BBC BLOGS - The Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

BBC World Service and Afghanistan

Post categories:

Peter Horrocks Peter Horrocks | 14:00 UK time, Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Today's Daily Telegraph makes a number of serious accusations against the BBC World Service and its staff, claiming a leaked US intelligence document suggests our Afghanistan team are part of a "possible propaganda media network" and that BBC employees may have al-Qaeda sympathies.

While I accept that the wording of the intelligence document is not entirely clear, I would strongly disagree with the Daily Telegraph's interpretation of it.

There is a danger that an entirely false impression is created which could have serious consequences for the BBC team who risk their lives daily in reporting from Afghanistan.

There is no evidence - past or present - against members of its staff in relation to supposed al-Qaeda sympathies and we have received no approaches from any security agencies.

This is the full quote from the leaked document:

"The London (UK) number 004420752xxxx was discovered in numerous seized phone books and phones associated with extremist-linked individuals. The number is associated with the BBC. (Numerous extremist links to this BBC number indicates a possible propaganda media network connection. Network analysis might provide leads to individuals with sympathetic ties to extremists or possibly possessing information on ACM [Anti-Coalition Militia] operations.)"

The reference to "network analysis" seems more likely to be a suggestion that intelligence officers should look for other suspects in possession of the phone number than a suspicion that there were BBC employees sympathetic to the extremist cause. In that context, the suspected "propaganda media network" would clearly relate not to the BBC but to a network of extremists who have a BBC number in common.

The BBC Belfast newsroom, where I worked in the 1980s, used regularly to receive claims concerning terrorist violence from extremists. By any reasonable interpretation, if a number of those extremists were then caught in possession of the BBC newsdesk number an intelligence report on the subject would have been more likely to conclude that the extremists were part of a network rather than the BBC was part of such a network.

Because of the BBC's prominent and trusted role in Afghanistan, due to the reliability and impartiality of our journalism, all sides in the conflict regularly contact the BBC to pass on information and give their side of the story. Of course we test all such information rigorously, especially that from extreme organisations.

Today I have written to the editor of the Daily Telegraph pointing out this alternative explanation of the leaked document.

Peter Horrocks is director, BBC Global News.


  • Comment number 1.

    'There is no evidence - past or present - against members of its staff in relation to supposed al-Qaeda sympathies'

    Really? Do you ever read the rubbish your 'journalists' come up with?

    ' and we have received no approaches from any security agencies.'
    And you wouldn't help them anyway? Why not? You are paid for by the British Public via the TV tax, why the hell aren't you helping us against our enemies. Too precious are you?

    The BBC long ago forgot 'he who pays the piper calls the tune', oh except when it's from shadowy 'charities' funded by a Labour government to pass left wing propaganda via the World Service. Hmm, now which newspaper broke that gem?

    Betraying our Country, it's what you do ....

  • Comment number 2.

    Well I live in South Africa and listen to BBC on-line because it's the most informative of all on-line "main-stream" news media and it's an absolutely wonderful service to news-starved South Africans who are only given glimpses of international news by the South African T.V news channels (a sniff here and a sniff there, but never anything more than a sniff).

    Still, any news media or broadcaster is only as objective as its journalists and editors, and journalists and editors are not nearly as unbiased and objective as they claim to be, no matter where they are in the world. And more than one terrorist having the same BBC-linked telephone number in his list of contacts smacks of journalists befriending dubious characters from terrorist organisations in order to get information out of them - which always comes at a cost - the cost of impartiality.

  • Comment number 3.

    Resolve this by explaining how and why the BBC phone numbers were in the hands of the extremists, include (security edited) details of what intel the BBC received from those individuals and to which Government agency this info was passed and when.

    Or, explain that this is a Caversham matter.

  • Comment number 4.

    The BBC is indeed 'too precious'. It does more to promote this country and its values by being as fair and unbiased as possible than we could ever obtain from a tame propaganga pump. It may not always be perfect but I can think of no other news broadcaster who adheres to the ideal as closely as the BBC does.

    A news service which merely tells its funder what they want to hear is of no value - that would truly be a waste of money.

    In order to maintain any semblance of integrity the BBC has to listen to both sides; otherwise we might just as well save time and simply print 'brave Tommy good, Johnny foreigner dastardly' every day.

  • Comment number 5.

    There is probably not much in this issue. However, instead of once again protesting that the BBC has impartiality in its DNA, Mr Horrocks would gain more credibility if he explained whose that particular telephone number belonged to. But truth went out of Broadcasting House's window when the BBC embraced post-modern obfuscation instead of facts and reason. Let's have the facts, Mr Horrocks, not appeals to the BBC's much vaunted and tarnished "trust". We should not accept Turkey as an enlightened country until it has owned up to the Armenian Genocide, and we should not trust the BBC until it publishes, in full, the Balen report.

