Monday, October 16, 2006

Information Block

The BBC is trying to block the publication of the Balen Report, which is believed to contain harsh criticism of its Middle East coverage, particularly in its treatment of Israel. From the Telegraph:

Like all public bodies, the BBC is obliged to release information about itself under the Act. However, along with Channel 4, Britain’s other public service broadcaster, it is allowed to hold back material that deals with the production of its art, entertainment and journalism.

The High Court action is the latest stage of a lengthy and expensive battle by Steven Sugar, a lawyer, to get access to the document, which was compiled by Malcolm Balen, a senior editorial adviser, in 2004.

Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, who is responsible for the workings of the Act, agreed with the BBC that the document, which examines hundreds of hours of its radio and television broadcasts, could be held back. However, Mr Sugar appealed and, after a two-day hearing at which the BBC was represented by two barristers, the Information Tribunal found in his favour.

Mr Sugar said: “This is a serious report about a serious issue and has been compiled with public money. I lodged the request because I was concerned that the BBC’s reporting of the second intifada was seriously unbalanced against Israel, but I think there are other issues at stake now in the light of the BBC’s reaction.”


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