John on March 23, 2007 at 2:32 pm
The BBC is funded by a TV tax which each citizen is forced to pay. Nevertheless, the Beeb has hired one of England’s top lawyers to fight Freedom of Information requests seeking the release of the so-called Balen Report, an internal assessment of the anti-Israeli bias at the network. From the Daily Mail:
The corporation is fighting a landmark High Court action, which starts next week, in a bid to prevent the public finding out what is in the review, which is believed to be critical of the BBC’s coverage in the region. BBC bosses have faced repeated claims that is coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been skewed by a pro-Palestianian bias.
The corporation famously came under fire after middle-east correspondent Barbara Plett revealed that she had cried at the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004.
The BBC’s decision to carry on pursuing the case, despite the fact than the Information Tribunal said it should make the report public, has sparked fury as it flies in the face of claims by BBC chiefs that it is trying to make the corporation more open and transparent.
Openness and tranparency is quite expensive:
A source close to the case said they believed that the BBC had spend in the region of £200,000 on the case so far, while another legal expert claimed the cost could be as much as £300,000.
The Beeb is also incredibly hypocritical in that it frequenty relies on the same sort of FOIA requests it is now fighting to generate stories:
The BBC’s own website boasts of 69 stories that it says it has broken with the help of the Freedom of Information Act.
Conservative MP David Davies had this to say:
“An organisation which is funded partly to scrutinise governments and other institutions in Britain appears to be using tax-payers money to prevent its customers from finding out how it is operating. That is absolutely indefensible.”He added: “I think the BBC are guilty of shameful hypocrisy. What could possibly be in this report that could possibly be worth £200,000 to bury. What is it they feel is so awful in this report.”