  • Comment number 6.

    As Much as we know the BBC has its faults. I find the insinuation that it is or was some kind of covert terrorist media cell whatever or that it was being mined by a bunch of loonys and lefty pinkos, totally out of order. Just you keep on doing the work you do. Hard it is to maintain your position of independence.
    Tell all those rabid detractors, who see a lefty liberal conspiracy in any form of intelligent life higher than Yogurt, they can stick their Internet connection where the sun don't shine.

  • Comment number 7.

    The wording of the WikiLeak is certainly not clear. It would doubtless be clear to whoever wrote it and whoever received it, given that the phrases used would have added significance for them, but to anyone outside the loop it can be read at least two ways.

    If you take "possible propaganda media network connection" to mean "a possible connection to the propaganda media network" then the "propaganda media network" can probably be taken to be an al-Qaeda network that works to spread its propaganda through the media and has the phone numbers of many of the world's media outlets, including the BBC's, which it uses to try and do so. That would make the following sentence mean, as Mr Horrocks is arguing, that "analysis" of this "network" through their use of the BBC phone number (and other phone numbers) could be useful in finding more terrorist sympathisers and those who could provide U.S. intelligence with useful info on enemy operations.

    The other way of reading "possible propaganda media network connection" is to take it as meaning that the BBC telephone number could be, using a computing term, a "network connection" in al-Qaeda's overall "propaganda media" network - i.e. a connection to a particular al-Qaeda sympathiser (a contact) in a possible chain of al-Qaeda sympathisers (contacts) in various media organisations around the world. That would make the following sentence mean, as the 'Telegraph' is arguing, that "analysis" of this possible network within media organisations could be useful in helping find more terrorist sympathisers and those who could provide U.S. intelligence with useful info on enemy operations.

    As readings of the deeply ambiguous WikiLeak I wouldn't say either is more likely that the other, just from reading its words.

    But one interpretation of the reality beyond the Wikileak is much more likely - that, as with the case of the PIRA, al-Qaeda has a lot of telephone numbers which it uses to give its side of the story. This BBC number is very likely to have been just such a number. That's almost certainly all there is to it...except for the intriguing thought that the BBC number seems to have been an especially popular telephone number with al-Qaeda operatives. Why the BBC in particular? Is there something in the way the BBC reports al-Qaeda statements that makes it such an appealing medium for al-Qaeda?

  • Comment number 8.

    It is too late to seek refuge in vagueness. The public who fund you need to be left in no doubt about the nature of the relationship between the BBC collectively , BBC News employees individually and Al Qaeda and its affiliate extremists. The 'facts' as reflected in the leaked document reveal that a number of individuals associated with extremist activity all have the same BBC contact number at hand. You need to explain why that was the case. is this a publicized number that the BBC promoted amongst groups in order to facilitate and filter access ? If so was this a collective decision and who made it ? Was it an individual employee's number. Does the BBC keep logs of usage of that number and would release of those logs strengthen the BBC protestations of innocence ? The released document clearly leaves a lot of questions to be answered and if the BBC is to avoid losing the confidence of the British Public you need to offer a better explanation than so far attempted.

  • Comment number 9.

    @Molatov - rather harshly put but I have to agree.. I think the BBC have done an excellent job with respect to their coverage in Afghanistan and the conspiracy theory regarding where their alleged sympathies lie seems quite incredible.

    I think the Daily Telegraph is just pulling a cheap publicity stunt in this instance - unfortunate competition for the tabloids no doubt.

    Anna - Social Issues blogger

  • Comment number 10.

    Peter, it really makes me very angry when I read accusations of this sort and I definitely feel for the BBC. Some colleagues and I just returned from a stint covering Libya earlier this month and I really do believe it is difficult for the public to appreciate exactly what goes on when reporters, photographers, aid workers and the like face on the ground when they are doing their jobs. The environment is hostile and maintaining impartiality is critical. You're right in saying that the opposing factions show acknowledgement of this impartiality by allowing us to associate with them.

    Without that trust and that willingness to share from all local parties concerned, no media organisation cannot report from such regions successfully.

  • Comment number 11.

    As if the World Service isn't being trashed enough at present. No surprise that the usual jealous, posturing buffoons at the Telegraph and Mail are using this pretty weak stick (from a site, Wikileaks, that they invariably used to criticise) to beat their old rivals with. BBC World Service is one of the few places in the UK you can still get news.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Sorry to have quoted Wikipedia as a source of factual information. Maybe the prefix caused a shiver?

    Let's try again....


    First one is treated to Mr. Marr on why journalistic integrity is more flexible when applied personally, and now this at a more corporate level.

