Horace – World Press Network.net May 10, 2011
BBC Radio 1xtra has removed the word ‘ Palestine ’ when playing a song by artist, Mic Righteous. In an extraordinary act of censorship, the word was filtered out of a recording as Mic Righteous sang the words ‘Free Palestine’, part of his song ‘Fire in the Booth’.
The censorship took place on the BBC show, Hip Hop M1X with Charlie Sloth, and the BBC has since issued a statement saying: ‘All BBC programmes have a responsibility to be impartial when dealing with controversial subjects…and an edit was made in this instance to ensure that impartiality was not compromised.’
Listen to the recording, with edit, here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00f15g4
There are several questions to be asked here of the BBC:
Is the word ‘ Palestine ’ controversial only when used in songs, or will the BBC be deleting it from all its programming?
Is the word ‘ Israel ’ similarly controversial?
How does the BBC decide what is a controversial subject? Which other news subjects does it deem to be controversial and worthy of BBC edits?
As a news organisation, how can the BBC report on news when it feels it has to censor ‘controversial subjects’ in order to maintain impartiality? All political news, by its nature, is controversial and excites a range of viewpoints – there is no consensus on anything political. Why is the BBC making this decision only over Palestine? This in itself reveals the partiality of the BBC.
Is the BBC aware that Palestine is a geographical area and therefore can’t be controversial? If Palestinian leaders declare a sovereign Palestinian state in September, how will the BBC report on this if it considers the word ‘ Palestine ’ too controversial to be mentioned?
Is the BBC aware that the word ‘ Palestine ’ is recognised and used freely by MPs, and even by the Prime Minister, David Cameron?
When the band, The Special A.K.A, released its song ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ in 1984, why were the words ‘Nelson Mandela’ not censored by BBC radio? Apartheid in South Africa was a controversial subject, and Mandela was still considered a terrorist by the UK and US governments.
While the BBC may have appeared to make itself look utterly ridiculous with this edit, the action itself reveals its ingrained bias against Palestine and is a serious matter.
It follows the BBC’s refusal to screen the DEC Appeal during Israel’s air, land and sea assault on a besieged Gaza in 2008/9, and its screening of the one-sided Panorama programme Death in the Med last August, which even the BBC’s own complaints panel found breached its guidelines on accuracy and impartiality in several instances.
You can take the following actions:
Write to the BBC via the complaints form on its website, and ask for a reply: https://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/
Leave a message on the BBC’s message board under the Charlie Sloth programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00f15g4
Write a letter for publication to the Radio Times: email@example.com By post: Radio Times, Media Centre, 201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TQ
Get as much publicity for this song as possible – ask your local radio station, community radio station, hospital radio, student campus radio etc to play it
Write to the BBC and demand it plays the song without an edit: firstname.lastname@example.org Write also to your local BBC radio station.
I have another question: How will/would the BBC treat the Desmond Dekker former No. 1 single “Israelites” ? If they applied the same political censorship, there would be nothing left.
I tried to comment on the “song” (the tune is hard to whistle) but the BBC website was mysteriously “undergoing maintenance” and cannot be accessed.
This is a blatant case of pro-Israel bias in the BBC, always apparent, often covert, but in this case, astonishingly all too stark. The licence-payers should be aware of how their money is being spent.
At least as pertinent, is the fact that the BBC should realise its licence payers are adults, well able to make their own judgements on political partiality, and don’t need the BBC to do it for them. This one has fired my belly.