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Anorak | Murdoch’s Times accuses BBC of using bribery and blagging to get stories (bit rich for the LSE’s North Korea mission)

Murdoch’s Times accuses BBC of using bribery and blagging to get stories (bit rich for the LSE’s North Korea mission)

by | 15th, April 2013

bbc north korea lse

BLAGGING and bribery at the BBC? When the tabloids don it, we’re told it’s tawdry, toxic and worthy of State control. When the BBC does it, do we have a different view? The Times (prop. R. Murdoch) reports:

 The BBC pulled an episode of Panorama shortly before it was due to be broadcast after one of its producers was accused of attempting to bribe a security consultant for information.

The producer allegedly e-mailed Sean Ghent, consultant to Harlequin Property, suggesting he might not be paid by the company and dangling the possibility of work with Panorama.

Harlequin, a developer of luxury homes in the Caribbean, complained to the BBC last Wednesday and the next day the programme, which had been due to air on Monday, was removed from the schedule.
The Radio Times described the programme as “an investigation into financial scandals that could wipe out people’s life savings, including a £250 million Caribbean rental-home development scheme”.

The BBC said yesterday that it had suspended a member of the Panorama team and started disciplinary proceedings. The corporation’s statement came as a prison officer and former police constable were jailed for selling information about a notorious killer and celebrities to The Sun newspaper, owned by News International, which also publishes The Times.

Reader martinseugne writes:

Seems to me that this was public interest journalism. Newspapers are trying too hard to tar everyone else with the same brush. The sort of wide spread newspaper excesses that Leveson investigated had no public interest defence whatsoever.

Who decides what the public interest is? The public should, surely?

The Times follows that story of alleged bribery with the front-page sgtory: “BBC kept students in dark over Korea trip“:

The BBC withheld key information from students, placing them in danger during the making of an undercover documentary in North Korea, according to the London School of Economics.

The group from the LSE were not informed until they had landed in Beijing, en route to Pyongyang, that they would be accompanied by a three-person Panorama film crew posing as scholars and academics. Some may even have been kept in the dark about the scale of the risk they were taking until they were inside North Korea…

The LSE said that the BBC’s alleged deception had placed its academics at risk in sensitive areas around the world because they could be suspected of facilitating undercover journalism…

Asked why the students had only been informed in Beijing that it was a BBC documentary, a spokeswoman said: “The fact that it was a BBC journalist is neither here nor there as it is journalists per se that are banned for North Korea, not the BBC specifically. The students were all explicitly warned about the potential risks of travelling to North Korea with the journalist.”

So that’s blagging, then. And it might be worse because the Times online headlines that story:

Students complain BBC risked their lives in North Korea

But there is no comments in the story from any student saying their life was put at risk. The LSE newspaper, The Beaver, reports:

BBC Programme Uses LSE Students to Gain Access to North Korea Amid Nuclear Tensions WITHOUT Informing the School

Hayley Fenton, Arisa Manawapat, Ira Lorandou, Matthew Worby, and Liam Brown’s story contains no one mention of lives in jeopardy.

The BBC has refused the London School of Economics’ request for a BBC Panorama programme about North Korea to be pulled after revelations that the footage was gained by allegedly misleading and possibly endangering LSE students…

A student who went on the trip, wishing to remain anonymous, told the Beaver that “we were not made aware of the presence of several BBC journalists at the time of the flight to Pyongyang. We were led to believe that John Sweeney was a History professor, although it was later implied that he was not a professor at the LSE.”

John Sweeney… Him! Did not one of the students know who Sweeney was?

John Sweeney, one of the reporters who travelled undercover with the LSE students has refuted the allegations made in the letter, stating that the LSE students “knew and understood what was at stake for them before [the] trip.”…

The LSE argues that the BBC’s unauthorised use of the School’s name could affect whether actual LSE academics can gain access to the hermit kingdom for research purposes. In a statement to students and staff, the LSE claims that its “academics work on aspects of many politically sensitive parts of the world, including by travel to those locations. It is vital that their integrity is taken for granted and their academic freedom preserved.”

Alex Peters-Day, General-Secretary of the LSE Students’ Union told the Beaver that “it was not the BBC’s place to make decisions on behalf of the students on the trip, nor was it the BBC’s place to put at risk all those within the School.”

“What the BBC did was reckless and ethically reprehensible and I am just glad we are not facing a situation where our students are being detained in North Korea.”

The risky BBC risked every student at the entire LSE? Aren’t student supposed to challenge power?

And whose ethics? Didn’t the LSE take money to educate Colonel Gaddafi’s son?



Posted: 15th, April 2013 | In: Reviews Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink