It also provokes strong opinions because people care passionately about it. As I embark on my first year as Director-General I have a very real sense of pride, but also of the responsibility that comes with the role. The last year has seen the BBC perform at its very best with programmes and services of the highest quality.
Share via Email The Balen report is an internal BBC document compiled in by the senior journalist Malcolm Balen, who looked at the corporation's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was commissioned by the BBC's former director of news Richard Sambrook following allegations of bias from both sides.
Hundreds of listeners complained in when the Middle East correspondent Barbara Plett revealed that she had cried at the death of Yasser Arafat.
On the other hand, allegations of pro-Jewish bias have extended even to the children's programme Newsround.
What he identified, according to people who have seen his report, was that the nature of the conflict at the time — lots of bombings and violence; the fact that Israelis tended to be killed in bigger incidents, although in smaller numbers overall, than Palestinians; the demands of the news machine for continual updates from correspondents on the ground; and inconsistent use of language — fuelled the perception of bias.
As a public body, the BBC has been obliged to consider freedom of information FOI requests, usually from journalists but theoretically from any member of public, since the act came into force in But the corporation has a get-out clause that allows it to refuse requests when information is deemed to be held for the "purposes of journalism, art or literature".
Ina commercial lawyer, Steven Sugar, asked to see Balen's assessment but his request was turned down by the BBC on the grounds that the report directly impacted on the BBC's reporting of crucial world events and FOI legislation did not apply.
The corporation subsequently won its case at the information commission. Sugar appealed to the information tribunal, which overturned the commission's ruling in August In Marchthe high court judge Mr Justice Davis not only backed the original commission decision but imposed restrictions on potential appeals to the tribunal in the future.
In Maythe House of Lords judicial committee allowed Sugar to take his appeal to the law lords. The BBC's determination to keep the report secret has led to speculation that it was damning in its assessment of the broadcaster's coverage. The panel's findings, published in Aprilconcluded there was "no deliberate or systematic bias" in the BBC's reporting, but said its approach had at times been "inconsistent" and was "not always providing a complete picture" which had been "misleading".
Changes implemented after the governors' review are indicative of Balen's recommendations. There is now a Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, who took up his post in June with a brief to add context to the reporting of events on the ground, and there is also a "style book" of language to be used in coverage.
The law lords' ruling has wide implications for the application of the act to public service broadcasting. The BBC has refused more than requests on the same basis.
But whatever the decision, it is unlikely to reduce allegations of bias against the BBC.BBC News is an operational business division  of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs. The department is the world's largest broadcast news organisation and generates about hours of radio and television output.
Get the latest BBC News from the Middle East: breaking news, features, analysis and debate plus audio and video coverage from across the Middle East.
Mar 28, · Getting behind the issues of trade, business and economics in the Gulf. View the latest Middle East news from Israel, Iran, Iraq, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries on benjaminpohle.com This scene and other questionable aspects of the brief report prompted him to pen a letter to the BBC — as he was writing it, the BBC broadcast a Panorama documentary, Saving Syria's Children, which expanded on the original report, and included further footage.
Another of the men named by the FBI as a hijacker in the suicide attacks on Washington and New York has turned up alive and well. The identities of four of the 19 suspects accused of having carried out the attacks are now in doubt.