The BBC internal complaints department today
apologised for describing Iran as having "abducted"
the 15 British sailors and marines in a news report on the 25th March. It also
apologised for repeatedly referring to the British service personnel as
"hostages" in news reports.
The apology, in response to complaints from the
international campaign group, CASMII, failed however to offer a full explanation
on how the misleading reporting was allowed to be aired or what steps are being
taken to ensure that biased reporting of this kind cannot happen again. In a
letter from the BBC information department on 3rd May, Katherine Tsang,
attempted to justify the use of the word "abducted" by claiming "At the time, it
was the very early stage of the story and information was still coming in and
journalists need to provide the public with the information that they have at
the time. Of course as the story developed then facts became clearer."
Professor Abbas Edalat of CASMII said
"We do not accept that because a story is at an
"early stage" misleading reports are therefore acceptable. The BBC has a code of
practice and is very aware of the power of language. Using the word "abducted"
instead of "captured" and the word "hostages" instead of "detainees" is a clear
example of linguistic manipulation of the facts and there are no excuses for it.
We demand a full and unqualified apology from the BBC and an open investigation
as to how these reports were allowed to be broadcast".
complaints have now been referred back to the BBC Complaints Department and
letters have been written to BBC Head of News, Mr Richard Porter and Mark
Thompson Director-General of the BBC.
Other alleged instances of anti-Iranian bias on the
BBC News are also currently under investigation including a report on 25th
February 2007, in which news anchor Emily Maitlas described President
Amadinejad's "no breaks" statement of his
determination to continue with a civilian nuclear enrichment programme as his
"latest defiance of the West" and "just the latest example of Iran ratcheting up
the tension". Whilst Maitlas was talking, the report showed archive images of
missiles being shot into the sky.