    I pretty much despair at the standards across the entire MSM, so one is as bad as the other, but whilst acknowledging two wrongs don't make a right, had to laugh (which considering the current state of BBC comedic output is a rare treat) at this:

    '...pointing out this alternative explanation of the leaked document'

    So, will this be the new way 'news' gets treated in future on the BBC? No more rampant opinion from 'reporters', 'correspondents', 'editor' or 'analysts', or carefully-selected 'guests' from near-zero ABC-rated publications, or vox-pops/emails from 'viewers' who make it past the researcher viewer screen?

    So, not sure the ' but we're unique' thing really can apply to this extent, this often, TBH. And Wikileaks seems a rather unselective media resource, collateral-damage wise. Some, now, seem a tad more cautious at citing it than they were initially. Perhaps the later revelations don't suit as well?

    Actually, with that as a source to kick off being enough, I then had some sympathy for the defence that someone having a number means precious little, just as proof of posting does not mean (well, unless you are government or local authorities issuing fines) proof of receipt. I'd be more intrigued at whose number is on speed dial on BBC employee iPhones, and why - )

    The BBC makes some pretty serious allegations all the time, but usually via one degree of separation proxies as above or, too often, ridiculous 'source' claims that mean nothing if not attributed, substantiated and/or verified. Messrs. Robinson and Crick could phone in most of their blog scoops based on pub gossip these days, for all the value they have. Other than as political spin of course. On whose behalf usually, one really could not hazard a guess.

    Meanwhile, as a personal opinion 'strongly disagreeing' with an interpretation is valid, but hardly substantive here. Mandy Rice-Davies had a phrase for this.

    Meanwhile those historically on the wrong end of too many BBC-employee, agenda-driven reports could surely testify to the dangers of false impressions created. Especially those in combat situations where the phrasing could have been poor...

    ... or other, less clear intentions...

    [a certain resource]/Falklands_War

    [views in the piece from Admiral Woodward about the BBC World Service and those of Colonel 'H'. Jones in similar vein]

    The media glass house is a tricky one to hide behind selectively.

    Sadly, now... this ' [BBC's] prominent and trusted role in [anywhere], due to the reliability and impartiality of our journalism...' is on much shakier ground than can be shored by a blustering 'it is because we say it is'.

    This manner of this post has merely add fuel to a rather weak ember. Nice one.

  • Comment number 14.

    It's all right Peter, its crystal clear to anyone with more than a passing interest that the BBC is a propaganda machine for the UK and US governments and business elites. We should more correctly say an arm of corporate elites (both within and external to government).

  • Comment number 15.

    I would urge those that think the reporting on the BBC is of merit to compare it Al Jazeera, which is now on freeview. The range of topics and respect given to different perspectives provides a far greater insights into issues.
    What the BBC World Service is accused of here clearly does not reflect the fact of extremely biased reporting of the BBC at home.

  • Comment number 16.

    While I have no doubt that the BBC World Service is an exceptional news outlet and any claims of al-Qaeda sympathies is certainly unfounded, I still have grave concerns over the BBC’s claims of impartiality.

    Peter Horrocks says

    “Because of the BBC's prominent and trusted role in Afghanistan, due to the reliability and impartiality of our journalism, all sides in the conflict regularly contact the BBC to pass on information and give their side of the story. Of course we test all such information rigorously, especially that from extreme organisations.”

    In fact anybody who watches or listens to BBC news can clearly see that the BBC has a set point of view, a standpoint if you will.
    News stories that support their standpoint are reported with vigour while stories that question their idyllic viewpoint are simply ignored.

    The proof that contradicts Peter Horrocks was the reporting of the Daily Mirror picture of supposedly British soldiers abusing an Iraqi in the back of a lorry. Any testing, research or investigation of any kind, let alone rigorously, would have easily demonstrated the pictures were fake. But the supposedly impartial BBC reported the story eagerly with no regard to the consequences, in fact the pictures supported the BBC viewpoint and showing them reinforced that viewpoint even if the pictures were fake.

    The BBC cannot claim impartiality, in fact nobody can because every viewpoint is biased and even trying to balance the story by reporting both sides only leads to more imbalance.

  • Comment number 17.

    Whilst I would hesitate to suggest that the BBC is other than impartial and even handed in it's news coverage, there is a growing suspicion in my mind and obviously in the minds of others that some of the employees of the organization are far from impartial in their views and in fact on occasions appear to be not only actively supporting some terrorist organizations but leaning very close to being anti British in their outlook.

  • Comment number 18.

    I would only comment that: Between 10.41 and 12.33 I tried non-stop to have my Comment accepted on this web-page.

    It NEVER got past 'send' due to a legendary BBC 'TECHNICASL FAULT'.

    The 'TF' coinciding with my highly detrimental commentary on BBC Journalism and News standards.

