The BBC has paid £700,000 (or $1.4 million) “defending its journalism” in the past four years, the Guardian reported. According to the Guardian, one of the most expensive issues under fire is “the BBC’s reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The BBC Trust consists of 12 trustees and the “trust unit” who “make sure the BBC listens to the voice of the public” and looks into complaints against the BBC. According to the BBC Trust’s website, most complaints against the BBC are considered editorial complaints, which accuse the BBC of breaking its code of practice.
The code of practice (see here) establishes what “standards of integrity, impartiality and objectivity” the BBC is to uphold. The BBC complaints process allows the public to complain about editorial, general, or other aspects of the BBC’s reporting.
The Guardian noted that journalists complain about how long complaints process is and how much staff time is taken to look into complaints. Earlier in May, the BBC Trust’s chairman, Lord Patten, announced he intends to make the complaints process “quicker, simpler, and more transparent.” Patten also reportedly told a Parliamentary committee in the House of Lords that he’s instructed BBC’s management to speed up apologies for errors, according to the Guardian.
The Guardian reported that the huge legal bill’s importance since the BBC “faces a 20% budget cut in real terms over the next four years.”
As an example of criticized BBC reporting on the Middle East, the Guardian cited the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen’s 2007 article headlined “How 1967 Defined the Middle East.”
That article now includes a note that the article’s text was changed in 2009 because the BBC Trusts’ Editorial Standards Committee found Bowen used “language” that wasn’t entirely “clear and precise to meet the corporation’s standards on accuracy.”
The note continues to report that the BBC Trust “upheld one complaint and partially upheld another complaint that the article breached guidelines on impartiality.” (See here for more information about that editorial standards case.)