Home » Politics » BBC bows to complaints pressure as Tim Davie plans major shakeup
BBC bows to complaints pressure as Tim Davie plans major shakeup
October 29, 2023
BBC director-general Tim Davie is to take direct responsiblity for overseeing its complaints unit with the corporation under pressure over its refusal to label Hamas as terrorists.
The shake-up comes as the Government prepares to publish its mid-term review of the BBC’s 10-year Royal Charter.
The BBC has received hundreds of complaints in relation to its coverage of the conflict since Hamas’ attack on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of at least 1,400 Israelis.
However, evidence looked at by ministers as part of the review indicated that since the charter was renewed six years ago, just 25 complaints have been formally upheld by the executive complaints unit (ECU).
The review, which is overseen by Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, found that the unit was overseen by director of editorial policy David Jordan, who is also responsible for ensuring programmes and articles produced by the BBC comply with its rules in the first place.
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Ministers have voiced concerns that the framework has resulted in a conflict of interest which has resulted in executives “marking their own homework”.
One insider told The Sunday Telegraph Mr Davie oversight would result in a more “arm’s length” process.
A BBC spokesman said: “We have been engaged constructively with the Government throughout the mid-term review process, which is explicitly focused on governance and regulation as set out in the BBC Charter, and we await publication of the findings.”
Referring to the mid-term review, a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “No final decisions have been made.”
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Mr Davie was put on the spot last week when he appeared before the Conservative 1922 Committee, which the corporation said had been arranged in July – long before the start of the Israel-Hamas war.
A BBC spokesman said Mr Davie would have “tackled head-on some of the criticisms that he will undoubtedly have had in the room” and stressed “why the institution matters”.
One MP present said there had been “disagreement with the DG about Hamas being a terrorist organisation and the ability to say so” at the talks, held behind closed doors.
The corporation does not call Hamas “terrorists” without attributing the word to others using it.
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However, it has moved away from labelling the group “militants” and is instead describing it as a proscribed terrorist organisation by the UK Government and others.
The spokesman said: “We think that that phrase (militants) is less useful in the context we’re in now than it was before, and we will always look at what we do and how we do it.
“Nothing is set in stone, but the principle of ascribing terminology to those that are using is an important one for us.”
Many Tory MPs and Israeli President Isaac Herzog have been angered by the corporation’s reluctance to use the word “terrorists” in relation to Hamas.