The Balen Report is a 20,000 word document written by the senior broadcasting journalist Malcolm Balen in 2004 after examining thousands of hours of the BBC's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The report was commissioned by former BBC Director of News, Richard Sambrook, following persistent complaints from the public and the Israeli government of allegations of anti-Israel bias.
It is a legal obligation for the Corporation to be impartial which is why this Report is so important. Well-known examples of purported bias are: BBC's correspondent in Jerusalem 2004, Barbara Plett who broadcast Yasser Arafat's exit to hospital "When the helicopter carrying the frail old man rose above his ruined compound I started to cry ...".
Eventually one year later Helen Boaden, Head of BBC News admitted this was "an editorial misjudgment". There have been similar issues since the report. In 2006 Middle-East correspondent Orla Guerin claimed the Town of Bint Jbeil had been 'wiped out' by the Israelis and showed footage to support this. It had not in fact been wiped out and Channel 4's Alex Thomson, the same day, reported ( from the same street) that the town was "pretty much untouched by the Israeli attack". In fact when the two new's reports were compared it became clear Guerin had completely misled the public. in 2005 The Israeli government accused Ms Guerin of being 'anti-Semitic' in her reporting of a would-be suicide bomber.'It is estimated that the BBC has spent over £200,000 of licence payers money on keeping the Balen Report secret.
Just how damning must the Balen Report have been for the BBC to be so desperate to keep it under wraps?