    To any reading this or any other BBC blog - - BEWARE, the 'bias' and irregularity of the apportioning of House Rules and sudden 'TF' breakdowns - - there's never a moment the BBC allows genuine critical comment of its alleged Public 'Service'.

  • Comment number 19.

    I see my post from yesterday has not been placed upon the page. Seems to me I was right all along, the BBC is a propaganda machine in cahoots with Al Qaeda, otherwise, what on earth are you afriad of? Was it the treason charges I mentioned those responsible should be brought to justice? Shame on you cowards.

  • Comment number 20.

    what utter nonsense!the beeb does it's best to give reports with truth and fairness,i
    cannot see someone like mr bowen being manipulative or manipulated to sullie the intelligence?that is about as rare as rocking horse for the express,what as aunty done to upset those paragons of virtue,non party political
    denizens of the british press??

  • Comment number 21.

    Its clear ALL the BBC do is propergander for the tory party and their intrests here in the UK so why would you be any different anywhere else.
    It is clear you use different langue and terms for freedom fighters in afganistan and iraq (such as insurgents when most are afgans) and also ignore such things as syria as long as the government does. Its clear the BBC long ago forgot its charter to the people of britain to remain neutral and give us the facts not biased opinions

  • Comment number 22.

    Actually here in Hong Kong Channel News Asia and Al Jazeera show a broader range of interesting news programming .... not just the 15 minute repetition that is the BBC's news content ... and more balanced reporting about the UK. The BBC combines sneers at the country that pays its wages (whether it is Afghanistan or the Royal Wedding) with monotonous repetition. I would not be surprised to learn the BBC has hired Al qaeda or Taleban operatives for its Afghan services, since in the 70's it was largely staffed by the KGB. It is laudable that it sees the need to modernise in this way.

  • Comment number 23.

    Why is the BBC saying that the lace was made in England[Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] when the rest of the world knows it was made in Northern France? Is this just to make Brits happy?!

  • Comment number 24.

    Despite GENUINE popular Middle East/North Africa uprisings, Washington's HANDS ARE NOT CLEAN. Where the US' hands are not clean, it's hard to believe the UK's hands are clean.
    In June 2006 in Tel Aviv, "US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice first coined the term": "Greater Middle East Project", a shift in rhetoric but not in Washington's longstanding imperial aims. The new terminology coincided with the inauguration of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Oil Terminal in the Eastern Mediterranean. During Israel's summer 2006 Lebanon war, Prime Minister Olmert & Rice informed the international media that a project for a 'New Middle East' was being launched in Lebanon, a plan in the works for years to "create an arc of instability, chaos, and violence extending from Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria to Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Iran, AND THE BORDERS OF AFGHANISTAN.
    This strategy is violently playing out in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria, and may erupt anywhere in the region to solidify Washington's aim for dominance. Leaders like Mubarak, Gaddafi, Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, likely Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh have been marked for removal - coups, assassinations, or war, perhaps not so much outright war because both the US and the UK are facing austerity.
    The western media is fully supportive in its reporting. Whether about Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Haiti's Aristide, former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, Venezuela's Chavez...American "journalists" have lacked objectivity re America's imperial propaganda.
    Despite clear evidence of US intervention, Obama "issued a statement condemning the violence and accusing Mr. Assad of seeking Iranian assistance in brutalizing his people." Now that's hypocracy! Instead, the western news media remains America's leading tool, backing Washington's imperial arrogance.
    WikiLeaks Released Cables Expose America's Regime Change Plan:
    "US secretly backed Syrian opposition groups. Through its Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel (London-based Barada TV) that beams anti-government programming into the country.
    Barada TV is closely affiliated with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of (pro-Western) Syrian exiles.
    Other US imperial organizations are also regionally active, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), operating contrary to their stated missions.
    Since late January, popular uprisings began, suspici

  • Comment number 25.

    The activities of Journalists, prominent among them BBC CORRESPONDENTS, has created a situation in Libya where-in thousands of totally innocent people, who otherwise would be unharmed and safe in bed tonight, suffer injuries and deprivations more srious than ever happend under Gaddaffi. The same "democratic journalism" nurtures and applauds lunatics running around armed to the teeth and mad men in charge of them. How much money do BBC "jouranalists" receive from the Bank Account opened up by the Libyan "rebels"?

  • Comment number 26.

    I came to this page to express my shock reading the obituary of Osama bin Laden on the BBC site. Whatever the explanation, I found it badly written, and the final sentence in particular ended the article on a very odd note. I did find it sympathetic to the al Qaeda cause, and that shocked me enough to register specifically to mention this. Is there an explanation for this?

  • Comment number 27.

    '26. At 06:02am 2nd May 2011, MairiMac70 wrote'

    This one?

    As Pres. Obama says vs. claims in this report, and given the marked lack of 'quotes' so prevalent in BBC headlines, it seems much is known already.

