Guardian’s grudging mea (not quite) culpa highlights the need for media regulation reform in the UK.

As reported earlier in the day, our friends at Honest Reporting today issued a press release announcing a major achievement on the subject of the Guardian’s bizarre ‘style guide’ assertion that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel. As a direct result of Honest Reporting’s persistence, the Guardian today printed a correction

However, whilst the Guardian will, according to its own clarification, no longer refer to Tel Aviv as the capital city of Israel, it apparently still believes itself justified in denying that Jerusalem holds that title. The Guardian’s ‘reasoning’ is based upon UN SC resolution 478 (1980), which in turn rests upon resolution 476 (1980) – initiated by 39 Islamic States of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.  

Obviously the absurdity of the OIC being able to promote resolutions at the UN which seek to keep Jerusalem divided, especially when those resolutions open with the words “acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible” only 32 years after an Arab nation conquered and divided the city by force in a belligerent war, is as lost on Guardian editors as it is on the United Nations itself. 

The significance of Honest Reporting’s achievement is not limited to the Guardian – it also pertains to the increasingly redundant Press Complaints Commission which (once again) made a mockery of itself by initially upholding the Guardian’s case. 

Despite its impressive-sounding name, the Press Complaints Commission is actually just an arm of the self-regulating British newspaper industry which consists of representatives of the major publishers who join on a voluntary basis and pay an annual fee to fund the commission’s activities. It has no legal powers whatsoever and time after time its performance suggests more than a smattering of an ‘old school tie’ type mentality.  

The leaders of all three major political parties in the UK severely criticized the PCC a year ago in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, with David Cameron stating that it is “ineffective and lacking in rigour” and calling for “a new system entirely” and the Labour leader calling it a “toothless poodle”. 

This particular case – in which the Guardian was cleared of charges of inaccuracy by the PCC even after having decided of its own accord to designate a new capital to a foreign country – illustrates just how urgent the need is for a new regulatory body in the UK. The PCC’s impotency is highlighted even further by the fact that only after Honest Reporting launched legal proceedings was change brought about.

The need for a new regulatory system in the UK is, however, not limited to the printed press. The BBC is also self-regulatory to a very considerable extent, which is especially troubling in light of that organisation’s legal obligations to accuracy and impartiality. 

At present, British media consumers have no one effective and truly independent body not inhabited by interchanging past and present members of the media industry to which they can turn for answers to their concerns and complaints. OFCOM, the PCC and the BBC Trust are all compromised by the fact that – despite a semblance of independence – they actually represent the media overseeing the media. 

Although one only has to look at the state of too much of the British media through the prism of the Israel canary in the mine to understand that this system is not working, it is perhaps more realistic to hope that it will be domestic issues such as the phone-hacking scandal which will eventually render the British government unable to ignore the pressing need for a comprehensive reform which will benefit both consumers and the increasingly tattered reputation of the UK media itself.  

59 replies »

  1. the need for media regulation reform in the UK

    Why? Because the media there – as elsewhere – follow the official line and do not recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital

    Who do you think you are to make such a call?

    The BBC is also self-regulatory to a very considerable extent, which is especially troubling in light of that organisation’s legal obligations to accuracy and impartiality.

    Troubling in the sense that the BBC criticises Israel, I presume.

      • You think this article is OK? Arrogantly pushing for media regulation reform in the UK (!!!!) because the media there – as in the rest of the world – do not recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?

        • I am not one to push for anything; I am no longer a British citizen, and hence, it’s none of my business.
          However, the Balen report WAS compiled, during the time I was a British taxpayer, and HM’s Government spent 300K+ quid out of MY(and I assume of yours, as well) pocket to clandestinely sweep it under the rug.
          Were we to have an independent auspice, overseeing at least the legal responsibilities of public institutions, such as the BBC trust, I am sure, we would have far better Journalistic aegis.
          Presently, however, you have to agree with me on this:
          The BBC had audited its own Middle East coverage; disliked the conclusions, and suffused the report altogether.
          Then fought a lengthy adjudication(with our money) to PREVENT its release.
          As Brits, what are we supposed to do?
          Whom must we petition?(When the High Court rejects our appeals?)
          And who is there to guarantee, that even after ameliorations are made, that there are penalties in place, to rule-out recurrence?
          Truth is a precious commodity, and, like Twain wrote:
          “A lie can travel halfway around the world, ‘ere Truth has put its shoes on…”

          • Erm … my question still stands.

