Saturday, 21 February 2009

BBC: in Lyons we disTrust

And so, all too predictably, the BBC Trust has backed Director General Mark Thompson's decision not to air the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Appeal for Gaza.

Over 40,000 complaints, 200 appeals and a wave of public disgust over Thompson's ruling seems of little importance to Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons. His letter to BBC staff informing them of the decision was also one of patronising indifference to the widespread concerns expressed inside the organisation.

In response, a petition with nearly 400 BBC staff signatures was handed in to the Director General - with a copy to the Trust's office - condemning Thompson's decision.

Of course, Lyons could always be relied upon to deliver the verdict of support for Thompson. A former aide and ally of Gordon Brown, Lyons's appointment was widely denounced at the time as blatant cronyism.

It takes little imagination to see the shared understanding on such matters between Brown, Thompson and Lyons. Labour Friends of Israel, BBC friends of Brown, BBC friends of Israel. It's all safely contained and managed within the elite loop. Always mediated by the same unspoken rule: never do or say anything which undermines Israel.

There's an Orwellian compliance among the BBC's managerial class. Lyons sounds like an echo of Thompson. News Director Helen Boaden's words are, likewise, amplified by Complaints Coordinators like Stewart McCullough. And the aptly-titled Head of Editorial Compliance, Stephanie Harris, seems to be checking that everyone is, well, just complying with the template language. The "BBC must maintain its impartiality" line now sounds like some kind of automated message. Even Jeremy Bowen was heard spouting it following numerous complaints about the BBC's Gaza coverage.

There's no qualitative argument from the BBC hierarchy in their responses, and certainly, BBC forbid, no suggestion of a personalised thought on the DEC Appeal or the possibility of imbalanced reporting.

It doesn't augur well for the (Stage 3) letter of complaint I've just lodged with the BBC Trust over the editorial leanings of the BBC's Jerusalem bureau.

Maybe, this time, Sir Michael, or one of his Trust colleagues, will have a moral seizure and say something less compliant. Don't bet your licence fee on it, though.



Anonymous said...

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Has it ever crossed your mind that you might be wrong, John? This is utterly tiresome paranoia, and frankly borders on racism.

Anonymous said...

Above poster, if you want "racism" I suggest that you check out Avigdor Lieberman.

Also please look at the Glasgow University Media Group report "Bad News from Israel."

John, you are doing a grand job, keep it up.

Here is the link for the Blair War Crimes petition. Please sign and pass on. Neil from Barra

John Hilley said...

Thanks Neil.

I'm not sure who your anonymous interlocutor is, and don't usually respond to posts which use cheap invective rather than reasoned argument.

But let me say a more general word about being wrong. Actually, I do think a lot about being potentially wrong or mistaken. It's a continuous thought process. And a very worthy one. Thus, it's good to debate, to opinionate, to reflect and modify our thoughts and, if we're true to ourselves, to concede, understand and move on.

One only wishes that sometimes it might cross the minds of those in power that they may be wrong, and for them to reaise that their mistakes are having devastating consequences on people with little voice or ability to be heard.

That's why we speak out in the way we do, listening and learning, with humility and good conscience, as we go.


Anonymous said...

Racism indeed kills harmony...