Ever since its establishment the BBC has relied on news agencies as part of its newsgathering process.
“A wide variety of sources is used in the preparation of material – including BBC News, BBC World Service and a large number of internationally recognised news agencies. They include the Press Association, Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.”
However, unlike many other media outlets that use agency produced material, the BBC does not usually inform its audiences at the top of an article that the content was provided by an agency. Audiences hence have no way of knowing whether the information they receive does in fact come from the ‘trusted‘ BBC or from agencies which do not necessarily adhere to the corporation’s editorial guidelines.
Recently the BBC decided to end its contract with Associated Press.
“The BBC will end its association with international news agency Associated Press (AP) this week because of “financial pressures”, City A.M. has learned.
News staff have been informed that they will no longer be permitted to use AP video, pictures and wire copy from later this week.
Fran Unsworth, head of the World Service, today told staff in an email that the BBC was instead starting a “new relationship” with Agence France Presse. […]
On the AFP arrangement, Unsworth added:
From midnight on Friday we will subscribe to the full AFP newsroom video services for unrestricted use on BBC output – all platforms and any language. We already receive text wires from AFP and AFP stills via our contract with Getty Images, and we therefore know the high quality of their products. We also hope to work closely with AFP on other initiatives. The many other agency and partner broadcaster relationships we have around the world remain in place.”
Although AFP (Agence France Presse) is officially a commercial business independent of the French government, three of its fifteen board members are appointed by government ministers and two more come from government-owned media outlets.
As readers may recall, one of AFP’s local employees in the Middle East is also chairman of the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate – which has instigated restrictions on foreign journalists and related boycotts. Late last year that same AFP employee, Nasser Abu Baker, unsuccessfully ran for a seat on Fatah’s revolutionary council.
One can only hope that the BBC’s new subscription to “full AFP services” does not ultimately mean that its funding public will be getting news from such an obviously compromised source.
‘Rigorous Neutrality’?: Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate’s Nasser Abu Baker Moonlights For AFP (CAMERA)
Corrupt State of Affairs at the International Federation of Journalists? (Tamar Sternthal)
Agence France-Presse (CAMERA)