            And to be clear: I was not accusing you of pushing for anything.

            • I believe that, as Ms. Sela is a British citizen, she has a right to advocate for whatever she likes, and her request, in this case, is squarely within the realms of the law; frankly, this could save the press a great deal of resources, concerning tort, libel, etc.
              But could you please respond to my point:
              As a British citizen(if I may be so bold), aren’t you troubled by the BBC’s surreptitious attempt to efface the Balen report?
              When, and How, can we learn the truth?
              Why must the BBC regulate itself, and the findings(of internal investigations) it publishes?

              • C101, as a former citizen you should remember that the people who fund the BBC, in the main, are the TV Licence Fee payers. There is a small grant from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to pay for the World Service and BBC Arabic, a further grant from the Dept. for Work and Pensions to compensate for the free licences for the over 75s, but the vast majority of the funding comes from the Licence Fee payers.

                Whether you are a citizen or not does not matter, what matters is do you pay the TV Licence Fee? If you want to join this happy band please send a cheque to me for £150.00 and you can pay for mine. Then you can complain as much as you like, they will still take no notice of you, but I’ll be happier and £150.00 richer.

                • :D.
                  Thanks for a worthy correction.
                  But, it must be said, I left before the Comm. Act of ’03, and hence didn’t see(thank God), the BBC directly charge those funds.
                  Yes, I used to pay the Licence fee; it was roughly 100 Pounds in my day(by direct withdrawal).
                  But as I understand it, that poignantly enough, the new regulations in the Comm. Act of ’03, make it an obligatory tax; therefore, unless you qualify for certain exemptions, evasion is an offence.
                  Therefore, people are essentially chained to the Beeb.
                  What do you make of Balen report, and the BBC cover-up?

                  • Therefore, people are essentially chained to the Beeb.

                    Could be worse. You could be – as I am – “chained” to German public broadcasters.
                    Tune in on a Saturday night, and you could be forgiven for thinking you’re watching some Euro-Trash satire programme.
                    I didn’t watch much TV in Israel when I was there – but I would imagine it to be somewhat superior in terms of aesthetic taste.

                    • “I didn’t watch much TV in Israel when I was there – but I would imagine it to be somewhat superior in terms of aesthetic taste.”
                      Our public broadcaster, sure :D..
                      Of course, there are frequent complaints of faulty equipment, ’60s-era producers and sets, and programming that leaves much to be desired(Reruns of the “CSI” franchise, “LA. Law”, -not a fan ;)).
                      But you’re right…
                      Still, if I recall correctly, the Germans finance ARTE, and that’s quite the refined the channel.
                      We pick it up here(in French), and it’s quite edifying…
                      So you’ve got something working properly, right? :D.

                  • @ Commentary101

                    You’re a knowledgeable person (not that I ever doubted that).
                    ARTE is indeed the programme of choice for more discriminating viewers.
                    Did you ever see Im Angesicht des Verbrechens about the Russian mafia in Berlin? The best bit of German TV I’ve seen in years (which admittedly means little).
                    Having read the rave reviews (the ratings bombed because of all the subtitles), I was initially shocked to see an opening scene with a couple of dodgy characters speaking … Yiddish! “Oh please”, I thought, “finally an acclaimed TV series – with Jews as the bad guys?”

                    I was (phew!) wrong.

                    • Thanks Pretzel :D… and needless to say, as I have already remarked before, I reciprocate every word, to you!
                      I did watch it, in French though, but only two of the original 10 parts.(the dubbing and overlay were horrendous, and it sort of diminished the enthusiasm for it). It was great though, very vivid!
                      I try not to miss Arte Info/Culture, and the occasional broadcasts of Opera they have, on weekends.
                      A recently captivating piece(I am not sure if it’s available in the German parts), took on the Kennedy’s(the whole clan, through the ages) in a 9 part miniseries.
                      It is amazing!
                      I thoroughly recommend it!

                    • @ Commentary101

                      I did notice that ARTE had a Kennedy doc series on recently. Given your recommendation, I will try to watch it online.
                      (ARTE delivers its entire programme online for a week!)