    However one wonders if Mr. Gardner had anything more to contribute, or would wish he was quoted more extensively on other input. An odd sole sound bite to be associated with in the circumstances.

    But overall, so far, so factual. Too much too hope we will be spared in the coming days an awful lot of talking head opinion from minority sources who make good ratings but poor illumination over light.

    Already I am seeing some bizarre discussions on screen from folk who could not have a clue now as to what happened then, on how and when a bullet may have arrived in his head and what that means.

    I hope time and professional appraisal may ensue based on what is and becomes known. But I suspect we'll soon be subject more to a raft of feelings.

  • Comment number 28.

    re the osama fable just one comment "osama is dead long live osama"

  • Comment number 29.

    Interesting how now none licence fee payers from Afghanistan and Pakistan are allowed to have their say on Bin Laden's death. A privilege not extended to UK licence payers.

  • Comment number 30.

    I don't see BBC reporting being very sympathetic towards Al Qaeda at the moment - just BBC stories of people happily celebrating the world over because of Osama's death. That ought to quell some of the criticism mentioned in this post for a while Peter!

  • Comment number 31.

    And our guest commentator today is...

    'On the Today Programme this morning, several critics came up with ingenious ways to carp at the operation'

    One guesses that it often depends who you ask or what you choose to share.

    Plausible degrees of separation?

  • Comment number 32.

    31. At 08:53am 3rd May 2011, You wrote:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. Explain.

    Is it the comment that's a problem, or simply debating whether now is a good time to close the entire thread? Either way, another triumph for the blog.

  • Comment number 33.

    Maybe if one submitted one's thread commentary by smuggled audio tape it would be more likely rushed to publication? Such delays simply make things worse.

  • Comment number 34.

    Its sometimes rather disappointing to see comments which are clearly anti-BBC because they are "part of the establishment"; you do of course have a choice - News International, CBS, Fox News,Sky News,etc - would I be alone in suggesting that they may have agendas? The BBC may not be perfect but its the best we have.....

  • Comment number 35.

    As I read it, the quote does not appear to implicate BBC journalists or employees of any improper behavior. I think The Telegraph has either misunderstood, or wilfully misrepresented the quoted words.

    Wasn't it also The Telegraph that got involved with the accusations against George Galloway some years ago about his actions in Iraq? It might be just a coincidence.

  • Comment number 36.

    Dear all,
    We all are rejoicing about the captured and deceased osama bin laden. The world is a much safer place without him. I have just read the news on how the citizen of the UK should be more vigilant in case of retaliation attack or any any other act of terrorism. However i must also plead to the citizen of the UK to be as vigilant in act of rapes that is occurring systematically in your areas. Children are vulnerable, especially school children on the way home from school may get pick up and bundle into a car such as a red Nissan ad resort with tinted window and getting raped by mens wearing rubber gloves on their forehead. These chicken heads should be captured so girls will stop thinking that the lost their virginity to a chicken. Being vigilant on both possible threat of terrorism and the threat of rape culture society will ensure Britain a much safer place to be..

  • Comment number 37.

    Osama bin Laden is dead and killed by US troops in Pakistan. The world all over is alerted over a revenge that may be planned by sympathizers, and it has been reported that Prince William had postponed his honeymoon overseas due to security reasons.
    My concern lies in what security measures are there for the king in waiting. If someone is to bring harm to Prince William, it will be from within his circle of friends and work. I could only imagine that in the course of his work as a rescue pilot, the very person that he rescues could also be the person who will assassinate him. Thus I urge the authorities to be extra vigilant at times like this.

  • Comment number 38.

    '34. At 21:31pm 3rd May 2011, dizzerascal wrote:
    you do of course have a choice'

    Actually, when it comes to unique funding, as a UK resident seeking to watch broadcast on-screen events, I don't think one does.

    Hence, as a stakeholder, albeit possibly unwilling, it is probably OK for people to express their views on what is served. And not always through being part of the establishment, but more by forgetting about objectivity and professionalism.

    Which may, indeed, be 'disappointing' to some. I simply feel that if I am being charged, then the service should be as billed.

  • Comment number 39.

    , dizzerascal wrote:

    Its sometimes rather disappointing to see comments which are clearly anti-BBC because they are "part of the establishment"; you do of course have a choice - News International, CBS, Fox News,Sky News,etc - would I be alone in suggesting that they may have agendas? The BBC may not be perfect but its the best we have.....

    And as you must be perfectly aware the UK public is forced to pay for the BBC even if they do not wish to watch the BBC, so criticism of the BBC's left of center news narratives are both valid and something that no amount of denying can change.

