“It is essential that BBC staff, BBC correspondents on non staff contracts and freelances known to the public primarily as presenters or reporters on BBC news or current affairs programmes do not undertake any off-air activities which could undermine the BBC’s reputation for impartiality. Nothing they do or say should bring the BBC into disrepute. No off-air activity, including writing for newspapers, magazines or websites, writing books, giving interviews, making speeches or chairing conferences should lead to any doubt about the objectivity or integrity of their work for the BBC. If BBC journalists, presenters or reporters publicly express personal views off-air on controversial issues, then their editorial or on-air role may be severely compromised.”
The above words appear in the guidance document titled “Conflicts of Interest – Off Air Activities”, complimentary to the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines and – under the sub-heading “Public Speaking and Other Public Appearances” – the document goes on to state:
“BBC staff and BBC Correspondents on non-staff contracts should get written permission from their Head of Department before undertaking any outside public appearances including speaking at conferences. They must not make any appearances which are promotional for a commercial concern and nothing they do or say should undermine the integrity or impartiality of the BBC. They should not allow the use of the BBC’s name or brands in connection with advertising for a public appearance unless this has been expressly approved by the BBC. Care should be taken with appearances related to charities, particularly if they are campaigning organisations, and no impression should be given of BBC endorsement of one charity over another.”
J Street is a political campaigning organization which has branches with differing not-for profit designations:
“The J Street family of organizations is comprised of:
J Street: a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation and registered lobby.
JStreetPAC: a political action committee endorsing federal candidates.
J Street Education Fund, Inc: a legally independent 501(c)(3) non-profit.”
We must therefore conclude that written permission from the head of the relevant BBC department was obtained in advance of the advertisement of the BBC Washington correspondent Kim Ghattas’ upcoming appearance as a speaker at J Street’s 5th conference and that the use of her BBC title in that advertising has been “expressly approved” by the BBC.
The approval of Ghattas’ appearance as a speaker at J Street’s conference clearly indicates that the BBC is under the impression that it does not undermine the corporation’s impartiality. That impression is of course grossly mistaken.
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