, Mark Thompson, Financial Times, 21 Jun 2006
  25. BBC Urdo taken off Pakistan radio - BBC News: 15 November 2005
  26. BBC News Website Gets Access in China Dinesh Singh-Rawat. ABC Live. 25 March 2008

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