    It amazes me that so many Guardian journalists are invited onto BBC news /current affairs shows, whilst Telegraph, Daily Mail and Times journalists are virtually never invited, why is that?, why should a newspaper with a circulation which is so low given so much free airtime by the Beeb?, why does this one newspapers opinion, a newspaper which represents 2% of the British public somehow matter more than the opinion of newspapers who's circulations are millions more ignored?

  • Comment number 40.

    Thank you for that piece of advice.

  • Comment number 41.

    yes he's gone.that leave how many more thousands of racist biggoted individuals to
    carry on his ghastly work?the west must sleep with one eye open at all times.this will not end untill by the grace of god,along with dillergent security and political negotiations brining all parties to the peace table. i beseech all the partys involved
    follow the axiom "jaw jaw is better than war war"i won't hold my breath.......

  • Comment number 42.

    In order to improve the BBC's journalism regarding so-called "extremism", some changes would be desirable.

    Many "extremists" seek to justify their actions by reference to Koran suras. Indeed, such actions are explicitly exhorted in "verbatim" terms in the Koran. However, the BBC appears totally unwilling to recognise this. It continues to maintain the "tiny minority of extremists" and "vast majority of moderates" narratives.

    Some clarity from the BBC would be welcome.

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    To JunkMale, Rustigjongens #38, #39

    You would then agree that you should be skeptical and dismiss most sources and websites where you have no knowledge of how they're funded or any information about the contributors or owners.

    1) In your view what's the ideal funding arrangement for news sources? You seem happier to be charged for sources that confirm your own opinions and prejudices, even if they're completely wrong (Obama not born in the USA anyone?)

    2) What's the rationale for supporting the position where people who just happen to have the most cash and advertising budget dominate and influence news output?

    3) Finally what percentage of yesterday's total BBC output do you estimate lies outside the centrist position as defined here
    (Wednesday 4th May, 24 hours midnight-to-midnight, making reasonable assumptions about reading speed of textual information on the website, including all TV and radio output, assuming apolitical programme output is centrist)

    This is a continuing political controversy because those with money/power want to promote conditions where they can hang on to it without too much effort and those with little or no money/power want to encourage meritocratic conditions where they are able to acquire it.

  • Comment number 45.

    Perhaps insurgents/extremists/any kind of anti-government politics etc. feel that the BBC is the most impartial of the Media services and also the most likely to report (accurately and without prejudice) what they have to say? There are enough branches of right wing propoganda masquerading as part of "the Establishment". Also just because popular opinion has swung towards the far right (perhaps extremetised by current events and the domination of the world's media by the Murdoch Empire?) that doesn't suddenly turn impartiality into a left wing sentiment no matter how much Torygraph/Hate Mail/Hard Times readers shout. The biggest irony is that writing to the Editor of the Telegraph is likely to have more effect than complaining to the (toothless and ignored) Press Complaints Commission, whereas the BBC is actually answerable to the public, albeit indirectly.
    The reason the Right Wing complain about the licence fee, is because while it's there, they can't buy out or silence the BBC

  • Comment number 46.

    Why does the right wing think they are the only ones who love their country?
    Any viewpoint that contradicts theirs is immediately accused of treason/sedition. Any judgement that is not in their favour is automatically an expression of Communist/Extremist sympathy (in their eyes).
    I sometimes wonder how it is that we ended up opposing Hitler. Particularly if you look at the "war records" of certain prominent media outlets.

  • Comment number 47.

    the archbishop, is up set, that binladen.was shot as he was unarmed, what about the unarmed people he's killed

  • Comment number 48.

    '44. At 11:59am 5th May 2011, _marko wrote:
    To JunkMale..
    You would then agree that you should..

    As the simple courtesy of correct addressing can't be managed, and the initial tonality in that first line suggests a mindset not destined for productive exchange worth the investment in time answering a raft of questions, I regret that what you may wish I agree with could remain an resolved mystery. At least this may spare disappointment.

    But speaking of various well-funded sources of opinion and prejudice from all directions...

    '45. At 12:09pm 5th May 2011, pandatank
    The reason the Right Wing complain about the licence fee, is because while it's there, they can't buy out or silence the BBC'

    Whilst always being cautious as to what constitutes a 'wing' and who falls under one, especially in tribal 'them & us' terms, it might not be helpful to the carefully nurtured cause of BBC impartiality that it is accepted and indeed lauded in its defence as a proactive counter-balance to anything, which is not its remit, as opposed to a neutral reporter reflective of the need to educate and inform the country as a whole free of agenda.

    In the spirit of cherry picking examples, for instance it seems intriguing if consistent that the enthusiasm for certain niche political mechanisms globally is also matched by the uniqueness of the national broadcasting funding model compared to worldwide.

    So it seems astounding any free-speaking democracies exist, much less thrive, outside these shores, without benefit of the imposition of a compulsory tax simply to observe a broadcast signal on a monitor.

