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BBC addresses concern

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2003-11-11

BBC News

BBC News

UK Jewish and Israeli groups have welcomed the BBC's decision to appoint an executive to look at its coverage of Middle Eastern issues.

Malcolm Balen, former editor of the BBC's Nine O'Clock News and more recently Head of News for ITV in London, has taken on the task to examine what the BBC is doing and ways it can be improved.

The appointment of the veteran journalist comes following concerns within the Jewish community that the BBC has shown bias in its coverage of issues affecting Israel and the rest of the Middle East. Likewise, there are those who feel that the BBC has been pro-Israel in its coverage.

"I am pleased to see that the BBC has made this decision," said Zionist Federation executive director Alan Aziz. "Any move that could lead to more accurate reporting of what is an increasingly complex situation has to be good news."

He added: "It is clearly a sign that the BBC is concerned about the public's perceived view that they don't always portray Israel in an unbiased light."

Balen says he is looking forward to the challenge and to hear from listeners and viewers across the UK.

"It's right and proper that our audiences feel passionate about the BBC's Middle East coverage," he told SomethingJewish. "It's too important not to care. So the toughest challenge, I think, is to persuade viewers and listeners that I am fair-minded about the points they may want to raise."