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Raheem Kassam: The BBC spends a third of £1 million concealing 'Balen Report' into its Middle East coverage

Screen Shot 2012-08-26 at 14.26.27Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor of The Commentator. Follow him on Twitter.

How does the BBC continue to get away with it?

By spending your money, that’s how.

If you’re a TV licence fee payer, or someone from abroad who consumes BBC news stories in exchange for advertising, then sadly you’re complicit, albeit in a miniscule way, to the BBC’s ongoing concealment of the now infamous Balen Report.

Completed in 2004, the Balen Report was supposed to assess BBC reporting on the Israel-Palestine conflict. That the Beeb commissioned such a report in light of accusations of bias already tells us one thing. And no, it’s not that they are dedicated to transparency and fairness.

Now we learn that the BBC has been spending cartloads of public money trying to hide the Balen Report.

Since its completion, there have been public, legal challenges aimed at having the BBC disclose the document. At first, it appeared that the BBC was able to hide behind an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act that allowed it to hide information held for the purposes of journalism, art or literature, but to their dismay, the Information Tribunal soon challenged such a position.

The BBC, in its great wisdom, didn’t want to stop there and release the report. The decision was challenged in the High Court, then further dragging itself through the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

But whether or not you believe that the BBC was right to hide the report on this basis, there can be no denying that a body funded primarily through public coercion has shown itself to be grossly irresponsible with its funds.

Spending at least a third of one million pounds concealing a report, when the bosses themselves are arguing that there is ‘no more room for cuts’ is an admission that the BBC can no longer see the wood for the trees.

What I mean by this is that it has become patently obvious that in most cases, a certain mindset dominates at the Beeb. One not just of entitlement and liberal biases, but of arrogance and also, of denial.

Perhaps within the confines of Broadcasting House the phrase, ‘BBC knows best’ is repeated like some sort of cultist mantra, but outside, cases like this show that the public are more enlightened than ever as to the BBC’s bloated, unwarranted position.

I hope everyone who reads this article will find a few minutes to write to the BBC, calling for them to drop the secrecy and finally release the Balen Report. If you believe in a free press and in open government, then surely you believe in BBC transparency.


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