    Certain aspects of US media, for instance, seem very supportive of the current administration in the face of others that are not. The former do however seem currently a bit torn in their loyalties in the face of being confronted by certain realities, much as their favoured leaders are having to cope with as ideals come up against actual facts of life.

    And as media monopolies go, I'd have to hazard that £3.5B+ in cash and PR/advertising budget can dominate and influence news output a fair bit? Fine if you are happy with the content and how it can be and is applied; less so if you feel it is substandard or prone to undue agenda influence that can effect democratic process unduly.

    Just a view, but as a stakeholder one surely is entitled to have. Hence counters that operate on the basis that you should not only like it by stumping up, but lump it and hold one's tongue simply because some others do like it and appreciate the subsidy, seems... to coin an oft used word in some quarters... unfair.

    But then, maybe to some eyes it is legitimate some fairness is more fair than others? I guess it boils down to who gets to choose.

  • Comment number 49.

    To JunkkMale #48

    You would then agree that you should..
    As the simple courtesy of correct addressing can't be managed, and the initial tonality in that first line suggests a mindset not destined for productive exchange worth the investment in time answering a raft of questions, I regret that what you may wish I agree with could remain an resolved mystery. At least this may spare disappointment.

    I guess this means that there doesn't have to be any consistency or rationale behind your posts.

  • Comment number 50.

    '49. At 10:45am 6th May 2011, _marko wrote:
    To JunkkMale #48

    I guess this means that there doesn't have to be any consistency or rationale behind your posts.'

    Ah, back on track with the basics. Good.

    However, in worrying more about me than the issues, or addressing anything of substance that does not suit in pursuing this course, what you guess something means is your prerogative, but possibly still of little value to anyone else, and hence only becomes distraction.

    I'd have to hope that my posts reflect my views and, in turn, consistency of opinion. Rationale is also, but even perhaps more down to interpretation. I accept you have and should have yours. You don't feel I should have mine, to the extent of what is being talked about getting lost on more personal obsessions. Hence feeling initially us batting 'tis/'t'isnt's from now on seems unproductive. Not much so far or subsequently looks to change that.

    Anyway, as I gather longer posts are soon to be a thing of the past in pursuit of more heat over light at editorial level, to take the opportunity whilst presented...

    '1) In your view what's the ideal funding arrangement for news sources?'

    Well, I rather like free ones (which we'll come to again later) to user, which means that if they have to be supported somehow, it's by payment of some kind and preferably not from me. If not subscription it's mainly going to be advertising eyeballs and ears. The former is still fine, especially as it offers opt-in choice. As does the latter, albeit with annoying intrusions. However, if either fail their audiences, they soon cease. There are other models, but these seem less satisfactory by removing the option of the free market to place their position and hence heft.

    You seem happier to be charged for sources that confirm your own opinions and prejudices, even if they're completely wrong (Obama not born in the USA anyone?)

    Unspecified sources... of mine... that are, according to you... based on nothing other than your opinion, wrong? Interesting stance (And as to the US President's birth certification adventures, I don't recall ever being the least bit interested in it all until he made a berk of himself playing dragged-out, silly games with equally silly other folk. This therefore constituting my first blog comment on such a trivial issue in comparison to so many others).

    In the spirit of consistency, and passing over your estimations of how I feel, I tend to be only unhappy with things I am charged for if they don't live up to expectations. Which is why I appreciate the internet in complement to commercial broadcasting. It enables me to surf a vast spread of news and, inevitably, opinion. From these I can come to views of my own based on what adds up or makes sense. It also enables stuff I am charged for to be shown to be wanting.

    The BBC forms but one of many in this regard. It seems... courageous... to seemingly infer that your favoured, perhaps sole outlet is incapable of error, and a little lacking in self-awareness to gloss over or not notice that this, in turn, could suggest a rather irony-free exclusive tribal comfort zone of your own.

    2) What's the rationale for supporting the position where people who just happen to have the most cash and advertising budget dominate and influence news output?

    Not quite sure what you mean here. I have vast respect for the capabilities and influence of many I choose to visit who most assuredly don't have a bunch of cash or [ad] budgets. But if they accrue both by doing what they do well and sticking to it whilst growing an audience, good luck to 'em. Still intrigued as to how a no-option £3.5B+pa does not count as having a hefty fund to 'influence' things mind. Care to explain?

    3) Finally what percentage of yesterday's total BBC output do you estimate...

    In the spirit of such a po-faced attempt at humour, because one has to assume you are not serious, to how many decimal places would you like my answer (well, guess, well, wind-up) to be. There are lies, damn lies, and what some posters I've noticed seem to have all day and access to BBC archives to juggle with numbers that mean diddly-squat.

