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The BBC was biased to the point of censorship in its coverage of the Papal visit
23 Sep 2010
BY MA JIAN

The BBC has flagrantly breached its duty, under the Communications Act 2003 (s.319) to present news with “due impartiality”. For four days, sixteen hours a day, its news reporting of the papal visit has been grovelling and entirely uncritical. 

The Pope is a political figure (hence his “state” visit) and no significant critic or opponent was invited to balance the parade of biased interviewees, inevitably biased because they were almost all Catholics. Even on Saturday, when up to 15,000 citizens marched to Downing Street, the protest was largely ignored by the BBC. Their speakers included Richard Dawkins, whose important speech refuting the Pope’s claims about atheism causing the Holocaust was entirely ignored. This was biased and unbalanced censorship of news, for which Ofcom must hold the BBC’s Catholic editor-in-chief Mark Thompson responsible. The BBC became a vehicle for endless and mindless Catholic propaganda.

One of Britain’s leading media law experts, Geoffrey Robertson QC, author of Robertson & Nicol on Media Law (fifth edition) and also author of The Case of the Pope said, “This breach of the due impartiality requirement was blatant and deliberate, and a disgrace to British broadcasting.”

Ma Jian

2 responses to “The BBC was biased to the point of censorship in its coverage of the Papal visit”

  1. Stuart F says:

    I don’t think this should be treated as an anti-religious or a political issue (and the Pope is not a political figure; the Vatican is not a nation in any real sense).

    The Pope is a unique figure in the world, so it must be hard for the BBC to judge how to cover his arrival. There’s no other person who leads a correspondingly large religious or philosophical group (the Archbishop of Canterbury doesn’t have the same power or charisma; nobody would recognise the Patriarch of Constantinople; and Islam or Hinduism don’t have comparable leaders). The Dalai Lama certainly gets fawning uncritical coverage, but not to the same scale.

    Hopefully the BBC will reflect on their coverage, without it being polarised as a witchhunt against religion. The deaths of Diana and the Queen Mother made the BBC think again about how to cover the royal family, and the BBC needs to realise that nobody today gets as much respect as they gave the Pope.

  2. David says:

    The BBC was no doubt equally accused of being anti-Papist and anti-catholic by those who are enthusiastic supporters of either the Papacy or Catholicism… often not the same thing. I’ve personally rarely seen the BBC get it wildly wrong in controversial disputes… to the point where, over Iraq, they lost their Chair despite taking a well balanced, journalistic position of integrity and sticking to it. Sometimes you just have to recognise that your position on an issue might not be the balanced one ;) They gave Peter Tatchell an entire program to make complaint about the very things you’re saying got no coverage Mark