The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is in a soup after the Jimmy Savile exposure. This legendary presenter of the long-running Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It was preying on young girls even on the BBC premises. Jimmy is dead and gone; he can’t defend himself.
The London Metropolitan police say there were as many as 300 victims and most of the allegations dated back to the 1960s and 1970s. Since it became public, Mark Thompson, then Director General of the BBC and now an incoming chief executive of the New York Times, said: “During my time as Director General of the BBC, I never heard any allegations or received any complaints about Jimmy Savile.”
But the truth seems to be different. Many victims reportedly described their experiences to people up there. So it is obvious that Savile’s activities were known to some BBC officials. They can’t feign innocence or ignorance.
Yes, Savile is almost a household name in the UK, and the scandal actually has shocked the British public. So the BBC is obliged to do the right thing, allowing an all-out investigation. But people now smell the efforts by the top brass to hush up.
For all the BBC’s high-pitched claims to impartiality and truthfulness, the Jimmy Savile incident once again proved these claims to be hollow.
Indeed, the BBC has been criticised right from its beginning in1922. Its first general manager John Reith stated its motifs as ‘impartiality and objectivity’. But in the same year the British government faced a general strike, which was to become a full-blown revolution like in Russia months earlier. The BBC was accused of being pro-government and anti-unionist.
Years later it was accused of left-leaning in politics, and conservative MP Peter Bruinvels lampooned it the “Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation”.
In another context in recent times, a noted British MP called it the “Bush Blair Corporation”, implying the politics of those days when Bush and Blair led America and Britain respectively.
On Friday 22 September 2006, the BBC’s Board of Governors held a seminar which was streamed live on internet. One topic of the debate was whether a Muslim BBC newsreader should be allowed to wear headscarf. What does that mean?
In another instance, a report commissioned by the BBC Trust, “Safeguarding Impartiality in the 21st Century” published in 2007, urged the BBC to be more impartial. Shortly later it was reported that BBC employees had edited the Wikipedia article’s coverage of the report. It was an effort at ‘sanitising’ the BBC. Later the channel banned its staff from such activities.
Most of the criticisms are levelled at its reporting. BBC coverage of Israel-Palestinian conflict drew criticism from both Israel and Palestine; eventually the channel’s senior journalist Malcolm Balen conducted an investigation and the Balen Report completed in 2004.
But the BBC reportedly refused to release it even under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Many suspected the report had damning content on the BBC.
Later another committee was appointed to write an “Independent Panel Report” for publication, which didn’t find any “deliberate or systematic biases” on the BBC’s side. But an article in British Newspaper The Independent found the report suggesting BBC’s coverage as favouring the Israeli side.
Martin Walker, editor of United Press International, also found the report to be accusing BBC of favouring Israel. In 2004 a former BBC Middle East correspondent Tim Llewellyn wrote that the BBC coverage made “an Israeli view of the conflict to dominate”.
In 2009 the BBC was widely criticised for its decision not to broadcast a television appeal by aid agencies for the people of Gaza, who were caught in the continuing war.
The channel’s coverage of the events before the 2003 Iraq invasion was widely criticised. So was its coverage of 2006 Lebanon War.
And its coverage of the Arab Spring was intense and consistent, but the question is why the channel didn’t do the same with the Occupy Wall Street strike.
If things stand so, the Jimmy Scandal is just minor case; what you say?