    Now, may I ask if you also see the BBC as a necessary counter to perceptions of media dominance from the 'right'? For instance, do you think it appropriate that so many commentators invited on to review events seem to be predominantly from other media whose ABC figures do not seem very reflective of relative representations of the UK public?

    And do you think it fair and proper that such as I, unwillingly, and caused through legitimate dissatisfaction (one presumes you concede others are allowed to be more or less satisfied than you on things?), am obliged to co-fund what you are so content with, just because you happen to agree with every aspect?

  • Comment number 51.

    Here is a clear example of BBC bias, in this case they have attempted to spin the results of the referendum on YES or NO to AV...

    ''We have provisional figures for the final turnout in the AV referendum. According to the Electoral Commission, 42% of registered voters took part - which would be the second lowest figure for a referendum in British history. Participation was highest in Northern Ireland, where 55.8% of people cast ballots. Turnout was lowest in London - at 35%."

    What the BBC have not mentioned is that their has only been two UK wide referendums ever, so actually the headline should say the highest turnout for a UK wide referendum ever.

    This is a clear example of the BBC attempting to distort the picture, shocking.

  • Comment number 52.

    BBC bias in favour of terrorists? Let's see, in no particular order:

    Inviting Iraqis and anyone else to report on coalition troop movements in Iraq and then claiming it was a bad phrase.

    2IC Mark Byford claiming he would be immensely proud if the BBC interviewed the Taliban.

    Mute on coalition successes in Iraq and Afghanistan while loudly trumpeting civilian deaths caused by the coalition.

    Undisguised support for Hamas, including the accusation against Fatah on Hardtalk that it was selling the Palestinians out by negotiating with the US and Israel.

    Frantic knee-jerk condemnation of the Israeli commandos who killed nine peace activists who were defending themselves aboard the Mavi Marmara with sticks.

    Unqualified support for Hezbollah during the 2006 war with Israel.

    Extraordinary obituary on Osama Bin Laden, as if the writer had to restrain himself or herself from coming out in full support of the late terrorist.

    Mentioning the dreaded terrorist word once when the news broke of the massacre of schoolchildren at Beslan and then quickly changing it to gunmen.

    Calling the terrorists who massacred over a hundred people in Mumbai determined young men who had conducted an audacious attack.

    Several years ago the BBC decided to strictly limit the use of the word terrorist. The guidelines stated that it should be used only to describe terrorists actions and never the groups that commit them, though it was apparently OK to use it when quoting others who used it. That soon fell away and the BBC proved its unprofessionalism and dishonesty by misquoting anyone who had rightly identified terrorists as terrorists. They became militants.

    Today the dreaded T-word is rarely mentioned on the BBC. And even when the arch-terrorist met his just end, the writer of the obituary could only mention it at the very end of the piece:

    To his supporters, Bin Laden was a fighter for freedom against the US and Israel, not, as he was to many in the West, a terrorist with the blood of thousands of people on his hands.

    Evidently he wasn't a terrorist to the BBC.

  • Comment number 53.

    To JunkMale #50

    Thanks for your comprehensive and eloquent response. I was just annoyed that all your general moaning wasn't focused enough on specific items.

    To TrueToo #52

    No doubt you can come up with a suitable definition of Terrorism on that thread.

  • Comment number 54.

    To Rustigjongens #51

    RE the AV vote implications
    I believe this map just shows which areas of the country are busy living their lives and not particularly interested in political processes or change.
    (first AV map I could find in Google)

  • Comment number 55.


    I don't know why it's so hard for you to put away the textbooks, forget about the research project and communicate. I have no intention of trailing after your recommendations on the Internet. Nobody should have any difficulty with the definition of terrorist, except, of course, for terrorist sympathisers.

  • Comment number 56.

    Al Qada is a pawn within Abu Dhabi's chess board. O.P.E.C. demands a high price on gasoline and diesel fuel. Americans must invest in domestic fuels. The United States produces a fine volume of shale natural gas. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania develops a marcellus shale industry in its vast reserve. Energy Corporations drilling this ground invite international Purchasers.

  • Comment number 57.

    Barack Hussein O. is mesmerized by Abu Dhabi's immense oil profits. He practices warfare throughout the Middle East at the behest of the Arab League. The United States must fund fighting and afford prices on gasoline and diesel fuel. Barack prefers this fame and fortune of doing favors for O.P.E.C. He doesn't think that the American government debt of $14.3 trillion, at all matters. Does Barack think that he's God?

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    That 400 words makes it another tweet. When all the posts are moderated why limiting it to 400. Why not making it unlimited, if you think the post is unreasonably long you can edit it, Why not giving it a try? Please!

  • Comment number 60.

    We may have to come to terms with the possibility that Osama Bin Laden will become a legendary character like Robin Hood.
    Al Aqueda may become an enduring concept like "rob from the rich to give to the poor"


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.