Tuesday, August 18, 2015


I can't yet find coverage on the BBC News wesbite - maybe it's in the Global Edition - but yesterday BBC World got a forty-page going over from Ofcom.

The channel identified, at Ofcom's request, 186 programmes it had broadcast between 2009 and 2011, all of which had been given to the BBC for free, or for a nominal £1 or so. Ofcom reviewed 75 of them.

It seems to me the BBC lost all round. Where, belatedly, the BBC agreed that the topics were 'current affairs', the rules state quite clearly that 'current affairs' programmes cannot be sponsored, whether credited or not. Where the BBC argued that the content was 'documentary' or 'recent history', a line of "Thanks to" in the credits was insufficient to demonstrate that the programme had been sponsored. Where the BBC might have thought taking 'free' programmes from NGOs, charities, or foundations was not the same as commercial sponsorship, the rules are quite clear - it counts in exactly the same way.

Ofcom said, because of the time that had past, it was largely pointless trying to work out whether these programmes were also in breach of rules on impartiality - but, over the pages of the report, it makes it clear that sponsoring organisations seemed to get favourable mentions in the course of a number of films.

I'm sure it'll get some BBC coverage today.

  • 1130 Update: The BBC Trust have tweeted that they gave BBC World a going over in 2011 on many of the same programmes, and indeed Ofcom applauds the action taken to tighten things up. But Ofcom found more faulty programmes than the first Trust sweep.

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