                    • That’s great!
                      Please let me know how you found it; I’d love to get a second opinion :)…

              • The Balen report appears to have been a farce – and a further waste of Gezza (below)’s money.
                What I take issue with is CiFWatch calling for a media regulation reform in the UK because of non-recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

                The Guardian’s reference to Tel Aviv as such was – as you might have seen me saying before – laughable.

                • Second time I’ve fallen foul of this elementary error within a week.
                  Should, of course, have read “Gezza (above)”!

                • It’s not just Jerusalem.
                  It’s “Cast Lead”.
                  It’s Jenin.
                  It’s coverage that’s hardly fair, or balanced.
                  Since the BBC is essentially self-administered, it’s less pliant to the Public’s demands for redress.
                  I think, that all things considered, an independent body of Inquiry is worthy of consideration.
                  And Ms. Sela, as a British citizen is, in my view, not altogether mistaken in pushing for it.
                  As for the Balen report, since we don’t know what’s in it, we can’t be sure, can we?
                  And if there’s really nothing quite so damning against the BBC in it, why not disclose it, and thus spare 300K+ Pounds in legal fees?

                  • Did you see the Beeb’s coverage of Cast Lead? What was so bad about it?

                    Let me guess: it was hardly of the Boy’s Own, masturbatorily positive sort that – apparently – greeted the invasion of Iraq in 1991.

                    • What gives pause for thought Is that too many BBC ‘journalists’ left for Al Jazzy, where many have clearly and passionately fallen into the anti Israel line. For me this is clear evidence that there is bias in the bbc. The bbc takes sides in the ME. Period. All the more disgusting since the left has no qualms when Arabs murder Arabs for decades. Yet when a Hezbollah village is flattened by the IDF it’s WW3 for the Brits. Kinda makes you think……

                    • @ Daniel

                      A couple of BBC journalists go to Al Jazeera – and that is proof that the BBC is biased?


                      Yet when a Hezbollah village is flattened by the IDF it’s WW3 for the Brits.

                      For “the Brits”? Nonsense.

                      Kinda makes you think……

                      Yes – the typical speak of 9/11 conspiracy theorists.

                      i.e. no, it doesn’t.

                    • Pretz,
                      Far more than a ‘couple’ left for Al Jazzy. And those that left fell in line with the Arab media, proving the hypocrisy.

                    • Pretz,

                      Quote from the wiki entry of Al Jazzy: ‘ Much of the staff came from the 250 journalists displaced by the closure of BBC Arabic.’

                      The straw that broke my camels back and after which I stopped using bbc after say 30 years was Jacky Rowland’s piece in Bent Jbeil after the Second Leb war in 2006. She was stumbling through the ruins of what used to be and is again a large Hezbollah base/village. Rowland crossed all red lines and clearly sided with Hezbollah in the clip, saying something like ‘ what do you call this Israel?’ referring to the destroyed village. A place which had been cleared in urban combat by the IDF by soldiers on the ground, many Israelis died there. The IDF could have simply flattened the nest with artillery but instead sent in troops. That Bent Jbeil is a forward operating base for islamofacists did not seem to bother her. As a reward I love to see another clip of hers where she gets depibaratly tear gassed by the IDF in the West Bank, great piece on YouTube.

                  • Commentary 101 yes the PCC should go and be replaced by a body with ‘real clout’. It probably will go, but what will replace it at the moment is up in the air until we have the learned Judge’s report from his recent hearings into some of the scandals in the UK press.
                    BBC, absolutely there should be an independent body which has oversight of its policies and decisions. Yes the Balen Report should be published or at the very least made easily accessible to those who are interested via the internet.

        • Pretzel, simply not true. Most media say that Jerusalem is the capital, which it is. The groan loves to make an extra point out of it like all Arab regimes.
          The groan is inline with Arab despots and Islamists. Which is inline with the groans overall view of the world.

    • Troubling in the sense that the BBC criticises Israel, I presume.

      I always toght that the the BBC supposed to be reporting and not criticising.
      Sorry, my mistake.

