In a statement on its website today, the BBC said it did receive complaints about invasion of privacy and a lack of newsworthiness of the apartment video.
“We received complaints from viewers unhappy with coverage from inside the apartment of the San Bernadino attackers, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik,” the BBC said. “Some viewers felt the coverage was intrusive and voyeuristic, while others were concerned about the newsworthiness of the reporting and the legality of the media presence in the apartment.”
However, the BBC argued its video from the apartment added context by showing “how they had lived their lives” and noted that the FBI and police didn’t complain about the media’s access to the apartment.
“The shootings in San Bernadino were carried out by a seemingly ordinary married couple and we wanted to show how they had lived their lives, deceiving friends, relatives and neighbours,” the BBC said. “The FBI stated that journalists were allowed into their home, as it was no longer part of its investigation. The local police force was present when journalists went into the premises.”
The BBC went on:
“This story raised many issues, including gun ownership, home-grown terrorism and Islam. The coverage from inside the apartment was a brief part of our overall reporting of these wider subjects. In this context we felt it was an appropriate and relevant part of understanding who the killers were and the changing nature of Islamist attacks their domestic arrangements may reflect.”
iMediaEthics has written to the BBC to ask how many complaints it has received over its coverage.
Broadcast regulator OfCom told iMediaEthics it has received 4 complaints about the apartment coverage. “We’ll assess these complaints before deciding whether to investigate or not,” an OfCom spokesperson told iMediaEthics.
MSNBC apologized last week for showing on live TV a close-up of the drivers license of Syed Farook’s mother as well as photos of unidentified people it found inside the apartment.
The Daily Beast apologized after it wrongly identified the shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s brother as the shooter. The Associated Press corrected after it was hoaxed and published an interview with someone who posed as a witness to the shootings and said the suspects referenced GamerGate.
UPDATED: 12/9/2015 11:38 AM EST With response from OFCom