Saturday, January 26, 2008

Balen report remains a secret

The BBC's desire to keep its report on its coverage of the Middle East continued yesterday when three appeal court judges ruled that the report did not come under the freedom of information act.

The Balen report originated in 2004 when the then director of news Richard Sambrook commissioned a report to look at allegations of bias in the corporations coverage of the Middle East.The BBC has consistently had to fend off allegations of anti Israeli bias.

The reasons why the BBC has continued to suppress the report are unclear and it has consistently argued that the report was purely for internal consumption.

1 comment:

Richard Sambrook said...

Nigel - the report wasn't commissioned into allegations of bias - it looks at a number of editorial questions about how we cover the Middle east. The BBC has always been very clear about why we will not release it - and in spite of the consipiracy theories it has nothing to do with the reports conclusions. Under the Freedom of Information Act there is a clause which exempts material held "for the purposes of journalism art or literature". We believe that is the case with the Balen report and that is is important to defend that exemption - for other news organisations as much as for the BBC. If it is ever released, the consipracists are, in my view, likely to be disappointed. I think it says less that the Thomas Report commissioned and published by the BBC Trust two years ago.