BBC boss defends the Beeb’s impartiality – while ignoring antisemitism complaints

Tim Davie insists the corporation is doing a ‘good job’ 


The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) has criticized the BBC’s boss for failing to address the community’s complaints about anti-Jewish racism after he told MPs the corporation was “doing well” when it came to tackling bias. 

Director-general Tim Davie told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Tuesday that the broadcaster was “doing a pretty good job” when it came to neutrality: “We do have hundreds of thousands of hours of output…and overall, I think we are delivering well, I do think that and it’s important we’re proportional about this.” 

That view “clashed profoundly” with the experience of British Jews, said the CAA, citing a 2021 survey on its website that found two in three Jews were "deeply concerned by the BBC’s coverage of Jewish affairs," and "a majority" by its handling of antisemitism complaints. 

“Judging issues by the number of complaints received, as Mr Davie does, is a wholly unjust metric for a minority as small as the Jewish community.”  

Last year, the BBC received complaints from individuals and organisations including the Chief Rabbi, the Board of Deputies and CAA over its reporting of an antisemitic attack of Jewish teenagers on a bus in London’s Oxford Street.

They were critical of the accuracy and impartiality of the coverage which included the claim that racial slurs “about Muslims could be heard inside the bus.”

The broadcaster later apologised for “not doing more” to highlight the contested details, but denied claims of ‘victim blaming’. Staff at the corporation who deal with the Middle East have long been criticised for anti-Israel bias.

Last year, the broadcaster had to issue corrections eight times following its news coverage of the Gaza conflict, after complaints from Israeli media watchdog CAMERA Arabic.  In April, a BBC Arabic correspondent falsely claimed that ‘settlers’ are allowed to “get inside al Asqa Mosque” and portrayed Jews visiting their holy site as “storming it.”

The same month, a BBC report about rioting on Temple Mount declared “the compound is known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and is also considered, in its entirety, as al-Asqa Mosque.” Its own style guide says the site should called Temple Mount, with readers also being informed that it is known to Muslims at Haram al-Sharif.  

CAA said on Wednesday it was disappointed that the DCMS had not seen fit to question the corporation on antisemitism. “But regardless of this, Mr Davie’s failure to address the BBC’s standing amongst British Jews is shameful,” it said. Its figures did not “reflect satisfaction with broadcaster’s supposed impartiality and the BBC cannot claim to be upholding its obligation to be so as long as the Jewish community views the nation’s broadcaster as biased.” 

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