Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The BBC's sensitive about mentions of the Balen Report

I have just realised that I never did post the BBC's Stephanie Harris's latest response to my complaint about Jeremy Bowen's choice of one of the two holiest days in the Jewish calendar to hold a Twitter Q&A. Here is is, my response will follow later.
Stephanie Harris 10 Dec Dear Sir/Madam Thank you for your further email. With regard to publication of the Balen report, the BBC did not wish to publish this internal report and fought against its disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, as you are aware. The reason for this was that we regarded it as a crucial point of principle to protect our journalism. The BBC maintained that the report was held for the purpose of journalism and was therefore not disclosable under the Act. Repeated court rulings agreed with this position which was endorsed by the Supreme Court. We were forced to defend our position because free and impartial journalism is vital to viewers and listeners. If we are not able to pursue our journalism freely and have honest debate and analysis over how we are covering important issues, then our ability to serve the public effectively will be diminished. This was one of the reasons that Parliament enacted the "journalism" designation for Public Service Broadcasters in the first place. I hope this explanation is helpful. Meanwhile, I will await the outcome of the Trust’s deliberations in relation to your substantive appeal. Yours sincerely Stephanie Harris Head of Editorial Compliance & Accountability, BBC News

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