BBC News website fails on transparency

No explanation was given for the removal of a filmed report from the BBC News website after three days.

The BBC’s Guidance document on the “Removal of BBC online content” includes the following:

“The Editorial Guidelines state, “The archive of the BBC’s online content is a permanent public record and its existence is in the public interest. The online archive particularly news reports, should not normally be removed or amended.” To do so risks erasing the past and altering history.”

And:

“The Editorial Guidelines also state, “Where there is an expectation that content, from a name to a whole programme, is made available permanently, it should only be removed in exceptional circumstances.””

Under the sub-heading “Transparency” the same Guidance states:

“We risk losing trust if we remove pages, programmes or clips, or make significant amendments to our online content, which change the editorial meaning, without telling our users.

So we should be transparent at the point a user accesses content, if it has been removed either permanently or temporarily, edited or amended since first publication or is subject to a correction or upheld finding, unless there are legal or editorial reasons not to.”

On July 9th the BBC News website published a filmed report on its ‘Middle East’ page titled “Teaching Palestinians to talk about sex”.

BBC News website Middle East page 9/7/19

The report told BBC audiences about the work of Safa Tamish of the NGO ‘Muntada Al-Jensaneya’ – aka ‘The Arab Forum for Sexuality, Education and Health‎’. A Jerusalem Post report on the film included the following:

“I remember in one of the workshops, a man was really furious. He stood up and shouted: ‘How does your husband allow you to talk about such topics in front of men?’ Tamish said, adding that she starting laughing while understanding his concerns. “Our topic is a difficult one; people don’t welcome us with open arms.”

BBC audiences were not informed that Ms Tamish’s husband is the BDS campaign acolyte Omar Barghouti or that her organisation ran a controversial publicity campaign in 2009. Ms Tamish – a resident of the Israeli town of Acco – has expressed support for the anti-Israel BDS campaign.   

That filmed report giving BBC audiences a rare glimpse of Palestinian society remained on the BBC News website’s Middle East page for three days and then disappeared, with no explanation given.

Its URL now leads BBC audiences to the following:

The video has also been removed from syndicated content – see for example here and here.

BBC audiences have not been informed of the “exceptional circumstances” which led to the video’s removal. So much for “transparency” – and a decidedly unfortunate start for the BBC’s newly revised Editorial Guidelines.

Update:

BBC News website republishes deleted video report

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