OFCOM’s response to complaints about remarks from BBC’s Tim Willcox

Less than a month has gone by since British government ministers vowed to do more to combat antisemitism in the UK following the Paris terror attacks.Theresa May

“The UK must redouble its efforts to “wipe out anti-Semitism”, Home Secretary Theresa May has said. […]

“I never thought I would see the day when members of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom would say they were fearful of remaining here in the United Kingdom.”

“And that means we must all redouble our efforts to wipe out anti-Semitism here in the United Kingdom,” she said. […]

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said that education was the way to tackle anti-Semitism.”

One of the places where such education is apparently lacking is the partially government-funded communications regulator Ofcom which recently addressed complaints concerning remarks made by the BBC’s Tim Willcox during coverage of the march held in Paris on January 11th.

In its initial response:

“The broadcasting watchdog ruled that the comments was “justified by the context in which they were presented.” “

Subsequently, Ofcom issued further clarification:

“…in a new statement issued a day later, Ofcom said it had “carefully assessed complaints about alleged antisemitic comments” and “decided not to take the issue forward for further investigation.”

It explained: “While the comments clearly had the potential to cause offence, Ofcom considered a range of factors, including the live nature of this coverage and the need for an appropriate degree of freedom of expression, especially in news coverage of such a significant event.” “

Clearly Ofcom is neither familiar with accepted definitions of antisemitism nor appreciative of the consequences of the propagation of pernicious antisemitic tropes beyond “the potential to cause offence”.

Common sense would suggest that Mr Pickles and his colleagues might find it effective to begin their education drive by remedying the ignorance obviously prevalent among the people responsible for regulation of the mass-media in the UK.

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