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Last updated: 2002-10-04

In a rare admission of lack of impartiality, the BBC this week wrote to the Board of Deputies to inform them that it was upholding the Board’s complaint lodged last month regarding the anti-Israel poems broadcast on Radio Three during the intervals of the evening Proms on 13 and 20 August.

The poems, also posted on the BBC’s website, likened Israeli actions to those of the Nazis, and further made reference to victims of the Holocaust who had not “learnt their lesson.” In his letter to the Board, Fraser Steel, head of the BBC’s Programme Complaints Unit maintained that there was a place for political issues to be dealt with during the musical broadcast.

However, he wrote that he was concerned about the question of impartiality, agreeing that: “when poetry enters the areas of political controversy the BBC needs to take proper account of the range of that controversy in the political and social arena. I don’t think that happened on this occasion.”

Neville Nagler, Director General of the Board, commented:
“We are extremely satisfied that the BBC complaints unit has upheld our complaint at a time when we are deluged by objections to the BBC’s bias and and breaches of their own producers guidelines.

“Mr.Steel has said that more should have been done to make clear an editorial awareness of the breadth and depth of the current situation and we are happy to assist in this process.

'The BBC, as a public broadcaster, has a responsibility to be balanced, unbiased and factually accurate. When they fail to meet these criteria they must expect to be held to account.”