Here's a little insight.
Letter to BBC Complaints
13 March 2014
'Mr Cameron is keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process.'
1. What is the BBC's precise evidence for this claim?
2. Shouldn't this comment more precisely read: 'Mr Cameron says/claims he is keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process'?
3. Why does the BBC so readily accept that there is an actual 'peace process' to 'rekindle'?
4. Have the BBC breached their guidelines on 'impartiality' by speaking for Mr Cameron?
5. Have the BBC breached their guidelines on 'balance' by failing to provide a counter-view to that expressed by the BBC/Mr Cameron?
I look forward to your considered responses.
20 March 2014
Dear Mr Hilley
Thanks for contacting us regarding BBC News at Six broadcast on 13 March 2014.
I understand you believe it was inaccurate to report that David Cameron was keen to rekindle a peace process as you believe the report featured no evidence of this, that it should’ve stated what David Cameron said and makes the assumption that there’s a peace process to rekindle.
Having reviewed the programme, it featured a report on his visit to the Middle East and in saying he was keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process, this was due to his engagement with some of the leaders there to try and move a peace process forward. It reported on his talks with the Palestinian president and that he met with former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
This is a very brief report however and didn’t go into wider details due to time constraints. That said, I appreciate that you may continue to feel it was inaccurate and acted as a spokesperson for David Cameron in saying he was keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process.
With your concerns in mind, I'd like to assure you that I've registered your complaint on our Audience Log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to all BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive board, channel controllers and other senior managers.
The Audience Logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions on future BBC programmes and content.
Once again, thank you for contacting us.
21 March 2014
Dear Philip Young
Thanks for your letter.
After many years seeking to highlight the multiple distortions and biases presented as 'impartial information' by the BBC, I never cease to marvel at the level of crass evasion and patronising dismissal that can still count as a 'considered response' to a specifically-worded complaint.
'Having reviewed the programme, it featured a report on his visit to the Middle East and in saying he was keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process, this was due to his engagement with some of the leaders there to try and move a peace process forward.'I'm at a loss to see what explanation this is meant to convey, other than a tautological reiteration of the claim already made in the BBC report that "Mr Cameron is keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process."
Nor should it matter that the report was 'brief' or subject to 'time constraints'. How many fractions of a second does it take to include the word "says" or "claims" in the above quote?
It can be reasonably argued that there is no honest, viable 'Middle East peace process' to speak of, given that Israel has no intentions of engaging seriously, and that the US/UK, as key allies of Israel, cannot be considered neutral facilitators of such a 'process'.
Two propositions follow from this: Mr Cameron can't 'rekindle' something that doesn't effectively exist; and he shows no serious signs of doing anything to promote a real peace process.
Bear in mind too that Cameron had just addressed the Israeli parliament, pledging his primary support for Israel and its enduring 'security'. And despite his visit to the West Bank (note, not Gaza), all his urgings for a 'two state solution' are based on preserving Israel rather than liberating Palestine.
If Cameron was really intent on achieving a just and realisable settlement he would be advocating punitive sanctions on Israel in the way Britain threatens other countries like Iran and Russia. No such action has ever been remotely considered by the UK, even when Israel was mass bombing Gaza with white phosphorus in 2008/9.
Now, these are my own, if widely shared, views, which I'm at liberty to express.
The BBC, in contrast, isn't supposed to hold or express any particular view. Yet it can be clearly recognised from Sophie Raworth's comments, and the report at large, that the BBC is expressing an explicitly partial view in assuming the supposed thoughts and motivations of Mr Cameron. That's a clear violation of the BBC's own guidelines on impartiality.
Also, rather than permit counter-comment on Cameron's deep complicity in supporting Israel, thus serving to prolong the Occupation, viewers were given only the assumed views of the government, and could have been left with no impression other than that of 'benign' UK engagement. That, again, is a clear violation of the BBC's guidelines on providing balanced viewpoints.
I am now asking for a considered response to EACH of the five questions cited in my original complaint, with the intention of taking this matter to BBC Trust level for a satisfactory response.
Notwithstanding the tortuous procedure that prides itself the 'BBC Complaints process', I will keep readers updated on the 'progress' of this enquiry.