PSC response to BBC whitewash regarding censorship complaints:BBC’s rejection of complaints over ‘Free Palestine ’ censorship condemned by rights groups
The BBC’s reasons for dismissing complaints about its censorship of the word ‘ Palestine ’ from a freestyle music performance have been described as ‘absurd’ by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
In a letter to complainants sent at the end of August, Francesca O’Brien, the BBC’s head of editorial standards, said appeals against the decision would not be considered.
The BBC had censored the word ‘ Palestine ’ from the lyrics ‘I can scream Free Palestine’ in a freestyle performance by the artist Mic Righteous, broadcast on the Charlie Sloth Hip Hop M1X on Radio 1Xtra in April.
Justifying the decision, Ms O’Brien said ‘the subject of freedom for Palestine …was a contentious issue’.
Amena Saleem, of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: ‘Why does the BBC feel it is controversial to call for occupied territories to be freed from occupation?
‘Calling for freedom from occupation for the Palestinian people shouldn’t be seen as controversial unless the BBC disagrees with international law and with the inalienable right of all human beings to liberty.’
In an earlier letter to complainants, Paul Smith, head of editorial standards (BBC audio and music), wrote: ‘Referencing Palestine is fine, but implying that it is not free is the contentious issue.’
Ms Saleem added: ‘Instead of simply accepting it made a mistake and apologising, the BBC has tied itself in knots attempting to defend the indefensible. By saying it is contentious to imply that Palestine is not free, it has wandered into the realms of the absurd.’
Complainants have now written to the BBC Trust asking it to reconsider its decision to reject their complaints that the censorship displays bias against Palestine .
The BBC has responded to the controversy by saying it will play the freestyle in full, alongside an interview with Mic Righteous, but has not given a date or named a show for the broadcast.
Notes to Editors
The Mic Righteous recording, with the edit coming after three minutes, can be viewed here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00f15g4
In May, 19 artists, MPs, lawyers and academics wrote to the Guardian to protest against the edit as ‘an attack on the principles of free speech’. The letter can be viewed here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/ma ... NTCMP=SRCH