      • My recommendation
        Paul Berman, The Flight of the Intellectuals
        In a chapter he explains what happened to the left liberals after the success and demise of SOS Racisme and the rising of the Islamists in the suburbs in France as example for the developement in the West,
        By the way he examines the way of Tariq Ramadan, darling of Opendemocracy and many others, self defining as left or liberal.

    • “Troubling in the sense that the BBC criticises Israel, I presume.”

      Probably more than that. As they say, if you see a mouse in your kitchen, then you’ve got mice. The question is, does the BBC give an honest accounting, i.e., an accurate representation of reality? You’re obligated to pay for it. Don’t you care?

  2. The Guardian is a private company; so not a lot can be done to rectify.

    Given its public charter, the BBC is a different case. Public pressure can work. No Jew in Britain should be forced to keep Jeremy Bowen and his ilk afloat.

    • No Jew in Britain IS forced to keep Jeremy Bowen and his ilk afloat.

      Crazy talk. Please return to the real word, Judah Kidon.

      • //Crazy talk. Please return to the real word//


        Unlike you, I deal with reality every effing day.

        “About the licence fee
        Everyone in the UK who watches or records TV as it is broadcast needs to be covered by a TV licence. This includes TV on computers,

        Read it.

  3. In 2002, Orla Guerin, without checking facts first, claimed the IDF “committed war crimes” in Jenin and ” massacred hundreds”. As it turned out later, all were blatant lies. The Beeb never apologized afterwards.


    • You claim that Jews in Britain are “forced to keep Jeremy Bowen and his ilk afloat.”

      That makes you a laughing stock.

      • //That makes you a laughing stock//


        Don’t post my way again. You have nothing valuable to add at all.

        Just low-rent gibberish… every effing day.

        • Probably two dozen CiFWatch articles are based on alerts from me re. anti-Semitic comments. I certainly have something valuable to add. You clearly do not – likewise the mental midgets agreeing with your post.

          • As I’ve said elsewhere: I have made countless positive contributions to this website.

            All you do is spew hatred.

            Only a bigot would accuse this goy of “unswerving stupidity and crass comments”.

            • If anything, tears of sorrow for your hatred.

              You’re a disgrace. Do the right thing and leave this website.

              • Your comments are of the YouTube-style variety.

                You’ve already had a comment deleted, Daisy D.
                Perhaps you might want to be more humane and less of a fool.

                • Pretzelberg,
                  I agree that you’ve made some valuable contributions. Your problem is your hair trigger penchant for calling names. Ease up a little and you’ll most likely get better results. Try keeping the “your a stupid idiot” stuff to a minimum. Sometimes I agree with your comments, sometimes I don’t, but it’s hard to vote for a comment when you end it by calling someone stupid.
                  Best wishes.

  4. Lie and deny – the Guardian way of journalism. Lies about Al Durrah, Jenin, Gaza, Bedouin, or the capital of Israel – its all just part of the endless attempts to create and maintain a false image of Israel. Nothing ever retracted.

  5. In the 1860s, nearly all major Catholic powers in Europe refused to recognize Rome as Italy’s capital city.

    The Vatican’s refusal to recognize de jure lasted into the 1920s. Nonetheless, one by one, they all came around. Today no one in his right mind would question Italy’s rights to Rome.

    Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish state, first and foremost. One day, hopefully soon, no one will question this either.

    In regard to international treaty law, the 1922 League of Nations Mandate assigned Jerusalem ( the whole city) to the Jewish National Home.

    There is much more of course binding Jews to Jerusalem.

    • Whatever the rights and wrongs of what is the capital city of where that the League of Nations mandate assigned Jerusalem to the JNH is unmitigated nonsense.

  6. Guardian’s grudging not quite right retraction……..

    Typical Grungy Guardian almost everything that the Grungy Guardian writes about Israel turns out to be not quite right.

    The JP has an article about the Guardian’s retraction…..

  7. Where does the EU and the UK find time to interfere in Israel’s affairs.The economy of these two are being flushed down the toilet,the Euro might not survive,the whole EU is starting to unravel (Inshallah),states fighting each other.And these twits are preoccupied with Israel instead…….

    • the whole EU is starting to unravel (Inshallah)

      Aha – it’s all a dastardly Muslim conspiracy.

      Imagine if someone said that about the Jews. You would be outraged – and rightly so.