"A Man's a Man for all that!" - Rabbie Burns

"Religion? No thanks. I prefer not to outsource my brainwashing." - Bunc
Trying to get your average Joe creationist to understand the phrase scientific theory is as hard as getting a fish to enjoy mountaineering. Its an unimagined world for them - it requires a complete reversal of their normal modes of thinking and being. The fact that humans could explain the complexities of this world without a creating God is a world view they cannot grasp. It's like asking a tuna if it appreciates the view from the top of Mount Everest. Bunc

Jan 28, 2007

BBC seeks to suppress Balen report.

A Jewish activist solicitor, Steven Sugar, who claims BBC reporting is biased against Israel, is heading for the High Court to force the BBC to release the details of an internal report on its Middle East coverage, which he suspects will prove a bias against the Jewish state as well as pro-Palestinian tendencies.

The court case comes as part of a long and heated legal battle between Sugar and the BBC. Sugar has tried to use Freedom of Information laws, which aim to encourage openness, to force the BBC to release details of its own internal 20,000-word Balen Report. This report investigated the levels of balance in the BBC’s Israel reporting.
The BBC refused to release the report but then the Information Commissioner, who adjudicates on Freedom of Information disputes, backed Mr Sugar and demanded the BBC release the report. Under the Freedom of Information Act, public companies must release internal documents to improve openness unless exceptional circumstances prevent it.
But on 2oth Jan in London, the BBC confirmed it would still be refusing to release the document, and would take the battle through the last legal avenue available to it - the High Court.

The case is a landmark case which may have wide implications for the future working of the Act and for public broadcasters. At the High Court Mr Justice Forbes, directed that the BBC’s appeal, and accompanying applications for judicial review, should be heard over two days beginning on March 27.
Sugar, who was in court to hear the verdict, was given permission to make his own submissions in person. He said after the preliminary hearing: "A very large proportion of the Jewish community felt rightly or wrongly that the BBC’s reporting of the second Palestinian intifada or uprising that broke out in 2000 was seriously distorted. I myself, as a member of the Jewish community, felt that and was very distressed by it. I am even more distressed that the BBC failed, until it commissioned the Balen Report, to respond substantively to the criticism. Now I don’t know whether it is important to see this report or not. Instinct says that if they don’t want to give it to me it may be important. The BBC is a public body and I believe I have a right to know what the report contains."
The report was compiled by a senior editorial adviser, Malcolm Balen, in 2004. It examined hundreds of hours of BBC radio and television broadcasts. Along with Channel 4, Britain’s other public service broadcaster, the BBC is allowed to hold back material under the UK’s unique Freedom of Information laws that deals with the production of its art, entertainment and journalism. The corporation has on those grounds rejected more than 400 Freedom of Information requests. Mr Sugar argues that the Balen report is not held by the BBC for the purposes of journalism "because it’s a report about journalism itself", and that he is therefore entitled to see it under the Freedom of Information Act. The Information Tribunal agreed with him. A final legal win for Mr Sugar could mean the corporation having to release thousands of pages of other documents that have been held back.

Just what publicity has the BBC goven to this case? None that we are able to find. It didnt make the news and a search of the BBC website only revealed a mention of the report in some comments posted to a BBC blog. Surely the BBC is supposed to be on the side of the public in championing an open and free society. In our view there are times when the BBC appears to show a degree of bias. It was against the Iraq war from the outset and the tone of its reporting and editorial content has in our opinion always reflected that view. IN our view it has shown less bias on the Israeli /Palestione issue - but thats not the point. There will always be valid debates about the extent to which a national broadcaster is or is not showing bias. This is right and to be expected. What is not right and what must not be tolerated is a national broadcaster which tries to suppress information which may reveal those biases.

There's a report of an internal email from Jeremy Bowen the BBC Middle East Editor (link here) which also arguably shows the same alleged bias.

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