BBC under fire

published Feb 10, 2004, last modified May 18, 2007

The BBC not only reports the news, but lately has been the topic of news itself. Herewith a few interesting articles.

A good overview of the state of affairs in the BBC is given by this article from the online English (mostly IT) newspaper The Register. It reviews the official tasks that the BBC has according to the charter between it and the British government. Since a couple of years it has a very good news site. I often follow the latest international news there.

Some other news corporations are critical of this. The problem is that it is paid for with British taxpayers' money. This is unfair competition, according to the competition. The article shows that this situation may not be completely fair, but it is the best for the British and world wide audience at a fair price.

More serious is the change in the journalistic culture in the BBC. It was always known as a very reliable news source. That image isn't as strong anymore. For some reporters their opinion is more important than the clean facts. Most notable is the whole affair involving David Kelly and the Weapons of Mass Destruction. It says enough that BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan used the words "sexed up" to describe the British governments handling of the intelligence dossiers. With those words he "sexed up" his own report, sparking an unprecedented row between the BBC and Number 10.

A good article on the changing culture in the BBC is offered by It is a very good German news site. It doesn't seem to offer as much news stories as the vast BBC News site, but the quality is just as great or better. And when the BBC itself is the topic of the news, you need another news source.

Here is another article from Tagesschau about reporter Andrew Gilligan. The BBC reports the same story. BBC news director Richard Sambrook says here that Mr Gilligan was "extremely good at finding out information, but there are sometimes questions of nuances and subtlety in how he presents it which are not all they should be".

Meanwhile both the British Government and it's Broadcasting Corporation have been damaged and, sad to say, deservedly so. The story continues with the Hutton Inquiry.